Ask An Expert: 10 Questions With Jonathan Ogle

Jonathan Ogle is the founder and principal of The Infinite Agency (TIA), an advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas. TIA’s mission is to build brands and create the future. Since its founding in 2010, Jonathan has managed to grow and strengthen national and local brands. Some include: Anheuser-Busch, Smoothie King, Carter BloodCare, The Dallas Mavericks, Twin Peaks, and Susan G. Komen. A creative visionary and industry thought leader, I sat down with Jonathan to learn more about his advertising journey and marketing insights.

Nicole

There’s a lot going on right now! We were just at our new office building, you’ve got a young family, a new child – how are you feeling right now?

JO

I’m feeling great. A while back, somebody asked me, “How do you deal with the chaos of it all?” One of the things I’ve found in agency life is that chaos can come with servicing clients. You think, “Oh, it’s really crazy right now,” but then it doesn’t necessarily just go away. I think over time you level up and get better at organizing and creating success in different situations. When you get better at honing your skills, you can thrive on pressure, and it can become fun.

People get burnt out in the industry when they don’t know how to read their own body or they aren’t given permission to prioritize their life. Work is always going to ask something of you, and somebody is always going to want more from you. A client may to want a response on the weekend, you may have a campaign set to go live, you may have a pitch, and then your family is going to call. The pressure isn’t going to stop, so you have to know how to deal with pressure and how to fill your life with… ‘life’ so it can replenish your work. 

Nicole

The Infinite Agency stands out as a values-driven agency. What does leading with values look like in practice to you?

JO

At Infinite, we believe brands are built by showing shared values. Flip and I actually wrote our values before we wrote our business plan. That was a good move for us because we didn’t really know what a business plan looked like for us, but we knew we had a story that mattered.

We had this culture, especially at the beginning – I remember one of our team members at the time said, “These aren’t your values, these are OUR values.” He got really into it, and I remember at that moment thinking, “I think we’ve tapped into something unique.” As a business and an agency, we need to make sure our values are shared with our employees in some way.

Nicole

Let’s talk about COVID. Despite the pandemic, Infinite has grown substantially. What was the biggest driver in the agency’s success?

JO

We told brands not to flinch. We also refocused on some fundamentals. Sometimes, you just need to shift and ask, “OK, what matters?” We got daily phone calls from clients dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars, saying “Pause, pause, pause, pause.” One of our biggest clients said, “Slash all the media! Stop everything! Reduce spending.” And I got this inspiring Slack message from a team member saying, “One of our clients needs our help, let’s get in there!” I don’t remember the exact quote, but I have it screenshotted and saved on my computer. I remember starting to laugh. It was like, “If this whole thing falls tomorrow, everybody’s going to fall tomorrow. We’ll just have to rebuild.” And a lot of that happened.

I actually have a COVID folder on my computer that’s a ton of screenshots of us on Zoom. In those first few days working remotely, we were wearing stupid hats. I remember coming in, putting on a top hat and a blanket, and on the spur of the moment, we were like, “Everybody, go put on the craziest outfit you can find in your wardrobe.” It was such a fearful time, you just had to laugh.

Nicole

What marketing trends did you see emerge from COVID?

JO

A few things. First of all, there was a shift in marketing efforts. We had a couple brands that took money out of media and put it into new websites. We built three or four website builds all at the same time, which almost offset this cost that we lost in another direction. Brands today have to focus a lot more on their owned CRM, owned audiences, and owned assets.

Second, we work with a lot of restaurants, and they had a big turning point. Switching print menus to QR codes during COVID saved restaurants millions of dollars. The user experience has become better, but also, asking people to sign up for newsletters or loyalty clubs has also captured information from their audience that they can retarget to. Loyalty is this massive movement in the restaurant industry right now because they are able to save their consumer data. I think that’s a big trend that started during COVID that’s going to continue.

And third, people found comfort in established brands. Many people were not willing to try something new when there was already so much change in their lives. There’s a lot of stats that talk about how millennials are most likely to break the mold of what their parents bought – that they want to find their own brands to solve their own problems. But during COVID, something interesting happened. People started pulling trusted, comfort brands at a higher clip than new brands. During COVID, the existing brands came in and said, “Look at our power.”

Nicole

And what should brands continue to focus on, moving forward?

JO

Brands need to start asking how they can provide more value to justify the inflation that we’re continuing to hit. They can deepen that value with the consumer from perceived value, content, and from things that don’t necessarily cost the brand that much–like showing they care and personalizing things.

Nicole

I would love to talk to you about TikTok–it’s taking the world by storm. Can you share your top TikTok insights for brands?

JO

Start now because it’s not going away. That’s how you’ll be in the lead. I think everybody’s fearful of not having the strategy or the thing or whatever, but the sooner you start, the further ahead you’ll be. As the medium grows, don’t you want to be leading that charge and surfing the wave of growth?

Nicole

There’s a big trend toward authentic content, especially because of TikTok. Is having authentic creative more important than having highly polished creative now?

JO

A big challenge brands are facing is how to make every media channel feel authentic to that channel. So, what you see on Instagram versus what you see on Reddit should be different. The audiences and the people are different. For example, when I go to Reddit, I’m looking to dig deep into something and find my own little niche. But I think some brands are becoming obsessed with being authentic. We’re having this conversation with some of our brands right now, and their biggest fear is that they don’t want to be inauthentic.

Sometimes, finding the right balance is challenging. We forget that it’s ok for the consumer to see something outlandish, funny, interesting, or entertaining. Then, we can insert the brand story into that. Some big brands have tapped into the idea that you can be authentic and also authentically speak to where the consumer is–that should be our job and challenge.

Nicole

What benefit can advertising agencies provide to a CMO who is trying to grow their brand?

JO

Most CMOs are so inundated and so inside of their own brand that they can’t see the consumer’s point of view. A good advertising agency understands how to pick up the perception of the consumer through data–and they have this added magical value of looking at it through the lens of creativity and culture.

As an agency, our job is to figure out, “What’s going on in culture that we can attach the brand to? Is it consumption habits? Is it what’s going on in social media? Is it how they view themselves?” When we bring ideas to the table, we’re trying to tap into those insights to help further the brand’s current perception.

Nicole

What makes Infinite different from other ad agencies?

JO

We do something totally different than what anybody else does. Instead of being a big, traditional agency that started to tack on digital solutions, we built from the ground up, thinking in terms of, “How does your following on social and your digital brand presence build the brand?” We’ve worked the opposite system.

We have the digital and social DNA, which really positioned us well to succeed after COVID. During COVID, it was like, “Holy shit, I don’t need a big, flashy $300,000 TV spot. I need a bunch of different creative on a bunch of different media that work together in an integrated fashion.” We are a true integrated agency. We have social media experts, digital media experts, brand building experts, and great creative all in one shop. We don’t say, “I’ve got a big creative idea, and I’ll just let everybody else figure out the other details.” That’s what separates us.

Nicole

We got to walk through the new space today. It’s an exciting day and a new chapter. What’s your hope for that space and for the agency?

JO

We’re making a bet that employees want a place, not a prison, and a space, not a cell. Being tied and chained to an office can suck the creativity out, bringing negativity to work-life balance. Instead, we want to create a space that’s inspiring and allows people to create unique concepts and campaigns that brands really value. Our agency is all about trusting our people to collaborate and create, and that’s what the space is about. That’s what I’m excited about.

Written By
Nicole Adams
The Infinite Agency is an integrated advertising agency designed to drive brand growth through data driven insights, inspiring creativity, and connected experiences.
Share this post
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
YOU MAY WANT TO READ THIS