‘Our story right now is the connected consumer experience,’ marketing executive says to K-Staters

Tony Snethen, executive creative director at VML (a global marketing agency), talks about how the company was able to become so successful at his lecture on Thursday, April 19. (Sarah Millard| Collegian Media Group)

Tony Snethen, executive creative director at VML, gave a lecture on “a world connected” as part of the Department of Art’s visiting artist series on Thursday. Snethen graduated from Kansas State with a degree in graphic design and has worked at the award winning global marketing agency for 14 years.

During the lecture, Snethen discussed several of VML’s specific advertising and branding campaigns for companies and brands like Gatorade, Wendy’s and New Balance. More recently, Snethen said, VML is focusing on aspects of consumer experience.

“Our story right now is the connected consumer experience,” Snethen said. “I use consumer lightly because I’m actually going to break that a part a little bit and say that it’s way beyond consumer, it’s more about the people.”

Taylor Klover, graduate student in fine arts, said designers like Snethen bring awareness to the role of emotions in visual storytelling.

“Anything emotional, I think, is really going to connect with their audience in a good way,” Klover said. “People don’t often times want to listen unless you can connect with them in a positive way, and emotion is a great way to do that.”

Snethen said VML has grown rapidly since he joined with the company, expanding to over 3,000 employees and 33 global locations, allowing content to be marketed for a variety of audiences.

“When it comes to nuances, like a headline for us that is amazing in the U.S., could be completely offensive in India,” Snethen said. “It’s working with those markets to make sure we are inline the entire way.”

Brett Bolf, junior in graphic design, said he was inspired by Snethen’s work and hopes to apply his skills to a similar career in the future.

“It was really valuable because personally, this is the exact kind of work that I want to be doing in the late stages of a career, so to have someone doing that really specific thing at such a high level, come to K-State and be from K-State is really unique and valuable,” Bolf said.

Daniel Warner, professor of graphic design, said an important part of student’s insight into a career in graphic design is exposure to leaders in the field.

“I think it’s very important for our students to be exposed to the cutting edge of the field,” Warner said. “Advertising and design kind of go hand and hand a lot. There is a lot of overlap between the skill set you need, and we like to bring in industry leaders and people like Tony.”