The story of Matt Garcia, Rokkan’s new SVP of Client Partnerships’ passion for branding goes much further back than his tenure at Saatchi & Saatchi or even his days as Partner and Managing Director at NSG Swat. As a baby, he was a one hit wonder child star that appeared in a commercial for a sister brand of Pampers called ‘Luvs,’ so one could say he was literally hawking product since diapers. As a kid, his favorite thing to do with his parents was to go by restaurants and design better, more fitting names, which was then followed up by a visit and presentation of his idea to the workers. All in all, perhaps it was fate that he ended up here, full circle.
Matt’s role at Rokkan now is to spearhead client growth for the rapidly growing agency who gained notoriety among edgy gaming companies and popular millennial travel brands like Jet Blue, Atlantis and Virgin America. Today, they have clients like HSUS, Nike, and American Express, to name a few but in Matt’s mind, there are always more brands that could use a little help to realize their potential.
His passion for brand revival in particular is focused on the bigger, slow-moving, traditional brands that could almost be considered “cultural commodities” – once such an important staple of everyday cultural life that have recently been out-gunned by hipper, trendier, more accessible or sometimes just ‘more’ alternatives. Garcia explains that sometimes it’s also shifting tastes or shifting trends that feed into the consumer perception but in either case, these are brands that have stopped meaning a lot. This is not because their products are bad or even that there are better products out there, but they have just gotten into a rut and now have the opportunity to become relevant again with the right vision.
One example Matt cites as a dream client at Rokkan is Gillette (owned by Proctor & Gamble,) which once had found the perfect balance between a great product and seamless marketing campaign. At the time, it quite literally owned the shave industry. As many adult men today would even still remember, once you turned 18 and registered your draft card, Gillette would send you a “coming of age” package with a razor and shaving cream. How the brand actually got that direct mail list from a government agency even back then is inconceivable and a contrasting sign of the times today, but it stands as an example of how thoughtful, personal and responsible marketing can be so effective, memorable, and inspirational. In fact at the time, the brand was such a household name that they even began successfully marketing to women with their men’s product, a halo effect that still has residual effects today. With Matt at the helm of growth for Rokkan, he believes it could be Gillette’s time once again, and I believe it.
Matt’s passion for brand marketing is a key factor of what makes him so successful today but it is also his duality of background, having studied intensely both economics and business separately, which he was able to apply in his leadership of major campaigns for Miller 64 and Morgan Hotel Group early at the beginning of his career. Today, he tells me that he believes it is so important for great account executives to have that understanding of both sides of the business, as it gives them context for the projects they manage.
You can recognize Matt around the office by his unfathomable carousel of color spectrum-neutral cardigan sweaters, perfectly pomaded hair and an intense “I-have-a-game-changer-idea-at –the-tip-of-my-tongue” look in his eyes that clearly confirms he was a boss older brother of five younger siblings growing up. If he were not in the advertising world, he also tells me he would be the host of a late night talk show. Would he be more of a Seth Meyers or a Jay Leno? I guess that’s for the next interview but be sure to get some good jokes out of him next time you pass him in the halls.