At the intersection of creativity, technology, and strategy: Joe Leitner, GMR Marketing

por India Fizer , AdForum

GMR Marketing
See Profile

Joe Leitner
Creative Technologist GMR Marketing

GMR Marketing is an experience agency, built to make stories that become lasting memories. Our goal is to create worlds where humans want to be, hate to leave, and never forget. In our Experience Technology group (XT) we understand relationships and how technology offers infinite possibilities founded on data, rooted in science, grounded in strategy, and flawlessly delivered. XT sits at the heart of many experiences we design, whether a virtual world we’ve created, or an immersive AR moment used to amplify a live interaction. Joe Leitner, who’s responses are below, holds the title creative technologist and spends most of his time synthesizing technologies in ingenious and unexpected ways. – Mat Johnson, EVP and Head of Experience Technology at GMR Marketing


What does the role of a creative technologist entail? 

The position has broad definitions based on specific function, responsibilities, and needs across industries. My role at GMR, an experience agency making unforgettable stories born of humanity, is to synthesize technologies in unexpected ways. I operate at the intersection of creativity, technology, and strategy. The wonderful thing about the combination of this role and industry is constant variety. Our projects range from dreaming complete virtual worlds into existence, to implementing innovative stagecraft and theatrics for industry keynotes, to creating immersive brand showcases on the world’s largest stages.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

It requires a broad knowledge of the technical tools available, and their potential avenues of application. As well as an understanding of human behavior, society, subcultures, and the ability to apply divergent and agile thinking to challenge conformity and inspire imagination.

Where do creative solutions intersect with functional design?

At the beginning! Everything we create starts with the audience in mind. Who they are. Where they are. What they know and what they desire. Any product or experience must have a clear understanding of who will be using it and for what purpose. Knowing this allows us to understand where we can inspire, surprise, and create magical and memorable moments.

What’s the most challenging aspect of the creative technologist role?

Keeping up with the constantly changing and evolving landscape, not only in technology, but culture as well. The ground is continually shifting, and it’s vital to stay on top of emergent technology, have a broad mindset and create links to how it can be integrated to enhance storytelling in natural, yet powerful ways.

How do you see the role expanding with the introduction of the metaverse?

Many of the technologies that feed the current conception of the metaverse are ones we are very experienced and comfortable with. The promise of the metaverse is an exciting one. It will require exploration of the expanding possibilities of spatial computing. Ultimately, it will completely shift where, when, and how often we access our online behaviors.

As the adoption, creation, and vision for what’s possible grows, so will the questions. How do we recreate non-verbal communication and cues in fully 3-D worlds, to reflect moods and intentions? How will interoperability expand to allow individuals to travel with digital goods from one world to another, across multiple devices? How do we approach multiple frameworks and needs across the various planes of the metaverse, as well as the diverse number of inputs and outputs, which will continue to expand? How do we ensure moral and ethical safeguards? These are all areas that need to be researched, determined, and developed to provide the best possible experiences for a wide range of specific audiences. And the role of creative technologist sits at the center of that exploration, learning, and deployment into the experiential marketing space.

Are there any passion projects you’ve worked on that you’d like to share?

Every project involves some form of passion, whether it’s the program, the people, or the purpose. One I am particularly proud of is a project we developed for HPE, which extended their Greetings From The Edge campaign into a fully-realized virtual world for their customers to explore. It had a lot of complexity, required a very talented and fully-dedicated team, and input from every discipline across GMR to bring to life. The final result was incredibly rewarding for our clients, their customers, and our agency. You can experience it here