Industry Profile: TAXI Director of Digital Strategy Sean McDonald

“TAXI is the best storytelling agency I know,” said Sean McDonald, Director of Digital Strategy at TAXI, “they know how to produce compelling content that tells great stories.” And compelling content is key to successful digital strategy.

Their strength in storytelling brought Sean to TAXI, the next step in a career that started in politics, steered toward communications, then became immersed in digital.

Sean’s passion for digital is tangible in conversation, a fact he willingly acknowledges. It was around 2005 when Sean found himself spending all his free time exploring the possibility of the internet, building websites, blogging, observing and interacting with the bleeding-edge of the tech community in Canada. He began to identify early patterns of online behavior and it was evident that his curiosity and passion should parlay into a career path.

Sean pursued further education to augment the knowledge and insight he’d amassed in the digital space. He enrolled in the University of Toronto’s Master of Information Design Master’s Program in Knowledge Media Design. U of T’s program focused as much on the emotion behind why consumers make the choices they make online, as the design of the information architecture that attempts to move them along a predetermined path. It takes a certain behavior for a consumer to want to share content online and Sean understands this well. Without compelling content, there is no value for consumers.

Two-thirds of his way through his Master’s degree, Sean was scooped up by NATIONAL Public Relations. He finished his degree at night, but applied his education simultaneously to bring digital know-how to the NATIONAL repertoire. Sean sharpened his client-side skills and ability to sell the value of an idea, and in 2009, moved on to Veritas as the Director of Social Strategy and Innovation.

At this time, social media was just beginning to cause a commotion and the battle over whether PR or traditional agencies should own the management of social media had begun to rage. Sean stepped in at Veritas to make sense of this evolution and to develop strategy therein for Veritas’ clients. Two years later, in March of this year, Sean made the shift from PR agencies to full-service and took a position as the Director of Digital Strategy at TAXI. Though it was originally founded upon the convergence of advertising and design, Sean believes that TAXI is coming into its own in a third discipline: digital.

Social media has become commonplace since Sean first stepped in at Veritas in 2009. Clients are now ready to apply TAXI’s mantra (“Doubt the Conventional, Create the Exceptional”) online and to start to push the envelope, but consumers have grown tired of talking to brands that have nothing to talk about. Adding value is paramount and brands have to solve problems, not just communicate a message. Fewer ads, more of an experience, less of a focus on marketing and more of a focus on relevance is the name of the game.

Sean is already immersed at TAXI, combining his know-how in collaboration with TAXI’s content experts to usher the agency, clients and the work into the next realm of this digital evolution. If clients are ready to doubt the conventional, Sean’s teams are ready to create the exceptional. 

To learn more from and about Sean, follow him on Twitter (@seanmcdonaldand his blog here.

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