Mike Mazar: Partner & Creative Director for Tenthwave

My NativeAdVice:


Mike Mazar is a Partner and Creative Director for Tenthwave and has over 18 years of experience in digital marketing. Mike leads a talented team of designers to create digital solutions that are equally elegant and functional. Tenthwave’s award-winning design work is built on Mike’s creative vision and User Interface expertise, honed over the years at i33 and RedStapler (as co-founder) and now serving Tenthwave clients including eBay, Duncan Hines, Visa, Prudential, Facebook, Pepperidge Farms, NBC Universal, Cape Cod Chips and FLOWER Beauty. 

Mike takes ideas from concept through design, and specializes in web site design & development, UI, interactive marketing, and online media. He holds an MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

How did you get into the advertising industry?

In high school I had taken to technical drawing… think T-square and mechanical pencils. I got quite good at it, and with some coaxing from my instructor, I entered a state competition. I entered 2 categories.

The first event I entered was for technical drawing. The technical drawing portion was a timed event and I was the first entrant to finish. The second event was for a logo design. My execution was hand sketched (which was not a strong-suit) and I made an entry that was conceptually strong, but artistic in nature given the technology focus of the competition.

To make a long story short, I ended up winning both events. This helped give me confidence that I can solve both technical and creative problems. I felt I could tackle them from whichever angle would lead to the best solution. My approach to design challenges includes both analytical & creative ideas…this is what leads me to believe that I’m logically abstract, and perfect for the industry.

Which campaigns that you have executed are you most proud of and why?

It wouldn’t warrant being classified as a campaign, but the re-launch of the Duncan Hines website in the fall of 2013 would have to be one of my favorite accomplishments. The most amazing part of the project was to watch every single department help get this across the finish line with maximum effort. Our various departments (creative, strategy, accounts, research & analytics, project managers, front-end development, back-end developers, systems administrators, social and more…) were instrumental. Literally every single department was crucial to this success and it makes me proud to see what our agency can do when we get challenged. We showed how powerful our team can be.

Also, we were very fortunate to have such a solid partner in our client. They had the courage to take such a leap. Together, we re-defined how the customer interacts with the Duncan Hines website, and it was quite a departure for a CPG brand to go all in. There is no navigation bar, allowing for a more exploratory experience that is driven by the user. It’s also something that learns behavior, and can serve up more content relative to each individual user, making each experience unique. There’s more opportunity for user generated content and interaction among site members. Simply put, we built something for the users to take control of, and it seems like they have.

How does your firm stay successful in this digital era?

Tenthwave is unique in that we have challenged our team to be more customer-obsessed. We are living the brands that we work for, and we adapt to the needs of the customer. Getting to know the customer better allows for a better understanding of their needs. This helps us to define and implement the most suitable solution for the customers on behalf of our clients. What we have realized is that the needs of the customer are often very different from how the client perceives them. 

What is your opinion on publicly traded advertising companies versus privately owned?

Public or private the goal is the same… creating great work for our clients. There might be more pressure to deliver on numbers to shareholders, but as part of a privately held company, there are equal pressures. 

  Define creativity.

Creativity is everything that happens between defining a problem & applying a solution.

What are the biggest industry trends and how do you capitalize on them?

The changing customer has created more complex problems for nearly every brand. I see the need to answer deeper questions, the questions rooted in traditional management consulting being answered by marketers, as being a trend to watch for. Marketers are very often defining business direction, CMO’s act like CEO’s and every day we are challenged to think smarter and be more responsive. The successful agency will be hiring into those positions, competing with consultants who usually “concept” vs. agencies that “do”.

Who is your greatest influence in becoming a successful CEO?

Since I have never had this aspiration, I can’t say that I had any singular influence. I draw upon the best qualities that have been taught and impressed upon me throughout my life. That said, I find it to be important to do things the way I see them, rather than what someone else would have done. I can only be myself and that has benefited me greatly.

What is your life motto?

Life is short, enjoy what you do.

What literature is currently on your desk or Internet browser?

Adage, The Huffington Post and ESPN. 

What's next for your Tenthwave?

Great things. We’ve just touched the surface of what we are capable of. We are fighting to remain nimble and efficient, while reimagining what an agency can do for clients. Being customer focused has guided our growth. What’s next is helping world class brands take advantage of change… in measurable ways that really matter.


About Tenthwave

Tenthwave is an independent digital agency on a mission to find transformative ideas that seduce the hearts and minds of customers. 

Customers inform us; it’s our job to inspire them.

Tenthwave’s core services are award-winning strategy and creative, plus research & analytics, digital development, branded content, user experience, social media, online media, and promotions. Clients include eBay, Duncan Hines, Visa, Prudential, Facebook, Pepperidge Farms, NBC Universal, Cape Cod Chips and FLOWER Beauty. 

Ranked by Ad Age as a Top 500 agency in 2013 and 2014. Recognized as a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer.

We are Tenthwave: The Customer Obsessed Digital Agency.

For more information visit http://www.tenthwave.com or http://www.facebook.com/Tenthwave, or follow us on Twitter @Tenthwave.