Flor Palazzolo is the Chief Business Development Officer at UTAG, a tech-driven communications company that provides efficient communication solutions. Based in Buenos Aires and Miami, it has a clear vision of the market, diversifying in Latin America and the competitive American market.
Among UTAG’s clients are Salesforce, Amerant Bank, Nike, PepsiCo. and Marriott. It is looking to expand its capabilities as a company that generates products and develops technology solutions to accelerate the processes in the digital media and communication landscape.
In this interview, Flor discusses her role at UTAG as well as the successful interactive video game used at Dreamforce’s event this year. Additionally, she talks about using gamification to engage users and whether immersive experiences are here to stay.
Danni White: Tell us about yourself and your role at UTAG.
Flor Palazzolo: I grew up in Mar del Plata, a small city in the Atlantic coast of Argentina. At the age of 14, I started working in my family’s business, where I worked for 9 years. During those years, I studied advertising, worked with my parents, had a program on the radio, built a magazine, create my own swimsuit line and some other projects that looked fun at the moment.
In 2008 I started a company called Coolpeople, with the sole purpose of helping young girls to feel confident about themselves, while learning about nutrition, fashion trends, exercise, personal marketing as well as to be good to each other. This last thing, caught my attention and made me realize that there was something very powerful behind the idea of embracing every girl to be the best version they could be. It was almost magical to see them interact and be constructive about their future and dreams while supporting each other. Seeing that, inspired myself to follow my dreams.
In 2012, I started to feel that I needed a change in my life. Mar del Plata became a place where I didn’t want to be, and even though by that time I was “successful,” I wasn’t happy.
In December of that same year, I trade all the economic security that I had and took a flight to Miami, the city that I thought was MY place in the world.
Maybe it was luck, the energy or the power we have to make things happen when we really want them to; the thing is I’ve got a job in advertising within weeks of arriving. Started in this company as office manager, where I had to almost start from zero, in terms of salary and leadership. I’ve also had no experience nor knowledge in the digital advertising field. I didn’t care, and neither my boss, since he claimed “I don’t know what you are going to do, but I feel you need to work here”.
I worked in that company for 5 years, evolving to the point of becoming VP of sales for Latin America, where I developed my tech and negotiation skills.
It was a hard path, taking into consideration that I was constantly dealing with decision-making men, way older than me, with extensive corporate careers and high egos. But at the same time, I found along the way many really nice people. Men, and specially many women, with managerial positions at their countries of origin, without the classic corporate path profile, with no egos to feed. With them, I found that together we could be successful.
You can’t not be brave enough to live the life of your dreams.
DW: For those who’ve never heard of UTAG, can you tell us what the company is known for?
FP: At the core, UTAG is a tech-driven communication company. That means, we rely on technology to make the communication process more efficient.
We are consultants, brand creators, communication strategists and technology enablers. We are digital accelerators. We believe people get to listen, choose, and connect with brands in a pretty unique way. Their own.
We craft the best solutions to satisfy each specific need, usually in the shape of innovation that brings projects to life. We are obsessed about getting the job done not only for our clients but for their consumers.
Our deliverables combine research, precision, and data-driven content all powered by the best technology available to reach that ever-looked extra mile. We always do what it takes to boost brands’ digital processes placing people at the center. Because to build a brighter future, humankind has to be at the core of the communication process.
DW: UTAG developed an interactive video game for Salesforce which was released at the Dreamforce event last month. Can you tell us a little about the video game?
FP: Being able to capture the attention of thousands of people that attend the Dreamforce 2019 was not an easy task. Possibilities were almost unlimited. We had to provide information in an entertaining way and to keep the story-telling style of Salesforce. Along with the well-known agency GPJ we developed a quiz video game that provided information to the user about the industry. The activation was an absolute success.
The Dreamforce event gave us the platform for an incredible visibility for the product we developed. Thousands of people interacting with the video-game we developed, most of them people from the technology industry with high standards. The experience was positive beyond our expectations. The reviews we received were phenomenal and the industry is still talking about it. This interview is partly proof of that!
DW: How did it impact the audiences’ understanding and engagement with Salesforce products?
FP: The importance of being able to collaborate with companies like Salesforce lies in the impact generated by communication strategies for mass audiences. Being able to live up to the requirement that this challenge presents is the main fuel that powers us to evolve professionally on a daily basis. From a business perspective, was the perfect challenge to address the B2B market and create a pathway towards building new solutions and acquire more clients.
DW: Gamification is a unique experience for both audiences and brands. How do you foster that drive for engagement?
FP: The logic that fosters this type of strategy is purely and exclusively the closeness and attachment that people have to video games. Play helps to relieve stress, improve brain function, stimulate the mind and boost creativity among other benefits.
From the departure of Atari to here video games are part of our life. We’ve been learning, evolving and growing up as a result of didactic experiences that shape our persona. This is another way of understanding who we are communicating with, not only focusing on the product, but thinking primarily about people.
DW: Let’s talk a little about immersive experiences. Is it a wave that is going to continue or will it eventually die off?
FP: Eleanor Roosevelt said “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” To experience is to be alive. Immersive experiences are here to stay. They have always been here. As at some point the radio was invented and it was thought that the newspapers were going to disappear, or when the TV arrived it was thought that the radio was going to die, closer to our time we thought that digital would definitely kill TV. Nothing dies, everything transforms and adapts, because as we mentioned earlier, we must always think and focus all our strategic efforts on understanding people.
DW: You have a unique view of both the American and Latin American markets. How did this come to be?
FP: We transform crisis into opportunities. We were born in Latin America surrounded by economic, political and any other crisis you can imagine, so, believe me when I say, we are the most resourceful partner you’ll find. We are game changers and we have the ability to adapt as the changes happen. Real time solutions for a non-stop businesses that need flexibility, nimbleness, commitment and fresh new ideas that keep coming. But at the same time we have been stablished in the US for a long enough so as to truly understand the rules and particularities of this market. We use our resourcefulness learnt in Latin America to exceed in the American market.
Our main goal is to be able to bring the professional excellence and economic advantages of our region to markets such as US. Believing in a flattened world, we are looking to integrate our processes and assets to create value for our customers and partners. Also, the fact that our operational hub is located in Argentina, gives us a competitive advantage not only related to cost but in the quality of talent and diversity of thinking.