David Shing has the kind of gig that can only exist mid-bubble, when dinosaur corporations chase Snapchat into extinction. He pulls down six figures as AOL’s “Digital Prophet.” He hallucinates about the future and executives receive his wisdom like hair spikes are a barometer for intelligence. These are the kind of prophecies you get from a coddled cartoon character.
Everyone’s favorite corporate muppet was the focus of a brief profile in this week’s New Yorker. In it, we learned Shingy moonlights as an interior decorator for CEO Tim Armstrong (he “rebooted” his office by replacing Armstrong’s desk with a circle of chairs) and his erect hairdoo is “easy” to maintain. But he also has some bold takes on the future of digital marketing.
On creative design:
The New Yorker learned that Shingy and has the creative vision of an out-of-work Threadless t-shirt designer—and AOL’s bosses are impressed:
Next, Shingy stopped by the office of Erika Nardini, the chief marketing officer of AOL Advertising, and handed her an iPad Mini. “Wanted to show you a little brain fart I had on the plane,” he said. It was a cartoon he had drawn of a bear wearing zebra-print pants and a shirt covered in ones and zeros.
“Love it, love it, love it,” Nardini said. “I’m thinking of the bears more as a metaphor.”
“A thousand per cent,” Shingy said.
Nardini went on to describe Shingy as her “muse” while The Shingster poked around on his phone and smiled along.
When you and I think of Applebees, we picture a few dozen tables of sadness, piled high with heartburn and $5.95 beers pushed during football games. But Shingy’s belief in the almighty Brand is unwavering. In his mind, even Applebees can market its way out of its miserable reality:
He took an Uber car uptown to IPG Mediabrands, an advertising firm, where he was due to give a speech. “I think some folks from Applebee’s are going to be in the house,” he said. “I’m more of a caffeine-free, gluten-free, raw-food sort of guy, but I am able to find something to like in every brand once I hear their story.”