Internationalist Award: Agency Innovator

[Originally ran in Q4 2009 issue of The Internationalist]

I was flattered to be recognized for my work in trying to modernize creative departments with the Agency Innovators Award. Although it claims I worked in countries I did not (my work ran there, and I worked with teams there, but I didn’t take up residence there), this particular recognition was of course an honor, albeit likely less deserved than some of the other stellar winners.



Senior Vice President/Alchemist, Chicago USA

Denuo, Chicago USA

CURRENT CLIENTS: All of the Denou-Publicis portfolio

BORN: San Antonio, Texas USA to parents of Indian descent from Africa

WORKED IN: Tokyo, London, New York with studies in Germany at the Berlin School of Creative Leadership

Saneel Radia is single-handedly working to rebuild the type of talent and operating systems we see in advertising today.  In his role at Denuo, he ensures that every employee comes from a rare breed of hybrid talent that spans media, creative, strategy and digital expertise. In 2008, he formed Denuo’s modern creative practice, Alchemy, which boasts exactly this caliber of talent, to help provide clients with a one-stop shop that has media sensibility and fresh creative ideas at its core.


Saneel initiated the practice of blending separate skill sets and disciplines to deliver client “gold” — while he was simultaneously working in the media and creative disciplines. He noticed that there were a lot of industry gaps and overlap where distinctions blurred. Under this new operating model, Saneel makes sure every client project begins with a fresh sheet of paper. His team is fluid, creative and collaborative. Employing a “plug-and play” operating model, Denuo can work with any and all agency partners, media properties and/or vendors to achieve the best possible outcome for the client.


Outspoken and sharp-witted, Saneel is a source of inspiration and innovation at Denuo. He is always on the lookout for the next big thing — whether it be a trend, idea, a new piece of technology or content platform. He recently spearheaded the launch of Denuology ( the agency’s blog on micro trends and pop culture. Denuology is essentially a collection of very tongue-in-cheek observations about digital culture and a direct reflection of the various personalities that sit inside of Denuo.

What role does innovation play in your marketing strategy today? Innovation is extremely important in marketing today. Every project must start with a fresh sheet of paper and it cannot repurpose an old idea or use an existing template. Given the different types of consumer with different interests and different needs, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution that can make sense in this highly fragmented, digital world. When developing a marketing strategy, Saneel Radia believes it paramount to not separate media from creative. It’s about taking each objective and trying to understand how to live in someone else’s space. For example, when developing solutions in the videogame space, he ensured that the brand was introduced in a way that made sense to the consumer and added value to their experience. It’s not about adding a logo or a billboard in the middle of a game. It’s about putting yourself into that experience and trying to mirror real-life as closely as possible. It’s also about leveraging brand attributes to provide things that will enhance their game play.


The biggest challenge is the inherent culture bias that exists. Everyone has their own frame of reference. Many times marketers fall into the trap of searching for a ‘universal truth’ that everyone will agree on. However, the key is to present the truth and let people bring their own bias to it, whatever that may be.


“Innovation is thinking of a new idea that has not been thought of before and working with the best people in the business to bring that innovative solution to life.”

Other INTERNATIONAL TRIVIA: Saneel Radia has visited 30-40 countries and speaks both Gujarati and Spanish.


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