Alex Levin is a founding partner and Director of Strategy at L+R, an international digital design studio and brand strategy consulting firm based in Brooklyn. He has served on the Ad Council’s UX Committee since 2017, during which time he has guided discussions to fine-tune the websites of several of our campaigns, including Alzheimer’s Awareness, Love Has No Labels, Youth Vaping Prevention and Seize the Awkward.
We recently spoke with Alex about the learnings he’s taken away from 2020 so far.
Rebecca Mir: Our country continues to reckon with police brutality, anti-Black racism and systemic oppression. As the leader of a company, what have you learned?
Alex Levin: Throughout the last few months I have made a more active point to check in with our team both individually and in a forum-format. Additionally, I’ve realized the importance of reaching outside your network to ask questions, listen, and internalize, to gain a perspective as an effective way to see the connection and importance of the individual as well as the overall health of the community.
RM: Has your outlook on corporate social responsibility evolved this year? If so, how?
AL: Yes, much of the focus towards the end of last year was on environmental sustainability and climate change. And while these remain just as important, this year, the role of social responsibility became a strong component in multiple ways. For businesses and brands, rather than executing marketing initiatives, campaigns, or product launches, organizations are changing themselves at their core, whether through staffing and hiring, building long-term digital platforms, or systematic changes focusing on social, community, and/or governance. CSR becomes a vital component of organizations in order to survive; not only to satisfy shareholders, but attract, retain, and motivate their workforce.
RM: Could you tell us about some specific projects you’ve executed this year that you’re especially proud of?
AL: Our team at L+R embarked through a heroic weekend sprint to complete the digital motion design piece for Global Citizen and the World Health Organization’s One World: Together at Home event to support COVID-19 health workers in an international live stream and broadcast event. The event was curated by Lady Gaga and the six-hour special was reported to have raised nearly $128 million for coronavirus health care workers!
We also recently partnered with Global Giving and created the Change at a Distance initiative with The Durst Organization and Spireworks. Spireworks is the only building-size interactive lighting installation and donation platform and opened up its platform to the world. Visitors donate money to the Coronavirus Relief Fund and control the iconic building lights of New York City—safely, from the comfort of their own home—via a livestream. The initiative is in its fourth month, with 100% of the money donated continuing to support those most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, including impoverished communities and essential workers around the globe.
RM: What’s the greatest piece of advice someone has gifted you?
AL: From my mentor: under promise and overdeliver. I have a tendency to overproduce, though at times that might not be what’s truly needed. The idea of creating value, in any circumstance, is guided by an understanding of necessity. When dealing with complex problems, ensuring that expectations are clear and concise, it can yield extraordinary results.
RM: What age would you want to meet up with your former self, and what advice would you give to that younger you?
AL: I’d like to meet myself at 12, and say, don’t worry about growing up. Life ages well if you stay true to yourself. I don’t think 12-year-old me would get that, so maybe I would start by telling 12-year-old me that, then repeat it until I turned around 25.