Writer, Creative Director, Content Creator
Hello. My name is Joe, or "Joey," as my mother calls me. She used to say, "My Joey is so creative." And, well, here I am: a creative person writing and contenting my way through life with people I respect and admire on meaningful projects where we all learn and grow.
I attended OCAD and graduated with multiple scholarships. Since then, I've worked across the communication, marketing, content, film, and television industries as a writer, creator, CD, and executive leader.
My first break as a writer came at an agency famous for billboards with a strict "6 words or less" rule. Clearly, I didn't get the memo. Call it optimism or naivety, but I was determined to make ads that decorated daily life, not detract from it. Together with friends from college, Boom Design, we created work that spawned several imitations, wound up in the Obie hall of fame, changed brand perceptions overnight, and was the subject of countless anecdotes like people pulling over on the Gardiner expressway to read the words and take in the imagery.
One of the most powerful aspects of creativity is how it can motivate positive change. I lead the team in a new direction for the Princess Margaret Hospital. We learned the public was wary of the progress made in the war on cancer and needed proof of progress. We also determined that the PMH was one of the world's top five cancer research hospitals responsible for landmark discoveries. And from that, Conquer Cancer In Our Lifetime was born. The communication changed the direction of the hospital forever, increased donations by 300%, and united 1000s of oncologists, patients, and volunteers under one goal.
But the real power of the PMH platform was only fully realized in the years following the campaign's launch. Rather than reuse or refresh the existing assets, we took a decidedly different approach to further our message of progress. This wouldn't be an ad, campaign, or PR stunt. Instead, we decided to create a piece of peer-reviewed content, a full-length documentary that would explore the current state of cancer research, the good, the bad, and the ugly. The project attracted Bryan Adams, Lisa Ray, The Princess of Jordan, and Yael Cohen, to name a few. The film found its way onto the CBC and Netflix, making it the first piece of brand-created content to run as scheduled programming.
When I started writing, they said print was dead. But I did some print yesterday, and I'm still waiting for the funeral. Print remains the best indicator of a writer's capacity to be compelling and brief, an art director's ability to break through, and a brand's reason to differentiate. And if you're reading this, well, print made it possible.
Making video has become a daily practice and a pure joy in my life. Whether I'm at the park with my daughter or on set with one of the most famous athletes of all time, it's the same energy for me. First, I directed my scripts, then made short films, then people trusted me with their scripts, and then I got to make a documentary running on Netflix and CBC. I've lost track of how many ads and pieces of content I've made, but I do so with a couple of decades of experience and day one enthusiasm.
In the fall of 2020, I made a decision to leave the city and move to a field in the middle of nowhere. I started my own company and spent more time with my family, but, free from distraction, I lacked a creative connection. A friend suggested I share my feelings on TikTok because we all know social media is a loving, caring form of communication. Well, 20K connections, 2M views and 160K likes later, I found myself interacting with a massive group of people who could all relate. Once again proving, ignore the rules, be yourself, and speak from the heart.
As a writer, my process usually begins with a blank page. But in the case of EDIT Design Festival, it began with a blank space, an abandoned soap factory, to be specific. Great Gulf came to Community Agency with a tall order: present the future of construction with wood, and incorporate an installation that had never been used. I had the great honour of leading the team and working with Stacklab to ideate and install a truly unique experience that Toronto Life, Blog TO, and Interior Design magazine called "The Best of The Festival." It took me way out of my comfort zone, brought me to the woods and back, and taught me that sometimes you have to write in three dimensions.
People say, "I love the sound of your voice, Joseph Nanni," so I'll launch my first audiobook this fall. It's a mystery inspired by the discovery of a notebook, of course, and part of a narrative arc I have been working on since I was 13, no joke. So it's nice to finally share some of it.