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speaking fluently

Alex Fino

I started at fluent360, then known as Team Ignition, in February 2011.  At the time, I was one of 4 employees and today we are over 100. It has been an amazing and completely rewarding journey filled with all the highs and lows one would expect.

The Team Ignition years were tough but highly rewarding, to say the least.  It was long hours, high stress, and more pressure than I had ever experienced. I had been working for 16 years and felt experienced and confident that I knew what I was doing – those early Team Ignition years forced me to throw out everything I believed I knew, as all my blind spots and weaknesses started to appear.  It was a time of immense personal growth, and I couldn’t have gotten through it without the support of the CEO, Danielle, co-workers, agency, and client partners. I look back at that time and my first reaction is, “Wow,” immediately followed by “Wow.” Wow, I can’t believe how ridiculously tough that time was and, “Wow,” what an amazing experience filled with personal and professional growth. I will always think back at the time and feel an incredible sense of accomplishment.

Some say the universe only throws at you what you can handle. Just when you think you have it all figured out, something will come along to show you how much more you need to learn and grow. The transition from Team Ignition to fluent360, I think, really proves that. For all the hardship, stress, and pressure we felt during Team Ignition, it paled in comparison to transitioning to a new business model and effectively having to start all over. A challenge I would have never been able to meet prior to my experience at Team Ignition – everything I had gone through prepared me for this next chapter. It was the beginning of the shift from running our client partner business to helping run the business of fluent360. The day-to-day shifted from Advertising tasks on behalf of our clients to hiring, managing people, departments, setting up processes, structure and all the things that come with what was effectively starting over. It is that experience that took my professional ability to the next level. I think back at how uncomfortable I was, how inexperienced I was, and thinking to myself, “Just fake it till it becomes real.” Doing whatever I had to do to contribute and help fluent360 become what we always thought it could be – the best MC agency in the country.

Today, one could easily argue we are one of the best MC agencies in the country.  Are we the best? Seems subjective, but I can confidently say we can compete with anyone. We have the people, culture, and winning mindset required to be the best. Watching the growth trajectory we have been on for over 5-7 years is amazing and inspiring. Learning from all the mistakes I made and now feeling like I don’t have to fake it anymore, I know what I’m doing. Yet, if my 12 years here have taught me anything, it is that you never stop learning, you never stop growing, and the universe makes sure of that. It constantly throws new challenges my way, constantly makes me uncomfortable, and lets me know, that with the support of the team, we can do this.

Watching what we have become and where we are going is hard to put into words. All I can say is we’re not done yet, we have a lot more to achieve and I know I will face new challenges, but with the people that surround me today, I am 100% confident we will one day be known as the best MC agency in the country. My time here can only be described as intense, amazing, fulfilling, and rewarding. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Darian Forh

The evolution of the Nissan multicultural business has an interesting story and history. Never had Omnicom called upon multiple multicultural agencies to work together as part of an integrated agency model on a single piece of business. Other automakers like Ford and General Motors had multiple agencies working on different multicultural segments but not under a single moniker.

As lead on the African American audience work, I had an opportunity to build a new team and work alongside other great multicultural agencies in the industry. Team Ignition was the original group that housed agency teams supporting the African American, Hispanic, and Asian audiences for Nissan. Times were challenging in the beginning as we were all relatively new and trying to figure out new clients, new team members, and new business challenges.

This was during a time when multicultural consumers were typically not being prioritized by as many automakers as they are currently. Clients and the auto industry at large were just starting to understand the level of influence and economic power of the multicultural audience. One of our biggest challenges was getting a seat at the table to discuss and share the insights that we knew would move the needle for the brand.

I have fond memories of late nights and travel to Nashville for presentations and meetings with my Team Ignition colleagues and the bright and diverse minds who brought their experiences and perspectives to the business.

I was not along for the entire journey but have since rejoined the now fluent360 agency team and have been amazed to see that a sizeable share of Nissan’s U.S. sales now come from the multicultural audience. The strategies that we employed years ago have come to fruition.

The growth and evolution of the fluent360 agency have also been amazing to see. A new list of clients. A swanky downtown Chicago headquarters and so many smart and talented individuals with great ideas and passion for their respective clients.

It has been awesome to be a part of something so groundbreaking!

Hannah Adams

My time with Team Ignition began as part of a small and lean team of individuals dedicated to a vision of a more inclusive marketplace. I started as an executive assistant, and moved to the account team shortly after, as I always had an interest in helping to shape brand narratives and business goals. I joined the team with little advertising experience, but a huge desire to learn and contribute. Being part of a tiny but mighty team granted me exposure to all parts of the agency and I quickly found my footing – learning from every department from creative services, to production, to media and strategy. We also worked extensively with inter-agency or cross-agency teams, all tasked with various facets of a client’s business. Suffice it to say there was no shortage of opportunities to hone my craft.

I cut my teeth in the automotive industry, working on our Nissan and Infiniti accounts. Over the years some of my most memorable projects included the Latin Grammys, multiple BET Awards events, and Hispanic Heritage Month campaigns, not to mention numerous vehicle model relaunches such as the Maxima, Altima, and Frontier.

Transitioning from a smaller agency model outsourcing various department streams to a full in-house agency allowed the company to bloom to its full potential and grow staff in a near-exponential manner. We experienced the expected “growing pains” while setting up formal processes, organizing departments that were continually growing, and increasing our employee count nearly sevenfold in the process. The expansion also enabled me personally to chase new opportunities for growth and added responsibility within the agency. I listened and observed day in and day out, learning as much as I could and shaping how I would eventually lead and manage teams.

I often get asked about my experience with fluent360, and the truth is, it feels like I have worked for multiple agencies, as each iteration of fluent360 lives in my mind as a distinct entity – each with its own DNA, its own character, and its own valuable purpose.

As fluent360 evolved, I too evolved. As an Account Director, I’ve been able to take on new roles and chart a path suited to my strengths and interests. This path has led me to work in countless other industries including healthcare, non-profit, finance, the armed services, tourism, and big-box retail. But no matter the industry, the project, or the task, I’ve been fortunate to work in a place that values telling real stories, honors authenticity, and believes in the importance of fostering honest relationships with consumers.

I’m proud to be one of the fluent360 OGs and look forward to seeing where we grow next!


Héctor Arellano

I joined Team Ignition in the winter of 2014.

Moving to Chicago during the winter was definitely a memorable experience. At the time, Nissan was our main client… really our only account.

I was excited at the opportunity to step into a role where I finally had creative control. I was there at all levels, from concept to traveling to presenting to Nissan and production. I grew up quickly and gained a lot of experience. In those early days, the team was small. I wore many hats. I would write scripts just as much as I would design.

The other small but exciting assignment I had a role in (later it would become one of my career’s greatest accomplishments) was to work on rebranding Team Ignition into a full-service shop.

Working closely with Danielle, we went through what felt like hundreds of meetings and versions of the new logo, new agency name, new brand identity, colors, social media presence… In the end, it was a truly rewarding experience. And to this day, I get to work on the agency brand from time to time. (See our annual meeting’s branding)

Months turned into years and as the agency grew, moved offices, and grew some more, I grew with it.

Working on and winning new business pitches like Miller Lite and the US Army solidified my long-term commitment to the agency. At every point where I felt like I was starting to get comfortable, a new role or assignment or client, challenged me to grow some more. Today, while I enjoy working on my main clients, I look for and thrive in taking on the one-off assignments where we can really leave our mark. Some of this work in recent years has been our Cheerios campaign, the Ad Council Flu campaign, the very first Makers multicultural content series, and now our Feeding America work, scheduled to go live in June.

Looking back at my 8 years here and how far we have come, I feel great pride and accomplishment. I started when there were about 15 employees… and look at us now!


José Suaste

I must admit that in 2011 when I first started working with fluent360, or Team Ignition as it was called back then, I really was kind of confused. Back then, Team Ignition had a strange setup in my young creative opinion. Nissan was the client, but the creative wasn’t in-house. They farmed that out to various multicultural agencies.

I was confused because at my agency, we had our own creative and account service teams, and Team Ignition felt like another set of account people to present to. We’d get briefs, come up with ideas, and then present them internally to accounts. If they liked our ideas, we’d present them to Team Ignition, and if they liked them, we could present them to the client. You can see how it may have started a few arguments.

But eventually, we gelled and produced some great campaigns. We launched models like The Juke and the Versa, and I created… get ready for this… WEB BANNERS, for the first time in my career. I got to know Alex Fino and Danielle, and we grew to respect each other.

Once I resigned from my previous agency, I thought my run with Team Ignition had ended, but in 2016, I got a call from Hector, who was now with “fluent360” to come freelance. It was a real agency now. They needed an extra hand on some projects for a bit. I accepted and freelanced for a few months. The office in the AON center wasn’t too big, but it seemed like they had some cool people, and the work was interesting. When my contract was done, I went back to my own business, thinking once again, that was that.

I was wrong.

In May of 2017, I got a call from Alex telling me they were looking for a new Executive Creative Director and asked if I was interested. At the time, I had my own little shop, had started my own Tequila brand, and was living in Dallas, so I politely passed. The next day he called again and told me they’d like to fly me up to at least hear what they had to say. I believe my exact thoughts were…

You wanna fly me up to Chicago? Fine. I’ll take a trip and enjoy the sights.

My first meeting was a breakfast near the office with Danielle. I showed up early and took a table. When she arrived, her first words were, “Why are you trying to play hard to get?” I laughed, and the rest is history. Within a month, I had accepted the role, and within two months, I was living in Chicago. That was 6 years ago this July.

A lot of things have changed since I joined fluent360.

Back then, we were barely cracking 20 employees, and now we’re near 100. We had a small corner of a floor rented from DDB in the AON center, and now we almost have an entire floor. I had 2 creatives and an intern, and now I have 23 creatives and interns every summer. I can honestly say it’s been the most rewarding and interesting journey I’ve had in my 24-year career.

It’s been perfect for me because I get to do what has always driven me, giving a voice to communities that have been underrepresented. And the reason that drive is still in me is because it’s constantly fueled by the unique voices, perspectives, and ideas I see from our employees daily.

I’m gonna ride this thing till the wheels fall off, or as one of my favorite colleagues Jamiel Hussain says, “Till they roll me outta this piece.”

Shorty Award
Client: Feeding America

fluent360's creative campaign, “The Full Effect” recently won a 2023 Shorty Award Audience Honor in the Public Health category. We launched the new fully integrated PSA campaign, “The Full Effect”, to inspire conversation and drive passion for the issue of ending hunger in the United States. 

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US Army
Be All You Can Be (Reboot)

fluent360, as part of Team DDB, played a key role in helping the U.S. Army modernize its iconic “Be All You Can Be” ad campaign. We led the strategy, creative, and production for several Gen Z-focused, multicultural marketing spots, including “First Arrival”, “First Patch”, and “First Target”.

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Adler University

Adler University is a higher education institution that is dedicated to graduating socially responsible practitioners, engaging communities, and advancing social justice.

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