2 Minutes With ... Craig Elimeliah, CCO at Lippe Taylor

On Legoland, T-Mobile and all things A.I.

As chief creative officer at Lippe Taylor Group, Craig beings his passion for technology, data and storytelling to connect brands with customers. His goal: craft captivating experiences that redefine categories, embed culture and disrupt the status quo.

Craig is an enthusiastic champion of the transformative power of creativity to drive business results. In his free time, he indulges his passions for art, design, tech and food, and finds joy in cooking, running, traveling and learning.

We spent two minutes with Craig to learn more about his background, creative inspirations and some recent work he's admired.

Craig, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

It often amuses me when I encounter people who claim to be from Brooklyn, only to discover that they moved to the borough a decade or two ago. As for myself, I can say with genuine pride that I am from Brooklyn.

My roots in this borough run deep, as I was born and raised in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood. It was a wonderful place to grow up—a diverse and vibrant community that embodied the rich cultural heritage of the generations of immigrants who had settled there over the years. These days, I call the small, picturesque town of Nyack, N.Y., my home. Nestled at the base of Hook Mountain, it boasts a charming and close-knit creative community that I find both welcoming and inspiring. Having spent the majority of my life in Manhattan, it was a big change to move to this idyllic spot. But I have found that it suits my family perfectly. I feel a deep sense of connection to this beautiful part of New York, and I am grateful for the opportunity to call it my home.

Why you pursued a career in advertising.

From a very young age, I found myself enamored with the world of advertising. As a child, I would memorize every commercial that was on TV, and cover my walls with clippings from my favorite magazine ads. Brands like Absolut and Nike in the '90s inspired me to pursue a career in advertising.

When I started as a young designer, I was determined to make my mark on the world—and I was fortunate enough to find myself in the right place at the right time. Drawing upon a combination of design and programming skills, I quickly found myself working with some of the biggest and most iconic brands in the world. These early experiences provided me with a sense of confidence and inspiration. They taught me the importance of constantly pushing the boundaries of what's possible, of crafting game-changing ideas that both challenge norms and establish a brand's relevance. I am still passionate about my work, constantly striving to create bold, innovative campaigns that differentiate brands and resonate with audiences in meaningful and authentic ways.

Three movies/TV shows you couldn't do without.

I'd be nothing without Star Wars, that franchise really helped me to expand my mind and to think in systems within systems and galaxies within universes. Lucas taught me about world building. Ingmar Bergman's films had a profound effect on me and my creativity. His innovative storytelling techniques and explorations of complex themes have influenced a lot of my own approaches to my work. His use of introspective narratives and character studies—featuring complex, flawed protagonists who struggle with existential questions and their place in the world—helped shape my own worldview. I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey when I was quite young, and it was the first time I really understood what design was. I was blown away by the detail of every shot, and I immediately knew that was the bar for what amazing design was supposed to be.

A person you idolized creatively early on. 

This is going to sound so cliche but it is the truth. Andy Warhol was everything for me. As a creative, I hold Andy Warhol in the highest regard. His avant-garde persona and remarkable aptitude for seamlessly traversing the world aligned with my own worldview. His proficiency in shaping brand identities and weaving them into the fabric of culture served as my guiding light—and advertising was the perfect medium to offer me a chance to explore my potential through that lens. 

One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on.

My former creative partner, Harsh Kapadia, and I constantly challenged each other to push the boundaries. While working on Legoland, we discovered that the theme park was at least two hours from the nearest airport, and with anxious children that journey could take a toll on the entire family. To address this challenge, we developed an app called Quest to Legoland that leveraged Google Maps and enabled children to track their location and destination while also providing tons of entertaining games, stories and educational content. Our invention resolved the dreaded "are we there yet?" question and transformed the journey into a joyful experience.

A recent project you're proud of.

A recent project I am extremely proud of is one that that involved creating a game-changing experience for T-Mobile, which has significantly altered the dynamics of the network-carrier industry. The current carrier space is riddled with endless switching. We discovered that customers are exhausted by this tedious and time-consuming process, which often requires them to commit to a carrier without any knowledge of compatibility. Therefore, we helped T-Mobile eliminate the barriers between buying and trying.

The work, Network Pass, allows customers to access T-Mobile's wireless service for three months, with unlimited data, after a simple sign-up process in the app. This can be done while keeping their existing phone, number and carrier. In addition, we introduced a Network Scorecard, which serves as a report card for T-Mobile's speed and coverage compared to the customer's current wireless network. Our work substantially eased the process of switching carriers, and the project has garnered immense success. It was an exceptional experience to lead such a talented cross-functional team, and I remain very proud of our achievement.

One thing about how marketing is evolving that you're excited about.

We stand at the cusp of a groundbreaking era in our industry, characterized by the unprecedented velocity of cultural changes, the spectrum of identity, the interoperability of brands, and the rapid advancements of A.I. These have all transformed the rules of the game. I have not felt this level of excitement since the advent of the internet and the iPhone. Our industry is undergoing an evolutionary shift that promises to bring about a remarkable change for the better, and I am fully committed to embracing it.

Someone else's work, in advertising or beyond, that you admired lately.

Refik Anadol is an artist who has made a huge impact. His unique ability to blend the latest advancements in technology with artistic expression has led to the creation of immersive installations that push the boundaries of our perception and understanding of the world around us. His work in the fields of machine learning, data visualization and computational photography is nothing short of breathtaking. I am inspired by his vision and his ability to use generative algorithms to create stunning and thought-provoking works that challenge our assumptions about the role of technology in art.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

My buddy Scott recently recommended Techgnosis by Erik Davis. He and I are constantly geeking out over A.I. and creativity. Techgnosis explores the complex relationship between technology, spirituality and culture. Although the book was written before the emergence of A.I. as a creative tool, its themes and ideas are still relevant to the new landscape, where A.I. technologies are increasingly used to create art, music and other forms of content.

Your main strength as a creative.

While it may sound bold to say, I believe that my greatest strength as a creative lies in my deep and abiding passion for culture, technology, science and data. I'm fascinated by the way these disparate fields intersect with creativity, craftsmanship and storytelling to create something truly unique and meaningful. My passion is my driving force, I strive to bring fresh and innovative approaches to everything I do. 

I'm constantly on the lookout for new and unconventional ways to connect brands with customers, crafting experiences that are both valuable and memorable. I'm not content to follow the status quo, I aim to disrupt it, embedding culture and sparking novelty in unexpected ways. So while I may be just one small voice, I believe that my unwavering passion to innovation and meaningful connection sets me apart, and allows me to create truly differentiated work.

Your biggest weakness.

My biggest strength—passion—is also my biggest weakness. When you're passionate about this business, it's easy to take on too much at once. This leads to a lot of overcommitment, some burnout, and can also lead to a lack of focus. I need to constantly be mindful of this. It's a balancing act for sure.

Something people would find surprising about you.

Even though I am a major introvert, I find that I am most energized and inspired when I'm working on projects and collaborating with my clients and my teams.

I'm happiest riffing on ideas with my colleagues and bringing them to life. However, putting myself out there can be a challenge. As an introvert, I tend to prefer solitary activities, and it takes a lot of extra effort to step outside of my comfort zone and engage with others. But I recognize the value of pushing myself in this way, and I commit to doing what it takes to fully connect with my teams.

It's not easy. I know that the rewards of working collaboratively are more than worth the extra effort. The sense of shared accomplishment that comes from bringing an idea to life with a team is very fulfilling for me, and I'm eternally grateful for the opportunity to do this for a living.

One thing that always makes you happy.

My kids.

One thing that always makes you sad.


What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.


2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a contributor for Muse by Clio. She's also a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication, and Information.

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