I'm a New-York based independent strategist.
I have worked at some great companies over the years, but a couple of years ago I decided to go freelance.
Our industry is going through an exhilarating, crazily unpredictable time. The ground is shifting under our feet. Old rules no longer apply. I figured the best way understand these changes is to jump right in. To speed-learn, to steal, to invent, to take risks, alongside fearless, curious people. And to have enough time left over to experiment with life itself - to make stuff, volunteer, learn new skills.
Fast forward a couple of years. I am still learning something new every single day. And I want to bring this learning, these new ideas and this passion to as many brands and projects as anyone will let me.
Droga5, co:collective, Project: WorldWide, BBDO, Redscout, Headmint, cooke & co, Trollback, The Coca-Cola Company, Constellation Brands, Special Forces NY, Vice/Virtue and a few secret projects.
The kinds of projects I particularly love
+ On almost every single project I've worked on recently the solution to the problem wasn't simply an ad campaign. In many cases the end result had nothing to do with advertising: the solution was a product, or a tool, or an action, or an idea the whole brand or organization could own. Increasingly this is how brands and agencies are thinking, and these are the kinds of ideas I am most attracted to.
+ Hard cases: brands down on their luck or facing big challenges; when more of the same is no longer working.
+ Anything playing in a supposed 'low interest' category, born from the firm belief that any category can and should be interesting.
+ Brands that are appreciated by their audiences but don't know how to tap into broader cultural changes and opportunities.
What I’m good at
+ Finding a brand's cause, its fight, its stance, its story. And I strongly believe that this should not be rooted not just in a category opportunity, but in the brand's role in people's lives and in culture at large.
+ Finding the big idea, fast. I distrust insights that needed six weeks of research to get uncovered.
+ Tracking down great stories within big piles of boring data and information.
+ Using human language to evoke human truths - I hate marketing jargon and business-speak.
What gives me no joy
- Large teams where everyone has a say. I go quiet in rooms with 20 people talking over each other. Maybe because I grew up in a large family?
- Standard brand templates, with their endless tweaking of words. Trying to decide between 'refresh your life, every day' or 'refreshing vitality, daily'. We've all been in those meetings ... I have found that large brand documents that ladder up to very broad 'higher order benefits' often become the enemy of doing something bold and interesting.
- All-day meetings.
Where I’ve been
I’ve had the good luck to work at a bunch of interesting agencies, at interesting times, with great people, on fascinating brands. I’ve learned a lot and am grateful to all of them for having me.
JWT - 2007 to 2010
After ten years of flying by the seat of my pants I wanted to learn how the big guys do things. JWT under Rosemarie Ryan and Ty Montague were re-inventing the big agency/big client model for the 21st Century, and I’m honored I got to experience it firsthand. I got to work with some amazing people from many different fields on campaigns like Kleenex Let it Out and helped win and worked on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (the Nation of Why Not) and Bloomberg - all of them campaigns that rejected traditional communications approaches to create larger cultural relevance. Best of all, I've been able to work with Rose and Ty again more recently at co:collective, where they're Storydoing for a whole bunch of large, innovative brands.
Berlin Cameron United – 1997 to 2007
Running someone else's shop was going to work only for so long for Andy and Ewen so they set up on their own. I was lucky enough to be one of the seven people that were there from the beginning. One phone, one computer and one little above a deli. We went right for the big clients – Reebok, Cadillac, NBC. Six years later we were Agency of the Year twice over and had clients like Coca-Cola, Samsung and Heineken. I learned a ton in those crazy rollercoaster years, not just about planning but about what makes agencies work. I was head of planning for a while as well, and enjoyed parts of the job (mentoring, career development) but realized that I get few kicks from being the boss.
Fallon McElligott Berlin (New York) – 1996 to 1997
I wanted to see a bit of the world so I moved to New York and joined this Fallon outpost, run by Andy Berlin and Ewen Cameron. A great creative boutique who did big work for small clients, like BMW Motorbikes, Tidy Cats cat litter, Fresca and a bunch of Condé Nast magazines.
Bartle Bogle Hegarty (London) – 1992 to 1996
My first job as planner in advertising and what a place and time to learn the craft. BBH was at one of their many creative peaks, producing campaigns that are still remembered today. And many of the people who were junior then lead agencies today. They let me work on great brands like Levi’s and Audi, and a whole bunch more.