How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?
It started in grade school. I started drawing stuff and became the go-to-guy for posters: sports, proms, yearbooks, anything. When I was 14, I was designing restaurant menus. People came to me for marketing because I drew all the time.
My road map has been to go with my gut. I was a CCO at 29. I mean, it was my own company, but I was running Converse.
How I got to Deutsch is really interesting and unplanned. Honestly, there are many times I have thought about leaving the industry and then something happens and I stay. I realized that the job doesn’t always need to be the one you thought it was. You can create your own. You can make docu-films or create an art show to help homeless people, like what we did with 100 Pieces. I have been able to use this job to do other things that satisfy my creative needs. What keeps me in advertising right now is that no one knows where the business is going and it is exciting. It keeps me young. The one thing I do know is that doing good is a passion.
Once, a reporter referred to me as a bonafide expert in advertising. If I’m ever an expert in anything, it’s time to quit.
Photo courtesy of Deutsch
What keeps you motivated?
If I’m not making something it’s because I died.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?
We can use our creative talents to make the world better. Sometimes people look down on advertising but what they don’t realize is that we have the ability to creatively move humanity forward. Advertising is starting to get a whiff of that and award it.
What excites you most about this industry?
The opportunity to help change the world with our creativity. We can partner with corporations to make the world better. And at the end of the day, that is what consumers want in 2018.
Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?
Brands are starting to understand that being a purpose-driven company and putting the good back into humanity is the currency of the future. People will buy things based on their emotional attachment to the way a company behaves. With so much competition, all product is parody. You create a product and in two weeks, you’ll have the same product made by someone else. People will buy with their hearts.
What advice do you have for those just starting in advertising?
“Hate something, change something.” Taken from Honda’s 2004 “Grrr” campaign. Advertising is rapidly changing into something else. And if you don’t like it, you’re probably a good candidate to change it from the inside.
What does 2018 hold for you, and for Deutsch?
That’s the beauty: I have no idea and a ton of ideas. We just start trying things and experimenting. If you don’t, you’ll sink. But to start, let’s make sure we’re doing right by our people and creating a culture where they feel safe. That’s how great work gets made.
Any closing thoughts for the ThinkLA community?
L.A. is at an inflection point that I’ve never before seen in my career. I’ve worked in London, Boston, Sweden, China, and all over the U.S. and I have never seen the collision of creativity and the fusion of film, music, and entertainment. The only thing missing is fashion. L.A. doesn’t get any credit for fashion. Every day, I think this is the best time and place to be in the ad business. L.A. has a ton of opportunity. Relish it. If you’re a creative person, you can do anything you want. The world is wide open. You have just as much of a chance as the next person.