I box—that’s my biggest thing. I make it a priority like eating lunch so it’s not an option: Three days a week, from noon to one, I am not here. It’s a good rebound thing, for obvious reasons. It keeps me focused.

question Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

Career highlights… I spent the first half of my career as the founding partner and creative director of Berlin Cameron in New York City, and was most recently the President and Creative Director for Jay-Z’s agency Translation. I am currently the Chief Creative Officer at Euro RSCG in Chicago. But really I got into this business because of punk rock. When I was 18 years old my band toured and played CBGBs and that sort of thing, and I did all the promotional/hustle stuff: I booked the shows and designed our fliers and the record and CD covers.

That whole DIY culture influenced me to get into advertising and it still influences how I view and do production: “If you have an idea, go and make it! Don’t sit and talk about it.”

question What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?

My favorite part is the camaraderie we have at the agency. The hardest part? Knowing when to go home. I don’t usually get stuck—if I don’t have the right idea in the first 5 minutes, I’m not going to have one, so I find someone else to come up with it.

question What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?

I never stop thinking about a project, even after it’s done.

question If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?

I remember early in my career when I was with Andy Berlin presenting to the CMO of MTV. It was a print campaign, and it came down to the classic client thing of “Make the logo bigger.” And I had prepared this whole long, drawn out argument about the entire ad being the logo and why I made the logo so small. and as soon as the client brought it up, Andy didn’t even give me a chance to speak or go through any of my art direction rationale bullshit. He just said, “How big do you want the logo to be?” and let the client draw it on the page. I was a little kid and I was pissed off. After the meeting I asked Andy what the hell? He was like, “It’s his ad, not yours, it’s his and now it’s sold.” It took me a long time to realize the total importance good client input adds to a project. At best we are 5% of a client’s job. They know more about the problem than we do—they live it every day.

question What area of web design lacks the most?

I’d say understanding how to interact with consumers at the initial point of website engagement.  Brand and creative people give people less credit than they deserve. We are no different than the consumers we are talking to, and I think sometimes we forget that. We’ll over-complicate a simple idea. To me the best web experiences are often the simplest—I tend to like analog ones. Just because you have access to every bell and whistle and every piece of Flash animation doesn’t necessarily mean you should use them. Ideas are the most important thing in any design: Once you get people to care about something, they’re yours; they wanna spend time with you.

question Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?

The Google Chrome experiments have changed the way we think about experiencing a website and they are smashing limitations. The Wilderness Downtown and 3 Dreams of Black are pushing the boundaries by creating meaningful experiences based on the convergence of creative experiences and entertainment using the use of new technologies like HTML5/WebGL. In the world of Flash, sites like TakethisLollipop.com, Tackfilm.se and Blistjarna.se did an amazing job of integrating Facebook, creating new opportunities to make deep experiences that are highly personalized and sharable.

Personally I love Svpply.com. I know the buzz is all around Pinterest, but my mom being on Pinterest sort of kills that. I use svpply as a creative resource as much as a shopping tool.

question When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?

The best clients understand their consumers—they know how to speak to them and how to target them. That’s kind of my personal obsession, as well: I really want to figure out the person and the culture they come from and where that brand fits within their world. I think every brand shares some common thread with each consumer through their culture, their background, their interests, their desires, their needs. Finding that cross over is how communication happens.

question Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?

I box—that’s my biggest thing. I make it a priority like eating lunch so it’s not an option: Three days a week, from noon to one, I am not here. It’s a good rebound thing, for obvious reasons. It keeps me focused.

question What was the last digital effort you saw (or were a part of) that used social media in a way that really made sense. Why?

I'm usually really busy so sometimes I can be hard to catch, to solve this problem we did a project internally that bridged physical/digital/social into a really useful utility for anyone trying to track me down. Using Arduino, Processing and Twitpic, we built a little machine called the "BossTracker 5000" that takes a photo and tweets it every time I sit down or stand up. It's proven really use internally and overall was a fun way to learn and experiment with social in a new and exciting way. http://bosstracker5000.tumblr.com/ 

question The web is getting out of the web. Do you find that thinking in digital solutions alone hinders you? Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?

This is the model that Euro RSCG, and Euro RSCG Chicago specifically, is based on. We think in terms of “What is the best solution to this problem?” while other agencies may think of the media first. True understanding of all media is critical and important, but the correct answer is usually a blending of all media channels.

question Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?

I think with the convergence of media the lines will blur between app and website. Websites are for desktop experiences, and our culture is moving more towards mobile. I think what will happen is a full convergence of platforms just for universal ease of use, content will shift its layout/look/experience to optimize for any screen on the fly. Performance, depth and user experience will always be the driving factors that will mandate what technologies we use and what they are capable of bringing to life creatively. Culture will drive the necessity, but I don't believe that what we now know as a website will even exist in a similar form. It will evolve dramatically into something far greater than we can even fathom today.

question Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?

Euro RSCG Chicago recently completed an interactive site for a new Disney movie called John Carter that takes the movie experience a lot further (http://bit.ly/oTCQZ6). I’m also really proud of a website I did for State Farm while at Translation. It was around the launch of a LeBron James documentary that State Farm had funded. The site unlocked never -before-seen video clips of young James, high school footage.

question What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?

We did a project for our client Sprint that let users connect with Facebook and upload their photo into the film. That part wasn't that hard. The hard part was that we built a 3D engine that let you rotate the film in a 3D space and objects came out of it. From a performance perspective It was a huge challenge to integrate several videos directly on top of each other and then manage them in a 3D space, it was a unique approach to an idea that wasn't exactly new. Yes, it's still online: http://sprint.com/bea3dstar

question Do you think Flash is here to stay?

I think that the needs of digital culture will ultimately make that decision. But if I was to speculate, while Flash is extremely powerful, it only serves an immediate need. Adobe is aggressively working into the HTML5/Canvas space because the company has finally realized that it has to provide a platform that empowers people to push the boundaries of a single screen experience. Adobe Edge is basically a very OLD version of Flash, but a JS output and things like Muse make it so designers don't even have to know how to code. People will always be excited about new technology and Flash has been the shortcut to breaking the rules.

question What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?

I think there are some great schools in the current marketplace. Hyper Island—I’m seeing the best kids coming out of that program. But I will say this: I’ll ask someone where they went to school, but I don’t care. I don’t care about degrees—I care what an in touch, smart and creative person they are more than anything else. And what they are capable of doing even more than what they’ve done.

question What advice would you give a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter?

Focus on experience, not just design. Ideas can come to life in more interesting ways than ever, and this is an exciting canvas to express yourself, your ideas and your brands. Keep a consumer perspective at all times: Would you be moved by what you are trying to do?

question How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?

We don't hire web designers so that's a good start. We hire creatives—creatives who are passionate about the space and want to do something no one’s ever seen before. Finding great talent can be a challenge, but we'd rather endure a little patience than a lot of regret. I just hire the best, most-talented people. I don’t care what they call themselves.

question How do you keep up with the latest capabilities of Flash or do you rely on other members of you team to do this?

I'm always looking for inspiration, sites like the FWA and Awwwards are really great insights to what's the most cutting edge work happening right now. Blogs also provide great insight, especially little niche blogs that focus on hacking, creative coding and innovation.

question When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?

For me, honesty is the best way to gain new clients. Clients don’t necessarily want you to echo back what they “want” to hear. They want to hear the hard truths of what they should be doing.

question How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?

I believe that everyone in this field needs to lead a completely digital and social life. If you are not involved deeply and personally in the mediums that are our tools, then there’s no way you’re able to understand it.

question There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a fan of advertising for children’s breakfast cereal brands like Cap’n Crunch.

question What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?

It’s to be the most current and relevant multi-disciplined creative agency in the world. Euro RSCG has the building blocks to do that. We certainly have the best in class across many different pieces of the media. And the thing I’m instilling here—great creative—is really blind to any media channel. 

Euro RSCG Chicago's Jason Peterson
Euro RSCG Chicago's Jason Peterson

The BossTracker5000 
The BossTracker5000 http://twitter.com/bosstracker5000

State Farm - Magic Jingle Hot Tub
State Farm - Magic Jingle Hot Tub

Boost Mobile Anthem - Kanye West
Boost Mobile Anthem - Kanye West


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