Meet the New Talent

NEW YORK Talent is the most important currency in a creative business such as advertising—and these 10 young talents could help add to your bottom line. The teams and individuals, profiled in no particular order, have quickly made their mark. In five years or less of agency experience, they have produced work that has impressed, inspired and ignited national conversations. This year, for the first time, Adweek opened up the selection process to agency submissions. The requirements were simple: The candidates were to have demonstrated adeptness in the creation of work for traditional and nontraditional media. This week at Adweek’s 33rd Creative Conference: Mashup 2007 in Los Angeles one of these individuals will be named “Best Emerging Talent.” The winner will be chosen by the professionals participating in the event. The speakers include TBWA Worldwide CCO Lee Clow; Goodby, Silverstein & Partners cd Steve Simpson; 180 executive creative director William Gelner; Butler, Shine Stern & Partners cd John Butler; Cutwater ecd Chuck McBride; and R/GA CCO Nick Law.

Mike Brenner and Greg Coffin, Attik, San Francisco

Talk about a coup: The creative team of art director Greg Coffin and copywriter Mike Brenner, working on their second ad campaign (ever), sold Toyota marketers on the ultra-aggressive “Little Deviant” summer 2007 campaign for the Scion xD.

Toyota “thought the violent, juvenile, aggressive, badass aspect of it was dead on,” says Coffin. “You should see the [even more aggressive] shit that doesn’t get bought.”

Campaign elements include animated 60-second cinema and TV spots, wild postings, a comic book, subway signs, scratch-n-sniff print ads and a microsite. The site features gangs of animated, Scion-loving monsters who seek and destroy “sheeple,” or people with conventional automotive tastes. Much blood is shed.

“Simon [Needham, co-owner and cd] and and Wayne [Hanson, former agency cd] were behind it from first sight,” adds Coffin.

Brenner recalls Needham “pushing us to go even further.”

Coffin, 32, who has a BFA from the University of Colorado, was working at a framing shop, DJing and designing flyers for rave parties when he worked with Vermilion Design in Boulder on a project. It was then he decided he’d rather be on the agency side.

In 2004, after moving to San Francisco with his wife, Coffin attended the Academy of Art University—where he met and bonded with Mike Brenner, a writer—developing a spec portfolio and seeking ad agency jobs. When Coffin interviewed at Attik for a junior copywriter gig in 2006—he and Brenner both had their “junior” labels dropped after “Little Deviant”—and they asked if he minded working alone, he says, “that’s when I asked them if they’d interview Mike.”

Brenner, 37, was looking for his first agency job, too. After graduating from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1993, he had tried to make it as a bass player in a rock band. He also worked as an ad and page designer at a newspaper. Then push came to shove. “I [realized I] had to do something and advertising was the culmination of all my interests,” he says. So he moved to San Francisco and attended the academy, graduating this year with an internship at Publicis Dialog under his belt.

When called in to interview at Attik for the junior copywriter job, Brenner was about to take a job at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. “They were going to make me a production monkey,” he says. “To their credit, they said, ‘Take the creative job.'”

The team has also worked on collateral and graphic elements for AOL Web sites, one for kids (KOL) and one for teens, called Red. Brenner says his instincts for marketing to youth derive from “years of playing [music] to 15 year olds.”

“We’re not worried as much about experience as raw talent,” says Needham. “And as an agency we are more demanding of the unusual and unique and tend to focus on a younger audience. Greg and Mike do interesting and provocative work, so we’re a good fit.” —Gregory Solman

Chris Beresford-Hill, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco

Going through a garbage can got Chris Beresford-Hill his first paid job in advertising.

In 2002, the now-27-year-old copywriter was an intern in the creative department at Modernista! in Boston when, working late one night, he noticed some scripts in a trash can. Naturally, he fished them out. He then used them as a model for some 20 spec spots for Budweiser, with whom Modernista! was working on a project basis. He passed the work along to agency president and co-founder Lance Jensen, who went on to produce two of them—”Double Joust” and “Make Up”—that aired that year. At the same time, Beresford-Hill was hired as a copywriter and went on to work on accounts such as Hummer, Napster and Animal Planet.

Three years after his breakout performance, Beresford-Hill joined Goodby, Silverstein & Partners as a copywriter, where he started out on a Doritos pitch, and worked on Comcast and HP. “There are big, fat opportunities running down the hallway maybe 10 times a day,” he says. “I came in and told the creative coordinator to give me everything and anything they had.”

Since joining in 2005, Beresford-Hill has worked on roughly 30 TV and 25 radio spots, and five Web sites—two each for HP and Emerald Nuts and one for Netflix. One HP site promoted DreamWork’s Shrek the Third and the HP dv6000 Entertainment Notebook (www.hp.com/go/fiona). Working with DreamWorks, says Beresford-Hill, “was a rigorous process. We had to script everything out word for word before it got approval.”

His most well-known, and favorite, TV spot was this year’s Emerald Nut’s Super Bowl effort, “Robert Goulet.” In it, Goulet drops by an office of dozing employees and proceeds to knock over paper, tape a man to his chair and pour coffee on a keyboard. The spot’s creative concept was Beresford-Hill’s. “We wrote Robert an introductory letter with the script and [had] everything we were going to say [when he called] planned out. But his only question was could he bring his own wardrobe,” says Beresford-Hill. For the record, he could.

Beresford-Hill also worked on emeraldnuts.com and gouletbars.com, the latter a site for a fake candy bar designed to make you fall asleep (Emerald Nuts being the snack that keeps you awake.)

“Chris reaches through pop culture to make odd connections,” says Steve Simpson, agency partner and cd, explaining how Beresford-Hill, along with senior art director Will Hammond, beat out two other Goodby teams for the Super Bowl spot. “He even had the runner-up idea, which was a tiny, little coach who berated you for not being awake at 3 p.m.” He adds that Beresford-Hill “presents really well to clients and makes them feel his age is not an issue.”

Çurrently, Beresford-Hill is working on Emerald Nut’s 2008 Super Bowl spot, also starring Goulet, and a campaign for Australia’s Commonwealth Bank, won earlier this year.

“Chris is a fountain of ideas,” says agency partner and cd Jamie Barrett. “You basically plug him in and he cranks out pages of concepts. He’s also impossible to demoralize. A lot of young writers have a hard time dealing with the rejection you inevitably face in advertising. Chris just shrugs it off and dives back in. Other than his last name, which is about nine syllables too long, I’m a big fan.” —Kamau High

Dayoung Ewart, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Boulder

Dayoung Ewart is, quite literally, a woman on the go.

“The way I first noticed her is I would see a girl running through the office with papers in her hand,” says Dave Schiff, vp and group creative director at Crispin’s Boulder, Colo., office, where Ewart now works as an art director. “I asked her why she was running and she said, ‘If I run, I can do more over the course of the day.’ She wasn’t kidding.”

Ewart, a 27-year-old native of South Korea, ended up at Crispin through equally determined means. In 2004 she was attending the Academy of Art University, San Francisco, for advertising design—and working as a part-time junior art director for Orloff/Williams in San Jose, Calif.—when she e-mailed Mark Taylor, then an art director at Crispin, Miami, to tell him how much she admired his work on the Mini campaign, “Small Space.” (The print ad, which she’d seen featured in Communication Arts, depicted a Mini making a victory lap.)

Taylor e-mailed her back and a correspondence was struck up, with Taylor occasionally giving her feedback on work she was producing for brands including the San Jose Symphony, Los Gatos Brewing Company and the San Jose Museum of Art. When Ewart was in Miami in 2005 to attend the Clio Awards (in her capacity as student, not junior art director), she stopped by Crispin’s office to say hello to Taylor. Taylor gave her a tour, and they ran into CCO Alex Bogusky. “I took out my camera and took a picture of him,” says Ewart. “He saw the flash and said, ‘Who are you?'”

That “serendipitous” meeting with Bogusky led to Ewart leaving Orloff/Williams for an internship at Crispin’s Miami office in the fall of 2005. She was promoted to digital artist in December.

Schiff says, “We noticed everything she touched got better and smarter, so we briefed her on Coke Zero—illegally.”

Ewart pitched an idea: Coca-Cola lawyers would sue Coke Zero for “taste infringement.” “We brought in Coke Zero lawyers and had them really concerned that Coke was going to sue them,” says Ewart. “The whole thing was funny because it didn’t make any sense.” The Coke vs. Coke Zero campaign began on the Web as a series of virals in late 2006 and were broadcast on TV in early 2007. After her Coke Zero success, Ewart was promoted to art director and moved to Boulder in July, 2006.

Ewart has also art directed award-winning interactive banners for the VW GTI campaign “Fast.” One banner showed a GTI with a pinball trigger sticking out of its back; dragging the mouse on the trigger “shoots” the GTI through a series of Web sites—Yahoo, Maxim, eBay, MySpace—and then back to the original page. The banners won prizes at this year’s One Show, including a gold Pencil and a merit as a single execution.

On the print side, Ewart was art director on a campaign for Pearl Izumi in July 2007, a small running-shoe company that Crispin handled before giving up the account for Nike. Over a picture of mud-caked sneakers is the headline, “Ever notice how it’s always runners who find dead bodies.”

“There are creatives out there who grind it out, without the skill set or creativity, but they become superstars,” says Schiff. “Dayoung is gifted and has the motivation.” —Kamau High

Sam Bergen, Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles

The former cognitive science major—and one of the minds behind Toyota Yaris’ Xbox 360 game—is an unabashed, out-and-out advertising geek. Bergen, 25, says advertising “can honestly cheer me up. … I like talking to my friends, listening to my favorite albums—and looking through ad annuals.”

At Occidental College in Los Angeles, Bergen says, where he stumbled onto neuroscience when needing classes that fit his schedule, “a lot of cool things were happening on campus, but were unknown to us because there was no advertising.” He took care of that problem, co-founding the student-run The Occidental Agency to provide clubs and organizations with free graphic design for posters, logos, Web sites and more to help spread the word about activities and events.

Graduating in 2004, Bergen landed a series of internships. At Grey Direct in Burbank, Calif., he wrote direct mail; at ADD in San Francisco (then Asylum) he worked on event and guerrilla marketing campaigns; and at movie-campaign specialists Kaleidoscope Creative Group (then majority-owned by Dailey) in Hollywood, he worked on trailers for The Motorcycle Diaries and the re-release of George Lucas’ THX-1138.

“I was beginning to worry I’d get stuck doing nothing but small projects [that lasted] a week and a half,” he says.

In 2005, Bergen joined Saatchi & Saatchi as an assistant account director, which he explains was the easiest way to get his foot in the door. It was during this time that he began pitching ideas to Peter Kang, formerly of Saatchi, who passed them around and helped establish Bergen as someone to go to when gaming was part of a campaign.

This past July, Bergen became a copywriter, but agency ecd Harvey Marco says he considers Bergen an unofficial “emerging media strategist.”

Bergen’s creative concepting and design of an advergame for Yaris—as well as interactive banners—was one of the first assignments he was given in his new post.

The team gave the game the clean, contemporary look of the TV spots and mobisodes forged under Marco, but added retro game play elements and multiplayer options. “We were smart enough to set out with the right expectations,” explains Bergen. “It’s a short, simple game that’s easy to pick up and spend 10 to 15 minutes playing.”

Marco notes that Bergen’s “true gift to us is his passion for developing unique engagement ideas, especially in the world of gaming. … His contributions have helped shape Saatchi into a more digitally-inspired ideas company.”

He’s also had Bergen function as an associate creative director on Toyota, to help determine how it could brand itself for in-game placements in titles such as NBA Live, Amped 3, Nascar 2008 and Bass Tournament Tycoon Fishing.

In addition to working on Saatchi’s first campaign for the EMI Music catalog, Bergen has been assigned to work on an undisclosed Toyota Corolla campaign in a variety of media. —Gregory Solman

Nik Daum, Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

Nik Daum is not sure he believes in destiny, but his Web site (www.nikdaum.com) hosts evidence that should make him a believer: his “Deodorant Series” artwork, created in high school—when he was an Old Spice man.

Fast-forward to the art director’s breakout traditional and digital work this year for Wieden + Kennedy on Old Spice Red Zone deodorant. TV spots include “Manly Test,” featuring a shirtless man describing the advantages of Old Spice for “real-man situations” while hanging out in an unadorned locker room that, thanks to its casual, lived-in look, seems authentically smelly. Another spot, for Old Spice Body Wash, is a horror movie parody. A camera lurches towards an empty shower stall and soap dish, only to discover soap covered in what looks like pubic hair.

The 27-year-old Dallas native, who graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., in 2001, says he tried advertising “out of desperation” to make money. He joined Publicis & Hal Riney in 2002 as an art assistant, where, among other projects, he art directed a Sprint commercial in which he starred. After almost two years at the agency, he quit to hang out in Asia. While he was gone, a creative at Riney showed Daum’s Web site to a friend at Wieden. Not long after, Wieden asked Daum to come back to the U.S. for an interview. He did, and he stayed, freelancing on Nike Airmax. He then joined the agency at the end of 2005, working on Eukanuba and PowerAde, and a TV spot for Target, “Brave New Dorm,” in which dozens of college kids, with the aid of special effects, make over a dorm room in a variety of ways.

Monica Taylor, the cd for whom Daum has worked with the last year, says Daum came to her with a reputation for great artistry. “What he was creating was proprietary to him,” she says. “You can’t manufacture that kind of originality.” Now, she attests, Daum is “broadening backwards and becoming more of a traditional art director” with the ability to “channel the voice of the brand.”

She adds that Daum is working on “good old-fashioned-type explorations for newspaper ads” for the first, fully integrated Wieden campaign for CareerBuilder.com, breaking in January and appearing on the Super Bowl. —Gregory Solman

Megan Sovern and Matt Miller, Leo Burnett, Chicago

It’s hard for Megan Sovern, copywriter, and Matt Miller, art director, to pinpoint exactly what makes their partnership work. They come up with a shared drive, attitude and inherent nerdiness, but maybe it’s best explained by the above photo. “That’s our style,” says Sovern. “Matt does the oohs and I do the ahs. It’s all about the harmony.”

Sovern, 26, who majored in poetry at the University of Georgia, and Miller, 27, a newly minted advertising and journalism graduate from the University of Colorado (which he attended on a Burnett scholarship), began working together last year. (Both Sovern and Miller joined the agency in 2004; she as a junior copywriter and he as a junior art director.) While their first project, for a Samsung phone, didn’t win the pitch, it impressed Burnett leadership enough to give them a plum assignment early in the year on the showcase Altoids account. Work included TV spots for Altoids Sours, and nontraditional “Flash retail” chocolate shops created around Valentine’s Day to introduce Altoids Dark Chocolate Dipped Mints. There, people could sample products, browse cynical postcards (e.g., “Only a day closer ’til death does us part”) and send anti-Valentine’s Day e-cards on computers set up in kiosks.

Sovern and Miller are currently at work on a follow-up to a sensitive print and outdoor campaign for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which uses empty plates as a cue for feeding the hungry. They’ve also created campaigns for Nintendo and are working on a multimedia effort for a new kid’s game from the makers of Cranium.

“They were all about seizing the opportunity from the day they arrived,” says Burnett’s U.S. CCO John Condon. “They jumped right in, worked hard, and it paid off.” —Aaron Baar

Craig Allen and Eric Kallman, TBWA\C\D, New York

They have conjured up stories of a man whose beard is as agile as his fingertips, another whose touch transforms everything he comes into contact with into candy (including his newborn), and a man who is literally pumped for his milk.

“They don’t think like other people,” says TBWA\Chiat\Day ecd Gerry Graf of Allen, an art director, and Kallman, a copywriter. He admits that when he first heard the idea for “Beard,” a Skittles spot about a character who uses his lengthy magic beard to eat and share his candy with a prospective employer, he didn’t have much faith that it would work. “It didn’t seem that great. I mean it’s really odd,” he says, but he trusted that the team and group creative directors Ian Reichenthal and Scott Vitrone would produce great work.

The pair’s oddball sensibilities have produced several award winners for the agency’s Mars client, including a gold Clio, a gold One Show Pencil and a D&AD Pencil for “Beard.” Both had been working at the New York agency when the Skittles assignment that produced that spot brought them together. “It was a test,” says Allen. “After that, [splitting up] was not an option.” Kallman adds, “We’ve been happy ever since. We’re holding hands right now.”

Allen, 27, who studied advertising at the University of Texas in Austin, joined the agency in the summer of 2003 as part of its Young Blood program. He was hired full time six months later. Primarily working on the Mars account, he has also worked on Sprint and Nextel (before the client switched agencies).

Kallman, 28, who attended The Creative Department portfolio school in San Francisco, joined the agency two years ago. In addition to having more than 10 spots produced, he’s also created a 40-page brand book for Skittles.

The duo, currently working on relaunching the Skittles Web site, recently completed an interactive ad for the candy that will be displayed on the floors of malls and movie theaters. “It’s a spot that you are part of,” says Kallman. “We want to make something as original as possible.”

A TV spot for the Super Bowl earlier this year has generated the most buzz of any of their work. The controversial “Mechanics” spot for Snickers featured two men who need to reinforce their masculinity after accidentally touching lips while eating the candy bar. The Web site featured alternative endings that allowed users to create their own versions of the spot and send them to friends. The spot generated outrage from conservatives and liberals alike, and was pulled shortly after it first aired.

“They don’t think like me. They don’t think like Scott. They don’t think like Ian,” says Graf. “It’s hard to predict where their scripts are going to go.” Yet in the end, he says, “there’s something nice about the weird stuff they do. The guy who’s getting milked has a smile on his face the whole time.” —Eleftheria Parpis