Steve Johnston insists the best training he ever received for copywriting came during the five years after college, when he worked a series of odd jobs, including stints as a piano mover, a book salesman and a limo driver.
"Spending time at those jobs gave me a good way to connect with all sorts of people," said the 46-year-old Chicago native, who recently joined Publicis in Seattle as vp and associate creative director. "Looking back, I think it was absolutely the best training for being a copywriter."
As one of eight acds at the Publicis Groupe shop, Johnston, most recently cd at Interpublic Group's Sedgwick Rd. in Seattle, will oversee about a half-dozen creatives on accounts such as Safeco, RealNetworks and T-Mobile. He reports to agency president and ecd Bob Moore.
"Steve's been on our radar for a long time," said Moore. "He's a great writer, great at working with younger teams, and clients enjoy working with him as well."
"There seemed to be some pretty impressive opportunities going on creatively [at Publicis] that I didn't want to miss out on," said Johnston. "I was looking for a spot in Seattle that could be the next big thing."
After graduating in 1979 from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill., with degrees in philosophy and English, Johnston bounced from job to job while trying his hand at fiction and screenplays. He was driving a limo when he got to talking with a passenger who sold space for National Geographic. The man suggested copywriting and put him in touch with local agency creatives. Johnston put together a book and headed to Seattle, where he started at the now-defunct Stimson Associates.
Johnston had been with Sedgwick Rd. since 1999. Prior to that, he was a group head at Publicis' Fallon in Minneapolis and was co-cd at Cole & Weber in Seattle.