At 60, Mark Monteiro Is Thriving in the Youth-Centric Ad World by Avoiding the Temptation to Live in the Past

David&Goliath's 'co-pilot' says ego can keep veterans from evolving

Monteiro says he's now getting to do the best work of his career.
David&Goliath

Unless you’re lucky enough to be a CEO, advertising is a notoriously difficult industry to thrive in past the age of 50. Many veteran creatives increasingly find themselves edged out in favor of fresher, more affordable talent.

But Mark Monteiro has a different story—one that’s not about getting demoted, pushed out or laid off. Approaching the “older” end of the age spectrum for the ad industry did present the former chairman and chief creative officer of DDB Los Angeles with a challenge, but not a career-ending one.

Monteiro, now 60, noticed as he scrolled through his Facebook feed that many friends were expressing dismay over how youth-focused the industry is and how tough it is to get a job these days. Rather than vent via social media, Monteiro found an opportunity to continue his career on his own terms, while still offering an agency access to his talents and experience gained over the years with clients such as Volkswagen, Wells Fargo and Budweiser.

“There are so many [creatives] who are unwilling to check their ego. They are still living in 1980,” Monteiro said. “They come back and want to live in the past, but it’s just a completely different world out there right now.”

Eight years ago Monteiro was in touch with longtime friend and industry leader David Angelo, founder of agency David&Goliath. Monteiro was on his way out of DDB L.A. The two got to talking and came up with an idea. Monteiro called it a “calling card for creativity” where he would pony up a block of his time to the agency—in Monteiro’s case, it’s 100 days a year—and load them onto a “metaphorical calling card,” according to the agency.

Going on eight years now, Monteiro has worked 100 days a year for David&Goliath, under founder David Angelo. His title? Monteiro serves as “co-pilot” at D&G. “We didn’t want to call me a creative director because there were just logistical, hierarchical problems with it. Co-pilot was a perfect fit,” Monteiro explained.

Mark Monteiro (l) and David Angelo first met working on opposite coasts for DDB.
David&Goliath

What exactly does an agency co-pilot do?

As a co-pilot, Monteiro is, in some respects, an extra set of hands for agency chief Angelo. The inspiration for naming his role co-pilot came from, you guessed it, actual aviation. When the pilot gets up to use the bathroom, the co-pilot can take over for a period of time and keeps the plane flying without disturbance to passengers on board. When there’s turbulence  the co-pilot assists the pilot, making the journey as manageable and as smooth as possible.

“I was looking for someone that I could entrust the agency to when I was out or someone to help with pitches that had really great experience and that I would love working with,” Angelo said.

When Monteiro started his first round of 100 days at the agency—which can be spread throughout the year, a few days here and few weeks there—he was focused mostly on new business, dropping in for four to six weeks at a time. In fact, early on in his role as a co-pilot at D&G, Monteiro helped Angelo and company come up with an idea to win the California Lottery account. He also helped score Carl’s Jr. and Jack in the Box.

"I can't pitch a full game anymore, but for three innings I can bring the heat."
Mark Monteiro, co-pilot at David&Goliath

Later, the role shifted into more creative work. He helped with everything from Super Bowl spots to a sticker for a burrito wrapper, “to tell people not to put them in the microwave because they’ll blow up,” Monteiro joked.

Sometimes, he noted, people aren’t sure how to approach him in the agency and can feel awkward giving him–someone with so much experience–a task like creating a sticker, but Monteiro doesn’t mind at all.

“The ego is long gone in this business. That’s a fun assignment for me, anything can be a fun assignment because I’m not trying to get to ant specific career point and I think that’s an advantage. Because I’m trying a little less hard, I’m achieving a little more,” he said.