Andrew Keller On The Spot

Advertising may be hard, but is it harder than raising two sets of twin boys? Andrew Keller, 35, who in November was named executive creative director of Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami, says sometimes home life is even crazier than work. During his seven-year tenure at CP+B, Keller has worked on accounts such as Mini, American Legacy Foundation’s “Truth” campaign and Burger King, including the recent Super Bowl Whopperettes spot. The Atlanta native and Portfolio Center graduate is preparing to work on the agency’s new Volkswagen account. Q: If you weren’t at Crispin, where do you think you would be?

A: Before I came to Crispin I’d just joined an agency with some friends in Portland, Ore. There’s a good chance that I would be there working with some friends and trying to dominate the world from that vantage point. That agency was called Big Ads.

Describe your relationship with Alex. How do you work together?

I say this in every interview and nobody ever prints it, but Alex is a genius, and I’m comfortable with that. …We sort of get off on the large cultural impact of what we do. … The way something we’re doing may potentially change the industry. Those are sort of the biggest brushstrokes of anything that we’re working on. I think that we both really enjoy that disruption of culture. Whether it’s advertising culture or, more importantly, just pop culture in general. But basically, as far as working, we’re joined at the hip, either by cell phone, by e-mail or in person.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Here. I don’t have a clever answer. When I came to the agency, I thought I would be here for two years. I thought I’d come, do some television, build my book and get out of here. I thought Miami was going to be terrible. And I came here and the strategic thinking behind everything was something that I’d always believed in, and really found a home in that. And I found Miami to really be an excellent place to live. And now I’ve got four kids and a family and a home. And there’s nothing that I would rather be doing. It sounds like bullshit, but it’s totally true.

You have two sets of twin boys. Has this taught you anything helpful in your career?

Yeah. Kids are always right. If you put on a song for a kid, the second that song starts, they know if they love it or hate it. And they’re always right.

What inspired you to get into advertising?

I was in about third grade, and it was career day. And someone came in, they worked in advertising somewhere, and they showed commercials for Mello Yello, which was a Coca-Cola product, and a product called Waffle-O’s, which was a cereal that tasted like waffles. And I remember thinking the Mello Yello strategy was so cool. Because he said it’s got less carbonation, so you can drink it faster. And the whole thing was this guy driving a race car, and he raced around the track and he stopped and he got out, and they gave him a Mello Yello and he chugged it down. I remember thinking how cool that was. That there was this combination of art and creativity with this whole rational strategic side. And it always sort of just haunted me.

Who has influenced you the most creatively?

Definitely I would say Alex Bogusky has. Other than Alex, I would say maybe Gene Simmons of Kiss. Kiss was such a formative experience for me in terms of rock ‘n’ roll, in terms of the show and entertainment.

What’s the last ad that made you think, “I wish I’d done that”?

As far as how I define advertising, I would say the [Nike Lance Armstrong] Livestrong bracelet. It’s just pure genius; it’s tapped into a notion that people want to badge themselves as people that care and are helping and want to do good.

How do you get past a creative block?

Google. I start Googling things. Depending on what you’re working on, I’ll just start Googling words and things that tie into whatever I’m working on. Because I’m looking for things that are going to be relevant and resonate in culture. If you put in something, something great comes up. It sort of gives you a new perspective on what words can mean and what a concept can mean.

What’s your dream assignment?

VW. Can I say that? It’s a dream assignment because it is one of, if not the, greatest advertised brands.

What are three words you’d use to describe yourself?

A mad scientist.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

One thing I say to people, which I’m sure people find annoying, is, “Don’t take the blame, but accept the responsibility.” It’s the thing that when people don’t take responsibility for what they’re working on. That’s my biggest pet peeve.

What do you consider the greatest accomplishment in your life so far?

I’d love to say the kids. Having the four kids, but I feel like my wife, she’s the one. It would seem unfair to her for me to accept that as my accomplishment, ’cause she’s so amazing with that. I do feel like my family and my career, all these things working together, is my greatest accomplishment. Now with two sets of twins, and they’re all boys, and work is an insane sort of joy and now officially I come home, and home is more insane than work. But we’re all having a great time.