Guy Seese On The Spot

As ecd of Cole & Weber/Red Cell’s 15-person creative department in Seattle, Guy Seese, 34, creates work for clients including Rainier beer, Nike and Microsoft. A Rainier beer campaign, which included a late-night TV show starring two “fans” of the beer, won the first gold hybrid award given by the ADC and a gold Clio last week. The Alaska native and Chicago Portfolio School grad worked at Hammerquist & Saffel and Leap Partnership before joining Euro RSCG, where he worked on Evian, Volvo and Intel. He was cd at Mad Dogs and Englishmen before joining Cole & Weber in 2001. Q: What were you trying to accomplish with the Rainier beer campaign?

A: I was trying to bring a beloved brand back into prominence in Seattle, in the whole great Northwest. It was a brand I was raised with up in Alaska.

What’s next? Is the TV show coming back?

Last year we did 11 episodes. This year we’re going to re-edit, recut them and add new material and rerun them at an earlier time slot. We’re also doing a movie. We shot it locally all around the Seattle area, up in mountains, wherever we could find funny. We edited four commercials as teasers and we’re going to premiere the short film here in the city. We use two guys from the show who are now local celebrities. It’s about a drought, playing off something happening right now in Seattle. It’s sort of Homeward Bound meets Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

You worked at Mad Dogs and Englishmen as a creative director. What do you think of their demise?

They’ve always been hanging on by a thread—that’s the glory of Mad Dogs. It’s really depressing for me. I think the work there was just so much fun. Fantastic stuff. Nick Cohen is a really great guy. Everybody there is going to land on their feet.

What inspired you to get into advertising?

In fifth grade, I sold a logo to the school library system. It was like 50 bucks. It was a puffin reading a book for kids. It’s not up there with anything Paul Rand ever did. I realized I could make money and create.

Who’s influenced you the most creatively?

Everyone. I’m a sponge. The greats, the people who are awful. I’m really just in awe of the whole creative process.

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

Besides “Grrr,” the Wexley School for Girls did a short film for Nike called called “Winner Takes Steve,” with Jared Hess. What I thought was so delightful about it was here’s this playful, interesting look at childhood memories. You put all that in there and have it be funny—humorous not slapstick. There are beautifully shot real people; those guys aren’t actors.

Do you think “Grrr” will win in Cannes?

I’m another person in the long line of people who love that ad. I watched it over and over and now I can’t watch it anymore. It’s so beautiful, so well done, everything.

How do you get past a creative block?

Silence. There’s more that happens when nothing is happening than when something is. Creative ideas happen between the spaces. That’s the best way, to sit back and be open to the universe.

What’s your dream assignment?

I’d like to do something that changes the world. Right now petro oil and all that stuff is on my mind. I would want to do a biodiesel campaign. People need to embrace it and stop being dependent on the Middle East.

Who is one person you’re dying to work with?

If I could meet anybody, I’d love to meet Picasso. He’s really the root of it all. The man who inspired me to be creative. What he did for modern art and his persona were phenomena—something I responded to as an 11-year-old boy reading my mom’s art history books and seeing his work. It’s so aggressive and feminine. It’s charged with sexual energy, yet it’s not being blatant.

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

Passionate. Flawed. Happy.

What are three words other people would use to describe you?

Loud. Flawed. Happy.

What’s the greatest accomplishment in your life so far?

Having a family. I have two girls, Gia, 4, and Aja, 2. They’re amazing little beings. Having a wife who manages to still love me through my roller-coaster existence.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Negativity, because it’s such a blocker. People saying “I can’t” is infinitely more disturbing than those who say “I can” and aren’t able to.

What do you have on your nightstand?

I have two books. One’s called Bel Canto. It’s an amazing book about a dinner party that gets hijacked. I also have The Tao of Leadership, a book that reminds me to be humble and silent. It was given to me by Scott Bailey, an art director I recently hired.

What’s the last CD you bought?

Modest Mouse’s Good News for People who Like Bad News. I get music all the time. I got sent to me Spoon, Give Me Fiction. I love it.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I work in my garden. Oh my god, I love my garden. A garden is the perfect metaphor for creativity. It exists as it exists that day, that moment, something that needs to be looked at and admired.