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Rob Schapiro joined Brunner as executive creative director after fourteen years at the Martin Agency, where he was SVP/creative director. At Martin, Rob was co-creative director on the global Saab account. He directed the repositioning of Miller’s MGD as a beer for "grown ups" and led integrated communications for the launch of ESPN’s first interactive show, Sports Nation, and the X Games.

Rob’s work has been internationally recognized by The One Show, Communication Arts, British Design & Art Direction, Cannes, the Kelly Awards, Athena, Archive, Graphis, the Webbies and The FWA. Rob has taught copywriting at Southern Methodist University and Virginia Commonwealth University and led the ESPN Campaign semester program at Brand Center. A native of El Paso, Texas, Rob claims that helping raise five children has given him great insight into helping raise even more than five writers and art directors.

02.14.12

Creative Trance-like States

If you have a degree in what field is it? Journalism.

If you could choose one person to work with (outside your own agency), who would it be? I’ve had the good fortune of working with Stan Richards, Bill Westbrook, Mike Hughes, Eric Silver and countless others… so how about Joseph Heller or Kurt Vonnegut back when they were in advertising.

Who was the client for your first advertising project? I started in traffic (what is now called project management) while I was still in school—hardest job in an agency. My first assignment as a writer was for a sporting goods store; I’m pretty sure athletic shoes were on sale.

If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? Architect. What you make is more lasting than an ad. And Howard Roark made it seem pretty cool in The Fountainhead.

What do you consider to be the greatest headline of all time? “My father’s day sale can beat up your father’s day sale.” Luke Sullivan wrote it years ago for some store; I recently had the opportunity to tell him how much I liked it (and his new book).

From where do your best ideas originate? It’s not like I employ some technique or process or discipline. I can tell you that I sometimes go into a trance-like states while I’m reading or watching TV or driving or sitting at the dinner table. I guess the most accurate answer would be… wherever.

How do you overcome a creative block? I used to go through the awards annuals more than I do these days. Right now I’m living downtown in corporate housing so I can just take in an interesting movie during the Pittsburgh Film Festival. Also, hot showers generally work.

If you could choose any product to create an ad for, what would it be? Stem cells. It’s powerful science. And there’s built-in emotion, both for and against.

Do you have creative outlets other than advertising? I’m writing a screenplay (isn’t everyone) about growing up in the border town of El Paso. Here’s a scene: A group of sixteen-year-olds walk into a Juarez bar and an old, toothless man with a voltage box around his neck offers the kids two metal handles connected by wires to the box. One kid hands the man a quarter, two grab the metal bars, they all hold hands and the man slowly turns a knob on the box... (It’s a tragedy how the drug cartels have made my old stomping grounds the most dangerous city in the world.)

What’s your approach to balancing work and life? I’ve been married for 34 years and have five kids, so you could call me an authority on the subject. Here’s one tip: Instead of spending a relaxing weekend in Santa Monica or wherever, take the red eye home.

What product/gadget can you not live without? I’m permanently attached to my iPhone, of course. My electric toothbrush is a close second.

What’s your favorite quote? I have a new one I just saw the other day in the Brunner Atlanta office: “Don’t be humble. You’re not that great.” —Golda Meir.

Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Don’t wait for good assignments to come to you. Go out and find them.

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? I wish I had known a good financial advisor. (Although, I guess that goes for a career in any industry.)