Arnie DiGeorge, executive creative director at R&R Partners has one of those great idea lightbulbs over his head nearly every minute of every day—it’s what two decades working every possible angle in the ad biz will do for you. From copywriting to freelance design to media buying to account services (incredibly rare for a creative guy), he has the perspective that all clients long for... theirs. He knows the budget challenges, the accountability to boards of directors, the need for a great creative product and the need to move product. He also knows that great creative starts a conversation. By that measure, he has engaged in some of R&R’s best conversations, like the "What happens here, stays here” campaign, which has taken up permanent residence in pop culture history. His over-burdened mantle, sports metal from diverse sectors like travel, health care, economic development.
Inspirational Change-The-World Stuff
If you have a degree in what field is it? I have a BA in journalism with an emphasis in advertising from the University of Nevada, Reno. In other words, I got an Afterthought in Advertising from The Other University in Nevada.
If you could choose one person to work with (outside your own agency), who would it be? Can I go back in time and/or make a conglomeration of two or three people? If yes, I’d like to fuse Mary Wells Lawrence and George Lois and work with that person. If not, I’d love to work with Stefan Sagmeister or, for that matter, anyone who’s given a speech at TED (everyone who gives a TED speech seems so smart).
Who was the client for your first advertising project? My parents had a frozen yogurt shop when I was in high school. It was called the House of Yogurt. I pray every night that I didn't think of the name but I might have. I’ve tried to hide stuff from my memory that makes me feel like a hack. It's been really hard but a shredder helps. I did the logo, which turned the “H” into a house and the “Y” into an ice cream/yogurt cone. I also worked in the shop and ate all the profits. That’s why I’m trying to buy my father as many dinners as possible to pay him back. I was obviously the reason that venture barely broke even; well that, and the tire shop that blocked the view of the sign, that I also designed, from the street.
If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? I think I would still want to be a creative director, but for Gucci. Tom Ford did really well when he was the creative director there. And being the CD at Gucci looks really glamorous. I love clothes, shoes and sunglasses. That is my total list of qualifications for the job.
What do you consider to be the greatest headline of all time? “Think Different.” I’m an Apple disciple. I like the simplicity. Nothing else is needed. The Brave New World television ad is what I consider to be the best ad of all time. It’s inspirational, change-the-world stuff that takes me past just advertising. I don’t think there are a ton of folks who would fight me on this. Unless, of course, they are different and want to stand out in a world of old creative directors who like old Apple ads.
From where do your best ideas originate? The shower. All I need to do is take six or seven showers a day and I’ll be able to get that job at Gucci.
How do you overcome a creative block? I try a shower first. When that doesn’t work, I look around. There is no such thing as a creative block if you’re looking at things and you have some talent. Creativity is inspiration mixed really well with collaboration. And there are plenty of places to find inspiration like blogs, magazines, bookstores, TV, the park, a conversation or a toy store. Pretty much anywhere. Creative block is often caused more by panic than anything else.
If you could choose any product to create an ad for, what would it be? I am fascinated by Microsoft’s desire to be Apple. I believe that brand truths are the most important things to communicate. It’s what we did with Vegas. It’s what great brands live on. I don’t believe that Microsoft lives those truths in its marketing; in my mind, Microsoft is a giant technology beast that has used only a tiny fraction of the actual knowledge and idea base it has. I want to know the real power of Microsoft. That’s what I want to buy. I don’t want all that people stuff with users creating Windows 7. I like Apple because Steve Jobs is creating everything; he is smarter than the rest of us.
Do you have creative outlets other than advertising? I have a lot of ideas and no time to pursue them. I would tell you a few but someone reading this would steal them and then I would see that person on TV getting rich with my idea wearing the Gucci jacket I wanted.
What's your approach to balancing work and life? I really never stop thinking about the job, but there is a ton of stuff jumbled up there in my brain. Every once in a while life gets out in front, plays a really bad game of golf, then goes back to hide.
What product/gadget can you not live without? My iPhone. My iPad is catching up though.
What’s your favorite quote? “It’s Baconalia at Denny’s.”
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Do great work that gets noticed. If you do that, everything else will fall into place.
What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? How long do you have to do this before you get rich?