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Ryan Martindale is the executive creative director and founding partner at Super Top Secret. Before opening up his own shop he made the rounds at agencies like Publicis, GSD&M and Leo Burnett. For the last decade he’s helped build brands on a national and international level including BMW, PowerBar, Southwest, and Partnership for a Drug Free America. Ryan lives in Salt Lake City and spends every free second with his wife and three crazy kids.

08.30.11

Working Like A Sharecropper

If you have a degree in what field is it? I have a BS in organizational communications from the University of Utah. BS is a pretty accurate descriptor of my degree, so I went to the Creative Circus to learn the ways of advertising and emerged as a copywriter.

If you could choose one person to work with (outside your own agency), who would it be? Nick Cade. Coming out of school we tried to sell ourselves as a writing duo but nobody was buying. Think if we hooked it up we could do some serious damage. He is crazy brilliant.

Who was the client for your first advertising project? It was a TV spot for Champion sports bras. I quickly learned the joys of casting.

If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? Fireman. Hands down.

What do you consider to be the greatest headline of all time? That is a tough one. I’m a huge nerd for good lines. I’ll tell you the best one I heard today: “I pack heat like an oven door.” —Jay-Z

From where do your best ideas originate? When I worked in Austin, my AD Chad Laughlin and I stumbled upon a magical booth at a random Applebee’s. I swear it was the vortex to the creative underworld. All of our best BMW work came from that booth. Once we paid a couple 50 bucks to move so we could get our magic spot back. The food sucked but the ideas were good—and that’s all that mattered.

How do you overcome a creative block? Terrible movies. When I know I’m hitting a wall I go catch a mindless flick and shut my brain down for a couple of hours. Then I come back and hit it hard. Works like a charm. The worse the movie the better.

If you could choose any product to create an ad for, what would it be? I’ve always wanted to take on the challenge of selling something basic like salt. Mostly just as a test to see how good I really am and how easily I could move the needle on something so basic and almost invisible.

Do you have creative outlets other than advertising? I used to mountain bike and surf and snowboard. These days I’m working like a sharecropper. Starting your own shop is crazy hard but also crazy rewarding. I love watching it snowball. I hope to someday soon get back to all the things I “used to do.”

What’s your approach to balancing work and life? To me balance is like Bigfoot. People like to talk about it. Some people even claim to have discovered it and offer up fuzzy pictures as proof. But I’m skeptical that it actually exists. I want to believe there’s such a thing, I really do, but after a decade of endless searching I’m starting to lose hope.

What product/gadget can you not live without? Steve Jobs has got me by the huevos. My fingers are steadily connected to my MacBook which is steadily connected to my iPhone which is steadily connected to my head. It’s like the circle of life technology style. Damn you Apple for being so awesome.

What’s your favorite quote? “Mo money mo problems.” —Notorious BIG.

Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Keep your head down, work your ass off and good things will happen. It’s a universal law that applies to everything.

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? There is no heaven. My mentor and great friend Shon Rathbone taught me that. You always think it’s better somewhere else. It’s not. Truth.