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How did you discover your passion for advertising and learn the skills necessary to enter the workforce? I started at university studying finance and economics. I loved economics but wasn’t in love with the mundaneness of it. Economics is about using data to invent plans to get the best possible outcome for the most possible people. I think what I loved was the chance to solve big problems by seeing patterns and finding new ways to execute a plan. So, when I ended up moving into ad school, I fell in love with it from the first brief I received. The process was as exciting and stimulating as the outcome. To get paid to think is a blessing. Not many people truly get to do that, most just execute someone else’s plan.

What do you do in your current position as chief creative officer at Saatchi & Saatchi’s Los Angeles and Dallas offices? I always like to think of getting higher up the ladder as having the height to see further down the road. When you’re starting off, you see the next hour and that is your focus. After a few years, you start looking a month or two out and thinking how your work will play out. As a creative director, you need to think about the next six months and so on.

I love that I have a great partner in Toyota where we get to look five-plus years into the distance. We need the work to be successful immediately, while our minds are shaping the brand in new and better ways for years to come.

You have a widely varied international background, having been born in Zimbabwe and lived in diverse places in Australia, Asia and Europe. How has this informed your approach when working on cross-cultural ad campaigns? I feel so fortunate to have worked and lived on every continent. I can honestly say that in my experience, we are more similar than different. The differences in our life experiences make us our original selves. I love having diverse creative departments simply because diversity gives us an edge on originality from the get-go. When we all bring something new to the table, we all learn and grow. Once you are exposed to that, your mind is forever opened.

What have been some of your favorite campaigns you’ve worked on throughout your whole advertising career, and why? How did they broaden your perception of ad campaigns? I have learned from every campaign, but a few have shaped me. Johnnie Walker made me learn how one simple, big, brilliant idea can lead to so many executions that your creativity becomes limitless. If you are struggling with executing a campaign, you don’t have a big idea.

IKEA was the first time I realized the power of a great client partner. The client team was so welcoming and trusting of us; we just had to make great work. I urge every client to open the door to their agency team and judge them from a trusting viewpoint, rather than constantly testing them. If you can’t do that, you have the wrong team. And that’s good to know too. Joy and creativity come from safety and ambition, not fear and judgment.

Lastly, Toyota. I have worked with some of the best clients of my career at Toyota and a lot of campaigns that have made a difference, especially in the Super Bowl. We have used the biggest stage to call for a union between religions and culture, highlighted female athletes and gave the strength and power of Paralympian athletes a platform to shine–something I don’t think Toyota gets enough credit for.

We are at a moment of great change. If you can find your groove within that change, you will not only be relevant but also thrive. But if you make wrong choices or stay static, you can lose everything.”

You oversee Saatchi & Saatchi’s award-winning account for Toyota’s Global Olympics and Paralympics ad campaigns, working closely with ad agency Dentsu Tokyo. What has this experience been like? Has anything surprised you about it? Working with a company that is literally your biggest rival is something that could have gone very wrong. I don’t think it would have worked without Toyota executive vice president Jack Hollis sitting us down and saying he expected us on the stage at Cannes arm in arm. And he was right. We have had an incredible partnership and have forged very strong friendships.

Japan is like culture on steroids. You learn so much from the Japanese mindset of being. On top of that, Dentsu has such a different business model than other agencies. Being in control of media, creativity and having a large consulting job in event planning, it helps you see how the entire ecosystem works.

Lately, where have you been looking for inspiration? There are so many places to get inspiration. TV is amazing. It’s given great storytellers, decent budgets and room to do something different. Reality TV is a guilty pleasure. I love watching people squirm. I have personally gone off social media and use it just enough to keep up to date for work purposes because I found I was losing my imagination and time. My go-to is always traveling. It doesn’t have to be to faraway places, just somewhere different from where I live.

What trends in advertising are you most interested in, and why? I’d be lying if I didn’t say AI. It’s fascinating to see how quickly it has progressed, and I wonder as we get further down the road if we will start leaning more on our editing muscle than true invention. I think AI is going to accelerate our ability to personalize messages and tell better stories at every touchpoint. For now though, I love how we can express whatever is in our head and let others see it.

What is one challenge currently facing ad agencies that they need to address to remain relevant? We are at a moment of great change. If you can find your groove within that change, you will not only be relevant but also thrive. But if you make wrong choices or stay static, you can lose everything. We have to find healthy and sustainable ways to use new technology while doubling down on our purpose of creating world changing originality.

Do you have any advice for creatives just entering the advertising industry? Learn how and why we do stuff. Do it without using technology to take shortcuts. Once you get how it works, become better than anyone at the technology that can help you do it better.

And—what I always say to anyone just starting—is find the best agency with the best people. Never take money over a talented bunch of good people. ca

Jason Schragger is chief creative officer at ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, overseeing the agency’s offices in Dallas and Los Angeles. He leads the efforts for Toyota’s Global Olympics and Paralympics assignment, fostering a close partnership with ad agency Dentsu Tokyo. Under his leadership, the Global Olympics work has appeared in multiple Super Bowl games, been globally lauded and won hundreds of industry awards, including Cannes Lions, Clios, D&ADS and Effies, among many others. Schragger has been in a position of creative leadership since the age of 27 when he was one of the youngest executive creative directors in the Lowe and Partners network. Prior to joining Saatchi & Saatchi, he was a global creative director at TBWA\Chiat\Day, overseeing the Nissan United account. A dad of two, Schragger currently resides in Los Angeles with his family.


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