The ad agency talks to new hires Temnete Sebhatu and Joe Russomano on becoming associate creative directors at BBDO NY
Temnete and Joe are newly-appointed associate creative directors at BBDO New York. Before BBDO, they spent the past five years working their way up the ranks at TBWA\Media Arts Lab where they worked on all things Apple, including the Cannes Gold-winning 'Make Something Wonderful' for the 'Behind The Mac' campaign. Their work aims to shine a well-crafted spotlight on the human truths that motivate all of us.
Q > Why did you decide to make the move to BBDO?
Temnete and Joe > Coming from an agency where we worked on the same client for nearly five years, moving to BBDO was an easy decision to make. The chance to work at an agency with such a wide range of clients and consistently high standard of work was a chance we couldn’t pass up.
Q > What was your first creative milestone in the industry – the project you worked on that you were super proud of?
T & J > We consider the fact that anyone would pay us to think of ideas all day to be our first creative milestone. The project we’re most proud of is “Love Labyrinth” for the One Love Foundation. People wrote to the organisation saying that the film gave them the courage to leave a toxic relationship, or talk to a friend whose relationship mirrored the one in the film. Being able to empower someone to do something like that, to change that situation, is wild.
Q > Within the industry, who are your creative heroes? And what work makes you jealous?
T & J > The work that makes us jealous is work that offends the right people - 'Moldy Whopper', 'Dream Crazy' or 'Blood Normal'. If everyone agrees with what you’re saying or the way you’re saying it, there’s no tension in it. Our creative heroes are the people who fought through every layer of approval to carry that work over the finish line.
Q > How do you break out of the industry bubble?
T & J > It’s pretty easy to break out—the door is actually unlocked. We like to take weekend trips to other bubbles and live like the locals. It doesn’t really matter what the other bubbles are, they just can’t be the advertising bubble. Recently, we’ve both been watching too much vlogger stuff on Youtube. Like, bad 'Morning Routine' and 'Haul' videos. It’s amazing and a little scary. You really feel the machine of Youtube cranking away when you see all these people putting out such massive amounts of content in the hope of becoming the next 'full-time Youtuber'. We’re obsessed.
Q > What are your thoughts about the changing role and definition of creativity in the ad world?
T & J > The measure of success in advertising used to be how viral something was. Now, it’s about how true something is. Advertising and culture are locked in a feedback loop, and our culture is focused on identity more than ever. People want to be seen. We don’t really care about outrageous YouTube stunts anymore. It’s become more powerful to see and hear people whose perspectives haven’t been represented in mainstream media before.
Q > What’s your dream brand to work on and why?
T & J > I don’t know if we have 'dream brands' so much as 'dream briefs'. Right now, our dream brief is anything that wants to challenge cultural perceptions and norms.
Q > Outside of work, what are you passionate about?
T & J > That’s a very blurry line. The things that we’re passionate about at work are the same things we’re passionate about outside of work. It’s all culture. Writing, film, design, fashion, photography—the only difference is that we try to decentre the emphasis on output when we’re not at work. Advertising is obsessed with output, but when any activity outside of work becomes a deliverable the line between passion and work has been crossed.
Q > What’s exciting you about the industry right now – and frustrating you?
T & J > The most frustrating thing would probably be the lack of diverse thinking. Advertising can be a very copycat industry - the same people get hired, so the same ideas get made. The barriers to the industry are starting to be dismantled, and we’re eager to see how advertising transforms once there are more underrepresented voices and perspectives in it.