My cover story

Award-winning creative is made by diverse and talented teams telling unexpected, human stories.

Teams can come in many sizes and configurations. My last large team was made up of thirty-seven diverse members doing video, web and design within a 5000-person scientific institute. We had to challenge the status quo daily, in the institute and within our own divisions, even within ourselves, while trying to communicate the amazing research being done on issues as important as the zika virus and the opioids crisis. Then, there are teams as small as two or three—an art director, a writer and a production assistant—doing very specific work within their specialities like I’m working on today for a rebranding effort. As an SVP Creative Director, I’ve been a team lead on every conceivable type of marketing creative in B2C, B2B and even B2G (gov’t), but in the end it doesn’t matter the category of work as much as the human-to-human connection made in a way that moves emotions and behavior. That happens through unique, authentic storytelling. This can happen in an integrated campaign, a TV spot, an Instagram post or something weird like a series of animated stadium ribbon boards for a client like Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Creative teams are built on mentoring, teaching, development and fun.

My teams say that I strive to inspire them to do their best work but to have fun doing it. Ed Catmull, president of Pixar, says in his book, Creativity, Inc., that a creative team “must have bold candor for the work, but utmost respect for the individual.” Using his example, I always set out to create a culture of trust and candor, fun and empathy in every team I build. We build each other up by doing things like a book study on the “Art of Possibly,” by Rosemund and Ben Zander, attending events like The Internet Summit and AIGA Thrive Conference as a group. It’s how I built teams to transform scientific information, rebrand a hospital, create TV campaigns for a healthcare giant and a national car parts retailer, and handled design production in three languages for all of the retail stores throughout North America for The Body Shop, Inc.

Creative strategy happens through proven creative process and lots sticky notes ideas.

I lead creative brief sessions, creative brand discovery and brainstorming workshops. Often, I use design thinking tactics to engage the stakeholders, like I did recently for the NYC Dept. of Health. I’ve never met a whiteboard or a pack of colorful sticky notes I didn’t like. After great strategy, I insist on a thorough creative process, from brief to debrief, to bring oversight, quality and timeliness to achieve great creative work.

Strategic storytelling created of the people, for the people, and by the people.

In 2017, my team and I presented at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab about our take on strategic storytelling. Our main premise: Only through story, from one human to another, will you move people’s emotions to act and change outcomes. As I learned in my certificate course at Yale in 2018, “Behavioral Economics Immersion in Marketing & Insights,” strategic storytelling is built on solid data and human insights. My passion is to take these human insights and turn them into engaging creative stories that have revolutionary impact. 

If your passions align with mine then contact me, and let’s get on with awakening the soul of your brand. We’ll start by strategizing ways to turn your brand into a binge-worthy brand “screenplay” for your business’ longterm success. In my humble opinion , the best way for your brand to have a “storied” past worth retelling is by telling great stories in the present.

Best Regards,

Jeff Bowman