Creative Café: Interview with Jason Peterson, Chief Creative Officer, Havas Worldwide Chicago | New York Festivals

Creative Café: Interview with Jason Peterson, Chief Creative Officer, Havas Worldwide Chicago | New York Festivals

Each week leading up to The New York Show™, NYF’s Creative Cafe will continue its ongoing conversations with some of the advertising industry’s most prominent game-changers, thought leaders, and creative visionaries. Today’s interview finds us up close and personal with New York Festivals International Advertising Awards® 2013 Executive Jury member, Jason Peterson, Chief Creative Officer, Havas Worldwide Chicago. Mr. Peterson will join the NYF Executive Jury this April in New York City to select the World’s Best Advertising®.

Jason Peterson, Chief Creative Officer, Havas Worldwide Chicago

Jason has more than 20 years of creative experience in television, print, interactive advertising and brand identity. He is an expert in concept and strategy development, with a proven ability to motivate creative teams to deliver standout creative for high-end campaigns. Jason was a driving force behind Coke Classic’s “Real” campaign and has an innate understanding of the millennial target. His State Farm “Hot Tub” work was a huge online hit, with more than 500,000 views and 200-plus parodies, and the line “Can I get a hot tub” was a trending topic on Twitter.

NYF: How did you get interested in advertising and was it your first choice as a career path?

JP: My high school guidance counselor recommended that I “check out advertising” after I got busted for forging my report card. She said the school had never received a more perfect counterfeit. If I’d written the correct GPA I may never have found my true calling as Chief Creative Officer!

NYF:  What was your first big break?

JP: Getting hired as head of art on the Volkswagen account by Andy Berlin when I was 21 years old.

NYF: What is your favorite all-time creative campaign for an iconic brand?

“Mean Joe Green” – Coco-Cola

JP: The Coke ad where “Mean Joe” Greene throws the boy his jersey. It made me aware of the power of advertising at a young age.

NYF: Looking back at your advertising career, how much has changed since you started and is there anything you wish you could have pursued?

JP: The biggest change in advertising has been the influence of technology, which is exciting. However, we’ve lost the craft and detail, I think. Even the ability to craft ideas.

NYF. What are the words you live by?

JP: Accept the fact that all clients have no time and no money. Clients don’t care about excuses—they want solutions. Budgets and deadlines are facts, but they don’t have to be obstacles, and the best ideas find workarounds for such small issues. My competition set is no longer just the ad agency across the street; it’s a bunch of super-smart creative kids armed with ambition, digital video cameras and light sabers. Millions of brand interactions likes and shares are theirs for the taking.

NYF: What’s your favorite app or digital tool?

JP: Instagram. I started messing with IG (@jasonmpeterson) just over a year ago. I love the coming together of small, tribe-like cultures—this is what we do every day. As members of photo-oriented social networks learn how to gain their share of voice, brands are experimenting with how they can facilitate fun without interrupting people’s conversations.

NYF: What keeps you sane and on top of your game?

JP: Being a constant student of culture. I believe that art, music, fashion and design have the answers to every brand problem. Seek it out.

NYF: In your opinion, what qualities does a campaign need to earn an award?

“The Most Interesting Man in the World” – Dos Equis

JP: It’s award-worthy when it becomes ingrained in our pop culture. Look at “The Most Interesting Man in the World”: That’s not just advertising—it’s a high school student’s signature in his friend’s yearbook! Every brand has that opportunity to resonate, become part of the lexicon of the culture it’s speaking too.

NYF: How do you as CCO remain creatively involved with your network and aware of the work emanating from offices around the globe?

JP: Through social media and actively seeking out what other Havas offices are doing. The senior management of Havas have the highest social media scores in the advertising business, according to Klout. Check Twitter, Instagram & Vine.

NYF: What challenges do you see advertising agencies facing in the next few years?

JP: The worst of the recession and the digital shakeup may be over, but the advertising business is still in total flux. Agencies have two options: adapt to change quickly or get left behind. Technology is back in the hands of the creative brand builders—make the most of it!

The New York Show™ is a two-day series of creative events taking place at the landmark New York Public Library’s Beaux Arts building, located at 455 Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street. Festivities take place on Wednesday and Thursday May 1st and 2nd. Events include: the 2013 Executive Jury Press Conference, featuring NYF’s elite Executive Jury comprised of 30+ Global Chief Creative Officers, creative panel discussions, networking events, exhibits of the Shortlisted work and the awards ceremony. The New York Show awards ceremony and after-party will take place on Thursday evening May 2nd. For more information visit:

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