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Big Orange Slide

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Grip interviews: Ryan Wagman

December 7, 2009 by Ian Mackenzie

Ryan Wagman

Ryan Wagman is outgoing Associate Creative Director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Boulder, Colorado – and incoming Creative Director for the Nintendo account at Leo Burnett in Chicago.



1) The Internet is to advertising as ____ is to ____?

The Internet is to advertising as sun is to earth. Dana White is to MMA. Wheelchairs are to murderball. I don’t think advertising really works without it.

2) What do you like about writing for the interactive space?
In the last scene of Almost Famous, Russell Hammond was asked what he loves about music.

“To begin with, everything.”

I love that line. And I agree. If you’re a writer that actually LIKES writing, nothing comes close to interactive.

Say you love writing TV. Interactive affords you the opportunity to write scripts that aren’t bound to any particular timeframe. We wrote about nine minutes of ridiculous TV-style content for whenkingonsattack.com. Nine minutes – that’s someone’s entire TV reel if they’re lucky.

If you love writing headline-driven work, I think interactive is better for that, too. Look at that Pringles banner. It’s basically just 150 headlines. But engaging as hell.

3) How do you feel about the ways success is measured for online campaigns?
We put a lot of time into measuring campaign effectiveness here. How many people visited, for how long, how many uniques, how many click-throughs, etc. But Crispin never measures things based solely on those numbers. Online or traditional, campaigns have to be compelling enough that they themselves become the story rather than just a commercial interlude. Nobody likes advertising. People like content.

4) What’s one of the common mistakes you see brands making in the interactive space?
“Just put it up on Youtube and let it go viral.”

5) Who are some of your creative influences and why?
Zak Mroueh because he taught me to push ideas further than I thought possible.

Michael Chabon because he made my preferred writing style – long, conversational, occasionally complicated and tangential – cool.

Bill Wright because he’s the best writer I’ve ever seen up close.

Everyone on TED

My dad.

Jeff Benjamin because he is a near-perfect gauge of what people will think is fun.

Guybrush Taylor because he changed his fucking name to Guybrush in like 5th grade. At an age where I was still doing anything to avoid being noticed he had the balls to be different.

6) Any tips for helping clients get comfortable with the wild side of their brands?
No. Some brands have wild sides and some don’t. I’m comfortable with that. For example, I think Zingr tagging for Miracle Whip is really cool idea – but it seems wrong for them. There’s nothing less cool than trying too hard. Ask anyone I went to high school with.

7) What’s funny?
God, I don’t know. How long is a piece of string?

Police sketches are pretty funny, I guess.

8) Assuming you’ve been in this position at least once in your career, how do you get excited about making ads for a product you don’t believe in?
I would say I’ve been pretty lucky to work on things I like. MINI. Nike. Burger King. But to be honest, it really doesn’t matter. I get excited to write and I get excited to make stuff. Making people laugh or think or see things from your perspective is pretty heady. If you can’t get excited for that, you’re at the wrong agency or in the wrong business.

9) As an Associate Creative Director, what’s your leadership style?
I definitely know what I’m looking for, so I tend to be pretty direct and clear with people. But not a prick. This job is tough enough without having to work with assholes.
The only other thing I’d say I do intentionally is be giving. Of my time and my ideas. That was a Rob Guenette-ism. The door was always open.

10) Craft-wise, what are you hoping to be better at two years from now?
Finally, a softball. Everything.

11) How did you come to learn that Mike Tyson likes pigeons?
Hahaha. I don’t know that I can share any of that story here. But I can tell you that he has a pigeon farm, he likes women of questionable character and he bogarts.

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