Getting to Know Kevin Jordan

Warm up to Kevin Jordan, group creative director, New York, in his interview below.

What brought you to advertising?
I think, like a lot of people in my generation and previous generations of ad folks, I kind of just fell into it. I started by going to art school for college wanting to focus on fine arts or illustration. A group of my friends were going into design on another campus. I checked it out and almost immediately changed my focus. One of my Design professors, Brian Collins, worked in advertising and used to hold his classes in a conference room at FCB San Francisco. The office was filled with creative work. Just getting that taste of the inner workings of an ad agency is what hooked me.
 
You started your career at Foote, Cone & Belding, any nostalgia?
After taking Brian’s class I worked for him at FCB. San Francisco was bubbling with creative energy back then. It was during the first dot com wave. Agencies like Goodby and Riney were growing, thriving, and FCB was one of the hottest shops. It felt a little intimidating just to be there.

What makes you “The Most Interesting Man in the World”?
I’m not, there’s only one. The Dos Equis campaign is one of the campaigns I feel fortunate to have worked on. The truth they found for the campaign was that a certain kind of person has a fear of being boring – the guy at the party without an interesting story to tell. I think, partly due to working in advertising, I don’t have to worry about that. I’ve had a chance to go around the world and see places that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

How do you define a successful creative campaign?
If your barber or uncle or nephew brings it up to you and tells you they love the campaign, or if you hear Jimmy Kimmel mocking it, you’ve probably succeeded.

Best advice you’ve ever received?
I’m not sure. I think I’ve learned more from other people’s example. A good quote I read the other day that I’ll probably mangle is, ‘The best way to predict the future is to create it’.

Best advice you’ve ever given?
I don’t think I give out much advice, it’d be a waste. I don’t think people really want to be told what they should do or how to live their lives.

What’s the most exciting thing happening in advertising RIGHT NOW?
The sad thing is I don’t think there’s much out there that I can think of. Occassionally you’ll see an agency and a client that are truly in sync and going for it, taking chances. It’s rare, but really good work that you remember comes out of those relationships.

Name your five absolute must haves if stranded on a deserted island.
A means to get food/water, water-proof matches, some sun block, maybe some companionship, and a boat.

How do you feed your creativity?
I think we absorb stimulus through osmosis. We’re sponges. Creatives are documentarians, observers. People get inspired by their families, their environment, their passions, other creative people, other advertising, artists, film, music, bad reality TV, everything.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in the advertising industry?
Ideally I’d be a director or something like that, but in reality, at this point, I can’t imagine what I’d be doing aside from sitting on some couch watching “Maury.”

Toughest lesson you learned in your career so far?
Toughest lesson is that it’s all up to you. People fixate on external things, like clients and their bosses, but at the end of the day it’s on you. It’s up to you to create fresh ideas, to push yourself, to convince people that these ideas are right. It’s also up to you to keep your standards for yourself high and not to be satisfied with the easier path.

What surprises do you have in store for Draftfcb New York?
Pure shock and awe.

Best campaigns/clients you’ve worked on so far? What made them the best?
My personal favorites so far have been Specialized bikes, Dos Equis and GE. They were all really smart clients. They all took chances in different ways, trusted their gut and didn’t regret going with ideas that might have made them a little uncomfortable at the time. It’s also nice when the client pushes you to be better, go bigger.