Brad Emmett — Doner Executive Creative Director
The first project Brad Emmett worked on as executive creative director at Doner exemplifies his relentless commitment to his craft.
In the video, a teaser for Portfolio Night 2013, Emmett drops his iPad after he eviscerates a man’s portfolio. He broke it. Not the portfolio, but the iPad. Yes, Emmett broke his iPad for the teaser video.
Rob Strasberg, Doner’s Co-CEO and chief creative officer, suggested Emmett play the Eminem role in the parody video titled, “Portfolio Night Detroit: 9 Mile.”
“We should scare these guys into realizing that if you don’t come to Portfolio Night, you’re career is going to be screwed,” Emmett told Graphis in a phone interview. “Obviously we’re a Detroit agency, so that worked perfect.”
Portfolio Night 11 was hosted at the Rust Belt Market in Ferndale, Michigan, right off 9 Mile Rd., making the 8 Mile spoof too perfect to ignore.
Strasberg was a major reason why Emmett decided to join Doner in January 2013 after his second stint at DeVito/Verdi, where he worked as the agency’s creative director.
Emmett began his advertising education at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York. That is where he met Sal DeVito, partner and executive creative director of DeVito/Verdi.
Emmett took DeVito’s advertising class at SVA, which he said made him stronger, thicker-skinned and changed how he thought about advertising.
“He would say, ‘Who did this?’ and you either were like, ‘oh shit, I’m going to get my ass handed to me,’ ” Emmmett said. “Or he’s going to be like, ‘this is great.’ ”
“I remember to the day, like it happened yesterday, when he goes, ‘who did this? This is great.’ I remember it. And I feel like it was the turning point of my career.”
DeVito hired Emmett while he was still in school and he stayed at DeVito/Verdi for nearly eight years. It was the grad school of advertising, as Emmett put it. The two remain close and Emmett said that he’s like his “father in the business.”
“I can’t speak enough about Sal,” he said. “ I don’t mirror what he does because he does what he does, but I took what he taught me and tried to make it my own and tried to make that adapt to 2014. But it always comes down to the idea, as simple as that sounds.”
As executive creative director at Doner, Emmett inspires his team and gets them excited about the opportunity to create good work that satisfies the agency and the client.
“I think inspiring and managing and keeping the excitement level up is just as important as going to a client meeting and selling the work,” he said. “Because if my creatives aren’t excited about doing the work, then I’m not going to get good work.”
Emmett’s team recently launched a new campaign for Golfsmith, “Anything for Golf.” In June, it came out with new commercials for Autotrader.com, featuring John Schneider and Tom Wopat, the actors who played Bo and Luke Duke on “The Dukes of Hazard,” searching for a car to replace the General Lee, the iconic Dodge Charger they drove on the show.
Emmett’s priorities have shifted since he first started working in advertising, which is not particularly surprising considering his start came before he graduated from college.
His approach today is less predicated on winning awards and appealing to his peers.
“Now as the ECD [at Doner], I want to do a great ad that works and my peers like, but also actually works for the client, which is always a challenge,” he said.
Emmett believes it is important that young creatives develop fundamental skills, like writing a headline, despite the industry shifting more and more resources into digital work.
Creating a great print ad, Emmett said, is one of the hardest things to do and says a lot about a creative and their ability to think.
“Keep the work, simple, smart, fresh, relevant,” he said. “I know that’s not groundbreaking, but the best guys in the world in advertising, if you look at all their work, it’s so simple. It pisses you off that you’re like, ‘it’s so simple, I can’t believe I didn’t think of that.’ ”
“That’s why it’s great. Because you didn’t think of it. It just shows how complicated we try to make things. It might just be right there in front of you.”
Advertising is not Emmett’s only skill. He and Tyler DeAngelo authored Learn Just Enough to Get Laid in 2011. The title pretty much says it all and led people to pick up the book, Emmett said.
Emmett is a consistent Graphis winner and was represented in the Advertising Annual 2013 for his Platinum-winning “Table.” He won a Gold award for his “Umbrella, Swords, Shotgun” in the Advertising Annual 2011, and his “Daffy’s CLOTHE YOURSELF OOH” received a Silver award in the Advertising Annual 2012.
The Graphis Advertising Competition features the most compelling and influential advertisements of the year. Gold and Platinum awards, along with winning entries, will be published in the Advertising Annual 2015. To submit your work to the Advertising Annual 2015 competition, click here. To order the Advertising Annual 2014, click here.