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Radar

The Work That Made Me: Josh Millrod

lbbonline.com, Fri, Nov 08, 2019

The group strategy director of Noble People keeps returning to a Japanese horror book and believes years of browsing Reddit and 4chan changed his career

The Work That Made Me: Josh Millrod

Josh Millrod is group strategy director at independent creative media agency Noble People, where he manages the day-to-day communications strategy and media design for clients like Venmo, Postmates,PayPal, Oscar, WHOOP and Jamaica Tourism.

Josh got his break in the business in 2008, when his online resume went viral, got picked up by Gawker, and landed him his first advertising job at Thehappycorp. After that, he worked across media, strategy,and creative at Wieden+Kennedy, Droga5, Untitled and West. As a digital strategist during the dawn of social media, he was an early advocate for engaging communities and consumers authentically rather than paying influencers. Josh worked on award-winning campaigns for Old Spice, Coca-Cola,Prudential, and Nokia, including leading social strategy and day-of execution for Old Spice's legendary 'Responses' campaign.

In 2013, Josh decided to take a break from the industry to become a licensed creative arts therapist and went on to launch the first music therapy program for incarcerated teenagers on Rikers Island. He came back to the industry in 2017 to join Noble People and now splits his time between media and a private music therapy practice, where he treats young adults with trauma-related disorders.

The balance Josh has struck between music therapy and advertising allows him to bring the empathy and understanding to his work thatis necessary to connect with people, not just 'target' them.

Get to know Josh better below and tuck into the work thatmade him.

 

The ad/music video from my childhood that stays with me…

The Crossfire theme still stays with me to this day.  That spot was the earliest ad to go 'viral'in my life. The quick cuts, driving drums and epic punishment meted on the loser lit my mind on fire. I remember talking about it with friends and how we’d die for that game. We’d even sing the song together. Then, Justin Colonna got it and it was pretty whatever, but I still think back to that ad and how powerfully it took up residence in my mind.

 

The work that made me want to get into the industry…

I got into advertising by mistake. I had a degree in classical trumpet performance and no interest in being a classical trumpet player, but I knew I could write. Music journalism led to music PR and marketing, which led me to realising I hated most of the music and tha tmarketing products would be preferable to pushing music that I actively disliked. So, I found my way to advertising. Early on, I heard about Wieden+Kennedy and was inspired by how many culture-shifting ideas they’d had from developing the Nike brand to launching the only piece of software I ever cared about: Windows 95. My early career was spent dreaming of how I’d get a job there.

 

The creative work that I keep revisiting…

There’s a 1977 Japanese comic horror movie called 'House'that I think is one of the most perfect things ever made.  It’s the master work of a Japanese commercial director named Nobuhiko Obayashi. He made a number of famous surreal television commercials in Japan and made his full-length debut making House. Each scene is packaged almost as if it’s a commercial. There’s weird jingles, zoom-ins to overly long held facial poses and comically extreme melodrama.  Everything from the visual effects to the sound design is cutting edge and would still be pretty mind-blowing if it was made today.  It keeps giving every time I watch it and reminds me of what’s possible when you put thought, effort and care into every detail no matter how mundane.


My first professional project…

Aside from a few weird one-offs, my first real project was for MoMA. I was on a team of smart people at thehappycorp who turned the Atlantic-Pacific MTA station (now Barclay’s Center) into a pop-up museum.  Every ad space was a replica of a piece from MoMA’s permanent collection. I even set up a toll-free number to access the museum audio guides that you could call from the pay phones still in the station. The plan was to put up $75 stickers on each piece since that was the price of membership at the time, but for a number of reasons things didn’t go as planned and sort of spiralled out of control. It was the first and last time I’ve worked at an agency that was fired via the New York Post and had the police show up looking for someone on the team.

 

 

 

The piece of work that made me so angry that I vowed tonever make anything like *that*…

I recently saw OOH for socialsecurity.gov that made me so angry. It was a super premium placement around Canal and West Broadway in NYC .A monstrously large canvas to do something interesting and it was just a stock image of a youngish woman at a computer that said, 'Find out what you can do at socialsecurity.gov'. What a total waste of money for something so vital and important.

 

The piece of work that still makes me jealous…

I think Nike’s Chalkbot is still, to this day, one of themost innovative, yet simple, ideas that’s ever been made.  It added this beautiful layer of meaning to a moment the whole world was watching.  It was Nike marketing at its best, in that it gave individuals a way to be a partof something massive.  It also shows how tech doesn’t need to be techie to be effective. The tech was merely the facilitator of a deeply human experience.


 

The creative project that changed my career…

I owe my career to three days in July 2010. I was privileged enough to be the creative strategist at the helm of the Old Spice Responses campaign who created the seeding plan, picked who got responses and helped keep the internet’s attention for multiple days. Years of surfing reddit, Digg and4chan finally paid off when I was able to orchestrate a plan that lit a fire on each of those platforms that then spread to the rest of the internet. I believe that we’re the only brand to ever harness the power of 4chan and anonymous.Prior to that, I had been the loud-mouthed digital guy with opinions bigger than his book.  That project taught me so much and gave me a taste of what it was like to be part of an amazing team doing great work.


 

The work that I’m proudest of…

I’m most proud to have worked Prudential’s 'Bring Your Challenges' campaign. I’d always thought that advertising could be a force forgood if done right and  of all the things I’ve worked on, this campaign is the truest to that aspiration. It cast a lighton a major problem facing America and helped break it down into digestible pieces that people could actually act on, rather than simply feel overwhelmedby due to the enormity of the challenge.

 

Prudential Challenge Lab from Droga5 Design on Vimeo.


I was involved in this and it makes me cringe…

My first job was as a copywriter for a direct marketing scamthat sold business services to poor retirees… ‘nuff said.


The recent project I was involved in that has most excited me…

We recently worked on an activation at Noble People for Zola called 'Love Notes'. Some close-minded person had torn down a Zola subway ad featuring a same sex couple and rather than just run another OOH campaign we decided to answer back by putting more love into the world.  We launched a love note writing and delivery service in SF and then put up the love notes along the Pride parade route to show that love always wins. It felt good to combat all of the ugliness and division currently brewing in culture with some concrete demonstrations of love and respect.

 

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