Jamie Falkowski is chief creative officer at Day One Agency, but his pathway to that role isn't the linear art director/copywriter, creative director, ECD path we've come to expect in advertising. An avid print magazine fan, he has spent time in publishing and print production, had stints in account management and strategy, and was previously managing director of Day One Agency.
All these experiences inform the way Jamie navigates responsibilities as a chief creative officer, a role that he believes has changed significantly as recently as three to four years ago. To find out more, LBB’s Addison Capper chatted to him.
LBB> Spying around on your LinkedIn suggests that you've had quite a varied career. There are marketing roles, stints in strategy, production - you've been a managing director and now you're a CCO. Please, tell me a bit about that journey and how you ended up weaving and winding so much!
Jamie> It has been a journey, and one where what was next was always an exciting, new space and something to learn and grow into. While all the roles have a lot of variety in the work, the theme has always been creative storytelling, starting with work in magazines and print media - my first love. And while I love print, media is a landscape that is always changing and I enįoy trying to take what's old and figuring out how to make it new.
Though it wasn’t by design, many of my įobs then and today have centred around driving adaptation, and as I found my way into the agency world that trend continued. I began my career on the agency side with an earned focus, but we, and all our agency competitors, were fighting for consumer attention and connection. That same reliance on a good story is what helped me find my way in connecting brands to culture and culture to brands.
LBB> How does all of that varied experience influence and aid the way you approach your job as a CCO?
Jamie> In this role as Day One Agency’s CCO, I spend as much time thinking about great ideas as I do thinking and rethinking how to apply creative approaches to the ways we work. My job is so much about not getting stuck in the ways of the past and helping not just creatives, but everyone see new ways of getting the work done.
It’s also a job that requires connecting and collaborating with people from really broad backgrounds with varied experiences. I’ve been a designer, I’ve been a writer, and I’ve spent time in strategy. Today, that path helps me to understand each team's unique language and wants. I also know when I’m not the expert and when to trust my colleagues to be the experts. I’m just another collaborator and an editor; I'm here to learn from them all and to know enough to be dangerous in making our work better. The creative fields and mediums we work in are spaces nobody else has played in before. There isn't often a playbook like there was for TV/print. You need to blend together - creative and strategy and listening skills - to tell a great story.
LBB> Tell me about Day One Agency and the way you see it. What does Day One do really well and what makes it unique within the market?
Jamie> Day One Agency is a creative communications agency with a focus on earned-first ideas that break through. We pay attention and have a shared belief in understanding audiences to make an impression over just logging impressions. We have to capture a real knowledge of what is going to get audiences and consumers to care and participate in all of our work. So much of our DNA is earned media and PR, so that’s influenced the way we bring ideas to life. We pay attention in order to earn attention - we’re a group with relentless curiosity and are on the pulse of so many niche areas. We learn from what’s out there and discover how we can apply it to our work and opportunities in, sometimes, very different worlds. Curiosity is the trait that separates great creatives from good ones.
LBB> Which projects are you particularly proud of from your time as CCO at Day One and why?
Jamie> I’m most excited about the stuff I can’t talk about yet. But within the last year, the work has been a reflection of how much the landscape has changed. Recently, Chipotle partnered with the corn kid
and this embodied exactly how Day One Agency moves at the speed of culture. We say we’re an agency built for the next 10 years and 24 hours, and the corn kid was exactly that. We were able to pull something off in less than 36 hours, which also took five years of relationship building and trust with our clients.
Looking at more produced projects with longer lead time, my mind goes to our role supporting Nike’s 50th anniversary this past summer - partnering with them and their above the line creative agency to think about how to bring their biggest campaign and platform to TikTok, reaching an entirely new generation of athletes and fans. We took the spirit of a television spot and turned it into an original piece of audio that became the backbone of engaging with gen z and the future of sport on the FYP. With a calculated creators push, the sound reached number two on the top trending sounds on TikTok, and is now a lasting presence that is always fun to see show up on my FYP months later.
LBB> As CCO, what is your vision for the agency?
Jamie> I think the role of CCO is different now than even three to four years ago. My job is to help shepherd and produce creative work, while also making sure that it checks all the boxes strategically and has a story strong enough to live anywhere, regardless of the platform of the moment. As a team, we attack and approach creative work differently and move into spaces where people haven’t been yet. It was only a few years ago that there wasn’t brand interest on TikTok, but now it would be hard to ignore. And, there will be another thing that comes next. My vision for the agency is to continue to be one moving at the speed of culture, and always at the forefront of what’s next.
LBB> How did you wind up in this industry? Was it a bit of an accident or something you knew you wanted to do?
Jamie> I always thought I wanted to work in magazines. I wanted to move to New York and design magazine pages like the ones in GQ and Surface that focused on a definitive point of view in cultural spaces, and had a unique take on the world.
Then, I had a chance encounter with Josh Rosenberg, CEO and co-founder of Day One Agency. I was covering nightlife and music around the city and met Josh at an event he was overseeing for a past client. Many, many years later, that random encounter went from some freelance work to collaboration, to partnership today in driving Day One forward.
LBB> What creative content inspired or interested you most when you were growing up?
Jamie> I loved buying old magazines at newsstands, and I still do. I remember my first time going to New York and being blown away by the international titles you don’t see when living in a smaller town. I loved that experience so much that I even helped create a revamped Subway magazine show, 'The Newsstand', that ran for seven months in Williamsburg and is now part of the MoMA’s permanent collection. In terms of campaigns, the Absolut creative and repetition to make the most of the bottle shape always stuck with me. There was a great book that collected the entire series and it was probably the first ‘ad’ book I ever bought. That campaign series did an amazing job at capturing moments in time, trends, and cultural conversations and inserting Absolut into so many worlds. When it comes to TV shows, I’m guilty of being obsessed with 'Mad Men' and the allure of a great pitch and a simple platform.
LBB> What was the first experience that made you realise you might be a good leader one day? What are your memories of that?
Jamie> Leadership in this world often comes along quickly, and I believe enthusiastic, strong-minded creatives can be in lead roles at a young age. Looking back, I don’t think I realised it was happening. Before I knew it I was being pushed to the front of the room and into the deep end. It started with presenting and leading small projects, but grew to being a trusted team voice beyond the assignment. I’m grateful for those looks and chances, and think about that frequently when we cast teams and assignments for new work.
Over the years, I’ve learned so much by osmosis and being in the room - picking up different things from people and what they say, don’t say, and the moments in-between. The best relationships for learning were those with mentors who showed a vested interest in me and took extra time to talk about life outside of work, showcasing that empathetic spirit to treat people as people beyond employees. Acting as a leader now, I feel like the more I do that, the better the work is and the easier it is to have conversations - good and bad.
LBB> Outside of work, what do you do to decompress or stay fresh?
Jamie> I play a lot of golf! It’s an interesting game, because it’s you against you. It’s spending three or four hours with my phone off, and it has allowed me to travel the world, playing the game all over the US, parts of Europe, and even in Japan. I love to see new cities and cultures, and even if I’m playing local, it doesn’t hurt to get outside of New York City for an afternoon. The time away brings space, and it is often when I’m not thinking about the work that the best ideas come forward.