Bowling for Dollars

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As they launch their new agency, Jim Haven, 33, and Matt Peterson, 32, have the confidence and enthusiasm that comes not just with youth but with creative credentials earned at mega hotshops. After some Seattle ad stints, Peterson was an art director at Wieden + Kennedy in Portland for two and a half years, while Haven was a copywriter at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco for three and a half years. Between them, their creative credits include work for Nike, The Wall Street Journal, Henry Weinhard's, Porsche, E*Trade, K2, Sprint, Isuzu and Foster Farms. They worked together for the first time earlier this year for a few months in Amsterdam, where both were freelancing at StrawberryFrog on a pan-European Cap Gemini Ernst & Young campaign. "It was a bit like the trial run for our agency," says Peterson. That's not where they first met, however; Peterson, who grew up near Seattle, and Haven, who's from Eastern Washington, went to college together at the University of Puget Sound and have always kept in touch.

But the trial run is over, and now they're co-CDs at Seattle's Creature- "every project you do is kind of a strange creature," Haven says of the name. They're joined by a lone suit, Peterson's wife, Melissa, who previously ran the Nike retail business at Cole & Weber/Portland. And they're opening with the Professional Bowlers Association account - an organization that had its heyday in the '70s as a nonprofit group, and is poised to make a for-profit comeback, now that it's been bought by a group of venture capitalists led by former Microsoft VP Chris Peters, an avid bowler, who brought the PBA from Ohio to Seattle. The secret to the gig: "My wife worked with a former client at Nike who moved to the PBA," says Peterson. "We found out they were looking at agencies, and we got our stuff together and made a presentation. We were up against four or five shops and we didn't have any spec work; they just really liked our big thinking, our experience and our entrepreneurial spirit."

Of such serendipities are great brands built. But do the boys at least bowl? Well, one of them used to, and you can damn well bet they do now. Peterson lettered in bowling in high school, and had a pin on his jacket to prove it, along with an average of about 144, he claims. Haven's another story. "I taught Jim a hook the other week," says Peterson. "Now he's got a cool spin on the ball."

"I don't really have an average," Haven admits, "but I did break 125 last weekend. Since Matt's pretty good, we told the client that if it came down to two agencies, we'd definitely take it to the lanes to decide the winner. It didn't come to that, though. But I felt pretty confident with Matt's bowling skills."

In the meantime, the multimedia PBA campaign Creature is preparing is still under wraps, but big spender Chris Peters has hired some top Nike people and made a deal with ESPN, the creatives say. "Bowling will be on TV every Sunday, and they'll also do some stadium events, like nothing you've ever seen before," Haven enthuses. "It has the potential to go way beyond where it was in the '70s." Will it be the next golf? "It's the next golf, but without all that etiquette crap," Peterson boasts. "It's reclaiming its place as a respected American spectator sport, based on pure man vs. man competition. There'll be a year-end World Championship, with the drama building throughout the season as players face off and jockey for seeding positions."

Maybe it's the next wrestling, with extra pins.

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