DAVID SKINNER & DARREN WRIGHT

By Ad Published on .

As witty banter spews back and forth between David Skinner and Darren Wright, it's difficult to distinguish where one person begins and the other ends. But there are some giveaways. CD/CW Wright, 33, sports a magnificently bushy 'do, and claims to be able to throw a football more than 50 yards. CD/AD Skinner, 34, was a Texas motocross champ before he got into advertising. Although dwarfed by Wright's big hair, he's apparently the "unbreakable" one who emerges unscathed after stunts like slamming his skateboard into doors. The pair joined the agency seven years ago, recruited fresh out of school - Wright from Portfolio Center, which he attended after getting his business degree at Auburn University, and Skinner from the University of Texas/Austin, where he studied advertising/communications. At Y&R, they were immediately drawn together by a mutual love for the Stallone film Cobra, and, more tellingly, their dark sensibilities. "A twisted sense of humor is kind of hard to find in people sometimes," Skinner reflects poignantly. Teaming up, then, was "kind of organic. Who do you have fun with? Who do you want to tell jokes to? Those jokes end up being ads and that's pretty much your job."

All the laughing has undoubtedly spawned seriously standout, often daring, advertising, including the original Sony "Plato" work, runner-up for Creativity 2001 campaign of the year, as well as the morbidly comic Sony Santa-napping campaign that ultimately got pulled before running. They also originated the hilarious NFL United Way campaign, which exposes the softer, goofy side of football untouchables as they volunteer with kids and the elderly. "Like all sports, the NFL kind of had an image problem that they wanted to improve," Wright notes. "The spots running before seemed so dishonest to us, in a way. It felt like the player just stopped in for 15 minutes, put some kids on his lap and was done. We had to convince them that humor was a viable way to go, that it would humanize the players."

The duo revisited pigskin power in the recent NFL Playoffs campaign in which Don Cheadle rants fervently about how the sport of football has inflected basic concepts, like "crazy" and "Joe," with worlds of meaning and emotion. Bold and cinematic, the work stood out admirably against the beer and babes fodder at this year's underwhelming Super Bowl adfest. "Football has become such a powerful thing that it changes the way people think and do things," Skinner insists. "It might seem hyperbolic to take the name Joe and say football made it 'Joe,' but not really. There are people who think that. They're so passionate about the game, and it's immediately identifiable to the fans." The creative process is often enviably simple for the likeminded duo. In the case of the NFL campaign, "we just sat around throwing out ideas and picked the ones that made us laugh," recalls Wright.

Notes CD Taras Wayner, "Their spirit, personality and chemistry really help define this creative department. There are those who can do the work but never want to show up to the meeting; then there are those who just go to meetings and sell but can't do the work," he adds. "The trick is to be able to do both, which both of them can. That's a very valuable thing, and the last thing I want to do is say too much, so someone else hires them."

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