DDB, Chicago's Eric Johnson Is Agency Exec by Day; at Night Call Him DJ Bunny Ears
In a special series on unique agency jobs, Ad Age introduces you to three executives who get paid to have their finger on the pulse of music, nightlife and culture. First up was Team Epiphany's Jed Stiller. Next: Eric Johnson, executive producer-music and integration at DDB, Chicago, who by night goes by the moniker DJ Bunny Ears.
DDB hired Mr. er, Bunny Ears, in a new role -- executive producer-music and integration -- a few months ago. The Milwaukee native is also a filmmaker, musician, writer, blogger, book publisher and, of course, a DJ.
Ad Age: What's your background?
Mr. Johnson: I moved to Portland in 1996 and got a job as a music director at the college radio station. While I was there I got a random email from a girl who worked at Wieden & Kennedy who wanted to pick my brain about an idea they had to start an internal radio station. ... Eventually she was leaving Wieden and said she thought I'd be a good fit. ... I didn't get the job then but the position opened up again. And in January 2000 I started at Wieden. It was never my intention to be in advertising. ... It sounded like an interesting place, but when I started I didn't know what I was going to do. I realized they were working on all these amazing projects, I've got all this expertise and context of and passion for the music world and I thought, "I'm going to start making partnerships here. I'll start putting music into Nike or Coke commercials."
Ad Age: What are you doing at DDB that's unconventional?
Mr. Johnson: I still run a little record label and publish books and make art and blog -- and I know the language of advertising. So I'm marrying those two things and trying to find the space where those things connect. For me, that was my intention: to come here and take what I love personally -- art, music, creativity -- and marry it with the needs here and find the space where those things live. Part of that is being in on the creative process earlier than most music supervisors -- to expand and produce any idea that we're working on. That's where it becomes unconventional.
Ad Age: Where'd you get the name?
Mr. Johnson: I was doing a DJ show in Portland and I picked the name because the venue needed a name for the flier. Everyone seemed to like it so it just stuck. ... I liked the idea of the bunny ears people make behind people in photos. But it was more about being attuned to sound. Also, a lot of women liked it.