Carmichael Lynch Adds a Riddle for 2008

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After holding senior creative positions at Fallon and Duffy Design, while also co-founding East coast collaborative agency MAKE, Tom Riddle brings his creative expertise to Midwest agency Carmichael Lynch. As group creative director, Riddle brings a non-traditional, medium-spanning outlook both in design and art direction--both of which have garnered the creative exec some awards along the way. For a few minutes, he speaks to Creativity about his new post, the allure of it and his dreams beyond the advertising world.

So why the move to Carmichael Lynch?

The big thing was just the move back to the Midwest, to get back to where I grew up. As far as the agency, you really get the feeling that the momentum is turning here. A big part of that is the people that are in place right now, like Mike Lescarbeau, who I worked with at Fallon, and Jim Nelson, whose work I've admired for a long time now.

We had worked together at Fallon, and I subsequently heard [Mike] was heading things up here, and Jim Nelson has done amazing work for a long time. Both are really good leaders. The big thing for me, a lot of the focus of my work has been on crossing the lines of most agencies. The way creative departments work, Carmichael Lynch was just really open to working in different ways, taking the best idea and moving it forward across different types of [areas] that are right for the client. That role was really perfect me because that's what I've been doing for the last six or seven years. It's a perfect fit for what I'm looking for.

What assets will you bring to Carmichael Lynch?

The big thing was the ability to take a great idea and extend that in a really consistent way across different disciplines. That sounds easier than it is. Working within the Fallon environment years ago, the trick was to try to get somebody that might have a design background or be good at print and extend an intriguing interactive idea. Clients just are not in the realm of doing [only] a print ad anymore, so I guess my background in design and art direction and working across interactive and different mediums was a good fit for Carmichael. They're really looking to define that as the way they approach each project. It always sounds like a great idea, but what you do with that idea is the crucial part. Just to bring that aesthetic and carry it across certain mediums was the key point.

They're pretty proactive about crossing non-traditional bounds.

For sure. The one thing I've always loved about Carmichael is they just seem to get to the whole of the brands they work on, whether it's Harley Davidson or just completely get it right away. That's still what it's all about here. What I can do is take that a little bit further into unconventional media and seed those spots in different areas that they're really set up for. It's taking it into those areas that really fit the client's needs. Instead of bringing a designer or art director and a guy that's done interactive, I've done all those thing so I really bring a unique perspective to those needs.

What was your favorite spot of 2007?

It's hard to say. I'm a little partial, but I think the stuff for Jack Links that Carmichael did was great. It's like beef jerky, and they had the sasquatch in it. It's definitely within the Midwest. I'm a huge fan of the Nike work that I see. It really seems to be consistent across the board. I had done a lot of Nike stuff from the last four years, so I guess I'm partial to the work that they do.

If you weren't in advertising, what would you be doing?

I think I'd be teaching. I'd probably be teaching some type of art. It's really the one thing that I love. When I went to art school, I was inspired by the people that taught me, just the value of bringing an artful eye to something. I have taught design and art direction classes, and I think if I wasn't doing this, I would continue doing that.

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