John Heath, Agency: Atmosphere BBDO, Age: 33

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HIS STORY You might assume that someone on the cutting edge of all things interactive would have grown up around technology. In the case of John Heath, you'd assume wrong. The copywriter was born in Missouri, and the long road from his grandfather's farm to the digital vanguard was navigated with nary a computer in sight. "When I was young, I spent time shooting frogs with bows and arrows, pulling hedges and yanking perch from the pond with a cane pole," reminisces Heath. "I really just stumbled into this technology like I did cable TV, Nintendo, a cow patty or anything else."

But once Heath arrived in the big city-his first job in advertising was with New York agency DiMassimo-the fledgling writer took to technology like a duck to water. "There I learned that you can't be afraid of change, or embarrassing newfangled things, to survive," says Heath, who went on to Publicis to work on the BMW account. But still, despite the growing prevalence of internet technology in advertising, his transition from traditional to interactive was slow. "Even during the dot-com boom, I never once thought about the internet as an advertising option," admits Heath. "I think most people in offline saw it as beneath them-and this was around 2000. So I was as naive as everyone else."

He's since seen the light, leapfrogging to the forefront of the emerging interactive field. But being a recent convert, he understands just how scary that leap can be. "Right now, people are treating online like TV, just like radio treated TV when it was born. It's wrong, but clients and creatives are on a constant learning curve regarding what interactive can do, because the technology changes every week. But the great thing about interactive is the immediacy of it. You get to engage someone in a personal and involving dialogue with the brand. They click, you entertain them, or educate them, or enter them in a contest to win a kazillion dollars-or else! If they like it, they spread the news to their friends, and you're a dancing baby before you know it."

HIS RESUME Since joining Atmosphere BBDO in 2004, Heath has made his mark on a wide range of assignments, including the "Imagination Cubed" and "Seeds of Imagination" websites for GE, online work for Cingular and online executions for HBO series like Curb Your Enthusiasm.

IF THERE WAS NO INTERNET, HE WOULD BE "Shooting frogs with bows and arrows."

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