Special Report: Media Mavens 2012

Media Mavens: Dave Snyder, Firstborn

Small Budgets Can't Stop Exec Creative Director From Making Great Work

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Dave Snyder
Dave Snyder

Résumé: With a B.A. in marketing and advertising from the University of Denver under his belt, Mr. Snyder set out in 2000 on an atypical path for an agency creative. He learned coding at a small toy retailer called EToys before joining a digital shop in Denver called FL2. In his five years at that agency, he wore many hats, responsible for new business, account management and more. On a whim he shot an email to Firstborn. whose work he'd always admired, and he says that "next thing I knew I was on a plane to New York for an interview and it all happened pretty quick. It just worked out." Since joining as associate creative director in the summer of 2009, Mr. Snyder has been promoted twice, to creative director in 2011, and just last month, he was made executive creative director.

Challenge: Learning how to become a fast thinker who can communicate ideas to clients clearly, which was the positive outcome of a bad experience with a former boss. He says he and a co-worker had repeatedly entered meetings being told one thing, when the clients had been told something different, and usually were expecting a full-blown concept or campaign. "By getting thrown into the shit so much, we became really good with analyzing information and thinking up ideas on the fly. In a weird way, that negative thing actually has helped me tremendously, especially when it comes to presentation skills."

Quick fact: He's a big skateboarder. When not doing tricks at the skate park under the Manhattan Bridge, he's "pushing in traffic, trying not to get hit."

A typical day in the life of Mr. Snyder could spark some envy. One day he might be directing Kate Upton as she rolls around a couch on a shoot for SoBe, and the next day he's coming up with a highly disruptive social-media idea for hot Japanese retailer Uniqlo.

For the latter, Mr. Snyder came up with the novel idea of using Pinterest as a platform for a PR stunt. He and his team created a first-of -a-kind colorful mosaic of the store's line of dry mesh shirts that dominated the social site. Using no paid media whatsoever, he managed to generate a conversation around the brand's innovative use of the platform, with fashion and creative news sites buzzing about the execution. It's the perfect example of how in the age of social media, with new platforms arising constantly, agencies can help their clients to get in early and experiment to big benefits with little or even no cost.

"Small budgets can be awesome, as long as things are focused," said Mr. Snyder. "No one has ever one an award for the most features crammed into a website. Sometimes with a big budget you can lose focus for what a big idea can be."

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