David Angelo on how his Filipino roots have fueled his career, from Super Bowl hits to pro bono work
For AAPI Heritage Month, the David & Goliath founder and chairman reflects on how his grandfather's and father's values have been a constant thread in his life as an agency exec and creator
May 17, 2021
When industry creative vet David Angelo opened his own shop, David&Goliath, in 1999, he was driven by the idea that no marketing “giant” would be too big for his company’s gutsy, challenger spirit. It’s a mantra that has served him well throughout his career, which has included storied runs at top shops Cliff Freeman & Partners, Chiat/Day and DDB. He’s created Super Bowl hits and standout work for brands all over the map, including Kia, Coca-Cola, the New York State Lottery, the MTV, NFL and Little Caesars, earning more than 500 pieces of industry hardware in the process.
Outside of the job, he’s dedicated to doing good, having founded the global non-profit Today, I’m Brave, which aims to instill courage in youth so they can face the world’s biggest challenges head on. Along with the 4A’s, he also created the Conscious Creative Movement, comprising a group of creative talents who aim to bring positive change in the world through purpose-led creativity.
This week, we’re honored to have Angelo as the guest editor for our Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Creative Excellence series. Today, he discusses how the passion that has fueled him can be credited to the beliefs instilled in him by his Filipino grandfather and father, and how their values manifested in the creation of one of the most meaningful projects of his career, Kia’s 2020 Super Bowl campaign starring Black and Filipino-American football player Josh Jacobs.
When I look back at my career, the thread throughout is the foundation of values and beliefs instilled by my father, Roy. He would remind us of two things—to never forget where you’re from and always give 100% of your heart and soul. These values were passed down from his father, a very proud Filipino man who came to America with just a tennis racket and a dream. His name was Peter Angelo.
Born in the city of San Fernando, Philippines, and the province of La Union, Peter raised five children on his own working the tomato fields outside of Vacaville, California. As a kid, we grew up in a Filipino household, eating white rice, lumpia, chicken adobo, splashed with a little bit of Portuguese sweet bread from my mother Loretta’s side. We learned enough Tagalog to feel at ease whenever we played poker with our Filipino relatives. To say he was the ultimate challenger would be an understatement. As a challenger, he always saw the possibilities that come from it.
And my dad’s values echoed in my mind my entire career and life.
Naturally, looking out for the underdog became a lifelong commitment and influenced the campaigns I’ve created over the years—from the New York Lottery’s “Hey, You Never Know” to the Clinton/Gore presidential campaign, to the founding of David&Goliath, an agency that inspires people and brands to take on their biggest challenges in business and life. And to founding our nonprofit Today, I’m Brave, which is dedicated to helping unlock the bravery in today’s youth so they can take on the challenges of tomorrow.
When I think of a campaign that is most recently significant, it’s the Super Bowl campaign we created for Kia Motors “Tough Never Quits,” that put a spotlight on youth homelessness. It was the ultimate underdog story, teaming up with Raiders Running Back Josh Jacobs, a challenger who rose from homelessness in middle school, living out of a car with his father, to football stardom. The aspirational spot shows Jacobs driving a Kia Seltos in his home state of Oklahoma and reflecting on a time when life was much more challenging and the odds were stacked against him.
We also created a short film titled “Tough Never Quits” to share the story of Josh Jacob's rise to the NFL despite unimaginable hardship. Josh and his father, who is of Filipino descent, gave up a lot to keep the family together, even in the face of homelessness. It took a tight-knit community to come together and go all in to help Josh realize his dreams.
The impact of this campaign was huge. We created the "Yards Against Homelessness" charitable initiative, with Kia pledging a $1,000 donation for every yard gained in the Super Bowl, divided among three charity partners: Covenant House, Positive Tomorrows and StandUp for Kids.
Kia donated $1M which provided 300,000 nights of housing and one million meals for the shelters.
And when the pandemic hit Kia made another $1M donation to multiple non-profit partners that assist homeless youth nationwide.
I attribute my success to my Filipino grandfather who embraced the courage to come to America for the possibilities that would await him and his family. And to my father who reminded us to never forget our Grandpa Pete, to be forever proud of our Filipino heritage and always look out for those less fortunate. It’s given me even greater belief in my own purpose and how important it is to never forget where you’re from, whether you’re a person or a brand.