Creative All Star: Doug Jaeger, Founder thehappycorp

By anyone's standards, including his own, Doug Jaeger is having a pretty amazing life. At 20, he designed a Web site for Lucent Technologies while working at Three years later, he established the interactive creative department for J. Walter Thompson, becoming the most junior partner in the firm's history. Then, at 25, he was named interactive creative director at TBWA/Chiat/Day -- the youngest creative director in its history.

At 28, this digital whiz kid, who has already won a slew of awards, formed his own company,, a New York-based creative-services company encompassing branding, design, and photography. Today, having just turned 30, he's thinking about, um, breastfeeding. Yes, that's right. But it's on behalf of client Amy's Babies, an educational-services company founded by the mother of Jaeger's business partner, Matt Spangler.

"I wanted to build a company that understands marketing at its core, helps make the world a better place, and encourages clients to do good," he says. "We're not nerdy do-gooders who only work for nonprofits... We're in it to find good, smart people to work with."

Clients include Minyanville, TOPIC Magazine, and College Humor. Jaeger is also collaborating on the "Ultimate Reality Challenge," which is being produced by a former adult-film producer and which, Jaeger says, "will either make TV better or kill reality TV. [The show] has an interactive element and is very controversial." Exactly how this will improve the world is unclear, but he says, "People can change, and maybe this program will help create a dialogue in the audience."

In addition to thehappycorp, Jaeger pursues his personal passions via a variety of outlets, such as professional photography under the banner "doctorjaeger"; a T-shirt line,, the company he co-owns with former colleague Johnny Vulcan; and LVHD, a creative collective that arranges instant parties via wireless communication. The parties are not only fun, they're labs where people can exchange ideas. Next on the agenda is a club where people can actually collaborate on creative ideas. Jaeger's company also handles project work for agencies such as McCann Worldwide and the Kaplan Thaler Group.

Jaeger studied computer graphics and communications at Syracuse University. While technically savvy, he knew nothing about advertising and marketing strategy. "I was inspired by inventors and inventions," he says. "I always wondered what made something successful and fancied developing and marketing a product."

When he formed his company, he hung out his shingle--a happy face--outside the Soho building that is also his residence. The aim, he says, was to create a company that crossed all disciplines and employed everyone from sound designers to graphic artists. One result of such cross-fertilization was Semi-Permanent 05, an art and design event for creative types held a few weeks ago at New York's Lincoln Center. Sponsored by Diesel, among 30 others, "It's an open platform for fun and change," Jaeger says. "I want New York to be the most important city to live in, and a great design and creative center."

During an interview, Jaeger talks like a train--fast and furiously--an indication of how his brain functions. He sits drawing on a boardroom table and is surrounded by several stopped clocks (so time doesn't matter), an orange Day-Glo chandelier, and matching grandfather clock and boardroom chairs.

"Doug is an All Star for three reasons: creativity, passion, and the ability to execute. I know he will do a great job and come up with off-the-wall ideas that work," says his former boss at J. Walter Thompson and current client, Kevin Wassong, president of Minyanville Publishing & Multimedia.

"He's an exceptional motivator and inspires people who work here," says Rob Hudak, a colleague at thehappycorp. "We pride ourselves on the fact that we're all artists and appreciate fine art, movies, and music. So when a client comes to us with a problem, we have people with a broader perspective of the world working on it."

Jaeger's former client Christina Bergman, communications manager for Absolut, says it's rare to find someone who understands both the technical and creative aspects of digital media: "There are very few people who are both good creatives/art directors and who understand the technology, and he is one of the best of these few people."

Oh, and Jaeger really is happy. "I'm trying to do right," he says. "I feel I've been treated fairly all my life. I'm not seeking attention; I'm trying to help the system. My dad always told me, 'You can do whatever you want.'"

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