Senior vice president of creative services and account planning, T3
When Jay Suhr left a prestigious position at Ogilvy & Mather in 1999, he did it because he wanted to become executive creative director at a firm with, as he put it, "massive potential."
He found his place in T3, an ad agency, marketing consultancy, and idea shop based in Austin, Texas. Since his arrival, the company has rocketed from fewer than 50 employees to nearly 250, with offices on both coasts and a client roster that includes Chase, The Wall Street Journal and UPS.
But all of these accomplishments haven't gone to his head.
"He's one of the most ego-less people I've ever met in this industry," says Gay Gaddis, president and CEO of T3. "That's what he teaches his teams. He lets the idea win. It doesn't matter where it came from or who did it."
Ideas that win keep T3 working for clients as diverse as JCPenney and John Deere. A large-format ad for Universal Orlando won recognition at this year's Ad:Tech; the expandable ad unit had the highest conversion rate of any creative in the campaign. A Times Square installation for Dell in July showcased real small businesses; the following day, metrics showed that those businesses had gotten consumers' attention nationwide.
One of T3's most notable projects this year was its interactive work for The Wall Street Journal's campaign, "Every journey needs a Journal," which featured the life stories of celebrities such as chef Alice Waters, the founder of Edible Schoolyard, and economist Steven Levitt, the author of Freakonomics.
"The New York creative team took a look at that and said, 'We can do more with this online,'" Suhr says. "They recognized that the subjects were fascinating in and of themselves, and that digital media allowed for interviews, for getting their personalities in a way that you can't really get in a print ad."
Gaddis says that part of what makes Suhr so effective is his dual background in traditional and new media. He understands both, and he puts a lot of thought into how each element can be used to reach consumers.
"You still have this leap of faith that has always existed in advertising and marketing, which says, you don't always know what's going on in people's heads," Suhr says. "But if you can speak to each as an individual rather than a consumer group, you can build a relationship there."