Photo by Valeska Bachauer
Every year at Super Bowl time, the country comes together as much for the commercials as we do for the big game. After all, when a company is spending upwards of 12 million for a 30-second spot, the ads had better be amazing enough to win us over. So what happened at the 2015 Super Bowl? We were hit with a barrage of depressing (although important) social statements on a day that should be fun. It may be shallow, but no one wants to hear about dying and disease when you’re enjoying buffalo wings.
And then, a miracle happened. Virtually unknown contender Loctite Glue saved the day with their offbeat spectacle #WinAtGlue, and social media ignited with a mighty roar of approval. Fanny packs, unicorns and saving marriages with glue became the talk of the town, and I absolutely had to know who was responsible for this incredible feat!
Then I found the man behind the mayhem, Jeff Kling, Chief Creative Officer of the Fallon agency. In addition to various campaigns for Nike, Miller High Life, Honda and Coca Cola over the years, Kling’s career includes work on memorable spots like Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man”, Arby’s “We Have the Meats”, and H&R Block’s recent “Don’t Do Taxes Alone”.
Fortunately, Jeff Kling was open to allowing UrbLife to get in his business. In this exclusive interview, we discuss his creative genius, career challenges, celebrities clamoring to get at his fanny packs, and how he is making a difference as a modern day (m)ad man. Read on…
Can you tell us a little about how you got into the creative side of advertising and marketing? Was it always a goal for you to be an ad guru?
Jeff Kling: I came to advertising late. In my late 20’s I was letting fear seduce me into a false happiness, and when I realized I was doing that, I had to ask friends the very basic question of what I might do with my life. For someone who knows everything, that can be an awkward position in which to find oneself. From there it was either business school or advertising, and the length of Harvard’s business school application convinced me I was born to advertise.
With insane luck, I got my first agency job just shy of my 30th birthday.
What has been your biggest career challenge thus far, and how did you overcome it, or how are you working to overcome?
JK: I’m too often a crankypants disappointed dad-baby with no poker face. People who feel believed in can do anything, and unless I’m much slower to show disappointment, always, I’m failing to motivate, to inspire.
I also want to get much better at leaving room for others. It doesn’t always come naturally to me. My mom used to break my wolf focus to remind me, “Jeff, no one is going to take your dinner.” Only then would my shoulders and elbows relax their huddle against an imaginary threat. But I’m also the guy who offers people a bite. “Here, try this, It’s delicious.” I love to share, I love to DJ for people’s taste buds.
I’m basically a batshit crazy, conflicted Libra psycho who should be hit in the head with a brick while I sleep. It’s a miracle anyone tolerates me at all.
You’ve had your hands in some big campaigns prior to Loctite. What have some of your favorite moments or memories been with regard to the results of your work?
JK: I once saw a kid across the bar shush his group to watch one of our Miller High Life spots. Our client was with us to witness. In response to the ad he took off his shirt and Heavyweight Champed his fists into the air.
Your team had actually been preparing for the Super Bowl launch for a while. Were there any crazy ideas for the commercials that were not utilized? Do you still have more ideas in the works to take the campaign to new heights?
JK: We flirted with a few fancy things I’m glad we had the sense to ignore, yeah. Unfortunately, we have no more ideas. At birth nature bestows upon each of us a finite number of ideas, and we’re over our limit.
Why are fanny packs so awesome? What initially inspired you to use them for Loctite? Who are some of the celebs who have accessorized with your fanny packs?
JK: Early days we had a dreadful notion to make the Loctite Man a no-nonsense, real-deal of a Nick Offerman-type blah blah barf. Nothing against Nick Offerman—he amazes—just would have been tired and expected for Loctite. It occurred to us it’d be one thousand more interesting to make our guy effeminate, feckless, hopeless with tools. One of our ace guys wrote a line: “The right glue can turn a fanny pack into a utility belt.”
We’ve had a bananas list of request for fanny packs, dating back to their brief appearance in a 1.0 version of the spot, last spring. Matthew McConaughey had his people inquire about a bunch for his crew; Jared Leto started voguing the same fannypack under his own brand without the LOCTITE logo. Of course he wasn’t inspired by our busted shit, but there’s something in the water. Something reassuring.
If you could go back in time to the 18-year-old you, what life and career advice would you give yourself?
JK: Give zero fucks about money. If you’re afraid of it, you’re supposed to do it. Don’t wait. Your ancestors love you and want you to be great. Put down the beer can. Sleep with all the women.
If someone wanted to follow in your footsteps, what are the best ways to enter into the creative side of advertising and marketing?
JK: It’s hard for me to imagine a creative person wanting to make advertising the goal. But if it’s a goal I say: create, go nuts, express yourself, and then if you want to do that subset of creating that advertising represents, someone in advertising will see your output and gleefully open the gate. Advertising needs you. Please make it better.
Where do you see your company going in the next two years or so? Any specific goals for your team?
JK: Faster, more free, more expressed, more creativity more monetized, more funner. My specific goals for everyone are: Be the ones, do the things™.
What do you want people to know most about you personally at this stage of your life and career?
JK: Man, what a question. I’ll paraphrase my friend Kelli Bowen: “I want you to know I think about you and love you more than I let show.” I have big plans for humanity.
Where can we find you online?
JK: I don’t attend to my digital life at all, but @MutzenPapa fs with Instagram. I should boost my Twitters, but my brain has real trouble navigating it. I’m Jeff on this new recommendation-centered app called REX, which I love. HMU.