‘Mind numbing patience’: Kirk Kelley, HouseSpecial CCO on what makes a great creative

Browsing through the work of Portland’s HouseSpecial can become a walk through a creative candy shop — starting with (pun kind of intended) iconic creativity for M&M's, including the well-received Candyman spot featuring Aloe Blacc and Zedd.

Throw in Planters, Chipotle, Kellogg’s, Comcast, Starbucks, Allstate and others and you have a CG, stop motion, 2D wonderland. Started as Laika/house, the ad arm of Laika Studios outside of Portland, founded by Nike’s Phil Knight, the company was spun off in 2014 as an independent studio — and Kirk Kelley, partner, chief creative officer and director has been on the front line of the some of advertising’s most interesting and fun work.

He also knows, from his vast experience, what it takes to be a great creative. First, it’s “mind-numbing patience.” Making one’s way through ideas takes the will and understanding that it doesn't simply happen on the first try — especially in animation, where Kelley, a Texas native, has carved out an incredible body of work.

Secondly, Kelley, who is a partner in two Portland restaurants (Texas BBQ and Tex Mex) believes it’s about talent — finding it, nurturing it and, like all great leaders, understanding that getting the right mix together — and leading it well can yield substantial success.

Hear what others believe makes a great creative — including the founders of Saturday Morning, Laura Fegley (Colle+McVoy), Daniel Bonner (SapientRazorfish), Pancho Cassis (Lola MullenLowe) and other industry leaders.

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Doug Zanger

Doug Zanger is the Americas editor for The Drum. He leads the Americas editorial team’s content activity in the growing region. Based in Portland, Oregon, he is committed to sharing the most meaningful stories that benefit the global industry and its people. A Minnesota native, Zanger has covered a wide range of brands, issues and personalities, including Aloe Blacc, Seu Jorge, Wendy Clark, Susan Credle, Dan Wieden, Jeff Goodby and more. Fiercely dedicated to diversity, equality and talent, he has interviewed several women in leadership roles through his Exceptional Women of the World podcast.

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