Each week, The Drum talks to a range of media and marketing professionals about their roles, but rarely do they get a chance to show who they are and what drives them as people. The Drum's 10 Questions series attempts to offer a little more insight into those personalities. Answering the questions this week is Jesse Coulter, chief creative officer and VP, brand communication and design for Samsung Electronics America.
1. What was your first-ever job?
I was a bag boy at a grocery store when I was 13 years old. The legal age for employment was 14 and the store owner paid me $3.15/hr – ten cents less than the minimum wage at the time!
2. Which industry buzzword annoys you most?
They all do.
3. Who do you find most interesting to follow on social media?
My brother Dylan Coulter. He’s an award-winning photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He recently shot Megan Rapinoe – the captain of the World Cup-winning U.S. Soccer’s women’s national team and a social activist – for the cover of The Guardian’s Weekend magazine.
4. The highlight of your career (so far?)
Joining Samsung after 15+ years on the agency side. I always wanted to be on the brand side because you’re closer to the business, product and decision making. And you’re helping to develop the entire marketing plan – not just one part of it. It was intimidating, but I’m always looking for opportunities to learn. Creatives tend to get put in a crayon box, not respected for their marketing and business acumen. But look at Mark Parker - he was a shoe designer before he became Nike’s CEO. That’s why I jumped to Creative Artists Agency (CAA) after Wieden + Kennedy, which was another intimidating move. But I wanted to push myself and try a new marketing offering, while learning the entertainment and sports business.
While at CAA, David Messinger (now the CMO of Activision) and I met the founder and CMO of Chipotle and created Cultivate a Better World platform, which was designed to emotionally engage customers in Chipotle's journey to create a sustainable future. It was pure – and it connected culturally and doubled the stock price.
5. What piece of tech can you not live without?
I love new tech, so it’s hard to pick a single product. But if I had to pick just two, I would go with my Samsung Fold and Frame TV. You can’t go back to a traditional phone or TV after having them.
6. Who or what did you have posters of on your bedroom wall as a teenager?
Nike's Michael Jordan “Wings" poster. The black-and-white image was shot by photographer Gary Nolton and included a William Blake quote: “No bird soars too high, If he soars with his own wings.”
7. In advertising, what needs to change soon?
Marketing shortcuts. There's an almost constant demand on brands to produce results that have real stopping power, but consumers will always call out shortcuts. Don't short-change the strategy, process, investment, creative, etc. And take the time to really get to know the consumers you’re serving. And commit to them.
8. What is (in your opinion) the greatest film/album/book of your life?
LA Story. It’s Steve Martin’s existential rom-com. It has a little bit of everything. And it’s been my favorite since childhood.
9. Which industry event can you not afford to miss each year and why?
Cannes Lions. Every year is different from the last. It’s a great opportunity to set up meetings, catch up with old friends, reflect on the trajectory of your career – and, most of all, get inspired to be a better creative marketer. 2019 was the first year in 13 years that I missed the gathering. My daughter graduated from preschool.
10. What's the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
“Take Fountain.” Kidding. Good question – probably “Be the best version of yourself.”