My career in 5 executions: Camp+King's Roger Camp

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From the infamous gerbil cannon to lazy Tom Brady, Camp+King's CCO wants creatives who stay 'hungry'

Name: Roger Camp
Title: Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Camp+King
Years in ad industry: 24
First job in ad industry: Junior art director at Korey Kay and Partners

After initially wanting to pursue graphic design, Roger Camp fell into advertising at the School of Visual Arts in New York. After graduation, he made his way to Korey Kay & Partners, where one of the first people he worked with was Paul Venables.

In 1996, he joined Cliff Freeman & Partners as an art director before spending several years freelancing for shops like Publicis & Hal Riney. In 2000, he founded Camp/Arbues in San Francisco, but the next year was lured to Wieden+Kennedy to work as a creative director. He also worked at Leagas Delaney and Fallon on clients like Brawny. 

In 2006, he returned to Publicis & Hal Riney, this time as chief creative officer. Five years later, he founded Camp+King with CEO Jamie King. "In order to get the best out of the talent we have, they have to be hungry, curious, and want to be here," Camp says. To that end, he has a policy of helping creatives that want to leave get to their next position. "I'm not going to be the CCO that gets all pissed off and throws you out of his office. I'm very proud that during our first 3 years of existence, we didn't lose a single creative."

Here are the 5 executions Camp says define his career.

Client: Fox Sports
Brand: NHL Hockey
Agency: Cliff Freeman & Partners
Work: "Bowling WoilBe Better If It Was Hockey"
Year: 1999

In the late 1990s, Cliff Freeman & Partners was a creative powerhouse, "arguably one of the best agencies in the US," Camp says, "and somehow I got hired there. Cliff’s was an absolute magical place filled with a small group of incredibly nice and funny people."

There he worked on award-winning campaigns, like for Little Caesars, but this campaign for NHL Hockey on Fox Sports "introduced a different kind of comedy that the agency wasn't as historically known for," Camp says.

Client: Outpost.com
Brand: Outpost
Agency: Cliff Freeman & Partners
Work: "Gerbil"
Year: 2000 

Not everyone found Outpost.com’s series of deadpan spots offensive, but enough did that the campaign still makes it onto lists of outrageous ads, long after the brand was sold off in 2001. In particular, the "Gerbil" spot, which ran in the Super Bowl, has the most fervent fans and detractors.

"Looking back, Outpost was one of those crazy moments in time where the entire dot com world had gone mad," Camp says. "This campaign has been lauded and panned, and that's kind of what I like about it."

Client: CNET
Agency: Leagas Delaney
Work: "T-shirts"
Year: 2002 

The brief and client expectations for what turned out to be a pretty simple execution was two or three pages long, Camp recalls. "I remember getting this super brief and being a bit creatively paralyzed for a while because I couldn't quite figure out how to explain all that they wanted to say in a compelling way."

At the time the creative team was shooting the spot, the commercial actors’ strike was on. "What seemed like yet another obstacle turned out to be a blessing when we cast these people right off the street, which added to the charm," Camp says.

Client: Holiday Inn
Agency: Fallon
Work: "Whale Song"
Year: 2008

Holiday Inn wanted to appeal to business travelers, so Fallon created a series of ads featuring a screwball team of corporate road warriors. "We had a bunch of great scripts but also had the luxury of some extra time to improvise on set, Camp says.

In the years since, he’s strived emulate those conditions on other work. "Whether it's carving out time when designers are creating digital content or asking creatives to dive deeper than the brief requirements to try solving something in a new way, a little wiggle room to simply ‘try a creative hunch’ is something that's sometimes tough to justify to clients but can yield really great results." 

Client: Ugg
Brand: Ugg Men’s
Agency: Camp + King
Work: "Song"
Year: 2016

The UGG "Do Nothing" campaign allowed Camp+King the opportunity to show how a small team could develop a brand idea through many pieces of work across multiple channels. "While Jamie and I were at bigger agencies, we always had a deep bench of resources and expertise for this, and I didn't want to lose that when we had a smaller staff," Camp says.

In addition to the TV spots, the agency expanded the campaign to penalty boxes during NHL hockey games and Brady’s own 4-game Deflategate suspension. "We were able to come together as an agency and deploy ‘Do Nothing’ across a number of channels that simply made the idea bigger, gave it more dimension and ultimately made it more impactful."