My career in 5 executions: Eric Kallman

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From Old Spice to old composers, Erich & Kallman's co-founder creates work he'd like in another life

Name: Eric Kallman
Title: Co-founder & Creative Director at Erich & Kallman
Years in ad industry: 11
First job in ad industry: Copywriter, TBWA\Chiat\Day New York

Eric Kallman’s career got off to a good start when Gerry Graf, then TBWA\Chiat\Day NY CCO, hired him right out of school. After a few years, he headed to Portland to join Wieden+Kennedy, becoming part of the two-man team responsible for some of Old Spice’s most popular work, a now-famous reinvigoration of what had been considered a stodgy brand.

He spent several years with Graf at the latter’s new agency, then headed out to San Francisco to join Goodby Silverstein & Partners. Last year, he co-founded his own agency, which quickly won clients like General Mills, MTV and Chick-fil-A.

"I try to make things that I would actually watch, talk about and share if I wasn’t in advertising," Kallman says, a strategy that has made him one of the most awarded creatives in the world.

Here are the 5 executions Kallman says have meant the most to him and his career.

Client: Skittles
Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day New York
Work: "Touch"
Year: 2007

Early in his career, Kallman worked on the long-running "Taste the Rainbow" Skittles campaign, writing hundreds of scripts in search of one that would actually get made. "There was endless rejection involved," Kallman says, but knowing he would "end up getting to produce something great" kept him motivated.

"It’s how I really learned copywriting and started to understand creative direction," he says, and this spot was the first Gold Lion win he was a part of.

Client: CareerBuilder
Agency: Wieden+Kennedy Portland
Work: "Tips"
Year: 2009

Kallman cites this campaign as one of his favorites, even though only one spot ever aired. "We made this huge, fantastic campaign with tons of spots and print ads and posters...and then the economy crashed and none of it saw the light of day," he says.

The only thing that kept this spot from being shelved along with everything else was that CareerBuilder had already bought 60 seconds of ad time during Super Bowl XLIII. Perhaps that was fortuitous, because competing job site Monster.com made its return to the Super Bowl that same year after a three-year absence.

Client: Old Spice
Agency: Wieden+Kennedy Portland
Work: "The Response Campaign"
Year: 2010

Kallman worked on several popular campaigns for Old Spice, including "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like," but "The Response Campaign" was the biggest team effort of his career. "So many people worked together doing stuff that they’d never done before on a project we had no idea would actually work," he says.

While Kallman and partner Craig Allen wrote in real time, agency project managers cut and posted the videos. "We were all locked away in this tiny studio for two days, and I had no idea it was successful until it was all over," Kallman says. "I remember all of the people who worked so hard on it being so proud. I also remember being exhausted. It’s the best memory of my career."

Client: Unilever
Brand: Ragu
Agency: Barton F. Graf 9000
Work: "Bedroom"
Year: 2012

In 2011, Kallman left Wieden+Kennedy to join Gerry Graf at his new agency as an ECD. "We were a small creative department working so hard to do something great with every opportunity, and more often than not we did," he says.

The creative team working on Ragu was trying to channel old beer commercials from the 1970s. "They had tried a few different ways in with songs, but instead of ‘after a long day of work pop open a beer,’ it was ‘after a long day of childhood pop open some Ragu,’" Kallman says. "When Danny Gonzalez sang this script to me the first time, I had him take out his phone, sing it again and record it right there. That melody is still stuck in my head."

Client: Chick-fil-A
Brand: Egg White Grill
Agency: Erich & Kallman
Work: "Beethoven’s Song"
Year: 2016

In 2016, Kallman partnered with former Crispin, Porter + Bogusky President Steven Erich to found their own agency, San Francisco shop Erich & Kallman. "This was our new agency’s first pitch, first win and first big campaign," Kallman says. "A small group of very talented and very senior people were able to pitch, win, produce work and service our client incredibly well. It really proved that our new agency business model works."

The resulting series of spots launched the fast food chain’s new breakfast sandwich, and was the first campaign for Chick-fil-A in 20 years that didn’t feature cows that can’t spell.