Tim Wettstein Group Creative Director, JWT Atlanta

TRUST talks Germany, the importance of eye-contact, and Swedish inspirations with JWT Atlanta Group Creative Director Tim Wettstein.

Your early advertising career represents a grab bag of creative positions at agencies throughout the States and Europe. What have been some of your favorite cities to live and work in?

I sort of grew up in Germany for the first half of my life. I’ve been living in many exciting and very different cities like Berlin, Stockholm, London, Amsterdam, and New York since. It’s hard to say which one is better over another. I have amazing memories of all the cities, the people I’ve met, and the agencies I worked for. It has been quite a ride and I feel blessed to be influenced by a vast variety of different cultures.

What are some of the projects and campaigns from your career of which you’ve been most proud?

I guess my portfolio always progresses and I throw out stuff if I do something better. I try to stay current and keep my book on the smaller side. There are two things I’m particularly proud of. The first project was an interactive Eye Contact Installation for Autism Speaks I did at BBDO New York. This campaign, targeted at parents with young children, informed them about the avoidance of eye contact — one of the most common signs of autism. An interactive screen presented a life-size girl who would avoid eye contact in every instance. Motion sensitive technology read head and body movements, making eye contact impossible and ultimately provided a firsthand experience of what many parents with autistic children deal with daily. It goes way beyond advertising and it felt good to not only do something for a good cause, but also to affect pop culture and step in to the territory of new technology. Something that hasn’t been done before is always rewarding.

The second most exciting piece was creating a worldwide new product launch for Gillette with a campaign called Masters of Style. We worked with Adrien Brody, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Andre 3000 to globally launch the first beard-trimming tool to market in the company’s 100-year history. This campaign even penetrated pop culture when they parodied the commercials in an SNL (Saturday Night Live) skit.

Your résumé boasts a pretty varied professional background and education as an artist and copywriter. What medium or discipline initially drove you to become a creative professional? What medium do you usually turn to for your own creative expression?

My background is in Film and VFX/3D animation. I studied at a film school in Berlin before I decided to switch into advertising and attend Miami Ad School Europe in Hamburg for Art Direction & Copywriting. I felt advertising was a better fit for me. I loved the idea of creating entertaining content and working with amazing directors, photographers and tech people. In the beginning of my career, I was pretty much still into shooting my own little films and photos but that got lost a bit because of the little time I have. When I do find time, I like to paint. It’s the most analog form of art and a nice contrast to the digital world we live in.

One thing always stays the same. A good idea where you reach and touch people’s lives is a good idea no matter what the media execution might be.

Who are some creative professionals working today who inspire you?

Everybody I worked for had an impact on me. Whether it was Pelle Sjoenell, Susan Credle, Greg Hahn, David Lubars, or Ronald Ng. I also remember when I was starting to get into advertising in the early 2000s, I was inspired by the Swedish director collective TRAKTOR. Nowadays I’m more about art and technology rather than following certain people in the ad industry. There are so many cool things happening. It’s all going towards consumer experience.

As you’ve progressed through your career, your work has moved from day-to-day content creation to more conceptual strategy and branding. Do you see a difference between the two? How did your background as a junior-level creative prepare you for the broader work you do today?

Advertising always changes, quicker than any other industry. So, I’d say whatever I learned years ago is not so much relevant in today’s market. Of course I learned the craft and how to create good work, but you’ve got to be some sort of chameleon in the way you adapt to the ever-changing culture of the business. One thing always stays the same. A good idea where you reach and touch people’s lives is a good idea no matter what the media execution might be.

You’re listening to your iPod, reading your kindle, and watching your TV all at once — what’s playing on each screen?

I have it shuffle and sometimes really strange stuff comes up I didn’t even know I had in my playlist. You don’t really wanna know. And I actually don’t own a TV since it’s all online.