Peter Blitzer Director of Integrated Production, JWT Atlanta

TRUST caught up with JWT Atlanta’s Peter Blitzer to discuss the merits of a degree in Theater Arts, the trick to breaking into producing, and culinary weirdness in the South.

You studied theater in college and pursued acting for a number of years directly after graduation. How have you made use of those techniques and experiences in your work as a producer? Have you been in anything we might have seen before?

Acting training and teaching drama in East Harlem gave me all the training I needed for advertising! Haha! The most important thing I honed in acting class that I use every day is active listening – with creatives, account management, clients, and all other team players involved. It helps me understand what is needed to push great work through. In terms of acting, you can see me in several Crook Brothers films like “Sucker Punch,” “The Fittest,” and “Tantrum.”

You moved directly from working as an actor/waiter to producing for Ammirati. How did you get your big break? What initially appealed to you about the advertising industry? Had you considered working in the industry prior to landing your first job?

It was a little bit of a fluke. I wanted a job where I could make some halfway decent money and responded to an add looking for an office manager. The office represented illustrators. The owners told me that I was way over qualified and that I should consider becoming an ad agency producer based on all my production experience from college, which I enjoyed. 15 head hunters later, I got a job at Ammirati as a “floater” and floated from one department to another as a secretary until I got a job as an assistant in the production department working for Ozzie Spenningsby. What initially appealed to me was the production process – how to make commercial film. I promised myself I would stick with it until I had spots on the air.

The biggest culture shock was when I went to Waffle House for breakfast and someone ordered hash browns with cheese and onions, referred to as “scattered, smothered, and covered.”

You spent most of your career living and working in New York City before joining the JWT Atlanta team this year. How has the transition been treating you? What’s the biggest moment of culture shock you’ve experienced thus far?

The transition is great. My one-year-old son was a big part of my decision to make the move. My first weekend off this year was in April when I took this job and moved to Atlanta. There is a great work/ life balance here that I have not had before. The biggest culture shock was when I went to Waffle House for breakfast and someone ordered hash browns with cheese and onions, referred to as “scattered, smothered, and covered.”

Who are some people and companies that you think are doing the best work in advertising today? (Aside from the visionaries at JWT Atlanta, of course.)

Barbarian Group, Wieden + Kennedy, and Brooklyn Bros.