In the latest installment of Success Profiles, a series highlighting the personal and professional journeys of some of the most dynamic entrepreneurs, YFS Magazine speaks with Keith Cartwright founder and CEO of Union Made Creative, a San Francisco-based marketing and advertising agency.
At the height of a double dip recession, in January 2012, Keith Cartwright started an advertising agency with a simple idea; creative work is best served when the brightest minds come together without the unnecessary burden of process or preconception.
Today the San Francisco based agency, Union Made Creative, endeavors to never be defined by a particular style or technique, but rather by how they solve big brand problems in an undefined way. After fifteen plus years in the advertising industry Cartwright, formerly a group creative director at the Martin Agency, decided to grasp an opportunity to create something new and interesting.
“In my experience I found that CEO’s, and companies, are looking for ways to be nimble and to execute quickly; and to find smart thinking without the heavy-laden process that, at times, comes with the bigger [and traditional] advertising agency models and structures,” he says. That simple philosophy led Cartwright to pursue his entrepreneurial passion.
Learn how Keith Cartwright started his ad agency after working with some of the world’s most notable brands and why he believes you have to believe in yourself and embrace the fear.
|Company:||Union Made Creative|
|Location:||San Francisco, CA|
|Industry:||Advertising & Marketing|
How I Got Started
I attended Syracuse University with the intent of becoming a fine artist. I was going to focus on painting with a possible minor in printmaking. Right before I declared my major I had a brief conversation with a professor from the school of art and design who, in about ten minutes, sold me on his program. I changed majors that day. He’s been a mentor ever since.
I got my B.S.A in communication design and a minor in illustration. I never considered getting into marketing, the business side of art, but I fell in love with it.
Capitalizing on Industry Expertise
I’ve been in advertising fifteen-plus years. I’ve worked at TBWA\Chiat\Day on Adidas, Wieden+Kennedy on Nike, and Ogilvy & Mather on American Express. All of this experience taught me a ton about solving problems for big brands, that I respect, that [practice] really smart marketing solutions. But in the business of advertising, I felt I was in a place where I wanted to create another opportunity for marketers to approach solving their problems.
As with any startup, you look for an opportunity in the marketplace and you look to see if your expertise [equips you] to capitalize on that opportunity. In my experience I found that CEO’s, and companies, are looking for ways to be nimble and to execute quickly; and to find smart thinking without the heavy-laden process that, at times, comes with the bigger [and traditional] advertising agency models and structures. So, that’s where I felt like I had an opportunity to create something new and interesting.
Solving ‘Moment of Truth’ Pain Points in Business
The people we work with, those that are a part of the ‘union’ and the people in-house — we look for people who can talk across multiple disciplines… This creates efficiencies where you don’t have to have as many people in the room to solve problems.
Clients like that — they want to get to it as quickly and as efficiently as possible from a billing and a process standpoint. CEO’s are getting smarter and more creative everyday and they want to partner with people who can hear them out and work closely with them without the rigaramo that [the industry] has created.
Creating an agency that’s built on being bespoke and nimble, but still feels [professional] and is surrounded by professionals; I felt it was a really, really smart way to solve that problem in our business, and it’s been working.
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