32 Under 32: Matt Stafford

By Egotist / /

We’re back with another in our 32 Under 32 interviews. This time we talk with Matt Stafford, Associate Creative Director at Heat. Get to know Matt, then come back tomorrow for another look at a different 32 Under 32 nominee.


Congrats on being chosen as one of the top 32 advertising and marketing professionals under 32. We selected people who really go above and beyond in their work. How do you think you approach your job differently than other people?

Shucks. Thanks for the honor. Before we get started, I’d like to ask the reader to please excuse any answers below in which I may appear to be vain or egotistical. I can assure you in real life I am one of the most humble human beings you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.

Ok, on with the Q & A.

I honestly don’t think my approach is very different from any other creative. I fluctuate between states of perspiration, procrastination, and anxiety until I come up with a few ideas I don’t hate. Then I keep pushing to see if I can beat those ideas, right up until the deadline, at which time I summon the spirit of Billy Mays (R.I.P.) to try and sell it all through.

I also think I contracted a strain of English cynicism while working in London. I’ve found a healthy dose of cynicism goes a long way towards making better creative work. Question every idea. Will the world be better off with or without it? If more advertisers did that, there’d probably be fewer useless branded apps and cliché homepage takeovers, where something looks as if it’s smashing through your screen.

What kind of accounts/projects are you working on these days?

I’m heads down on this year’s EA SPORTS Madden campaign right now.

I also have a side hustle, helping ad legend Steve Harrison shoot his D&AD documentary about another ad legend, ‘60s San Francisco icon Howard Luck Gossage. It’s all very legendary, really.

If you’re unfamiliar with the man or his legacy, I highly recommend you commence a Google’n. He makes Don Draper look like a used car salesman. Any great piece of advertising you see today is more or less because of Gossage. Bold statement, I know, but his body of work makes for a compelling argument.

What is it about where you currently work that really pushes you to be better?

This is the question where everyone is supposed to give all the credit to their bosses and co-workers, right?

That makes sense. I work with a bunch of folks who are more talented and attractive than I could ever hope to be. When I grow up I want to be like them.

In thinking over your career so far, what work had made you the proudest?

It’s got to be the Madden GIFERATOR, a real-time content engine that scanned live NFL data and fired out trash-talking GIF highlights to fans, within seconds of the big plays going down.

Instead of waiting to capitalize on a moment of serendipity, like the lights going out at the Super Bowl, our real-time strategy focused on producing content for all those big moments that are more likely to happen: touchdowns, turnovers, wins, etc…

It was an ambitious project that involved a lot of man-hours and collaborators to pull off properly (hat tip to the NFL, EA, Goggle, and Grow). Our team definitely sacrificed a few years of our lives on the GIFERATOR, but in the end we managed to create the #4 most searched GIF on all of Google in 2014 (after Frozen). So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.

We hear you enjoy naked Santas. What’s that all about?

First of all there’s only one Santa, so nice try. Second of all, the nudity played an integral role in convincing cynical adults that he is, indeed, real.

Last December I managed to coerce the jolly old elf himself to come to Heat and bare all for an event called Sketchy Claus: An enchanted evening of life drawing. Real Santa. Really nude.

We invited Bay Area artists, creatives and some clients around, to draw the human form of the world’s most beloved sleigh-based philanthropist. The morning after, we auctioned off the artwork on eBay to raise money for SF’s One Warm Coat charity.

In the end we raised a few grand for a good cause and fulfilled some lifelong Santasies. Pun intended. The pun is always intentional.

Here’s a ridiculously clichéd interview question for you: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

25-30 pounds heavier and gracing the centerfold pages of your 42 Under 42 list.

This might be tough, but here’s your chance to give a shout out to one person who has helped you get to where you are today. Go.

To skirt around your one-person limit, I’ve combined the most influential people in my life into one genetically-modified super influencer:

Dr. Frederick Charlene Kendra Fiona Koet Elvira Harrison Von Clement Don Bambach-Gill Clarke McKnight Sandoz Mooge Corcoran Stoney Sr. III


  1. Truth April 15, 2015

    Love this guy. Down to earth,
    Love this guy. Down to earth, humble, and super talented.

  2. Anonymous April 17, 2015

    he the qb for the detroit
    he the qb for the detroit lions too

  3. Andrew nonymous April 18, 2015

    -5 points: Man can’t even
    -5 points: Man can’t even hold down the Swedish octopus.