32 Under 32: Katie Johnston

By Egotist / /

We are – you guessed it – back with another 32 Under 32 interview. This time we’re talking with Katie Johnston, a Copywriter at DDB San Francisco. Check out the story of this rising star and then make sure to check back tomorrow. We’ve got plenty more of these yet to come.
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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?

Thank you! I’m on a shoot right now, which is the time when I’m most aware of how insanely cool this job is. I had an idea, I wrote that idea down on a sheet of paper, and now I’m surrounded by people who are working hard to make that idea into a real thing that will be on TV. Keeping that perspective throughout my work is very important to me.

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

Right now, I’m working on the second year of our Slim Jim TV campaign. I can’t give away too much, but I think we’re going to top last year’s spot where an Amish guy tells a “your mom” joke. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say.

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

DDB San Francisco was my first job out of ad school, and I went on my first production within 4 months. I’ve never been treated like a beginner, or like there are things I can’t handle. At the same time, I’m always encouraged to ask for help when I need it. The way I see it, the best creative comes from these cultures where people don’t feel held back by a fear of being wrong or looking stupid.

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

I’ve got meat sticks on the brain right now, so I’ll have to say the Slim Jim TV spots from last year. It started the way all of the best things start: with a few pre-noon beers on the agency deck with my team, bouncing ideas off each other. We ended up with a campaign where we can tell amazing stories and really funny jokes, two of my favorite things in the world.

We hear you volunteer for the Edgewood Center for Children and Families. Tell us about that.

Edgewood provides care to over 7,000 children with mental and behavioral issues every year. Since play has been shown to build confidence and self-awareness, DDB helped create the annual Edgewood Day of Play, an event in Golden Gate Park that provides a fun day out to children and families for free.

I had a much smaller role in this project than others in my agency (this is where I put a huge shout out to our creative director Sam Brown for leading and creating this amazing thing), but I did get to spend 8 straight hours making kids stand in an orderly line in front of a bouncy obstacle course. It was great just to get to be a part of it, and also to learn that if I ever quit advertising, I could be a decent club bouncer.

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

Celebrating the 10-year anniversary of answering this question. I’m ordering balloons in advance in case helium prices go up. (Sorry.)

Honestly, I just want to keep making things. That’s what we all got into this industry to do: make things. Preferably things that make people laugh or cry or think or change or all of the above.

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.

I can’t go end this interview without thanking my partner, Lena Barrows. We started on the same day at DDB and did our first project together 6 months later. She has a brilliant creative mind and is an incredibly hard worker. Plus, every work day is ten times better when you’re with someone who knows when to say “girl, you’ve got this.”