Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic.  In this profile we feature Trevor Sloan.  Photography for the series is by Cade Martinwardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire and Sybil Street for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson, Janice Kinigopoulos and Lori Pressman for THE Artist Agency.

Trevor, please provide us a short bio.

23 yrs. ALH. RP3. EPB. Arnold. And now SVP, GCD at Wunderman.

Are you involved in any other organizations?

I’ve been a DC Ad Club member for many years, and I get a lot out of it. Wherever your career takes you, I think it’s important to support, and participate in, the local ad community. DC’s ad market may not be as big as New York’s or Chicago’s, but ideas and inspiration don’t care where you live.

What are the things you are most proud of?

In my personal life, it’d be my two boys, who are both golden-hearted, handsome geniuses. But professionally, that’s tougher to answer. In my non-abbreviated bio, I sorta casually mention some of the awards I’m proud of, then I make the point that I’m even prouder of the brands I’ve helped to build. And I stand by that assertion 100%. Still, returning from Cannes with a bagful of hardware for your team does make you feel like a proud papa, in its own way. So, I’m gonna go with the brands I’ve built, with the award-winning work as a close second.

Who are your personal role models?

I’ve worked with a lot of amazing people. Too many to pick just one as a role model. In fact, I’ve made it a mission to learn from every single person I’ve collaborated with. Not just my bosses and fellow creative directors, but designers, writers and art directors, UXers, strategists, account people, clients, interns, you name it — even the people I’ve disagreed with. Everyone is good at something, and I’ve tried to absorb each individual’s best traits and insights. It takes a village to raise an idiot like me. Thanks, everybody.

Did these “role models” offer professional advice that helped you in your career?

Since my “role model” includes everyone, I’ll share a quote from John C. Jay, a creative mastermind who spoke at Cannes a couple years ago. He said, “Stop trying to be authentic, and just be authentic.” This really struck a chord with me, because I share his distaste for half-hearted creative that basically tries to trick people into thinking or feeling something that isn’t really true, purely for the benefit of the advertiser. People have always been able to see through that, and with social media at our fingertips, false promises can backfire in a big way. So, if you want to convince people that your brand stands for making the world better, make the world better. Don’t just run an ad that says you did. Literally go out and do it. The buzz will follow. If you want to tell a story, make it a true story. That doesn’t mean making it non-fiction. It means basing it on a compelling, relevant truth about your brand and audience. It’s more work this way, but it’s well worth it.

What professional advice do you have for others?

To invoke my favorite BBDO-ism, focus on “the work, the work, the work.” This doesn’t just go for creatives. It goes for all of us. We should all believe in the power of big ideas. And we should all be laser-focused on bringing them to life in the purest form possible. Compromising is easy, but it’s rarely the best answer. I’m not saying be a closed-minded jerk about your own version of an idea, and expect your team not to evolve it at all. What I’m saying is, don’t be afraid to stand up for a great creative vision. Debate the strategies until they’re just right. Keep concepting until you’ve really nailed the ideas. Sweat every detail of the executions. And show your clients why all of it matters. As long as you’re not a jerk about it, all that passionate debate is a good thing. It means you love what you do for a living, you respect the power of communication, and you respect your colleagues enough to know that they do, too.

What’s on your Spotify and Pandora playlists?

Mostly rock. New, old, heavy, bluesy, alternative, whatever. I’m a huge fan of Rush and Van Halen, and I’m not apologizing to anyone. I played in rock bands my whole life, until my wife came along like Yoko Ono and stole me away. It’s my first love. (Sorry, Christina.)

What’s your favorite restaurant?

I guess I’d have to go with Ruth’s Chris. I actually had them as a client for a while, and at one point, they let me into one of their kitchens to taste-test anything I wanted. Years later, I still feel like I ate too much.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

Perhaps just a final word about my philosophy: I believe that we, in the communications industry, should take our jobs very seriously. When we practice our craft with passion and skill, we really do have the power to improve lives, build business, and change the world. But — under no circumstances — should we take ourselves too seriously. None of us can do any of the above without each other’s help. So, no matter how passionate or skilled we may be, we should never take full credit for our successes, nor full blame for our failures. What we can do is keep learning, constantly push for great work, and try to have some fun while we’re at it. We are but simple humans. The best campaigns are simple and human, too.





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