Dave Damman has rejoined Minneapolis ad agency Level as chief creative officer some 20 years after launching his Twin Cities career at the firm’s predecessor, Foley Sackett.
Damman returns with awards from U.S. and international creative competitions. He has worked on breakthrough campaigns for brands including Lee Jeans, United Airlines, Pepsi and BMW.
His focus now, however, is on helping others do their best work. “You’re not doing anyone any favors by doing the work for them,” Damman said. “Great ideas can come from anywhere but only the brilliant ones should survive. It’s being a coach, putting people in the right position at the right time and being honest.”
Damman said it was his destiny to work again with Level CEO and founder John Foley.
He said he’s one of few in the industry to work twice at three different agencies. His experience includes working at Saatchi & Saatchi, Fallon Worldwide and being chief creative officer at Carmichael Lynch and Gallegos United.
In its 32-year history Level has done brand strategy and advertising for more than 130 businesses worldwide, including AAA, Medica, 3M, Coca-Cola and Cargill. Rather than truth in advertising, Foley said, Level emphasizes “advertising in truth” and how the agency can “build authentic stories for clients and look for clients where that’s what’s important for them.”
Q: What brought you back to Level?
A: People and space. We’re catching each other at the right time. In discussions with John and Lois (Dirksen, president), the next chapter they want to write in the history of Level almost is word for word what I want to do.
Q: How would you describe that next chapter?
A: With Lois you’ve got the client side, brand-side business acumen pretty much unlike any other. You’ve got John with the strategy and great brand thinking. Now with creative firepower on a level that is complementary to some of the best work that’s been done in this market and nationally … We have the opportunity to do what Fred Rogers would say is simple and deep as opposed to complex and shallow. Part of that is that’s built on two pillars — relentless and truthful. You can’t have one without the other, especially in terms of doing great work for our clients and brands.
Q: What’s your approach as chief creative officer?
A: My job right now is to help others do the best work of their career, and that in essence is the best work of my career. Too many people in this position get it the other way around. When actually to be productive and to grow and to provide an environment that’s collaborative and integrated you have to be working for everybody else.