Danny Schotthoefer leads efforts to translate client needs into creative strategy in the new role of director of brand planning at Solve, an independent Minneapolis-based branding and advertising agency.
Schotthoefer, also a Solve leadership team member, is responsible for overseeing research into consumer and cultural insights to inform brand positioning, spur creative work and track market response. He wants to help create "riveting, provocative, thoughtful" advertising that adds to, rather than interrupts, consumers' lives.
"If you're going to make ads, do it well so consumers aren't annoyed by it, where it doesn't feel like they're interrupting their lives," Schotthoefer said. "What I'm passionate about is putting the right message out there at the right time in the right context."
Schotthoefer has worked at Wieden+Kennedy in Portland, Ore., and TBWA\Media Arts Lab in Los Angeles. His experience includes involvement with high-profile campaigns for Apple, Old Spice, Oreo, Taco Bell and TikTok.
An Oregon native, Schotthoefer joined Solve in September and is working remotely from Portland during the pandemic pending a move to the Twin Cities.
Schotthoefer, who graduated from the University of Nevada, said he gained a strong work ethic and affinity for teamwork during four years in the U.S. Navy before college.
"Danny's perspective has been shaped by unique life experiences and working in some of the industry's most modern and fertile creative environments," John Colasanti, Solve founder and CEO, said in a release. "His passion for providing context and focus to ignite and inspire his teammates is obvious."
Q: What goes in to brand planning?
A: It's constant curiosity. It's a lot of research and digging into consumers and revealing things about them that they may not even know about themselves and their behavior. But then how do we leverage that in a way that's useful to them, whether it's how does a brand inspire me to be in pursuit of my best self or give me the tools that I need to accomplish being my best self? That's what strategy is. It's writing that plan for the creative to manifest in a way that truly solves problems for the audience so advertising isn't interruptive and adds to their lives.
Q: What are your main day-to-day activities?
A: Translating client needs into creative strategy: What are the business goals, what are those marketing objectives and how do we solve those through a creative expression? Collaborating is a large portion. It's talking with my teammates, talking with peers so that we push the work into a place that continues to take Solve further but also clients because our clients are looking for sharp work that resonates with human beings on the other end of any piece of media. We want to make sure that we're doing our due diligence and that requires a hefty amount of collaboration because that's how we make the work airtight and push it to the next level.
Q: Why is Solve the place to go for brand planning?
A: They've proven themselves time and time again and they continue to invest in themselves and they behave entrepreneurially. They've already gone several places and now they're going to keep going further. You get a partner that digs in, pulls their sleeves up from CEO to the interns. You get hard workers that really get excited about this stuff and really like to solve problems.
Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.