Day in the Life: Doug Burnett and Soham Chatterjee
Take a look into the work day of this Cannes-winning creative pair.
In advertising, no two people spend more of their days – and often nights – together than a creative team. That’s why, for this edition for Day in the Life, we’re chronicling the shared day of Senior Copy Writer Soham Chatterjee and Associate Creative Director Doug Burnett – no relation to our agency’s namesake (we asked).
Doug and Soham live at the intersection of work and play. From sword fight brainstorms to desk-top tip jars, Soham and Doug know how to have fun. And they manage to have it while still churning out increasingly imaginative and innovative creative work for clients like Brooks Running, Jim Beam and Donate Life America, including the Cannes-winning “Your Name Saves” campaign. But, the one thing that makes these two truly special? They’re not just award-winning work partners. They’re great friends too.
Throughout today on Instagram, we’ll be sharing an inside look into this dynamic duo’s average work day. So be sure to follow along on social and learn more about Soham and Doug in the Q&A below.
Describe each other in one word.
SC: Doug’s a creative ninja. He uses Ninjitsu to get stuff done.
You two work out together every morning and use that time to brainstorm. Why is that?
DB: We both have side jobs as body builders. Last year I won the bean pole category. Actually, sciency people say your brain has two modes: active and passive thinking. Thinking hard on an idea at our desk is great. But some of our best ideas come when we’re passively thinking—doing something else as the idea simmers in the back of our brains.
SC: Our brain does a lot of heavy lifting. We are muscle heads… It makes us more “bros”. We end up staying late at work and that’s not too healthy. We work better when we work out.
You really support and push each other at the gym. Is that a reflection of how you work at the office?
DB: Yah. If you’re in the office late at night, you’ll hear us screaming at each other, drill sergeant style: “Come on! One more idea!”
SC: At other points in my career, I felt I had to do things for myself because I was willing to go the extra mile and never had a partner who could match the passion. But this machine called Doug goes on for days. Also, he makes sure I don’t miss leg days.
How did you get into advertising?
DB: Up until college, I wanted to be a stop motion artist. Nerded out on all kinds of animations as a kid. It was crazy popular with the ladies. I started college in film school. After watching Citizen Kane for the 6th time, I saw everyone wearing their party hats over in the Brigham Young University advertising department and thought I’d join them instead.
SC: I inherited my Mom’s creative genes, my Dad’s analytical brain and went to Miami Ad School. Boom!
DB: What he’s not telling you—the year he graduated, Soham was the most awarded creative student in the world.
SC: There he goes again.
What’s one thing that motivates you?
DB: We don’t like when people tell us something can’t be done. If it’s something you’re passionate about, you will find a way to make it happen—so we do.
SC: Yes. We are challenge-gluttons. We like to prove that things can be done. It might take longer or be a tough nut to crack, but we will crack it before it cracks us.
Do you have any advice for aspiring advertising creatives?
DB: When I started in advertising, I thought the difference between success and failure was having that one amazing idea—at any moment, I was one idea away from being David Droga. But over the years, I’ve seen that even an amazing idea needs a crazy amount of drive to fight for it and make it happen. No one cares about your idea as much as you do. Other than that, I’d say to be a student of award shows. They can really open your mind to fresh thinking.
SC: It’s all about how bad do you want it. I think young creatives need to understand that it’s not an easy industry. You need to be super passionate and put in hours to succeed. Go big or go home.
What are some things you like to do to decompress outside of work?
SC: I like to watch molecular gastronomy videos. But always end up cooking a low carb Indian meal. I love to skype with my parents and fiancé whenever I get time.
DB: There’s nothing like coming home to my amazing wife and ridiculously fun toddler. They make all the hard times worth it. I love making trumpet/piano/guitar/seaboard music with them.
What goes into your creative process?
DB: I really resonate with how Britt Nolan, our CCO, would ideate. He would think hard on a brief early, then procrastinate until the last few days before it’s due. With all that simmer time, your best ideas can come at the last minute. Or else.
SC: Yes! Britt for president. We like to be hands on with most of our projects and try to always look at things differently.