2 minutes with… Ben Purcell, CCO of David&Goliath

In 1999, Ben Purcell joined David Angelo and took part in the opening of the doors of David&Goliath in Los Angeles. Over the years, he has been instrumental in building culture, as well as creating award-winning works for all brands. For Kia alone, Ben worked on six Super Bowl campaigns, including “Hero’s Journey,” which starred Melissa McCarthy as an eco-warrior.

For Jack in the Box, he helped create the world’s largest coupon, which was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. And for VIZIO, he led the effort to create Slam Dunk Poetry with Blake Griffin. Today, as Creative Director, Ben continues to grow the agency, cultivating purposeful and impactful creative work. Ben is married with three daughters. To keep his sanity, he rides a bike and works a lot.

We spent two minutes with Ben, learning about his background, creative inspirations and recent work he admires.

Well, tell us…

Where you grew up and where you live now.

I grew up in Kentucky. I have the slightest accent that only comes out after a few bourbons. I have lived in Los Angeles for 25 years.

How you realized you were creative.

I was with Cubs for a year. We were asked to design a cake for an auction. Everyone designed a cake that looked like a Scout uniform. I designed one with the image of Gene Simmons from KISS sticking out his tongue, coughing up blood. Only my father bid on it. I knew that I was not like the others and it was normal.

A person you idolized growing up creatively.

Keith Haring. New York’s graffiti subculture was exciting and inspiring to a small-town kid in Kentucky.

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

At the University of Kentucky, the Journalism Club flew in guest speaker Maxine Paetro, author of “How to Put Your Book Together and Get a Job in Advertising.” I picked her up at the airport in my ramshackle Celica with a permanently reclined passenger seat. She told me about the Portfolio Center in Atlanta and kindly let me know what I needed to do. I listened.

A visual artist you admire.

Noma Bar. His graphic style is so conceptual. I have his framed prints and his beautiful books at home.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast that you recently found inspiring.

I recently saw the documentary Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street. To think of the vision and collaboration of artists and educators to make a lasting difference in the world at this time is breathtaking.

I’m also on the NPR How I Built This podcast with Guy Raz. It’s always inspiring to hear their stories. I often get lost in my car listening to them.

Your favorite fictional character.

Walter White from Breaking Bad. The development of this character from child’s play in tight clothes to a drug pin was brilliant. No matter how dark his character was, you couldn’t help but support him.

Someone or something worth following on social media.

On Instagram, I always check @CreolBrothers to see the latest in pop culture. And @coffeeforthearts, created by David & Goliath Group Creative Director Rob Casillas, which raises money to help inner city kids learn about the arts.

How Covid-19 has changed your life, personally or professionally.

The pandemic has reminded us how important culture is to our agency. We were incredibly efficient in resolving this issue. But without our weekly Thirsty Thursday gatherings at the agency bar, the Brave Stage speaker series, and random table tennis tournaments, we’ve had to find new ways to stay connected on a personal level.

One of your favorite creative projects you’ve worked on.

A few years ago, Universal Studios asked us to revive the King Kong ride. Rather than treating it as a ride, we created an experiential campaign that turned the city of LA into a path of destruction. Before sunrise, we dug larger-than-life footprints at Venice Beach, crashed a lifeguard truck, destroyed Dodger Stadium’s outfield and left overturned cars in the city, leading to Hollywood. The earned media generated by all of this was equally epic.

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