Stylin' grey from head to toe, Doug Jaeger looks like he belongs on the set of Friends, rather than among the Madison Avenue set. Yet he nonchalantly roams the halls of 136yearold J. Walter Thompson exuding an air of confidence. Just 24, the associate creative director of Digital@JWT has soared to the ranks of partner in less than a year, forgoing the corporate ladder climb altogether.
"I think it's my [JWT] oneyear anniversary today," says Jaeger in a howaboutthat way as he devours Jelly Belly jelly beans, confiscated from JWT president Bob Jeffrey's office.
As one of the initial hires after JWT, slow to the punch in the interactive arena, created its digital division in early 1999, golden boy Jaeger offered to stir things up in the television commercial centric firm. He came to the agency toting, a client list two pages long, a testament to his realworld experience at both Web shop Agency.com, where he designed the Lucent Technologies Web site, and design shop K2 Design, where he helped launch a Bell Atlantic ISDN campaign. With Jaeger's input, the digital communications group has grown from six to 40 employees in the span of a year. "I'm trying to build a team that knows everything from top to bottom," he says.
Jaeger, who prefers to think of himself a "digital guy" as opposed to an "ad guy," preaches a philosophy of integration. Managing the digital creative for clients including Merrill Lynch, Warner Lambert, J&B Scotch and De Beers, is only one of this multi-tasker's tasks. He also coordinates efforts with other JWT divisions to ensure consistent campaigns that transfer seamlessly from traditional media to the Web and viceversa.
He may not think of himself as an ad guy, but he definitely knows how to speak the language. "The ad guys are my friends," says Jaeger, who regularly participates in meetings and pitches with Bob Jeffrey, Digital@JWT director Kevin Wassong, ©JWT head Marina Hahn who heads the entertainment division and worldwide creative director Bill Hamilton. "It's like a blender. There's digital. There's direct. There's traditional. You put the elements in the blender and turn it on."
On this particular morning he has already traveled to Warner Lambert in Morris Plains, N.J., to present the online creative for Listerine. Then, he met with JWT worldwide director of corporate communications Owen Dougherty, a.k.a. "the corporate identification cop," to discuss the identity of JWT, something that has been on his mind as of late. "We have a brand that's stayed the same, yet the content has changed," he explains, adding that JWT's identity should reflect that change. Dougherty suggested Jaeger take the matter up with JWT worldwide CEO Chris Jones in writing.
More irreverent than reverential, Jaeger sports a black and white glossy of Jones on his office wall. It reads, "To Doug All the Best, Chris." He laughs, and 'fesses up: "I wrote that." Overlooking the lush greenery inside the Park Atrium Building on Lexington Avenue, Jaeger's seventh floor work abode looks more like a dorm room than a corporate office. A five foot stuffed carrot, left over from his Syracuse University college days when he wrote the comic strip Insane Carrot, sits on his leather coach. Homemade posters poking fun at his colleagues hang on the walls. Vitamins, cough drops, bottles of beverages, piles of papers and a lap top computer inhabit his desk. As someone who at times clocks an 80 hour work week, Jaeger tries to make the environment fun.
As his officemate Garth Horn, a digital copywriter, works on the Lipton Brisk online campaign that features Claymation characters, Jaeger spies over his shoulder to examine his progress. "I think the copy is a little bit aggressive," he says. They then talk about toning it down. Spontaneous interaction is typical Jaeger. With cell phone in tow, he can be reached at all times, and he often pops in on colleagues, offers constructive criticism, answers questions and helps them brainstorm.