˝

Dan Cooper

Creative Director

Dan Cooper
Creative Director

LINCOLN, NE

Once, while at daycare, I was sent to time out and sat next to the computer’s user guide. That user guide happened to hold all the company’s passwords, and despite thinking, “Oh my God, I could get in trouble for reading this,” I kept reading. I had soon learned how to access most things, and people were asking me to change their settings, icons, colors, etc. Unfortunately, the teachers found out, and I went back to time out. Nowhere near a user guide this time.

I was always the kid who loved the newest gadget and gizmo. I’m sure no one was surprised when technology became a big part of my career.

CHILDHOOD TERRORS TURNED HOBBY

When storms are brewing, my phone starts buzzing. I tend to be the unofficial meteorologist wherever I go. I believe my fascination with weather stems from the movie Twister and the effect it had on my 11-year-old psyche. The movie was an audio/visual triumph and created an overwhelmingly realistic, and frightening depiction of tornadoes, up close and so very personal. My young mind was “blown away” (what pun?) by the scene in which the main characters lashed themselves to a pole in order to ride out the storm. I was hooked! I have since made it my business to be able to analyze and interpret the data and research, examining different forecast models and cross-referencing what local meteorologists are saying with a whole bunch of different weather websites and data points to really understand what is happening and the potential ramifications. In retrospect, I think that is the origin of my infatuation with research and my drive to ensure a purposeful creative product. It sure seems to work on the weather front.
 

UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA – LINCOLN

One of my favorite courses at the university was with Clint! Runge. I remember getting a mediocre grade on one of our first projects – a project I was really proud of – and asking what I could have done better. He didn’t say much and I realized it was up to me to figure it out, so I kept working harder with each project. At the end of the semester, he told me he had deliberately pushed me to rely on myself because he saw potential. I printed his email and still look back at it from time to time as a reminder to push myself every day.

Rich Bailey was one of my favorite professors, and he really shaped me as a student. All the details, tips, pointers, and even his lecture on writing a cover letter proved invaluable.

TAKING A DEEP DIVE INTO THE INTERACTIVE WORLD

I started as a freelancer but soon realized the agency I was working for needed help in the interactive department. I was determined to be that help. I spent months researching interactive principles and did a lot of Lynda.com tutorials just to educate myself. Along the way, I realized digital strategy and creativity were two big ideas I wanted to explore more.

My hard work paid off. After a few months, I was hired as a full-time interactive designer and later was promoted to interactive art director which enabled me to help shape programs for clients like Panda Express, Disney and Cuties Clementines.
 

AND IF THAT ISN’T ENOUGH TO KEEP ME BUSY

Music composition is another passion of mine, and sometimes I would even compose work for clients like Assurity and Honeywell. I’ve been into writing music since grade school, and I think it stems from my love of movie scores, life-threatening or otherwise. Even in college, I’d stay up until 6 a.m. sequencing piece after piece of orchestral and symphonic music. It was a slightly different kind of all-nighter.
 

MOVING UP IN THE RANKS

I started honing my management style after being promoted, which was basically, “Don’t do anything my previous managers did that pissed me off.” I think it’s important to remember your employees have feelings, dreams and aspirations. They want to be motivated and they want to have ownership over what they’re doing. Acting as a dictator is the quickest way to kill morale.

As I got older, I also learned to love who I was – faults included. Like many of us when we were younger, I spent a lot of energy trying to be who people wanted me to be, but I’ve learned relationships, both personal and professional, are so much better when you’re genuine.

The best feeling as a manager is stepping back and watching your team engage in their work. A good manager mentors their team and helps them develop confidence. I took enormous pride in watching my team create great work for large national brands over the years. We were riding high, and we’d earned it. But, over time, continued success can lead to overconfidence which can be fatal.

One time, my team made it to the final round in a new business pitch but lost in the end. I soon realized we had let our confidence stop us from seeking advice from “higher-ups,” and had we, we might have stood a better chance of winning. Moral of the story: never let pride get in the way.
 

AND NOW

My early days at Bozell were not unlike being latched to a post and riding out a storm. Their confidence in me, especially in those early days, has gone a long way toward building my confidence from within. Since being here I’ve learned that I had been relying on external sources to give me the confidence necessary to succeed and the difference created by learning to rely on my own instinct has made me a better leader and manager.

Within my first few weeks, there was a plethora of client work and a number of Bozell jobs that they wanted me to turn around in a heartbeat. They were very quick to acknowledge that the workload was overwhelming, but I was not about to let them down. One of the first projects was to design their holiday card, which in and of itself is not particularly intimidating unless you want to create an experience that will not only spread warmth and joy but also be timely and relevant.

On my way home from work one day, I heard a stat from an NPR/PBS Newshour/Maris poll that said 58% of all Americans were dreading the thought of talking politics over the holiday, myself included. Leveraging that insight, I came up with the idea of HolidayAnswer.com, an interactive chatbot that provides real-time tension-diffusing answers to the awkward and uncomfortable questions we were certain to endure over the holidays. Questions like “when are you getting married?”, “are you ever going to get a job?”, or even, “how much longer will your brother be in jail?” were answered with aplomb. Regardless of our short turnaround time we had a lot of fun with it and so did our recipients.

 

AWARDS

Holiday Answer proved to be a big success, earning recognition from AdWeek and Ads of the World in addition to a Gold 9th District ADDY and Best of Show at the AMA Omaha Pinnacle Awards.

Another favorite project was our TV spot for the 529 College Savings Plans program. Once it was decided that, unlike the majority of programs, we wanted to focus on the emotional implications rather than dry facts and figures, it was easy to focus on the rising debt crisis that we currently face. We wanted to find a visually compelling way to show parents the importance of starting to invest immediately, regardless of the child’s age, without being heavy-handed. So many TV spots show aging over time, which is expected. We wanted to break from the mold and depict the whole process rapidly and seamlessly to drive home our point and illustrate how suddenly time goes by. We decided to use a technique with two turntables that could rotate in opposite directions, blending one life stage into another almost magically. The emotional impact ensures that viewers have no doubt about the dangers of procrastination – and trust me, that’s a tough one to drive home.
 

Words to live by: “Do good and learn every day.”

Dan's story

LINCOLN, NE

Once, while at daycare, I was sent to time out and sat next to the computer’s user guide. That user guide happened to hold all the company’s passwords, and despite thinking, “Oh my God, I could get in trouble for reading this,” I kept reading. I had soon learned how to access most things, and people were asking me to change their settings, icons, colors, etc. Unfortunately, the teachers found out, and I went back to time out. Nowhere near a user guide this time.

I was always the kid who loved the newest gadget and gizmo. I’m sure no one was surprised when technology became a big part of my career.

CHILDHOOD TERRORS TURNED HOBBY

When storms are brewing, my phone starts buzzing. I tend to be the unofficial meteorologist wherever I go. I believe my fascination with weather stems from the movie Twister and the effect it had on my 11-year-old psyche. The movie was an audio/visual triumph and created an overwhelmingly realistic, and frightening depiction of tornadoes, up close and so very personal. My young mind was “blown away” (what pun?) by the scene in which the main characters lashed themselves to a pole in order to ride out the storm. I was hooked! I have since made it my business to be able to analyze and interpret the data and research, examining different forecast models and cross-referencing what local meteorologists are saying with a whole bunch of different weather websites and data points to really understand what is happening and the potential ramifications. In retrospect, I think that is the origin of my infatuation with research and my drive to ensure a purposeful creative product. It sure seems to work on the weather front.
 

UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA – LINCOLN

One of my favorite courses at the university was with Clint! Runge. I remember getting a mediocre grade on one of our first projects – a project I was really proud of – and asking what I could have done better. He didn’t say much and I realized it was up to me to figure it out, so I kept working harder with each project. At the end of the semester, he told me he had deliberately pushed me to rely on myself because he saw potential. I printed his email and still look back at it from time to time as a reminder to push myself every day.

Rich Bailey was one of my favorite professors, and he really shaped me as a student. All the details, tips, pointers, and even his lecture on writing a cover letter proved invaluable.

TAKING A DEEP DIVE INTO THE INTERACTIVE WORLD

I started as a freelancer but soon realized the agency I was working for needed help in the interactive department. I was determined to be that help. I spent months researching interactive principles and did a lot of Lynda.com tutorials just to educate myself. Along the way, I realized digital strategy and creativity were two big ideas I wanted to explore more.

My hard work paid off. After a few months, I was hired as a full-time interactive designer and later was promoted to interactive art director which enabled me to help shape programs for clients like Panda Express, Disney and Cuties Clementines.
 

AND IF THAT ISN’T ENOUGH TO KEEP ME BUSY

Music composition is another passion of mine, and sometimes I would even compose work for clients like Assurity and Honeywell. I’ve been into writing music since grade school, and I think it stems from my love of movie scores, life-threatening or otherwise. Even in college, I’d stay up until 6 a.m. sequencing piece after piece of orchestral and symphonic music. It was a slightly different kind of all-nighter.
 

MOVING UP IN THE RANKS

I started honing my management style after being promoted, which was basically, “Don’t do anything my previous managers did that pissed me off.” I think it’s important to remember your employees have feelings, dreams and aspirations. They want to be motivated and they want to have ownership over what they’re doing. Acting as a dictator is the quickest way to kill morale.

As I got older, I also learned to love who I was – faults included. Like many of us when we were younger, I spent a lot of energy trying to be who people wanted me to be, but I’ve learned relationships, both personal and professional, are so much better when you’re genuine.

The best feeling as a manager is stepping back and watching your team engage in their work. A good manager mentors their team and helps them develop confidence. I took enormous pride in watching my team create great work for large national brands over the years. We were riding high, and we’d earned it. But, over time, continued success can lead to overconfidence which can be fatal.

One time, my team made it to the final round in a new business pitch but lost in the end. I soon realized we had let our confidence stop us from seeking advice from “higher-ups,” and had we, we might have stood a better chance of winning. Moral of the story: never let pride get in the way.
 

AND NOW

My early days at Bozell were not unlike being latched to a post and riding out a storm. Their confidence in me, especially in those early days, has gone a long way toward building my confidence from within. Since being here I’ve learned that I had been relying on external sources to give me the confidence necessary to succeed and the difference created by learning to rely on my own instinct has made me a better leader and manager.

Within my first few weeks, there was a plethora of client work and a number of Bozell jobs that they wanted me to turn around in a heartbeat. They were very quick to acknowledge that the workload was overwhelming, but I was not about to let them down. One of the first projects was to design their holiday card, which in and of itself is not particularly intimidating unless you want to create an experience that will not only spread warmth and joy but also be timely and relevant.

On my way home from work one day, I heard a stat from an NPR/PBS Newshour/Maris poll that said 58% of all Americans were dreading the thought of talking politics over the holiday, myself included. Leveraging that insight, I came up with the idea of HolidayAnswer.com, an interactive chatbot that provides real-time tension-diffusing answers to the awkward and uncomfortable questions we were certain to endure over the holidays. Questions like “when are you getting married?”, “are you ever going to get a job?”, or even, “how much longer will your brother be in jail?” were answered with aplomb. Regardless of our short turnaround time we had a lot of fun with it and so did our recipients.

 

AWARDS

Holiday Answer proved to be a big success, earning recognition from AdWeek and Ads of the World in addition to a Gold 9th District ADDY and Best of Show at the AMA Omaha Pinnacle Awards.

Another favorite project was our TV spot for the 529 College Savings Plans program. Once it was decided that, unlike the majority of programs, we wanted to focus on the emotional implications rather than dry facts and figures, it was easy to focus on the rising debt crisis that we currently face. We wanted to find a visually compelling way to show parents the importance of starting to invest immediately, regardless of the child’s age, without being heavy-handed. So many TV spots show aging over time, which is expected. We wanted to break from the mold and depict the whole process rapidly and seamlessly to drive home our point and illustrate how suddenly time goes by. We decided to use a technique with two turntables that could rotate in opposite directions, blending one life stage into another almost magically. The emotional impact ensures that viewers have no doubt about the dangers of procrastination – and trust me, that’s a tough one to drive home.
 

Words to live by: “Do good and learn every day.”

Read More

years in industry

11 years

years at bozell

1 year

client experience

  • Sioux Honey Association Co-op
  • 529 College Savings Plans
  • NCAA Men’s College World Series

Dan's Hometown

Lincoln, NE

February 6, 2019

Pinteresting Strategies for Food Brands

Pinterest is the social network for shopping and planning. It’s less about socializing and...

Paying rent for the space we 
occupy on this earth

I’ve helped mentor and teach students through my service on the AAF Omaha board of directors and by leading several years of summer internship programs.

Dan says

As I got older, I also learned to love who I am – faults included. Relationships, both personal and professional, are so much better when you're genuine.

Sioux Honey – Aunt Sue’s Rebrand

Case study: Sioux Honey – Aunt Sue’s Rebrand

Sioux Honey – Aunt Sue’s Rebrand

Sioux Honey is America’s largest honey co-op and has been...