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Employee Spotlight: John Plymale, Creative Director

Employee Spotlight: John Plymale, Creative Director

John Plymale, our creative director, first joined Gard in 1993 directly out of school for graphic design. After seven years, he took a break from the firm to help run his “family business” – a dog daycare and training center – but the pull of creative work eventually brought him back. He returned to Gard in 2005 and became creative director soon after.

“I see my job as an interpreter,” John said. “I interpret what the client wants to say into visuals and words that our audience will want to watch or hear.”

What’s your one key question?

Why should people care? Why should they make a change in their behavior, or read this brochure, or watch this TV spot when there’s so much competing for their attention? You have to give them something, whether it’s information, or an emotion, or a break from everyday life. We want to give the viewer something back for taking their time.

What do you like about working at Gard?

I like taking on challenges and delivering solutions. I like collaborating with the team here and with our clients. And I like helping to make a small difference, like getting people to drive safely or raising money for cancer research. I feel like the work we do helps our clients make convincing arguments to make a difference.

What work are you most proud of?

The years of work we have done for transportation safety. Now we’re working on a campaign to reduce distracted driving, and it’s exciting because it will be in just about every kind of medium – TV, radio, movie theaters, social media, billboards, buses, the airport. It’s a serious message that we’ve gotten to have a lot of fun with.

What’s one thing about you that surprises people?

I have a llama and a herd of sheep, and I ride a tractor and listen to country music on the weekend. Not what you would have expected from a spikey-haired Depeche-Mode-loving teenager who shared clothes with his sister. I would probably have been voted least likely to become a farmer.

I want a puppy. A rescue dog. Suggestions?

Yes! Get a dog about 10 months to one-and-a-half years old. There are lots of good shelters around and some of them will even play matchmaker, like a dating service. A dog that age is mostly full grown and it’s often easier to see if the dog is a good fit for you. And they’re still very trainable at that age. They’re trainable at any age, but that age is a good window.

What’s one parallel you’ve noticed working with animals and as a creative director?

We are all motivated by something. And we behave accordingly. The more positive you make the learning process (or in this case, the more entertaining you make your message), the more fun it becomes to learn. And the more it sticks.