Meet our newest Champion For Good Peter Wagoner! Peter is an Associate Creative Director at SapientRazorfish where he works on the Ad Council's Save The Food campaign. Learn more about Peter's stance on social good and check out his advice for approaching your career below.
Q: Social good ads pull at our heartstrings. What social good ad has made you cry or stand up and cheer?
Peter Wagoner: My first Boss, Gary Mueller, is one of my personal heroes. In 2002 he created a campaign that had 18 radio stations play 50 seconds of uninterrupted baby-screaming at the same time. It was impossible to avoid. And completely infuriating. But that was the point – it put the listener in the mindset of a person about to shake a baby. For four months after the spot ran, not a single baby in Milwaukee died from being shaken. I heard that stat and couldn’t believe it. Advertising literally saved lives. I decided right then-and-there that I wanted to work for him. And I’m proud to say I did.
Q: How do you or your team integrate social good into your work, or how do you think your brand is making the world a better place?
PW: Honestly? By becoming obsessed. I work with an insanely curious team. The kind that texts each other food-saving ideas in the middle of the night and ruins dates by talking about how fascinating asparagus storage is. (Seriously, you store it in a glass like flowers. How crazy is that?) When you look closely enough, everything becomes fascinating. The key is being open to falling in love with something as sometimes-icky as food waste. Even if it means you’re not getting that second date.
Q: What was the greatest piece of advice someone gave you, and how did it end up helping you?
PW: “Normalcy implies average.” It’s one of my Dad’s favorite expressions. Basically it’s his way of saying If you want a better life than most people, you have to do something different than most people. This goes for careers, relationships, everything. You want a stronger relationship than anyone else? You’re going to have to do something different than anyone else. He’s pushed me to do this in all aspects of my life. And he’s yet to be wrong yet.
Q: What age would you want to meet up with your former self, and what advice would you give to that younger you?
PW: 8th grade. Ask out Sheila Borto.
Q: If you were giving a commencement speech to this year’s college graduates, what would you want them to know?
PW: Study things outside your industry. Everyone in finance is going to be studying finance. So look for new ideas where no one else is looking. Study theology. Take up archery. Put on a musical puppet show about Mesopotamian Architecture. Do whatever you want. Just make sure it has nothing to do with what your brain does for 40 hours a week. (And also maybe don’t work in finance.)
Study things outside your industry. You'll find new ideas where no one else is looking.
Q: How has your organization improved or innovated the digital landscape in the last year?
PW: Save The Food is actually a fantastic model of where the industry is headed. There are two phrases you’ll hear folks at SapientRazorfish talk about – Radical Customer Centricity and Digital Business Transformation. STF does both. Instead of thinking awareness-down, we’re thinking customer first.
We’ve been able to build a range of digital tools that meet the customer in the moment of decision, and help them make a food-saving choice. Like the Guest-imator, which helps people figure out how much food to make for a dinner party. And the Save The Food Alexa Skill, which helps people answer that age-old question “How do you tell if this is still good?”
Q: What value(s) of your organization are you most proud of?
PW: I’m still beaming with pride for the Returnship program we launched two years ago. It helps people re-enter the work force after taking time off (say, to raise a family or take care of someone with an illness.) What a fantastic way to get some new perspectives in the office.
Q: You’re planning a “Change the World” dinner party and you can invite anyone (living, dead or fictional). Who are three people on your list?
PW: I’d invite John Mulaney and Mike Birbiglia to a dinner party with St. John the Silent. I’d like to think we could get him to break his vow.
Q: In 40 years, what will people be nostalgic for?
PW: Reverence. For nature, for art, for something bigger than us all. In a world of infinite scrolling and moving-onto-the-next-thing, I think we’re all starting to miss those sincere moments of awe. Even if we don’t know it yet.