2 Minutes With … Dan Sheniak, Alberto Ponte and Ryan O'Rourke, Founders of Someplace

On being deeply rooted in culture

Last month, the trio founded Someplace after senior-level tenures at Wieden+Kennedy. They have worked with iconic brands such as Nike, Heineken, Coca-Cola and Budweiser. 

At their new venture, Dan serves as chief media officer, while Alberto and Ryan are CCOs.

We spent two minutes with Dan, Alberto and Ryan to learn more about their backgrounds, their creative inspirations and recent work they've admired.

Dan, Alberto and Ryan, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.
  • Dan: I grew up in Bucks County, Pa. It was a wonderful place to grow up because it was easy to go see my parents' family in NYC and to be a part of the amazing Philly culture. My dad still has an issue with my love for Philly sports teams.
  • Alberto: I grew up in Buenos Aires, loving football, watching American movies with subtitles and eating the best meat. I saw my national team win three World Cups, and even though I barely remember the first one, it still counts. Now I live in L.A. and I love it.
  • Ryan: I grew up in Latrobe, Pa. Mr. Rogers and Arnold Palmer were both from there. Rolling Rock Beer is brewed there. The banana split was invented there at Strickler's Drug Store. And the Pittsburgh Steelers have their summer training camp there. Now I live in Santa Monica, Calif. 
How you first realized you were creative.
  • Dan: Sports cards. I used to love showcasing them around my bedroom like a museum of my heroes. I think my passion for the hobby taught me a lot about business, art, collectibility, technology and the creativity of new products.
  • Alberto: I went to visit a friend of my father who was a great illustrator and painter, and I remember feeling very clearly, "This is it!" Even though I became a writer, that was the moment the course was set.
  • Ryan: Likely Mrs. Bruno's elementary school art class. I remember drawing a polka-dotted cow that everyone liked, and there was a pirate ship sword-fight in crayons using a glued sword cake-topper that was a hit.  
A person you idolized creatively early on.
  • Dan: MTV. We didn't have cable in our house in the '80s. I would go down the street to my friend's house and we would watch for hours. The Music. The Videos. The rock stars. The Logos. The VJs. Yo! MTV Raps. The VMAs. MTV News. Unplugged. There was something so disruptive about MTV when it launched. It inspired my imagination and gave me a perspective of this big, exciting world out there.
  • Alberto: Walt Disney when I was a kid, Tarantino when I was growing up, and then in advertising, Dan Wieden, David Abbott, Jim Riswold, George Lois, Lee Clow, Hernan Ponce and Gabriel Dreyfus
  • Ryan: Steven Spielberg. As a child in the '80s, I didn't know what writers, directors or producers did. I just knew this guy was on everything I loved. The images on my lunchboxes and my Trapper Keepers all seemed to lead back to him. I saw him in an interview on Entertainment Tonight and thought: "Who is this prolific bearded guy who gets to daydream for a living?" He had a pretty strong influence on my imagination as a child and probably is the first person I ever idolized. Last year, I had the opportunity to see him speak in Los Angeles and it was wonderful. 
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
  • Dan: I had an advertising professor at Syracuse University named Carla Lloyd. She taught a class that was all about creative and media working together. She inspired the class with all of these great examples of how brands showed up in the world in really creative ways. 
  • Alberto: Roberto Di Pascuale, Ruben Pornoi, Sivia Mazza. Those three teachers at my university gave me the confidence to believe I could do this advertising thing.
  • Ryan: Going to work for the Daily Collegian Newspaper at Penn State University. I worked in the graphics department and was an illustrator for the paper. It put me in with a group of eccentric artists and goofballs who were all trying to find their way. They were all getting jobs in creative places, and the older kids encouraged me to switch majors and get a degree in graphic design. This put me on the right path.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
  • Dan: The Boss. Growing up near New Jersey, he is just part of life. I subscribe to the religion of Bruce Springsteen—his values, his heart and soul, his work ethic, his family, his storytelling, his live performances, the range of tones from soul and blues to rock and folk, and of course, his engine: The E Street Band.
  • Alberto: David Bowie. He was not only an amazing musician, but the narrative he created was so different from anything else I had seen. Visual artists: Rothko, Damien Hirst, Verni, Picasso, Bill Viola, Warhol, Murakami, Jenny Holzer, Basquiat and Keith Haring.
  • Ryan: Warhol. He grew up in Pittsburgh not far from where I did. I was very aware of his presence in the area. I had volumes of World Book Encyclopedias and would go to the pop art section as a kid and look at his images and think "Wow, a kid not far from here did all of this?" I was attracted to his inclusion of advertising and pop culture in his work. I remember trying to replicate his style in art class. 
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
  • Dan: New Heights, a podcast hosted by Travis and Jason Kelce.
  • Alberto: Poor Things. I love the writing, the freedom of it, and the lack of judgment. I also love the story told on a podcast I listened to recently from Liquid Death on How I Built This.
  • Ryan: My favorite film this past year was Alexander Payne's The Holdovers. The 1970s is probably my favorite era of filmmaking, and it was remarkable to witness the level of craft and detail that went into the making of it.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on. 
  • Dan: That's like asking who your favorite kid is! I think "Write the Future" (2010) was a defining moment. During that global launch, you saw the power of how an idea can scale and be inspiring and engaging globally and locally overnight. It became the blueprint for global marketing as the world was becoming more digitally connected. Super proud to be part of that team and that work.
  • Alberto: "LeBron Rise" (2010), when he moved from Cleveland to Miami. It is different to make an ad about something that's happening in culture. Then the "MVP Puppets" (2009), because it was like working on a TV show. We were writing ads after every game of the NBA finals, sending them to the athletes, and editing and publishing them the next day.
  • Ryan: In 2008 Nike and Under Armour were in a bit of a fight over the NFL category. Jason Bagley and I were tasked with creating a campaign to recapture the hearts and minds of America's youth and remind them of Nike's love of the game. It was a great project. I love football. I grew up on Penn State and the Steelers. My family had Penn State season tickets. My grandfather's room was a shrine to the Steelers. I grew up attending their summer camps at Saint Vincent college. And one of the athletes we were going to feature was Troy Polamalu (who also turned out to be wonderful). We did a full year-long campaign that launched on opening day with a commercial directed by David Fincher (one of my favorite filmmakers).
A recent project you're proud of.
  • Dan: Our website Someplaceshop.com. We wanted it to be creative, fun, optimistic and playful. And at the same time it had to tell people we are a real business. You are filled with a little anxiety releasing it to the world :) Thank you Funkhaus, Elastic and Steven Wilson for helping us. 
  • Alberto: We're really proud of the work with Moncler and Roc Nation
  • Ryan: I'm very proud of our most project for Moncler and Jay-Z. It was a great collaboration between the client and the artists involved. We got out of the way so that Rick Herrera and Steve Couture could create, and The McGloughlin Brothers could direct, and Rosanna Webster could make her beautiful stills. 
Someone else's work you admired lately. 
  • Dan: If I say The Eras Tour, Alberto and Ryan will make fun of me because I can't shut up about how much I love Taylor Swift's music, marketing and community. I'm still saying the Eras Tour.  
  • Alberto: The Barbie movie turned that brand downside up. I have a small daughter and I saw a shift happening. In my wife, I saw the change of perception it created for Barbie. Pretty unique.
  • Ryan: On a large scale, it's hard not to see Greta Gerwig's Barbie as one of the most successful rebrands in years. On a smaller scale, I love the simplicity of this commercial from Uncommon London and thirtytwo for "Britain Get Talking." 
Your main strength as a creative person.
  • Dan: Architecting ideas. I like helping people create a world around an idea and building an architecture around as the story unfolds. Sometimes, keeping it super simple with just copy and art will do the heavy lifting. 
  • Alberto: Resilience.
  • Ryan: Resilience. I don't know why, but I accepted early on that great ideas die horrible deaths. I think it's my superpower. I just tell myself there's always another one. And I move on.
Your biggest weakness.
  • Dan: Sometimes I can overextend myself because I enjoy helping others. 
  • Alberto: Being too emotional about things sometimes. More times than I would like to admit, I feel hurt when someone is too dismissive of something I said. The good news is—my recovery time is shortening as time passes.
  • Ryan: I often misinterpret creative disagreement as creative dismissal. I'm trying to work on that. 

A mentor who helped you navigate the industry.
  • Dan: Dan Wieden and David Kennedy. They have simple rules: Don't act big, no sharp stuff, follow directions and shut up when someone is talking. 
  • Alberto: Not one, but one for each moment of my career. Gustavo Scarpato on my first job, Hernan Ponce and Ramiro Agulla on my second and third, at Wieden+Kennedy, Dan Wieden for his open mind and freedom of thinking. Hal Curtis: the best craftsman I've ever encountered. Jeff Williams: who elevated my taste to a different level. And my business partner Ryan O'Rourke. Working with him every day for the last 20 years has made me smarter and more creative.
  • Ryan: Hal Curtis. Hal hired me at Wieden+Kennedy to work on the Nike NFL business in 2002. He taught me about storytelling, brand building, rules to follow, rules to break, the value of patience, and the value of my own voice. When I became a CD, I would rely on him for advice. He taught me to trust the client. He taught me to let go and empower the creative team. He refocused me on the work when I was starting to get caught up in politics. And he was the best thing he could be with me: honest. Most importantly, he gave me permission to be me. He was, without question, the best. 
How you're paying it forward with the next generation of creatives.
  • Dan: I think there's a point in your career where the joy you get is not about yourself. It's about lifting other people up and watching them grow, learn and get the confidence to express themselves and have a POV. That 's the gift that was given to me growing up in this business and it's the gift I enjoy giving. 
  • Alberto: At Wieden+Kennedy, we mentored many creatives who came from outside of advertising. It makes me happy to say that many people who started as junior staff or interned not only stayed, but they are great creative directors now. The best currency is learning. Us from them and them from us.
  • Ryan: Hal Curtis described Wieden+Kennedy to me once as "A stage with a microphone." He said: "We all get a moment at the microphone, so what are you going to say?" It made me feel very empowered. Now, I like to think we're helping the next generation to find their moment on the stage. And I think if we approach it with that mindset, amazing things will happen. 
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
  • Dan: In my dreams, I'm part of the starting rotation for The Mets.
  • Alberto: A real writer, or a movie writer. When I was little, I was fascinated with Ayrton Senna and that made me want to be an F1 Racer.
  • Ryan: When I was a kid, I really wanted to be a Park Ranger. That was plan B.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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