2 Minutes With ... Nat Resende and David Mackereth, GCDs at Digitas North America
At Digitas, Nat Resende and David Mackereth focus on initiatives for top clients, reputation-building projects and new business growth. Both joined the agency's Detroit ops last year after tenures at crosstown shop Campbell-Ewald, where they led campaigns for OnStar, Carfax, Valero and Mutual of Omaha, among others. Earlier, they worked together at BBDO Minneapolis.
We spent two minutes with Nat and David to learn more about their backgrounds, creative inspirations and recent work they've admired.
Nat and David, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
- Nat: I grew up on a coffee farm in Brazil, but I'm not a coffee snob. I learned to speak English while living in the Falkland Islands near the South Pole, but I hate the cold. I spent some time in Berlin, and since moving to the U.S., I've lived in Richmond, Atlanta and Detroit. Now I'm based in Minneapolis, despite the cold.
- David: I grew up in St. Louis Park, MN. A first ring suburb of Minneapolis. It's the same place where the Coen Brothers and Al Franken grew up, so I'd like to think there's some creative juice in the water. I still live in MN, but now I'm in Arden Hills, MN, where I went to college and got my first job in advertising. Because Covid made remote work possible, I now have Detroit and New York agencies on my resume.
How you first realized you were creative.
- Nat: I realized this when I moved away from home. The farm was fertile ground for the imagination and my mom nurtured creativity. Our favorite play time together was "Let's make little plans," which meant choosing a country on the world map and imagining all the adventures we'd get into. When I moved from the farm to a more rigid schedule in college, I realized I had been practicing being a creative since I was little.
- David: In fourth grade, I was invited to the MN Young Authors Conference for a story I wrote in school about a boy who shot peas out of his nose to save planet Earth from aliens. The conference serendipitously enough took place and still takes place at a college in Arden Hills, where I now live. That's some Lion King circle of life level stuff.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
- Nat: This is cliché, but the answer is my mom. I had a creative soul inside of me and my mom taught me how to use it. She turned a small coffee farm into a mystical place to grow up. Every little thing was an opportunity for a story, a dream, or an adventure. A bright green frog whose frog family had superpowers, birthday invitations made of dried flowers from the backyard, a little stream that was an opportunity for a rafting competition. (BTW I was about 4 during the rafting competition episode and we were little kids rafting in buckets. Definitely not safe.) While I grew up on a small farm, I felt that I lived in the most magical place. The expansiveness of that little world, thanks to my mom's ingenuity and creativity, is something I'll always admire and be thankful for.
- David: How early on are we talking? Because when I was a kid, there was no streaming TV, but I always made sure I tuned in when Reading Rainbow was on. LeVar Burton showed me how books (and writing) could take you anywhere. I still have that song stuck in my head, "Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high, Take a look, it's in a book, a reading rainbow!" As I got a bit older, I boldly went where no one had gone before and followed LeVar into space as he played the part of Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Still my favorite Star Trek series.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
- Nat: I had just moved to São Paulo, one of the biggest cities in the world. College was intimidating and I was not confident in my skills. I was exhausted from working full time. For one of our first individual assignments, I was up all night creating something that felt too weird and maybe completely wrong. But I was out of time to overthink it. When I presented it in class, to my surprise, my teachers couldn't stop praising the work. That's when I realized that I had the instincts, I just needed the confidence.
- David: Like many college students, I didn't fully know what I wanted to do after graduating. But I had a professor named Jennifer Johnson for a copywriting class I took at the School of Journalism. She wrote a little note next to my grade at the end that said, "You'd make a great copywriter." Given the stories she told about her time in advertising and how you didn’t have to wear a suit, I ran with the advice of that note and went after it.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
- Nat: Bjork. From the music to her use of technology and her aesthetic, Bjork always feels like a vanguard artist to me.
- David: There's a band called Foxing that I love. Their music has lovely tempo shifts from echoey, reflective sounds to more aggressive screams that make you want to run through a wall. I discovered them on NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts, where I find a lot of music I enjoy. I've bought tickets to two of their shows and missed both. The first was for a show in April 2020, and naturally, it was cancelled. A few months ago, I bought a ticket for their show in Minneapolis, but then got Covid for the first time. Clearly Covid doesn't like them like I do.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
- Nat: I can’t stop talking about N.K. Jemisin's "The Broken Earth" trilogy. Most of my experience with the fantasy genre has been through white cis authors. To read such a masterfully written trilogy, with incredible world-building and poignant racial criticism from a black woman was a kind of representation I never knew I was lacking. I recommend these books to every woman, especially women of color. I'm now interested in reading Octavia E. Butler, who helped paved the way for Jemisin.
- David: Everything Everywhere All At Once! That movie absolutely blew my mind. It had me laughing out loud and tearing up as I sat alone in a theater in the middle of the day. I was also jealous (in a good way) that someone was able to make something so perfect. I don't want to spoil it for people who haven't watched it, but I'll just say the rock scene, the bagel scene, the racoon scene, and the hot dog scene had me just in absolute awe. There are so many perfect moments.
Your favorite fictional character.
- Nat: This changes often, but since 2020 it’s been Essun, the main character on The Broken Earth Trilogy. I relate with the multitude of lives lived within one person and one lifetime. The need to adapt to drastic shifts in environment and socio-economic realities also resonates with me.
- David: The original Mary Poppins. To this day, I still enjoy watching that movie. She has some LeVar Burton Reading Rainbow qualities as she shows the kids that anything is possible. She sings with birds, jumps into chalk painting worlds, pulls huge objects out of a tiny bag, and has plenty of songs that get stuck in your head.
Someone or something worth following in social media.
- Nat: @alokvmenon on TikTok.
- David: @xuxoe on Instagram curates digital art from everywhere. It's a good source of inspiration to push the boundaries of your brain.
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
- Nat: Covid changed everything, and I've been extremely lucky throughout the pandemic. I was used to moving where my career took me, which came with a set of challenges because, let's face it, moving in your late 30s is hard. But with the shifting behavior of remote work, I was able to settle down in the city where my wife teaches. I've found a home at Digitas NY even though my actual home is in Minneapolis—aka the Tundra. I also got married and bought a house and now I'm a proper adult with a mortgage—terrifying!
- David: Before Covid, I always told recruiters that I'd never take an opportunity outside of Minneapolis simply because I have kiddos. If I moved them away from their grandparents a bounty would be placed upon my head. But with the magic of remote work, "I can go anywhere, friends to know, and ways to grow, a reading rainbow!" See how that song really gets stuck in your head? Now I've extended my network to Detroit and New York. So I've also gotten good at converting Central Time to Eastern Time.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.
- Nat: When I worked for BBDOMPLS, we created a brand campaign for Hormel Chili that was a blast from beginning to end. The creative, while grounded in strategy, allowed us to explore feelings of pure joy and never worry about editing the campaign's humor. Working with a client who trusted us and leaped into how eating a Hormel Chili Dog could be represented through performative dance was very rewarding. We also had incredible partners on the production side. From broadcast to social to a TikTok challenge + influencer videos that garnered over 3 billion impressions in less than a week, the result was pure, unedited joy. And lots of sold-out Hormel Chili cans at grocery stores.
- David: My work for Dinty Moore Beef Stew at BBDO Minneapolis was fun because we had this historical brand with a very specific audience, and we found a way to pull in a new audience without alienating the existing one. For this reason, it was a contender for the Grand Effie, however it lost deservedly to Fearless Girl. Beyond that, it was simply a lot of fun to work on—I mean lumberjacks, lumbersexuals and beavers? That's a winning combo.
A recent project you're proud of.
- Nat: While at Campbell Ewald, I worked on OnStar Crisis Mode. I'm proud of using a brand's existing technology to generate resources for people in distress, like hurricanes, forest fires, etc.
- David: I’m fresh at Digitas, so my work here is still baking. But a project I’m proud of at my previous agency Campbell Ewald is helping bring Crisis Mode to life for OnStar. It was a new offering that helped members and non-members during disasters like hurricanes, forest fires, and other large crises. It is something I’m proud of because it's genuinely helping people, and the world needs more of that.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
- Nat: KitKat Mail (Kitto Katsu) was an idea rooted in cultural behavior that infused a modern twist (KitKat) into an old tradition (sending hand-written good luck notes to students). The execution set KitKat apart from all other candy brands fighting for shelf space in Japanese grocery stores. And the idea weaved KitKat into an evergreen yearly existing behavior in a whole country.
- David: Remember the awkward years of junior high? Well, my awkward junior high years were a few decades ago, and I remember having an oversized t-shirt with a chihuahua on it that I loved wearing to school. It had the words "Yo Quiero Taco Bell" on it. Clearly, I was so inspired by the commercial that I had not only that shirt but a stuffed animal that you squeezed to recite the line. These ideas that seep into pop culture are enviable in the best way.
Someone else's work you admired lately.
- Nat: I've recently read two actors’ autobiographies. Matthew McConaughey's Greenlights and Viola Davis' Finding Me. They were both great books about two people becoming themselves and achieving success in their careers. As you can imagine, their paths were completely different. Understanding Viola Davis' history and struggles, then seeing The Woman King recently, I'm humbled and in awe of what she has accomplished in the entertainment industry. Despite having the world against her at every turn, she rose. What a force and an inspiration Viola Davis is.
- David: Like most creatives, I admire the mischief happening at Mischief, like their recent work for Coors Light with Patrick Mahomes. NFL rules prohibited him from endorsing a beer, so they made a flashlight so he could endorse the Coors Light. It's the kind of thing that's so stupid, it's smart—my favorite kind of idea, a stupid smart one.
Your main strength as a creative person.
- Nat: As a Latina Lesbian woman who is an immigrant in the U.S., I have a unique perspective that I use every day. It allows me to navigate from the mainstream to the margins and create bridges that generate insights rooted in real experiences.
- David: Finding ways to apply smarts to stupidity. If something is too smart, it's boring, like an encyclopedia. If something is too stupid, it's dismissed. But the magic is doing something stupid enough to get attention but smart enough to have reason and purpose. That "stupid smartness" is the secret sauce.
Your biggest weakness.
- Nat: I'm impatient. I fight it so it doesn't come out and affect other people. But internally, I'm always screaming.
- David: Despite my affinity for Reading Rainbow, I'm a writer that doesn’t read many books. I tend to read more across the world wide web.
One thing that always makes you happy.
- Nat: Chocolate. But also, mentoring. While I rose in my advertising career, I hardly saw any Queer women of color in leadership roles. My mentors were never a reflection of me. Today I'm always happy to offer mentorship to young folks who experience life as a minority. It's been incredibly fulfilling to become the mentor I never had.
- David: "Butterflies in the Sky! I can fly twice as high! Take a look! It’s in a book! A reading rainbow!" Ha, seriously though, my two daughters always make me happy. As a creative person, they are the best thing I've ever helped create.
One thing that always makes you sad.
- Nat: Winter in Minneapolis. It's much worse than anything you've heard.
- David: Reading the news. There are a lot of problems in the world. More creativity and imagination is needed to find solutions to problems.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
- Nat: I'd be a carpenter. Working with my hands using a natural element to create something seems like a great way to spend time. Plus, I'd have a toolbelt, and the lesbian in me is screaming in joy.
- David: Well, clearly, I'd still be singing the Reading Rainbow song in my head. If I wasn't in advertising, I'd write kid's books or TV shows. I read a lot of great books with my kids and they are beautifully dark in a way that makes parents laugh too. It's the same kind of humor that's fun to see in the cartoons they watch, and that I also watched as a kid. It's very similar to advertising in that there are no rules unless you choose to apply them. Like John Cleese, creator of Monty Python said, "When you're being creative, nothing is wrong." You make a sponge that lives in a pineapple? Under the sea? That doesn't sound right or smart. It sounds stupid. But it's so stupid it's smart. Stupid smart.