2 Minutes With … Steve O'Connell, Co-CCO at RTO+P

On shifting quickly between the big picture and small details

Steve is the co-chief creative officer of RTO+P. In a previous life, he was named one of the 10 most-awarded creative directors in the country while at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, working on accounts like Mini and Truth.

We spent two minutes with Steve to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.

Steve, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in the middle of New Jersey near Six Flags. Which is less exciting than it sounds. I moved around the East Coast a bit and am now back in N.J., right outside of Philly.

How you first realized you were creative.

When I was in grade school, I wrote these terrible short stories about a scientist who made hybrid animal creatures. They were random nonsense, but it hooked me on creating stories from scratch.

A person you idolized creatively early on.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone. They've been blowing my mind for nearly 30 years.

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

The first time I pulled an all-nighter in college working on a project. Instead of being exhausted I, felt invigorated. And so began a life of never-enough sleep.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

OK Go. Great music. Brilliant videos.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and TomorrowAnd it's totally not because if I could go back and do it all over I'd make games instead of advertising. Not at all.

Your favorite fictional character.

Tyrion from Game of Thrones. Which is probably cliche but I'm okay with that. C'mon, he drinks, and he knows things.

Someone or something worth following in social media.

@pablo.rochat. The things this guy thinks up are wild. 

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.

"Dietz Nuts" for Dietz & Watson. The idea started as something we were almost too afraid to present to the client (that was my bad). But they loved it. The next thing we knew, we're making a new product. Then we're getting Craig Robinson and shooting a Super Bowl spot. Then we're selling out in stores. Then we're making product extensions. Sure, it's a juvenile joke. But it drove big sales for the client. Which is what this is all about.

A recent project you're proud of.

Our latest for Sparkling Ice. They're a new partner, so launching a campaign is always an accomplishment to be proud of. I love everything about this campaign, from the foundational strategy through the execution. Getting to work with Annie Murphy was a rare delight. 

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago. 

When it comes to advertising, the Honda "Grrrr" spot is the pinnacle for me. I'll spend the rest of my career trying to make something as wonderful.

Outside of advertising, Clerks from Kevin Smith inspires me to this day. It's proof positive that great dialogue is more important than a big budget.

Someone else's work you admired lately. 

I'm a fan of most things that come out of Preacher in Austin, but their work for WealthSimple with Martin Short kills me. The writing is on point and what a perfect use of a celebrity. 

Your main strength as a creative person.

Shifting quickly between big picture thinking and small detail tinkering.

Your biggest weakness.

Approving 18-second scripts for 15-second media buys.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.

Living in a van down by the river. And writing fiction.

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.

Advertise With Us

Featured Clio Award Winner



The best in creativity delivered to your inbox every morning.