2 Minutes With … TBWA\Chiat\Day Senior Copywriter Dotun Bello

On 'Descendants of Gods,' 'Good Alarm' and bringing change to the industry

Dotun Bello is a Nigerian creative working as senior copywriter at TBWA\Chiat\Day NY. He started his advertising career in Lagos, Nigeria, before making his way to the U.S. in 2015. Bello has worked on Guinness, Bharti Airtel, BMW, Xfinity, Louis XIII, Samsung and YouTube, among many other brands.

He is passionate about creative solutions and his favorite ideas present obvious solutions from a fresh point of view. Bello spends his free time listening to battle rap while folding pizza dough.

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


Bello, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in Lagos. I went to college and found advertising in my home city. I moved to the U.S. in 2015, started out in Atlanta before I made my way to California. At the start of 2021, I moved to Brooklyn, New York, with my partner.

How you first realized you were creative.

Looking back, I guess it came from spending so much time by myself. My siblings went to boarding school and eventually moved to the U.S. early in my childhood. I had dogs, toys and a broken-down VW beetle in our compound to play with. I made up stories in my head and also spent a lot of time poring through my parent's books.

A person you idolized creatively early on.

At my first agency, my copy head was a really cool dude called Yemi Arawore. He was the most conceptual person I knew and was also a great teacher. He pushed me to not simply think of cool words and puns but actually think through a concept or true insight for my work.

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

I studied law in my first year of college but I wasn't cutting it for a host of reasons. My dad worked in the school and I was embarrassing him (lol), so he insisted I switch over to advertising. I cried and pleaded, but come second year, his driver dropped me off at the department. And here we are.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

Tobe Nwigwe is a huge fave.

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

David Makes Man is an amazing story about a young Black boy growing up in Florida. He goes through hella trauma but he's still standing and fighting through—hard not to love that one. Also love the story Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tells in the book Americanah.

Your favorite fictional character.

Omar Little. RIP, Michael K. Williams.

Someone or something worth following on social media.

Black Tea is a great content series created by Muse by Clio and the amazing Michelle Lawrence. Check out their Instagram page to watch all the dope videos. Also, Miiriya on Twitter is the best at it right now.

How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.

I left the Bay Area and moved in with my partner in Los Angeles, and that was amazing, all things considered. We decided to move to NYC together and have taken our relationship to the next level, and the next level, and now we have a baby coming!

Professionally, it's been sort of a reset. I've taken time to think through the things that matter most to me and how I want to bring change in my industry. I've found sometimes the answer is not an ad.

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

For Black History Month, I wanted to share a different message from what I was seeing out there, so I tapped into friends around me and we made "Descendants of Gods." We recreated African American heroes as African gods, as a way to speak to the unquestionable heritage of African Americans. We created some superhero-ish posters and shared them in schools across the Bay Area. We also built an AR filter so folks online could see which African god lived in them.

Descendants of Gods | Case Study
A recent project you're proud of.

A few months after the brutal murder of George Floyd and following the initial social media storm, Brandon Solis and I created the "Good Alarm." It's a calendar notification system that helped allies act on, donate to or learn about social media issues in their community. Within the first hour, we got 1,000 subs. We all felt this push to do something during this period, and the Good Alarm felt tangible to us.

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

Oliviero Toscani showed me you could put out strong sentiments about society as the central message around your brand/marketing. His work sparked a purpose-driven fire within me that has only grown.

Someone else's work you admired lately.

Sai He's work on Old Spice this year has been brilliant.

Your main strength as a creative person.

I have a strong point of view on work and I can be quite decisive.

Your biggest weakness.

I suck at bs'n.

One thing that always makes you happy.

Freshly baked bread.

One thing that always makes you sad.

The commercial "The Talk" is a very real experience for every Black parent in America.

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

Baking bread or maybe law.

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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