Spotlight On: Tribal Worldwide’s Rich Guest

If you’re familiar with the career of Rich Guest, who has been president of U.S. operations at Tribal Worldwide for the last five years, you probably know that his advertising career started at JWT’s Detroit office. But perhaps you didn’t know that back in digital’s infancy, he worked on his first digital campaign because he literally pulled the short straw. We recently sat down with Guest and asked him some questions you won’t find on his LinkedIn profile.

ClickZ (CZ): What initially got you into advertising?

Rich Guest (RG): It was a total accident. I was at Indiana doing my undergraduate work. I was convinced from my freshman year to the last two months of senior year that I was going to go into book publishing and be a book publisher. I wasn’t a strong enough writer to write them, but I love books. I did an internship and hated it, and did a second internship and hated it. I discovered that I spent three years doing something I hate. I wandered into a career day session Leo Burnett was doing – I was like, “That’s cool, they make stuff, I’ll try to get a job in advertising.” So I sent my résumé to every advertising agency in the United States.

CZ: What’s your favorite campaign of all time?

RG: The original DDB Volkswagen, especially the lemon ad everyone talks about. Also, their snow plow TV commercial. There’s so much good stuff. My second favorite – I’m a Detroit guy and my dad worked at Chrysler his whole career – is the original [Chrysler] “Imported From Detroit” campaign with Eminem. As far as digital, the BBDO campaign with Lowe’s where they used Vine videos to show how to fix common household problems.

CZ: What are the apps you can’t live without?

RG: Swarm — I love Swarm, I’m addicted to Swarm — and Yahoo Weather and Yahoo Finance.

tribal-richmeera-1CZ: What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about New York?

RG: My favorite thing is the restaurants. I’m a Marc Forgione groupie; he has three restaurants downtown and I love all of them. I probably go to his main restaurant, Marc Forgione, the most. My least favorite thing is the general rude spirit. Maybe it’s because I’m from the Midwest, but I feel like, if you’re young and able-bodied, you shouldn’t sit down on the subway when there are pregnant women and older people. Nobody gets up!

CZ: What’s your number one career highlight?

RG: I think it was in 2008 when ADA named Tribal the global ad agency of the year and we were the first digital company to win that award. For me, that was the first tangible sign that digital is sticking around. But I hope [my career highlight] hasn’t happened yet.

CZ: Say you broke your leg and you’re home with no choice but to watch Netflix all day. What are you watching?

RG: I just finished Fringe, which I thought was awesome. I’m kind
of thinking my next binge will be Friday Night Lights or The West Wing. Friday Night Lights has kind of become a thing around the Tribal offices and I’m constantly like, “What are you people talking about?”

CZ: What’s the best marketing tip you can offer ClickZ readers?

RG: I would say, avoid “technoecstasy” at all costs. Technoecstasy is the blind addiction to any new, shiny technology regardless of its actual relevance to your brand or product.

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