Steven ROSS

Director, Integrated Production | McGARRY BOWEN

Steve’s advertising journey began in his hometown of Los Angeles, where he worked for Jerry Della Femina’s West Coast shop, learning the highs and lows of the industry at a whiplash-inducing pace. An LA connection turned into a Chicago opportunity, and Steve packed up his record collection and other essentials and headed to the Midwest to a young, entrepreneurial agency that had just won significant business. The shop, Chicago Creative Partnership (CCP), provided a wealth of experience and opportunity, and as the agency grew, so too did Steve’s role. He became Head of Production at CCP and held that role until leaving in 2008 to freelance at FCB, Ogilvy, and mcgarrybowen. It was at mcgarrybowen nine years ago that Steve found his next—and now current—full-time home, taking over as Director, Integrated Production in 2014. Over the years, Steve has worked on some of the largest brands in the world, earned several industry accolades, and genuinely enjoyed the majority of the ride.


1.)     What was your very first job? 

  • McDonald’s fry guy. Quickly promoted to register. My first job in advertising was as a traffic manager at Della Femina, Travisano in Los Angeles.


2.)     Please describe, in your own words, what your job is and what work it entails. 

  • As Director of Integrated Production at mcgarrybowen/CHI, I oversee internal and external production across all mediums: motion, still, digital. Mentoring, supporting, forecasting, and aiding in any way possible to find the best solutions are the main tasks of the job.


3.)     How did you discover that the creative world was right for you? Was there a time in your life that you credit to this discovery? What was there train of events that brought you to where you are today? 

  • As a pop culture junkie growing up, the challenge I faced in college was to find a career that could tap into my passions, specifically for film, TV and music. After realizing that I didn’t have the constitution for the music industry, my focus turned to film and storytelling. While everyone else is LA was diving into the Hollywood end of the pool, I was drawn to Advertising instead. It felt more immediate, more accessible, less cutthroat. Well, two out of three ain’t bad.


4.)     In your constantly growing and expanding industry, how do you find inspiration to keep your work fresh, innovative and relevant? 

  • Having a curious mind helps. There are brilliant, innovative people in all corners of our industry. Some are right under your nose, some are accessible through interviews, podcasts and their work. It’s important to engage in constant exploration for new ideas, new attempts that just miss or fail miserably as well as magnificent successes. Inspiration is everywhere: in music, architecture, conversations with my wife and daughter, nature…we are virtually surrounded with inspiration. The trick is to see it with an open mind to figure out how to bring the relevant bits into our industry.


5.)     If you had to pick one piece of work or project that you are most proud of, more for the creative work and innovation it required, rather than its recognition or industry “success,” what would it be? 

  • Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was prematurely thrown into the fire and asked to produce a TV campaign for Follett College Bookstores. My previous experience with full-up production was…nil. I asked a million questions, relied heavily on my gut instincts and forged ahead with undeserved confidence. The campaign was a success, even winning a Clio along the way, and the experience sparked not only my love for production, but a confidence that I could succeed in this world.


6.)     Which creative disciplines do you commission most, and are most interested in seeing more of and why? (ie photo, film, social, experiential, vr, etc)

  • We do it all. I still love seeing photo and film, but more interested in what’s currently going on in experiential and social these days.


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