Meet Dan Magdich, Brunner VP, Executive Creative Director Who Runs on Endless Creative Curiosity
Dan Magdich’s career has been a fasten-your-seat-belt adventure from his first lessons as an ad agency intern to his current role leading the award-winning Creative team at Brunner.
In July 2023, Brunner promoted Magdich from director of creative services to VP, executive creative director.
“Dan has consistently demonstrated exceptional dedication, an unparalleled drive for creative excellence, and a passion for the work and the agency. As Brunner continues to expand, Dan will continue to remain a vital part of the growth of the people and the agency as a whole,” said Ken Johns, Brunner partner and director of client experience. “Dan ‘gets it’ — not only as a creative leader of the organization but as a leader overall. His unique set of skills and experiences, his dedication to our clients, and his enthusiasm for the work makes me excited to see where he leads us creatively.”
We caught up with Dan to ask about his career, his vision for Brunner Creative, and how he works with clients — plus any advice he has for creative up-and-comers. And hey, congratulations, Dan!
Q: What’s been the arc of your career in creative roles and how have those experiences prepared you to become VP, executive creative director, at Brunner?
Once upon a time I was an intern with nothing more than a portfolio and an endlessly creative curiosity. A creative director at Ten United took a chance on a kid who knew squat about advertising. She saw creative potential and that was enough.
Looking back, 18-year-old me would have never imagined collaborating with brands like Google, Dropbox, Church’s Texas Chicken, Starbucks, Marvel, The Home Depot Rental, Nationwide. Even now as I rattle off this growing client roster it seems bonkers.
An endlessly creative curiosity is a must in this business. Never stop exploring. Keep learning regardless of tenure or experience.
My next steps:
Ten United became Engauge (then Moxie and now FKA). I spent 7 ½ years with Engauge, progressing from intern to senior art director and absorbing an insane amount of industry knowledge along the way— how to pitch, the inner workings of production, and to always sleep on the red-eye flights.
I moved to Brunner as an associate creative director and spent four years building on what I learned at Engauge. Brunner embraces an entrepreneurial spirit that encourages you to run with ideas. Sometimes, you gotta roll up your sleeves and just make it!
I wasn’t looking to leave Brunner, but I was approached with an opportunity to jump to the production side of the creative world. I accepted a director/creative director role at Animal — a soup to nuts production company based in Pittsburgh. I love production! The three years I spent at Animal taught me more about pre-production, production, post-production, VFX, and motion design than the previous 12 years combined.
You’re probably picking up on a common theme … work with good people who make you better.
Thennnnn, I got a call from Brunner. They wanted me to come back. And while I wasn’t looking to leave Animal, the timing and opportunity seemed copacetic. Part of me missed the chaos of the ad world. So, I came back and focused on building the kind of team that felt like all the best parts of the best teams that I worked with throughout my career.
Q: How would you describe your approach to leading the Creative team?
Treat people like people. Every single creative talent has a different style and career trajectory. Get to know them on a personal level, find their potential, mold it, and grow it.
I always think back to convos with my first creative directors, Sandy, Jason, and Adam. They could have told me “NO!” when I asked to be put in situations where I lacked experience — pitching, presenting, production, etc. Not only did they throw me in, but they also guided me with constructive feedback along the way.
I am building a department and nurturing a mentality that empowers the creatively hungry to take chances. There are very few shops that allow mistakes to positively shape your future successes. I’d like to think Brunner is one of them.
Don’t shy away from going back to the well to find that bigger idea, a better idea, or just an improved version of something.
Q: What is your vision for the work the Creative team delivers for clients?
Have fun producing smart, insightful, strategic, and creative-as-hell work that drives results.
Q: What kind of experience can clients expect working with you and your team?
We are freakishly collaborative. Not just with our internal teams. That collaboration extends to clients and production partners. Creative collaboration with production companies is HUGE … and we look for partners who embody that same mindset, who take an idea and push it. That endlessly creative curiosity — combined with strategic thinking — brings the teams and the work closer together.
Q: You previously were an associate creative director at Brunner, left for a few years, then rejoined the agency in 2020. What brought you back?
It’s cliché but the timing was right. I know…what a lame answer, Daniel. It’s lame but honest. When an opportunity pops up, there’s a reason for it. Boomeranging to Brunner would allow me to grow and in turn grow the team. That felt like reason enough to change it up.
Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job at Brunner?
When people grow.
Seeing the jr. copywriter drop the “jr.” tag. Watching someone who previously struggled presenting absolutely kill the pitch. And as much as it sucks … when someone comes to me because they’re moving onto their next career milestone, I consider that a success. You have to grow. Of course, I want creative talent to grow HERE but sometimes you need to change it up. And if you do leave … well who doesn’t love a comeback story?
Q: What is your advice to anyone aiming to pursue a career in creative?
An endlessly creative curiosity is a must in this business. Never stop exploring. Keep learning regardless of tenure or experience. And don’t shy away from going back to the well to find that bigger idea, a better idea, or just an improved version of something.
The TL; DR career advice:
- Put in the work.
- Stay creatively curious.
- Creativity solves problems.
- Find talent with potential.
- Foster that talent.
- Dive headfirst into strategy.
- Embrace change.
- Celebrate success and failures.
- And most importantly … listen.