Dana Satterwhite Creative Director
A native New Yorker, Dana is a writer and creative director working professionally in the field of advertising. He brings 25+ years of creative communication experience.
Dana’s work has been recognized by the One Show, the Andys, the Kelly Awards, the Obies, the Clios, the Effies, New York Festivals, Communication Arts, Lurzer’s Archive, and at Cannes. He has worked extensively in the automotive category, touching brands like Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Ford, and Lincoln, and has stretched far beyond that into categories including healthcare, finance, fashion, entertainment, apparel, sports, spirits, travel and tourism, and casual dining.
On the personal side, Dana has self-published the Go, Go, Greta children’s book series and in February 2012, he founded and ran TastySpace gallery and exhibition space in Las Vegas. In 2015, he relocated to Houston to be closer to family and more recently pulled up stakes and landed in Kansas City, where he is heading up several pieces of business, including Red Lobster and AMC Theatres at Barkley, as SVP, Creative Director.
He is married and the father of two incredible children who inspire him everyday.
I am a Human (05:36)
Grateful for what we have (09:50)
Arnold Worldwide and VW (22:00)
The future of Advertising – it’s all the same (26:00)
Resistance to tech is futile (36:00)
Use a notebook (41:46)
Being a proud father (47:00)
Dana Satterwhite 02:08
It’s wonderful to be here. Honestly, I don’t know what else to say. It’s taken a minute to get to this place. But I’m happy that we actually have made it happen.
Eitan Chitayat 02:18
How many times we scheduled this…
Dana Satterwhite 02:22
Eitan Chitayat 02:23
I don’t know, three or four, no, much more than that. I think we’ve, how many times.. Okay, so. So full disclosure, you are one of my closest friends on the planet. And people listening should know that, because otherwise, it’ll be weird how comfortable I think we feel talking about stuff.
Dana Satterwhite 02:40
But this is already very uncomfortable for me.
Eitan Chitayat 02:43
Sorry, yeah, don’t worry, it’s gonna get much more uncomfortable. In fact, if we’re talking uncomfortable, let me start off with the question, which I always open with, which I warned you about. And you have to complete a sentence. And the sentence goes like this. So just, if you could please complete this sentence, that would be great. Dana Satterwhite…
Dana Satterwhite 03:11
I’m that human, and that human cool stuff. It just means I think I’ve reached the point in my life, where, you know, previously, it may have been a little bit different, but that’s how I choose to be measured. I think that we are a, I reside in the States, you do not. But I say we’re in a nation very much divided. We’re a world very much divided. I think there’s a conscious and unconscious, focus on the things that that divide us. I’ve reached a point in my life where I just want to be defined as completely and simply as possible. And I think that’s really at the core of it.
Eitan Chitayat 03:50
Is it that simple, though?
Dana Satterwhite 03:51
Yes. And no, I think things are incredibly complex, complicated. Yeah, they are very, very simple. You know, I mean, I think there are a lot of the world’s problems that, ultimately, I don’t think they will ever truly be solved. But I think we can get a lot closer to solving them. If we just realized how simple in fact, things are. I mean, I do think there is a level of simplicity to it that just gets often overlooked. You and I, we talk about race relations in the States. We talk about the prevalence of hate anti-semitism, all of these things at their core, things that divide us basically just come down to the differences that we see between us. There’s diplomacy, there’s their politics, there’s all that stuff. But at its very, very basic level. I really don’t think it’s that deep.
Eitan Chitayat 04:49
Which is interesting, because I mean, for those who don’t know, you’re black. You’re a black man living in America and for someone who doesn’t, like you said doesn’t live in America. So that’s where we met many, many years ago. And a lot of people who are listening are not from the States. And one of the questions I wanted to ask you, which is, I don’t know if it’s this is like sounds like a ridiculous question. But it’s a question I want to ask nonetheless, which is like, what does it feel like to be a black man in 2023? Living in America, as opposed to a man because you are a man. But you’re black. And that’s already getting a little complicated. You know, the answer is not as simple as I wish it could be. But I’d love to hear what is that like?
Dana Satterwhite 05:36
It’s a great question. It’s a timely question, relevant question. But like, the very first question, you asked me, I’m that just finished that sentence, I just want to be seen as a human being, you know, and I think, I would argue, that’s what most people in the world want to be seen as, yes, I’m black. Yes, I’m a black man. And I’m a man, I’m all these things. They’re descriptors, I don’t want it to be measured by a color, I don’t want to be measured by a gender, I don’t want to be measured by our persuasion, any of these things that society sort of convinces us that they matter, you know, and on some level, they do, like the cultural differences between us are, are important and great and wonderful to celebrate. But that’s as far as I want to take it as just celebration, you know, celebration of the differences rather than the sowing of division, and polarization, you know, all of the things that we’re, we’re accustomed to seeing and feeling every day. So, what’s it like being a black man in America in 2023, it’s more challenging, sadly, than I would like it to be in the context of I was not alive in the 60s. But we all know, you know, the, the height of the Civil rights era. And we know what black people were subjected to, I know what my parents were subjected to, my grandparents. And in the context of that, you know, the things that we’re 50 +, you know, 60 years into the future and still facing the things that we’re facing, you know, as a community as a demographic, that just saddens me. You know, I think that’s what it really comes down to is..
Eitan Chitayat 07:40
What are you facing?
Dana Satterwhite 07:41
Me specifically? I’m not like, I don’t walk out of my house every day and feel like this tremendous burden on my shoulders, you know, I don’t feel like I personally am being persecuted, or, you know, vilified, or all of these things. But as a group, black men, you know, we see, Tyree Nichols, that story unfold, you know, two weeks ago.
Eitan Chitayat 08:07
What was the story, though? I mean, I know the story, but like to you what was that story?
Dana Satterwhite 08:11
I mean, it’s just, again, it’s just, it’s, it’s complicated, because it’s a situation where we don’t have all the details, you know. What I mean, we see a police chase, we see a young man, you know, pulled from his car, pepper sprayed, beaten by five police officers who in this case happens to be all of them, you know, black, so that makes the general populace look at things through even different lens, you know, then say, where are they five white officers? You know, so it’s just, its just a lot.
Eitan Chitayat 08:42
That would make all the difference, though, wouldn’t it?
Dana Satterwhite 08:46
I mean, that would make, that might make some difference. You know what I mean, but we don’t know, because it’s not the case. And I personally believe that every situation, every one of these situations should be viewed case by case individually. But we don’t have all the details on it. I don’t know if we’re ever going to actually know what happened before the body cam footage was presented, like, who knows? Yeah, but all of it to me is just, it’s tragic. It’s horrifying. It’s just a sad situation.
Eitan Chitayat 09:23
You know, we always say like, the difficulty, and the strife and the pain. Is there anything? I think that’s kind of what you read in the news. And you see in the news, you watch you hear that things are really, really hard. But are there any things that give you hope, regarding being a black man in America in 2023? Because I didn’t hear anything positive. And maybe there isn’t. I mean, I don’t know but like, I’m asking.
Dana Satterwhite 09:50
There’s absolutely. We just, of course, you know, we just happen to be, I think, treading down that one path in the moment. But there are, I think, an infinite number of things to be hopeful for, you know, I think, like I said certain things about, you know about today’s reality, saddened me, but there are lots of other things that make me feel excited and proud and thankful and grateful. And all, you know, all of that. I think we’ve come an incredibly far away. And I think that that gets lost sometimes in the conversation, because it seems like when these things do happen, you know, when these tragic instances do come about, they’re so sensationalized as they should be in certain instances, but they just they cloud everything. I think the truth of it is that we have more freedom and more freedoms today than ever before, you know, even though sometimes it feels like we’re taking steps backwards, you know, but we have, I think integration was actively put into place at one point in time, because people were segregated. You know, for so long. I think that notions of things like that, in today’s age is just, it’s funny, like, some people think society would be better off today, were we to be separate. And I personally disagree with that. You know, and I look at the world. And I look at the fact that I can spend my time with whomever I want to, you know, I can, I can love the person I want to love. I can have the friends I want to have. I can have the conversations I want to have, I can eat where I want to eat, I don’t have to come in a separate door, I don’t have to use a separate bathroom. Like the fact that I have a bathroom at all, the anatomy is something that at one time, you know, black people didn’t have that. So I, I think these little things there, they’ve gotten to the place where we they’re just taken for granted, you know what I mean? But we live, people live in a world where the things that we take for granted today these freedoms were, you know, you would get killed. I wouldn’t, I would go into a, you know, go use a white bathroom, and I could literally lose my life for doing such a thing it’s like, so I just think, today we have progressed in so many ways that we just don’t typically stop and think about, you know what I mean? And it’s it sounds preposterous, right. But that was reality. And that’s not my reality, thankfully, these days, and I’m very thankful for the society we live in, despite the fact that there are things that ail us, you know, and there always will be there always have been no, I was talking to somebody recently and saying we could go the next 200, 300 years without a single mass shooting, or deadly police altercation, whatever, but, but it’ll happen again, at some point, you know, we’re never going to eradicate these things from our society completely. And then we’ll kind of like shock us back to, draw us back to reality. But these things, they can’t be completely corrected or solved. You know, it’s just not, you know, it’s just utopian thinking. But can we do better? Have we done better? I mean, are we doing better? Absolutely.
Eitan Chitayat 13:28
You know, you mentioned, like, grateful for what you have, and I think maybe we can just go back for a second. Because you’re a creative. I mean, that to me, there’s no other way of defining you. I mean, you can say I’m that human. To me, you’re one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. And in many ways, as you know, as we’ve talked about this many times, you know, you’re a mentor to me. I mean, I remember when I first landed on the Volkswagen account back in 2000. And I think there were like 10 writers on the team. And you were the one that I worked most closely with. And you taught me a lot of what I know. But what I wanted to ask was, you actually mean in terms of your career, you started off as an art director, and then you became a writer, or vice versa? I can’t remember right now. Have you always been like creatively inclined?
Dana Satterwhite 14:18
Another great question. Yes. I was dissuaded from pursuing art. Third grade, fourth grade. My art teachers describe me to my parents on one parent teacher’s school night, as quote unquote “too meticulous”. And that then led to my parents basically directing me toward other things, you know, maybe STEM back in the day but definitely not STEAM. I think deep down that that age, third, fourth grade, you know, what are you like, 8, 9, 10 somewhere in there. I don’t think you really know what inclinations you may have. But in my adult life, I think I’ve always desired to have some level of creativity in my life, you know, be it writing or photography or design, something like that. And to answer your question, I started as an art director and then switched to copywriting about three years later.
Eitan Chitayat 15:24
See, something that I remember about you, and I think probably to this day, is you’d always have a notebook, you’d always have a notebook, you’d always be scribbling in it, you’d have these thoughts, you jot them down, you’d be drawing stuff. And I think you’d go through these books, because I remember and talk about meticulous I mean, when I started working with you, we’d have, I think, fights, we’d have arguments about whether a comma belonged there in that paragraph about the new Beetle, or if the sentence should end there, about the Jetta. And you were such a pain in my ass about those things. You were so meticulous.
Dana Satterwhite 16:06
Eitan Chitayat 16:07
Yeah, no, I mean, that’s, that’s, I mean, I’ve adopted that, you know, in my writing to this day, and it’s, it’s just never good enough, it can always be better, there can always be another take, there can always be another way to approach something. But when you have something and you’ve put it down, and you want to be able to live with it, it’s got to be right. And I know that from you. Which that’s funny, actually, that you said that because you weren’t encouraged. I remember slightly different story that I was also very creatively inclined, I used to draw a lot and I became a writer. But I used to draw a lot as a kid, and actually see it now with my youngest. He’s super talented. And I see that and I want to nurture it. But I think back in the day, you know, with my family, maybe because of a certain fear of, you know, making a living, you know, it wasn’t nurtured, I was pushed in the other direction, “you got to do well in math”, which I suck at, “you got to do well in economics”, you know, which I’ve really just sucked at. In fact, I was thrown out of economics, by the time I was 16, or 17. And I only came into my own in terms of creativity when I was around, I think 30 when I finished Emerson College, and I finished copywriting and I was like, Okay, I want to do this, I want to be a copywriter. I want to earn a living being creative. Do you remember what made you decide to go into advertising? And I also want to talk about how advertising is changing today. But do you? Was there a moment? Or was there a path that led you down the road of becoming the art director that you became?
Dana Satterwhite 17:43
For sure, I can trace it back to my junior year in college, where I was, I was studying at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and I had gone in as a bio major. That didn’t go very well. So, I ended up switching to psychology, I wanted to stay in the sciences and at Binghamton psychology was considered a hard science versus a soft science where it was kind of in at other schools, it was considered one of the soft sciences. And regardless, I switched to psychology, I did a bit better. But I realized that that wasn’t really what I wanted to pursue, but people would say things like, Oh, you’re, you know, you’re studying psychology. And that’s great for advertising because you can get in people’s heads. And you know, you can do things subliminally, you know, some way, somehow advertising, you know, came up as a career path. And I went to a couple of job fairs, and I got dressed up too, tie, all that, and resumes in hand. And I would go through the motions of trying to appeal to these human resource folks and heads of hiring. And it just never felt right. To me, I always felt like I was, you know, role playing. And in that junior year, I took one design class, graphic design class and one drawing class. And I cobbled together a portfolio. And then I used that portfolio to secure a graphic design apprenticeship. And that apprenticeship led to me applying to the School of Visual Arts, and I ended up getting in there for a year. All right, I went there for a year I got in and I studied there for a year. During that year, I took my first advertising class. And while all of my design major friends hated it, because it involved writing and strategy and all these things that had nothing to do with making stuff look cool. I liked it, you know, and I kind of sparked to it and that class was kind of my springboard, you know. I then applied to Emerson. And I got in and I was there at the same time you were, I think, coming in maybe a year or two later, but that was really it. I just sparked to that class. For whatever reason, my instructor wasn’t especially inspiring. You know, he was kind of the opposite. But I like the challenge of it.
Eitan Chitayat 20:12
Were’t you with Chuck, Chuck Bache?
Dana Satterwhite 20:14
No, well, that was later, I was talking about my first advertising class at the School of Visual Arts. And then when I enrolled with Emerson, I ended up studying with Chuck, who was entirely inspiring. He was a complete opposite.
Eitan Chitayat 20:24
He was he was amazing. He was the, you know, it’s like towards the end of my degree, and I had just like, I was doing a marketing degree. And then all sudden, there was this course that was copy and layout. And I was like, What is this, and that’s where I first kind of like got my first taste of, of what creative was, you know, what advertising was? And then and then Tim Burnell. Now in my last semester, he taught the course. And I’ll forever be indebted to Tim because he gave me my first break, he opened the door for me at a Volkswagen, which is, you know, where I met you. How did you get to Volkswagen? How did you get to Arnold Worldwide in Boston?
Dana Satterwhite 21:06
So I finished my undergrad at School of Visual Arts and could have kept going, it was amazing. I was right in the thick of Manhattan. But in my mind, I thought having a master’s degree would make me more marketable, which may or may not have been the case. But I moved up to Boston after applying to Emerson and getting in. And then I ended up doing an internship while doing my master’s programs, did an internship in the studio at Arnold Advertising at the time, Arnold, Fortuna Loaner and Cabot, an agency of about 300 people that I knew nothing about. But I came in looking for a creative internship, they didn’t have art director or copywriter internships at the time, they just said, you know, creative spot in the studio. And Mario Praya was the head of the studio at the time, took a look at my portfolio told me, you know, it wasn’t awful. And yeah, he gave me gave me a spot took a chance on me. And that was, that’s, that’s where I started. And then that internship turned into my first paid position in the ad world. And everything went from there.
Eitan Chitayat 22:20
So what do you when you think back to your days that Arnold Worldwide and in Boston and working on the Volkswagen account? I mean, at the time, I think it was like probably one of the top accounts on the planet surrounded by like, mad talent. There you are. I mean, I still to this day, you know, I can’t, I pinch myself, you know, when I was like, wow, I was I worked on that account for years. With the people that I, I learned everything from including you. To me, those are very, very special days.
Dana Satterwhite 22:50
For sure. Yeah, that time in my life and our lives will forever hold a special place in my heart. You know, and it’s hard to compare it to anything, just because the industry has changed as much as it has. But But I have friends from you know, and peers, friends, colleagues, peers, you name it, from that time, you know, I was in Boston from like, late ‘94 until 2003. Mainly working on Volkswagen that whole time with about a, you know, 9-10 month stint that away from Arnold. Yeah, I mean, made friendships and connections that will last a lifetime. And yeah, I learned how to make ads. I learned how to communicate, I learned…
Eitan Chitayat 23:39
Well, not just ad, award winning ads, like..
Dana Satterwhite 23:43
Yeah, I mean, I learned how to do the work, I learned how to do great work, I learned how to aspire for greatness. And to, to dig deeper and to you know, always make things better from our friends or our peers and mentors. You know, Lance Jensen, Alan Pafenbach, Ron Lawner, Broadcast, Margie Sullivan, Anne Joynt. The list goes on Bill Goodell. You know, Paul Shannon, keep these in, like, you know, these are all legends, you know, yeah. And then just all of our friends, and I could just, I could rattle off…
Eitan Chitayat 24:18
Don Shelford and Dave Weist.
Dana Satterwhite 24:23
But if it’s just a name of, you know, you gotta use their nicknames. You know what I mean? The Diamond. Silver Fox. Big South, you know?
Eitan Chitayat 24:33
Yeah. Donnie, Don, you said, you know, advertising has changed, you know. And that’s, that’s one of the questions I want to ask because I’ve been out of the advertising game for around 15, 16 years, because, you know, I went full on branding. You know, I’ve got the Natie Branding Agency going and that’s what we do. But you’re still in advertising. And I know that you’re in Kansas City now. And I really want to hear what it’s like for you today and how the industry has changed. And I also want to hear from you, if you don’t mind sharing how you think things are going to evolve moving forward. Now there’s, you know, everyone’s talking about chat GPT and AI. So I’d love to hear how things have changed. First and foremost, with the people, I mean, I’m approached on a pretty regular basis, from people who want to break into either branding or advertising. And it’s really difficult to try and give them advice thats relevant to the market today, because the market has changed, people have changed, the approach is different and the industry is changing. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how advertising is changing, and what advice you could give anyone listening? Who wants to maybe break into the field, because I know that you’re, I imagine that you’re mentoring younger people. So I’d love to hear about what’s changed, and where you see things going. And what excites you about the future? And what kind of concerns you about the future, too.
Dana Satterwhite 26:02
What’s changed. So many things have changed since I first started, but I feel like, you know, back in the day, we used to think in terms of when I first started, I mean, it was print, you know, an out of home, outdoor, transit, all of that, because there really was no.. it’s hilarious, dating myself… but it was pre internet. So there wasn’t a digital. You know, it was pre cell phone, pre pager like all that. I mean, it was no digital. Because no internet, where do you put you know, where do you put banner ads? Where do you put anything? Where do you put social when there is no social, you know, so that’s when, for me, the inception of my career, that’s what I was dealing with. That was the landscape. And then later, you know, the internet obviously, came about and has continued to evolve ever since. And then things became very, like, you know, we were print focused, print first, and then things became digital first. And now I think things are very social first, but it’s all in my opinion. It’s the media, it’s the channel, it’s the vehicle. I mean, the vehicle is the thing that ultimately changes, but the need for a great idea and supreme execution will always be there. I don’t think that’s ever gonna go away. You know what I mean? I think you, you shoot vertically? Do you know I mean, it’s still like, you still have to be flip the screen 90 degrees, but whatever the content is, still needs to be for it to be well received I think, on some level, curated, you know. Are there exceptions to that rule? Of course, there’s a lot of stuff out there, you know, advertising and just content that’s created that is, it is not well produced and not well thought through that still puts through? Yeah, there is. But I think, you know, a lot of the time that those things are, they’re short lived. A great idea is, you know, like nothing else. There’s no substitute for great idea. And I think great ideas are what, have and will continue to drive the ad industry and just innovation period.
Eitan Chitayat 28:16
Do you see greatness on a regular basis? Because there’s what I mean, even back in our day, you know, like, and before us, you know, there’s always crap out there. There’s always stuff that just like mediocre and you know, just like uninspiring, and there’s always great stuff. But lately, I mean, do you see greatness, to you? Are you inspired? Because I’m not. I want to tell you something about something that worries me anyway, about the industry, which is I remember that we used to, you know, we’re talking about like 20 years ago, maybe 22, 23 years ago, we would sure there was print, we would print stuff out, we would put it on the walls, we would like stare at it, but what I remember, and I remember like, me, and Yaffe would sit down in a room. And we would just sit and think or, you and Vacarino, you know, you guys would just sit down, he’d walk around with this baseball bat, or you get whoever, whoever it was, whatever the team was, we’d sit down, and we just sit in that room. And we just think, and we talk and we put stuff on the wall. And we’d focus deep, deep, deep focus. That’s what I remember. And there were not too many distractions, you know, except for the game room or read. We played once in a while, the dugout, but like, you know, there was focus and actually just read a book by a guy called Johann Hari called Stolen Focus, and it’s all about why you can’t pay attention. It’s all about big tech and basically today’s generation, and not even today’s generation, even us, you know, we can’t go for a minute or two without picking up our phones or we can’t sit down and even write a fucking email without all of a sudden jumping onto facebook or jumping onto the news or jumping onto an article. And, you know, it’s very hard to focus. But that’s what I remember about those days. I remember that, that I had focus, and you could get into the zone, then you could dig deep. And why is that the way it is today? Because you’re at an agency, how do you, is that discipline there?
Dana Satterwhite 30:22
On some level. Yes. You know, I think the creative process is what it is, and every creative has his or her own approach to it. But yeah, I’m not fearful of the loss of craftsmanship, the loss of the craft, I think.
Eitan Chitayat 30:45
Dana Satterwhite 30:46
Yeah, no, I’m not.
Eitan Chitayat 30:49
That surprises me.
Dana Satterwhite 30:51
No, I just think it’s different. Yeah, I mean, I think the things that we have now to pay attention to the diversions tick tock Instagram, you know, Snapchat, discord, damn it, whatever it is, you know, Facebook, still hanging on, you know, it’s our version, these things are our version or, you know, millennials version of the television or the radio or, you know, color TV or cable TV. You know, just like, TiVo was the death of advertising, you know, or so people prophesized. But here we are, you know, X amount of years later, it’s 15,20, 25. And, you know, as you’re still alive, and well, it’s just, you just have to find a different place the portal, and a different way to package them. You know, but to get to the idea that ultimately becomes the ad. You know, I just think attention spans are shorter as our deadlines, you know, to think we work within the confines that we’re given, great ideas still present themselves. You know, are the airwaves cluttered with the cornucopia of really horrible ideas really poorly executed? Absolutely. You know what I mean, but that’s, that’s nothing new. Yeah, there’s always gonna be bad stuff out there.
Eitan Chitayat 32:13
Thats for sure. No, I mean, I think to me, it’s just, it’s not even social media. It’s the ability to just be distracted, you know, on a regular with, it could be WhatsApp messaging, it could be, you know, it could be just anything, you know, you kind of like, and I’m not saying this in a negative way, but you kind of like flippantly said, Yeah, you know, attention spans are shorter. But I actually think that that’s a huge deal. I think that the fact that attention spans are shorter, and you can, that’s why I brought it to the example of us sitting in our rooms and, and just focusing, even today, it’s, it’s very difficult to do that for me, because there’s always a beep, there’s always someone trying to get your attention.
Dana Satterwhite 33:00
Putting your phone on airplane mode, ya know. Shut it down.
Eitan Chitayat 33:01
No, absolutely. And, you know, I try to do that, you know, I’m reading books about it. It’s difficult. So you got clients, you’ve got people that you’re working with, but that’s really hard to do. It’s people don’t just put their phones on airplane mode. And I’m thinking about the younger people today that I’m wondering if the discipline of reaching that level of depth. And I’m saying this from a place of naivete because I don’t know, are people able to focus? Are people able to not be distracted?
Dana Satterwhite 33:35
I would argue, so a couple different things. We talked about Volkswagen, we talked about Arnold, we talked about that, you know, particular time and the desire in some way to bubble it, you know, I would say I’ve been very fortunate in in my career, to have several instances where I’ve really, I’ve loved the work. I’ve loved the clients. I’ve loved the people I’m doing it with, I’ve loved the process. And work has like, won awards, you know what I mean? So it’s kind of like, you’re hitting on all things. As far as, you know, the industry goes, where I am currently. You mentioned in my bio earlier, it’s an agency called Barkley. And it’s not the same as Arnold was, you know, 20 years ago. But it’s similar in that I feel all the things that I just mentioned, I feel great people super smart, thoughtful, kind, you know, and the impetus for everything is to do the best work of your career while you’re here. And what I would say is that it’s working in a mine, so it may require less time to get some great ideas. But in the years time that I’ve been at this agency, I feel incredibly fortunate to be at this agency, you know, the work is great. The work is inspiring, the work that I me personally, I’m not doing you know, Motel Six, Planet Fitness Winnebago, you name a few, really smart, beautiful, epic, award winning work, when he something odd years later, when attention spans are that much shorter, something is working, you know what I mean? Or some combination of things is working. So, yeah, things are the phones are pinging and emails or inboxes were overflowing and, you know, G chats are blowing up, but you have enough wherewithal to figure out another way to get great work done, you know.
Eitan Chitayat 35:46
That’s well, that’s amazing. And that’s a relief to hear. What is it that you are, and I touched on this a little bit excited about regarding I don’t mean, like the future, you know, some crazy, some crazy difficult to interpret where I mean, the immediate future of advertising as we know it, with all of the advances made in technology that we’re all feeling. I mean, how do you feel about, Chat GPT is the obvious thing to talk about, I guess, how is that affecting you guys? Are you guys talking about it, finding ways to implement it, use it, embrace it, resist it?
Dana Satterwhite 36:23
I think resistance is futile, personally, when it comes to change when it comes to technologies. You know, I but I also think that computer generated solutions are only as good as the humans who are behind them. So I don’t I’m not fearful, you know, again, some people are fearful that like, we’re headed toward a, a completely automated society, in which humans are, you know, rendered obsolete. That’s not me. You know, I mean, like, that’s just not the school I subscribe to. I think you just take any technology and find a way to implement it to the benefit of the greater good. I think that’s just kind of like, you know, I think a lot of times, we’re, as a society, we’re motivated by, you know, fear and greed. And I think fear often drives a lot of human behavior. But, you know, this fear that, you know, of not having a role or not being able to think, I think the notion of can computers do things better and faster, and more accurately than humans? Absolutely. You know what I mean, but will they, at some point? I don’t know, I don’t know, maybe at some point, computers, you know, and machines will replace humans, and hopefully, I won’t be around to see it. But, I don’t live that way. I don’t think that way, I don’t think of like..
Eitan Chitayat 37:55
Let’s talk about your kids, okay? I mean, I’m going to just straight up because this is this is what I’ve been thinking lately. I mean, I’ve been experimenting with Chat GPT. I’ve been looking at mid journey, and I’m following a few people and seeing what people do. And it really is fascinating. But look, I’m an adult, you know, I’ve got, you know, 30 years of professional work under my belt. I think about my kids. And this is the bit that worries me. The bit that worries me is not that technology is going to make things easier. And we have to embrace it. Sure we do. And it will make things easier, hopefully, as it always has, as we progress as a society. But the thing that bothers me, and that worries me is that today, I can type into chat GPT “Give me three examples of a story that start with bla bla bla in this country, and this happens”. And it’ll write three different versions in the space of, you know, 30 seconds. And then it goes back to what I was saying before about deep focus, once you have that tool, and again, look, we’re adults, we’ve been through decades of work, but like young kids that are coming up in the world, what I’m concerned about is that they’ll know prompts, they’ll study prompts, you know, but they won’t, and I might be wrong, they won’t be doing the deep digging, the starting point. Come up with your own idea for a story without the inspiration. In short, we’ve had inspiration, we have references. Of course, we have books that we’ve read, you know, back in the day, or right now the internet, we can go to the internet, we can get inspiration from somewhere, but we’re talking about tools right now that can really do that for you and they won’t do it.
Dana Satterwhite 39:46
But it’s the same thing. It’s like CliffsNotes. No, it’s CliffsNotes whatever you want to call them. Yes. It’s the same thing. I don’t think like, yeah, back in the day, you know, the fear was that like our kids got CliffsNotes and now they’re like, gonna cheat on their book reports and nobody will know. Like, you know, nobody will. Nobody will be the wiser you know? And like, so we have Google, now you can Google anything you can you know, hey, Alexa, anything? Hey Siri?
Eitan Chitayat 40:14
Well, I think Cliff Notes is like when you want to take a shortcut and learn something, or you want to search for something, and Google will supply you with the answer, but this is about the technology is creating something for you. Like it’s imagining things for you.
Dana Satterwhite 40:31
Yeah. And that to me is that, to me is, is beautiful. It’s just more creativity. You know what I mean? That’s like, that’s how I see it is like, you can just, you can exponentially multiply the creativity as opposed to replacing the creativity.
Eitan Chitayat 40:51
Okay, so yeah, you get a brief from a client. Have you gone to chat GPT yet to come up with ideas for a script?
Dana Satterwhite 40:57
Me personally? No, no. No, I haven’t I have not. I have no, absolutely not.
Eitan Chitayat 41:04
Not when there’s only like, a few million people listening. You can Yeah, let you know, level with us..
Dana Satterwhite 41:08
It’s fine. You know, if people want to think I’m lying, that’s great. But I’m not. No. I haven’t. Might I someday? Maybe. You know what I mean?
Eitan Chitayat 41:21
Why wouldn’t you? That’s one of the things is, why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t anyone right now, that’s what I’m saying. It’s like, and I’m not saying it’s a terrible thing, to have a technology come up with something to help you along? I think that’s fine. But I think that as a starting point, in terms of a mindset, in terms of this is the way that you do things from this point forward. That’s the bit that scares me. T
Dana Satterwhite 41:46
No, I’m not scared by it at all. I think it’s the same thing. Back in the day, you know, when the Mac was first introduced, you know, you could go back to the personal computer, but speaking from my own experience, when the Mac was introduced, and, you know, one of my mentors used to tell me like, again, this was partially what led to me, you know, keeping a journal all the time, or notebooks as you refer to? What’s the idea? You know, what I mean? I was strongly encouraged not to get on a computer until I had an idea because the computer was for executing. But the journal, the notebook, you know, the Kansan hard bound book was for concepts. It was for original thought, you know, but there was this fear that the computer would replace the human being using their ability to think. I think it’s the same thing here. It’s a new technology. But I think it just helps things proliferate. I don’t think, and I could be wrong. You know, we could go 2, 3, 5, 10 years from now. And we look back and computers are just, yeah, it’s just like, a computer to client interface. You know what I mean? There have to be humans there somewhere. There’s always going to be a need for humans, unless humans want to eradicate themselves?
Eitan Chitayat 43:19
Well, I think that there is, I don’t know about eradicating themselves. But like, I think that that the thinking is being replaced already. And again, I think that there’s an upside, you know, it’s not that it’s all bad. I think there are mundane things that, you know, where there are mundane things that would be great if computers kind of like took over on some things, where we didn’t really need to spend time or time thinking about mundane tasks anymore. But quite literally, you can write something. And then you could go to right now chat GPT. And you can say, Okay, well, here’s this paragraph, can you please write it in five different ways? And it’ll do it for you in 30 seconds. And some people would argue that, okay, great, that’s wonderful, more creativity did it faster, no mistakes, you know, it’s smarter. When that’s true. On the other hand, some people might argue that that’s going to make people very, very lazy. And I think that the reason why we’ve gotten to where we’ve gotten as, as, you know, the human race, is because people worked hard. And that’s not to say that, you know, I mean, because there’s this argument that like, as things get easier, while all the mundane tasks will be done by computers, and by AI, then that will free humanity to, you know, to do what’s really important to do the really creative stuff, but that’s putting a lot of faith in in our go get ’em attitude as opposed to our I just want to sit on the beach and do nothing. And I’m worried about that world because I know how hard it is to come up with the idea. And I know right now that I could go to chat GPT and I could come up with three campaign ideas to sell Red Lobster or whatever it is in this state, using a sense of humor and a couple go, and they’ll spit out those ideas. And sure, it might be 50% there, 60% or 70% there. And then you’ll need the human being to do their best. But I actually think that the work at the beginning is really precious and important. But I don’t know. It’s just the things that worry me are not what we’re going through now. But the world that our children are inheriting. Because I think that there’s merit, there’s a lot of good things in that hard work. And in that failure, and doing it again and again, and what I learned with you again and again, and not just like here, fix this for me, do this for me. To me, that’s the beginning of the end.
Dana Satterwhite 45:49
Yeah. Which I hear. I just don’t I don’t think, I hope and I don’t think I’ll be around to see that. You know, I think that there’s perception is reality. You know, I mean, I think we think of, you know, George Orwell’s 1984. I think you can think of the Jetsons, you know, you can they’re all these, these sort of projections of what the future holds, what the future might be, like, you know, and then you get there because we are in the future. You know what I mean? 2001 Space Odyssey? Yeah, we’re in 2023. And it’s like.
Eitan Chitayat 46:29
Well, there’s also Terminator, and Skynet, or what’s it called?
Dana Satterwhite 46:35
Yeah, I’m sad. I’m like, but they’re, you know, I look out the window. The sun’s shining, you know, the sky hasn’t fallen yet. Thankfully, I’m gainfully employed. You know, my kids aren’t half cyborg, you know?
Eitan Chitayat 46:53
Yeah, not yet. Not. Yeah. Well, wait, let me let me ask you. Let me ask you another question. Okay. Because, you know, like, you made me think of something else now. You said kids. So, I happen to know, and this is a very personal topic, of course, that you’ve been going through some recent changes in, you know, some childhood challenges. I don’t know if that’s the right word. I don’t mean it to sound negative, but some, not easy times with your family and embracing changes that are going on? I don’t know if you feel comfortable talking about that.
Dana Satterwhite 47:28
Yeah. Oh, by all means, changes, spell challenges without changes. So it’s interesting. A bit of both. So I, as I mentioned, my kids are not half cyborg that I’m aware of. They’re half black and half white, or maybe 100%, or both, as I am black and my wife is white, and they’re mixed. So there’s that which, interestingly enough, I thought in 2008, when my oldest was born, I thought that would be perhaps, you know, the multi racial aspect of growing up would be the hardest, you know, the biggest challenge to face and overcome, when in fact, that really hasn’t been an issue for either of them at all. My oldest is now 14, my youngest is 5, 6 in in about two weeks. But my oldest has recently, didn’t really come out as trans but because we’ve talked about it for a long time, but has switched pronouns. And we’re just contending with that. And it’s yeah, it is. It is a challenge. You know, and there are changes that we have to you know, daily we’re kind of dealing with, but I’ve been in KC now for about a year and he’s been in school to since this past fall. And the school is incredible. This school district and this particular Middle School are fantastic. And embrace him with open arms and have done everything to make our you know, our part of this transition, seamless and peaceful and easy. Although that may be the school in the school district stance there always going to be people you know, outliers, oppositionists, you know people who just don’t support you or your child or you know, whatever they’re dealing with so, so that’s you know, that’s something that we have to face, too.
Eitan Chitayat 49:32
But that’s on the outside but how are you on the inside, is that like you like all of a sudden your once daughter identifies as not a daughter anymore. Now as a young man. How is that for you? As a father, I can’t even begin to imagine I can’t begin to imagine that. I mean, forget about the outside world just you within your family, you within your relationship with your child.
Dana Satterwhite 50:02
Again, I think like most things, you know, like we just were talking a minute ago, the perception of it versus the reality of it. Yes. It’s hard. I mean, I guess, like, we’re just, we’re just living our lives and we’re trying to live our best lives, and we’re trying to be open, and compassionate and loving and understanding, and, you know, they’re for him. And what else are you gonna do? You know what I mean? So, yes, it’s new counseling in some respects, but you know, I am. And I will say this, to put this out there to any at all parents, who have children who tell them that they identify as other than the gender that they were assigned, is just listen, you know, just listen to what your child is telling you. Pay attention, be observant, do your best not to fight it. Because I would say, as I said, regarding something else, resistance is futile. You know what I mean? But we’ve, this is not like, something that just popped up, you know, six months ago, like, we’ve been knowing on some level that our child identified as different, you know, then she came into this world, a she, but he’s, uh, he, you know, and, and that’s been something that he has been processing on some level for years. You know, and so it’s not like, this just came out of the blue.
Eitan Chitayat 51:50
How old is he, 14? It’s also like, I think kids today, they grow up, you know, the internet generation, they have access to all this information. So I imagined that, that, that he found out a lot about himself by doing his own research. And probably, you know, I don’t know, you know, I’m assuming things you’ll tell me if I’m, if I’m assuming wrongly, which I might be, that they’re also, you know, like minded young adults out there that, that he could talk to about what he’s going through.
Dana Satterwhite 52:23
Yeah, there’s some I mean, I suppose it’s a, his a fairly individual pursuit, you know, and I think kind of like, we started this conversation. So his name is Shea. And he’s, Shea just wants to be Shea, you know, kind of like I we started this very conversation just about being human. Shea, just wants to be human. Shea wants to be a guy. Shea just wants to be Shea. That’s really it. And I’ve long since long before we had these conversations about you know, gender, gender identification and all that. I’ve told him just when they ask what you, say I’m Shea. That’s it.
Eitan Chitayat 53:08
That’s beautiful. Do you find that, do you come across people that resist? Like that don’t embrace, say, or don’t support in the way that you wish? I mean, one of my questions as we continue, this interview is going to be what pisses you off? And I guess I’m saying, you know, like, other people that don’t show support. People in the community or family, friends.
Dana Satterwhite 53:37
Yeah, there are. Yes. Short answer. Yes. Are they many? No. You mean, in our immediate circle? Are people incredibly supportive? Absolutely. Yeah. But are there other people out there? And even you know, closer to home, who don’t necessarily support or, you know, who maybe misgender? Consistently? Yeah, there are, and there always will be, you know, you’re never gonna get nobody in the world is ever gonna get 100% support, doesn’t matter who you are, doesn’t matter what you believe in. Doesn’t matter what you identify or identify with, you’re never gonna get the support of everybody else in the world, you may get like 7.9986 billion people on board. But that other point, one, four, or whatever my math is, you’re just not gonna get it. You know? So that’s if people don’t want to support, it’s fine. You know what I mean, to the extent that it doesn’t inflict harm on anybody over here on our side, because that’s when you have a problem.
Eitan Chitayat 54:45
So tell me what have you, you know, I asked you about, like, what, what pisses you off, or does that piss you off? And actually, the two questions that I did have was like, what pisses you off? And what doesn’t? Like, what makes you really, really happy? And I know that they’re not simple questions to answer but..
Dana Satterwhite 55:03
As it pertains to any transgender or?
Eitan Chitayat 55:07
No, just generally in the world. Anything, I mean.
Dana Satterwhite 55:12
It’s hilarious. Okay, there are plenty of things that piss me off…
Eitan Chitayat 55:18
Because I know you so, I’m wondering what’s going to come and it doesn’t need to be anything deep in fact..
Dana Satterwhite 55:23
No, no, it’s not deep at all but you can relate. It’s poor grammar.
Eitan Chitayat 55:29
I can, I relate you saying bad grammar, what’s is going on?
Dana Satterwhite 55:35
Your grammar is atrocious. No, no, just because as a writer, as a perfectionist, as a communicator, you know, as the you know, Head of Natie Branding Agency as all these things, you understand the importance of effective communication, communication and good grammar? And yes, that comma. I’m a firm believer in the serial comma, the Oxford comma, lots of people fight me on it doesn’t matter. I’m right.
Eitan Chitayat 56:06
Every time I send you a message, anytime we WhatsApp, I am so careful. Because I don’t want to, I don’t want to get into it with you. I just don’t. I was so scarred and bruised from all of them. We know I think Volkswagen brochures and radio spots or whatever it was that I just, I think go there with you.
Dana Satterwhite 56:26
Yeah, it’s yeah, you’re funny. But it’s coming back to what you’re talking about before about, you know, why it matters. I guess what I’m saying is, I see my kid, you know, my kids, but I see my oldest on his phone. And I, you know, he’ll chat. He’ll text me and my wife and he’ll chat us or, you know, we’re not really emailing right now. But that will come at some point. But I’m like, proper nouns. That’s a name. You use a capital, you know, I mean? Like, punctuate properly.
Eitan Chitayat 57:00
How does he react to..
Dana Satterwhite 57:03
Shea knows better. You know what I mean? It’s like you will because there are a lot of loose language that’s used out there. It’s just sloppy. Sloppy. And there’s no room for sloppy about, you know, where you’re at, in your house. Not at my house somehow for sure. Not my house, but also just in the world, right? Like, ones and zeros like code. If the code is wrong, the output is not good. You know? Or, or completely not effective. There is no output. So I think like, everything is language, everything is language, you know, signs, road signs, street signs. Every single thing we do is communicating on some level, right? And if you’re not, if somebody’s not paying attention, yeah, somebody’s asleep at the wheel so that it just matters and it matters to me.
Eitan Chitayat 57:59
So bad grammar, sloppy bad grammar, poor grammar, poor grammar. So I say bad grammar.
Dana Satterwhite 58:06
You did fuck you. Fuck you.
Eitan Chitayat 58:09
You know what? You know what think different there. There’s my answer to you. Yeah, I love it. I love it bad grammar.
Dana Satterwhite 58:19
Think differently. Hey, Apple can get away with it. There’s also when you know the rules..
Eitan Chitayat 58:28
So can you can break the rules. See, we’re doing it. Here we go.
Dana Satterwhite 58:30
When you know the rules, break the rules. And when you’re Apple you know..
Eitan Chitayat 58:33
Or Eitan. You can say bad grammar. IWhat else pisses you off, besides me? What else?
Dana Satterwhite 58:41
What else pisses me off? Bullying people not being kind to one another. Poorly curated social channels.
Traffic. What else? Bad food. These are out.
Eitan Chitayat 58:58
These are all good, good, bad things. What about the good things? What do you what makes you happy?
Dana Satterwhite 59:07
Makes me happy? Yeah. Good grammar. Excellent grammar, excellence. Just excellence in general. When I see excellence, Serena Williams or Roger Federer playing, which sadly they both retired this year, this last year, but just playing at absolutely out of their head when they’re in the flow just like great, you know, so tennis, yeah, greatness, you know, LeBron, MJ, Prince, you know, like, whatever, whomever, whatever. And that was MJ Michael Jordan, but there’s also MJ Michael Jackson. But I was saying as interestingly enough, my illustrator partner and I in honor of Black History Month, which is being celebrated here in the states in the month of February. We are just doing a quick collaboration for the month. I think it’s both a good thing and a bad thing. That cultures, they need to be defined and defended as often as they do. I think it’s, it’s great to celebrate culture, I think it’s, it’s sad that we often have to define what it means, like, what is Black History? I mean, the fact that we have a Black History Month is both wonderful, and a little bit tragic. You know, in my opinion, you know, it’s because what does that say about the other 11 months? And what does that say about like, there’s the Black History Month, as compared to, you know, not white history month. People, it’s just white history all the time, you know, so anyway, I digress.
Eitan Chitayat 1:00:46
I mean, because the case, why celebrate birthdays? I mean, you know, why not? It’s like, okay, let’s remind ourselves, let’s give ourselves a little a little pat on the back. It’s, it’s my day. I was born today, you know, once a year, you know, that’s the sad, that’s the sad thing is once a year. No, I’m just saying that I’m just saying that that’s human nature, about most things, you know, this, you know, like, in Jewish I don’t even know, in America, there’s a Jewish, a Jewish heritage, I have no idea. But hopefully, there is, you know, we just think to, to remind everyone else, you know, it’s my birthday. You know, it’s the anniversary, let’s celebrate, let’s bring attention to something I that, you know, on the one hand, I don’t know if it’s tragic.
Dana Satterwhite 1:01:30
It’s tragic to me. Yeah. The fact that we have to be, you know, that we have one month, you know, born of one week, to acknowledge and celebrate and, you know, be intentional about it. It’s like, it’s great. But it also it’s a little bit, I think it’s a little bit sad, because we should be thinking about all cultures, and all races and all, you know, all things worth taking pride in all the time, we should all be doing it for one another and for ourselves all the time. So that’s why I think it’s a little, it’s a little sad, but it is, of course, necessary. And it is positive.
Eitan Chitayat 1:02:09
I don’t know if that’s realistic, what you just said. I mean, I don’t have an issue with it. Because, you know, in principle, I agree. But like, we should all be celebrating all cultures all the time. I’m not I’m not arguing with it. I think that’s, that’s very noble. And they’d like to, but it I was saying I just don’t know if that’s possible, because then it becomes very, is that natural? You know, I guess I’m just thinking to myself, Is that Is that possible? Is that natural?
Dana Satterwhite 1:02:37
What’s natural these days is to point out differences. And to you know, and to often grapple over them. That’s what appears to be natural to me, you know, to me fighting, disagreement.
Eitan Chitayat 1:02:54
I agree. I mean, I don’t know about the what’s natural today is to point out differences. I think it’s I mean, I’m different to you, and I’m fine with that. I mean, I’m Jewish, I’m white, or actually I’m not white, I’m half whatever you want to call it Iraqi Bulgarian. But, but I think the bit that does resonate with me in what you said, is the grappling, that there’s a lot of grappling, there’s a lot of fighting, and as opposed to celebrating differences, because I am different. I am different than we’re all different. We’re all different. Exactly.
Dana Satterwhite 1:03:24
We’re all different from something, you know what I mean.
Eitan Chitayat 1:03:28
Yeah. I mean, and I think that that’s okay. And by the way, different doesn’t always mean good. You know, there’s, you know, I think that there’s also differences that are, you know, I think that some people have differences, which are more positive and differences, which are, you know, not as positive and that’s, you know, case by case. But yeah, I think there’s a lot of grappling, there’s a lot of fighting, there’s a lot of animosity, there’s a lot of better than, there’s a lot of tension, and less well, let’s look at what we have in common. There’s not as much as of that as I’d like.
Dana Satterwhite 1:04:08
I’m with you. 1,000%.
Eitan Chitayat 1:04:09
So before we go, I’m gonna ask you two other questions, okay. Who is your hero or heroine?
Dana Satterwhite 1:04:15
My mom and dad?
Eitan Chitayat 1:04:16
Dana Satterwhite 1:04:17
Why? There’s so many other people I can think of in the world who are you know, this person has a role model that person but I just think my parents they gave greatly of themselves to help raise me and my sister. And that’s it. And that that’s not a given either that your parents are going to do that for you so, so for every thing they armed us with, to navigate this crazy world. I’m thankful. I know for a fact that they fought to survive in this world. I just appreciate them given me the gift of life and teaching me right from wrong and inspiring me to try to be excellent on some level. So that’s deserving of hero status. In my mind.
Eitan Chitayat 1:05:09
Absolutely. My final question is, if you could get on a plane tomorrow, and go anywhere you want for as long as you want with your family without your family, let’s just put that aside because that’s a whole other thing. But if you could get on a plane tomorrow and go anywhere, and do whatever you want it to do, where would you go?
Dana Satterwhite 1:05:29
I can only pick one place?
Eitan Chitayat 1:05:43
One place. Okay, you can do two. All right. But I draw the line at two. That’s it.
Dana Satterwhite 1:05:38
I need to get on a plane and fly to Israel. So there’s that. We’ll just get that out of the way.
Eitan Chitayat 1:05:43
You said that right, brother? Yes.
Dana Satterwhite 1:05:47
That’s thing number one.
Eitan Chitayat 1:05:49
You would get in so much trouble if you did not say that, so much trouble. wow.
Dana Satterwhite 1:05:56
I need to come pay you and family visit.
Eitan Chitayat 1:06:02
For sure you do. But now for real.
Dana Satterwhite 1:06:03
Now, for real. I would say go back to French Polynesia. I took a trip to French Polynesia with my wife about four years ago. And it was beautiful. Stunning. So I would love to revisit recreate that. Some friends of hers incredible people. Just lovely. So yeah, I think I think I’d want to recreate that with my, my kids, for sure.
Eitan Chitayat 1:06:34
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