Mind at Work: Executive Creative Director Jeff Cruz

Twice a month, we sit down with one of our creative minds at VSA to find out what inspires them. In a world where there’s constantly pressured to “produce, produce, produce,” it’s important to stop and reflect on the special people, places and things that actually drive our creativity.

This month, VSA’s Detroit-based Associate Partner and Executive Creative Director Jeff Cruz, sheds light on the four things that inspire him and help him do what he does:

1. The Drive
“Before I get sucked into all the meetings, conference calls and email chains, I find my quiet, early-morning, uninterrupted 50-minute drive into the office is usually the best time for me to be focused and be what I’m supposed to be: creative. I use my iPhone’s handy voice memo app to capture loose concepts, headlines, ideas and maybe-there’s-something-there little nuggets of ideas. Oh, and when you’re driving, it’s a whole lot safer than jotting stuff down in the notebook (which I still have by my bed).”

2. The Motto
“There are a lot of creative folks and agencies out there coming up with great ideas (we like to believe we’re among them), but sometimes getting great out into the world takes a little something more: Hustle & Muscle. Putting everything that you and your team have got into creating something that lives up to its full potential. It just makes for a great approach to what we do. Makes for a great T-shirt, too.”

3. The Bar
“As a writer, you always want to write well. Well, that bar is just a bit higher when one of your good friends and fraternity brothers is a Pulitzer-prize winning author. And while I know there’s a difference between writing copy and writing fantastic fiction, my competitive spirit still drives me to want to create and write things that don’t suck, too.”

4. The Reminder

“This amazing picture proudly hangs in office as a constant reminder that a simple idea, well-executed by a small but truly mighty team, can create amazing results. The ‘Blue Door/I’m In’ enrollment campaign for Detroit Pubic Schools helped the district receive millions in state funding, while winning the hearts and minds of thousands of Detroit kids and parents. Oh, it also won the Grand Effie—a fitting tribute to a fallen mentor who got us to this idea.”

Jeff joined VSA in 2010, starting from day one with helping move long-time VSA client Harley-Davidson from an American icon to a global brand through several bike launches, the debut of an apparel collection, and by penning the iconic tagline “United by Independents.” He has also played a key role in winning such clients as Cleveland Clinic and Strayer University. In his previous life, the Arizona State grad was an SVP/Group Creative Director at Leo Burnett Detroit, where he created integrated campaigns, Super Bowl spots and branded entertainment for Cadillac, Pontiac, GMC, Buick and Detroit Public Schools.