Salt Lake City sometimes serves as host to jam-packed Saturday nights...the kind where everything worthwhile and fun is happening at the same time. It was on such a night, in fact, that we came into COLLECTIVE contact with some pretty swell fellas. Since Revolv was having their spring-issue launch party on downtown's Edison Street, we were keen on attending, and once we were greeted with a can of PBR, we had a second to take it all in. It was going off at the Super Top Secret headquarters, and it was downright dapper as fuck.
Super Top Secret is a local ad agency that's currently tackling the marketing and branding needs of SLC and national brands like a god damn boss. Remember those rad Powder Mountain, needlepoint billboards? That was STS, and they're making equally impressive marks on big-timers like Burton and Microsoft. These guys are clever, creative, talented and "hell bent on making the world a better place, one brand at a time". They're like a massive, friendly shark in a small pond, where we're hoping they'll stay for quite a while. After all evidence of the Revolv party had been cleaned up, business partners Ryan Potter, Jared Strain, and Arron Sather invited us back to the STS space for some chat. Naturally, we threw some questions their way. We really respect how these dudes roll...
We're a bit obsessed with the nostalgic idea that ad agencies from the era of Mad Men might still exist. Aside from the in-office skate ramp, what sets you apart from other agencies? We may have traded in our 3-piece suits and tumblers of Johnnie Walker for Levis and PBR, so while we’re a little less fancy than ol’ Don Draper, at the end of the day, agencies haven’t changed as much as you might think. Our industry is built on ideas, and that isn’t something that will be changing anytime soon. We work a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Which, admittedly, is hardly unique to the industry. But because we spend so much time together, it’s important we bring in the right people to maintain our culture. What that culture is exactly is hard to define. We’re basically a bunch of dirtbags that happen to be sweet at words, shapes and colors, and internet things. We’re a pretty tight-knit group, and it’s not rare that we shut down the shop and hit the mountain on a pow day or mob 20-deep to lunch for beers and burgers. We work hard and just wanna do hoodrat stuff with our friends, for the most part.
What is SLC's best-kept secret? Taco Tuesday at Inferno Cantina: dollar tacos and 2-buck tequila shots, margaritas, and Coronas. It’s pretty legit. Some may even say it’s 2 legit 2 quit.
What's the most exciting thing you're working on right now that we shouldn't know about? We currently have a pretty crazy mobile app in development that users control with their brainwaves—it’s some next-level telekinesis, mind-bullets shit. We’re also developing a TV show featuring Ocean Ramsey who free dives with great whites on the reg, and we’re chest deep into designing Rossignol’s entire 2015 snowboard line. The shop is humming right now.
Edison Street is the former red-light district of Salt Lake City; we feel drawn to that old-time seediness. Why did you choose to set up shop there? What do you like about it? When we were looking for our spot, we wandered down Edison and immediately knew it was home. When you look out the garage door, it feels like you’re in Brooklyn. It’s has the perfect amount grime and provides a pretty clutch scene for the crew to hangout in the alley drinking tall cans, playing whiffle ball, and talking shit. It's one of the few places in SLC that truly feels like you're working in the middle of a big city. We had a homeless guy sleeping in our doorway for the first two years, and we liked it. True story.
You're neighbors with Big Cartel, who we happen to think are pretty stellar. What do you think that says about the neighborhood? Edison is where it’s, at and we’re stoked to have talented peeps and good friends like Big Cartel as our neighbors. There’s going to be so much alley loitering this summer.
Name some big projects/upcoming challenges that you're excited to conquer: We just launched an in-house production arm, STS Studios, and have been working on a new lineup of TV shows we’re shopping around to the networks, so that’s exciting. Our biggest challenge of late is scaling. We’ve grown so fast that it’s hard to keep up with the team’s insatiable appetite for beef jerky and Red Bull.
How do you keep the creative juices flowing consistently? Is there any one place you seek inspiration when you need it? The Garage patio and Blue Plate are a couple spots where the ideas flow like wine. Beers and breakfast meats are our muses of sorts. When shit really gets serious, a plate of Gracie’s chicken nachos is capable of tearing a hole in the fabric of space-time, opening up the portal to the creative multiverse. Believe it.
What business model/method do you stand by that you believe brings you success? Hire smart, talented people, and get out of their way.
Can we be friends? Totes.