This past week, I had the honor of speaking with a fellow UW Oshkosh Alumni, Jeff Griffith. Currently working as Creative Director of Advertising and Marketing at Men’s Health magazine in New York City, Griffith formerly worked at a variety of advertising agencies around the country, and helped save the Gettysburg National Military Park and Battlefield from a proposed casino in his spare time.
Career Services: What is your current job title and some of your responsibilities?
Griffith: I’m currently Creative Director of Advertising/Marketing at Men’s Health magazine.
My job is to provide creative and strategic thinking and executions for our advertisers as well as any Men’s Health-sponsored events or activities. That includes ads, advertorials, videos, tablet enhancements, banners, rich media units, and any graphics needed for our numerous triathlons, the Men’s Health Cooking School, summer socials, and our signature event, the Men’s Health Urbanathlon in three cities nationwide.
My team also provides carefully-designed sales materials for our marketing managers and sales team within the Men’s Health brand.
Career Services: What was your career plan when you graduated UWO? Did you always want to work for Rodale-Men’s Health, or a specific company?
Griffith: My major at UWO was Journalism with an advertising emphasis. And a TV/Radio/Film minor. My goal all along was to work in an advertising agency. My first job was at an agency in Honolulu, then moved to Atlanta, then New York City. I worked at ad agencies my entire career and even had my own agency for three years called Jugular. In 2011, I jumped over to the publishing side and absolutely love it.
To answer your question, no, I had no plans to work for a magazine. But you never know what opportunities arise. I create more 360 degrees of design/advertising here than I ever would in a major ad agency. In an agency, you’d hand things off to a specific department. Here, we ARE the department.
Career Services: What is one of your greatest achievements that you are most proud of?
Griffith: In 2010, after I left my ad agency Jugular, I became passionately involved with a grassroots group out of Gettysburg, PA that was trying to stop a proposed casino a half-mile from the Gettysburg National Military Park and Battlefield. I found the group on Facebook.
Over the course of a year, I donated my spare time in creating all of their print advertising, billboards, bus shelters, T-shirts, brochures, and website to fight a local millionaire and his quest for a casino near hallowed ground. I produced/directed a collection of videos and personally enlisted several celebrities to present at the statewide hearing to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Filmmaker Ken Burns, Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough, Sam Waterston, Stephen Lang, Matthew Broderick, international strategist Susan Eisenhower and Medal of Honor recipient Paul Bucha were videotaped telling their personal connections to Gettysburg and why it should be saved. Famed composer John Williams provided the music for all my videos. ALL whom donated their time and talent to the cause. Even Steven Spielberg himself gave us approvals to use music from “Saving Private Ryan” for some of the smaller videos.
Long story short, the videos and advertising campaign made the casino proposal a national issue instead of a local issue and the casino proposal was soundly defeated.
As a lifelong history buff, I can proudly say that I personally played a role in saving Gettysburg from urban growth. Wonderfully, as a result, I began working with the Civil War Trust who helps preserves ALL the Civil War battlefields in the US. So now I design their quarterly magazine called “Hallowed Ground” which goes to all their membership.
Career Services: What advice would you give to young UWO students who will be graduating this week, as they prepare to take their next steps in life and pursue careers?
Griffith: Your learning is just starting. No, you don’t know everything yet (sorry). And you never will. Be confident in yourself but pay attention to others who have done it before.
Have a goal of what you’re looking for. Don’t look to potential employers to provide that answer for you.
Turn your cell phone off now and then…listen to conversations, shake hands, meet people even if it’s just to be nice or for reference or possible friendships. And keep in touch!! You NEVER know whom you will meet down the road or where your world’s will connect again. The world is very small.
And one more thing, never ever forget where you came from no matter how successful you become. Come back to UWO and visit. Everybody’s story is different and it’s all interesting. Share your experiences. Give back and pay forward.
Griffith has an impressive creative portfolio that displays a wide variety of the work he has done in the past, including his achievements with the Gettysburg Park preservation. Through his campaign contribution, including multiple videos and ads made the local issue something of national importance and the idea of the casino construction was dropped.