Jason Sperling, Academy of Art University Alum, on a Campaign for Advertising Excellence


Before Jason Sperling earned his MFA from Academy of Art University’s School of Advertising in 1998, he knew he wanted to pursue a creative career. After obtaining a BA in Sociology from UCLA, Jason’s passion for creating and art led him to pursue his dreams on AAU’s San Francisco campus, where they have been since 1929. He had no idea that he would grow to create a cultural phenomenon that would earn Adweek’s Campaign of the Decade Award.

Inauspicious Beginnings

Jason Sperling credits his success with the quality of preparation he experienced while at Academy of Art University, merging his creative interests with the social intuitiveness his degree in Sociology provided him.

Although Jason claims he always had a ‘creative inkling,’ his early days at Academy of Art University were filled with the challenges of merging the creative process with a business strategy. In short, he discovered that advertising isn’t all brainstorming cool ideas and creating images. “Academy of Art University was influential in fostering my career and helping me to understand the language of commercial advertising. Sperling further claims that the university pushed him and taught him to push himself to develop skills and try things of which he wasn’t sure he was even capable.

Since their beginning, Academy of Art University has focused on training creatives to use their talents in various artistic and business pursuits. Professors and instructors are working creatives themselves, staying connected and relevant with the disciplines they teach. Each student is an opportunity to foster a relationship and invest in the future of business and the arts. And, it is through those relationships and the personal instruction it fosters that students develop their talent.

Jason developed his creativity while at Academy of Art University and learned how to mold an idea into an effective ad. In addition, he and the school have maintained a close connection to this day. Jason values this tether to the Academy as a way to invest in new generations of creatives as they seek to learn their craft; a craft Jason himself has perfected.

Recognized for Advertising Excellence

Among Jason’s top advertising excellence honors is the iconic “Mac vs. PC” campaign, launched in 2006, which kick-started Apple’s domination of next-generation phones, computers, and wearables. The campaign won Adweek Media’s “Campaign of the Decade.” Other notable awards and recognition have stemmed from:

  • Honda “Matthew’s Day Off” Super Bowl 2012 Commercial
  • Honda “Yearbooks” Super Bowl 2017 Commercial (chosen by Entertainment Weekly as one of the top 10 Super Bowl ads of all time)
  • The Cannes Gold Lion
  • The Cannes Gold Cyber Lion
  • Several One Show Golden Pencils
  • Several Clio Gold awards
  • The Yahoo Purple Chair Award

Jason learned at the Academy of Art University that effective commercials leave a lasting impression on their viewers. The best of the best evoke powerful emotions in their audiences that cause them to remember what was viewed, but also the emotional impact they experienced. This impact is linked forever with the product advertised. That is the key to incredibly effective advertising.

After graduating from the university and taking a copywriting job at a small agency, Jason earned his way to becoming the creative director of TBWA/ Media Arts Lab, a world-renowned creative advertising agency. It was there that he stood before Steve Jobs and other Apple executives to introduce the first “Get a Mac” ad that launched him to the forefront of his industry. In that moment, Jason recalled, “All I thought about was how to apply all I learned from previous jobs and my instructors at Academy of Art.”

Now, as Chief of Creative Development at RPA, Jason says, “My career has always been about transcending what advertising means to people.” And he can sum up that concept in a single word: conviction. Jason believes students must be driven to succeed and be willing to accept events as they transpire. Conviction about your purpose is what drives you to overcome objections and obstacles to create truly breakthrough, valuable work.

In advertising, conviction and drive combine to become the industry’s lifeblood. “That’s going to be what separates you from everyone else. But better is a never-ending quest,” Sperling adds. “Never rest on your laurels when you’ve done something great—continue to try doing something greater. It’s always about looking for that next challenge. In advertising, that comes daily.”

Related: Renowned entrepreneur and innovator Jason Hope releases new e-book


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