Randy Hughes helped develop the “Dog Tested” commercials. Most commercials begin with sketches like the one above right.

Stories That Sell

Randy Hughes talks about developing advertising campaigns

Scholastic Art: What is your job?

Randy Hughes: I’m an executive creative director at Carmichael Lynch, an advertising firm. I’m responsible for everything that is creative in advertising for Subaru, including the “Dog Tested” commercials.

SA: What is the key to creating good advertisements?

RH: A lot of advertising is based on storytelling. In the “Dog Tested” campaign, we try to tell human stories through the lens of dogs. We have a commercial where the dogs are driving along and suddenly they just start barking like crazy because they pass a mail truck. It puts the dogs in a human situation, but they’re still acting like dogs because they can’t help it. And the story jumps from dogs acting like people to, “Oops, we’re still dogs,” and it’s a nice surprise in the story. 

SA: How do you tell a story in an ad?

RH: I’m in the business of simplifying. So I take out the extraneous information to get at the heart of what’s important.  

SA: What skills do you need to be successful in advertising? 

RH: I understand what consumers care about. I can also empathize with my clients. I think about how I can help the consumer and how I can help my client, and when both of them win, then we all win.

SA: Why did you go into advertising?

RH: When I was in fourth grade, my mom asked me to create an ad for her beauty salon. When I saw my work in print, I thought, “Whoa, this is what I want to do!” I studied art in high school and in college. I don’t have the technical skills that a lot of artists have, but I do have a good eye and good ideas. And then I learned what advertising art directors do: They come up with the ideas, hire artists, and direct them. 

SA: What do you love about your job?

RH: I am a creative person, and I have to make things. I’m not the kind of guy who can sit in an office shuffling numbers all day. I need creative freedom.