Yeah, my mom thinks I'm a pretty darn good creative. But maybe you want a broader sampling of opinions.
TJ is a rarity in this business. Not only are his creative chops amazing, but his organizational and management skills are also amazing. Usually when it comes to creatives, it’s one or the other. But TJ has it all. He was a pleasure to work with and a true team player. No chip on his shoulder what so ever. His creative mentality was one of, let’s buckle in and get down to business. But he always made every assignment fun no matter how much stress we felt. I know that TJ will be an amazing leader in his next role because he was a true leader here at Saatchi. His direction and feedback was quick when you needed it and clear. I’d work with TJ again and do hope our paths will cross again in the future. He’s an amazing asset to any agency.
— Craig Lederman, Sr. Copywriter, worked with TJ at Saatchi & Saatchi
In working with TJ at Saatchi LA, two traits were obvious to me about his character: optimism and integrity. We worked together on what I believe is the most challenging account for a creative to work on because of its strong creative dictation from agency partners. TJ always kept a positive attitude in these situations, making him extremely pleasant to work with. However, if something just didn’t feel right, he always knew how to stand up for creative with integrity, upholding the ideas he or his junior team developed, ensuring comments are always addressed, but the work is never compromised. He’s a great team member, an animated storyteller and a wonderful friend to say hello to around the office!
— Courtney DeLaVega, Account Supervisor, worked with TJ at Saatchi & Saatchi
TJ is everything you’d want in a creative director. He understands the business, he gives you insightful feedback into why something works or doesn’t, and he fights for creative, but on top of all that he’s just a great guy. I worked with TJ for a little over a year at Saatchi LA and he was one of my favorite people to work with. I was genuinely sad when TJ decided to move on from Saatchi, knowing that I’d lost not only a good creative director, but also a good friend that I got to see everyday.
— Josh Weiss, Art Director, worked with TJ at Saatchi & Saatchi
TJ Bennett challenges the status quo. Makes you think again about how you can get to good and better and great ideas. Working with him on retail sales events he helped bring freshness to the work not just with the ideas but with the way in which he brought forth the ideas - thoughtful relevant rationale and enthusiasm in his presentation that showed his conviction of the work.
— Ginger Christensen, Group Account Director, worked with TJ at Saatchi & Saatchi
TJ is one of the most supportive ECDs I have ever worked with. Whether we’re on a time crunch or not, we know he’s always going to be around to answer any questions we have or to calm our nerves when we are freaking out. He constantly challenges our creative team and tries to bring out the best in everyone. It would be a blessing to be able to work with him again in the future!
— Liz Chy, Art Director, worked for TJ at INK
I spent two years in the trenches with TJ, and what I appreciate most is his ability to strive for and reach the big ideas that drive brands and their integrated campaigns forward. He’s always focused on ways to connect a brand with its audiences in the most compelling and interesting ways. And he has the passion and ability to get the best work out of others. As a pure bonus, his killer sense of humor makes the entire process more fun---and when you spend as much time around each other as we did, that’s huge.
— Tim Price, Chief Client Officer, worked with TJ at INK
A consummate pro with as much talent as he has charisma, TJ is every Copywriter and Art Director’s dream ECD. He nurtures talent. He helps turn the “good” to “great”, the whys to why nots. He fights for you—and fights for a great idea, great line, etc. And as a creative, all we can ask of a CD is to have our back and fight the good fight. Which is precisely what he does. TJ commands respect. Not because he asks for it, or because his title warrants it, but because he deserves it. Spend one hour with him and I know you’ll agree. When you present a slew of ideas, he patiently and intently listens; then he masterfully explains why the ones that work, well, work—and why the ones that don’t, don’t. He never dismisses ideas with that proverbial “what-the-hell-were-you-thinking?” stink-eye that many CDs are known for. Then he creatively directs, nurturing you—and the idea—from infancy to Harvard valedictorian. And he does this all without ever micromanaging. Without looking over your shoulder, watching every keystroke or the kerning of every letter. He instills confidence in his team to walk away from his office knowing full well what needs to be done. But more importantly, his contagious, yet calm energy makes his team even more fired up to create earth-shattering work. In this ad game, there are creative directors, creative dictators, and creative “just-follow-the-brief” delegators. TJ doesn’t dictate or just simply delegate—he directs. He leads. He inspires. And he does it all with an endless stream of humility, humbleness, and fun too. That’s the definition of a true leader. And a true leader TJ Bennett is. TJ is nothing short of a shining star; people like him are reason why I still have hope for advertising. No joke. To know TJ is to respect him. Everyone and anyone who knows him wants to work for him, including me. Actually, let me rephrase: not just work FOR him, but work WITH him. Because it’s always a collaboration. I have had the pleasure of working with many CDs in the past, and TJ Bennett is unequivocally the cream of the creative crop. Oh, and he loves Snoopy. What else could anyone ask for?
— Eddie Babaian, ACD/Writer, worked for TJ at INK
I always enjoyed collaborating with TJ. We had a very friendly push-pull interaction that made the work better. He is fun and passionate and smart, full of the kinds of good ideas that make clients happy. Many times I presented the work of TJ’s team and the clients were so delighted they wanted to buy everything we showed. Tremendous.
— Peter Watkins, SVP Managing Director, worked with TJ at INK
As far as creative direction goes, TJ has mastered the art. He knows how to lead and guide his team without a leash. There’s an air of relaxed confidence about him that garners the attention and respect of both his creative team and his clients. As an art director working directly for him, I always left his office with a better solution to my creative pieces without being told what to do. In my book, that is a true mark of leadership. Instructing, guiding, and drawing one’s best without simply running over them.
— Avo Adourian, Creative Director, worked for TJ at INK
TJ is an inspiring mentor and an empowering leader. I don’t know how, but he’s mastered the art of making you make your work stronger, without explicitly prescribing how to make it stronger. His point of view about advertising has greatly shaped my own, and led to some of the most engrossing workplace conversations I’ve ever had. And even when ironic detachment would be easy, he demonstrates a love for the craft and the business that’s both refreshing and contagious. Now if he could only get on board
with the Oxford comma.
— Yama Rahyar, ACD/Writer, worked for TJ at INK
TJ is a fantastic Executive Creative Director! Working with him has been one of the best experiences in my career, I’ve learned so much from him. He is never afraid to fight for a good idea and always knows the right thing to say to inspire a creative. With every project he is able to see the big picture and create cohesive campaigns down to the last detail. In any environment, whether with a client or just in creative chat TJ is a fun person to work with. I hope to someday work with him again!
— Nicole Pidoux Belnap, Art Director, worked for TJ at INK
I have worked with TJ on a few TV campaigns, most recently for BMW, and each time I have felt very lucky to be on his team. TJ works hard. He understands production and the amount of work that needs to be done prior to shooting, during and after. He is very willing to come up with solutions on his feet. As a producer I also appreciate how TJ gets what can and can’t be done within a budget and finds solutions to make it work. Perhaps most importantly, TJ has a great dry sense of humor that comes out when you least expect it (and probably need it most).
— Allyson Doody, Sr. Producer, worked with TJ at KBS+
TJ is one of the most thoughtful and prolific copywriters I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. Whenever you’re in a tight spot, you can count on TJ to bring back myriad solutions to the problem. It was common for TJ to bring more than a dozen fully fleshed out scripts to our first round creative reviews. TJ’s also a seasoned veteran of advertising. He knows all the players, the history and the landscape. He’s a great presenter and very good at managing clients. Most of all, the people who work with and for TJ respect him and his direction.
— Damion Sammarco, Creative Director, managed TJ at KBS+
“I say this lightly and with much respect, but during his time at Chiat, most of us were convinced that TJ Bennett must have been, at some point in the reincarnation process, a deadly vicious snow leopard. The evidence was in both the approach and the results Mr. Bennett produced during his time there. He’d often descend upon every new project brief with the agility and grace one would expect out of such a magnificent and appropriately dressed feline. Arguing his point of view with such heated passion that you couldn’t help but deliver wide-eyed applause after his every statement. He’d even occasionally maul and kill one of us if we got too close. After all, he was a man who valued boundaries and personal space. It wasn’t until the department of fish and wildlife came to take dear TJ away that we learned the real TJ Bennett had in fact been eaten by a deadly vicious snow leopard, which had immediately claimed his cubicle as its den. Of the real TJ Bennett, I remember him being a fantastic ACD. It’s unfortunate he’s no longer with us.”
— Joe Croson, Producer, worked with TJ at TBWA Chiat Day
“TJ is one of the coolest CDs to work with and a great mentor. He’s smart, reliable and is always looking out for the well-being of his team. TJ always knew how to put things in perspective and can brighten up any stale meeting with his awesome sense of humor. I was lucky enough to work with him at two agencies and I hope to work with him again!”
— Monica Lo, Freelance Art Director, worked for TJ at TBWA Chiat Day
“TJ is a no-muss, no-fuss creative director. His approach to assignments is thoughtful and thorough, and the final work product is strong, sound, right on target. I worked with TJ on a retail account, and while his concepts always had hard-sell appeal, they also had an IDEA. He definitely added value to our business.”
— Diane Whitehead, Director of National Retail Advertising at Verizon Wireless, was TJ’s client at Hill Holliday
“Faced with a daunting challenge in a fast moving, heavily monitored retail environment, TJ was quintessential at translating strategic briefs and delivering impactful, on target, and meaningful creative that helped drive the business forward for our Client - He kept the creativity alive in an environment that was hard to achieve it in (proving easily that TJ’s talents were exceptional). Further, TJ’s a team player approach and willingness to understand everyone’s position in this environment made him a haven for the business; there was never a time when TJ lost the smile from his face or reacted to the demands the business placed on the team negatively. He was a great teacher to the youth on the business, always sharing his approach to strategy and translation to creative, and someone who always had great insight about how to manage the business’ demands. I miss being around TJ because he always had a way to make us smile with him and because he just plain delivered work that our Client was proud of.”
— Chris Kampf, SVP, Group Account Director, worked with TJ at Hill Holliday
“Since working with TJ at my very first gig in advertising, it’s been hard to find other ACDs who live up to the expectations he set. No matter how many things he had going on, he always had time to talk about concepts and go over comps. He wasn’t just interested in making his own work better, he wanted to make the whole department’s work better.”
— Nathan Archambault, Copywriter, worked for TJ at TBWA\Chiat\Day
“I’ve known TJ since 2000, when he joined Y&R/Wunderman on AT&T. While working in the same group as TJ I quickly noticed his passion for great advertising by others and creating great advertising himself. He is tireless in pushing up the level of work on any assignment he handled. He took assignments nobody else wanted and elevated them into award winning work. When I got to TBWA, TJ and his partner Bill were the first team I brought in with me. They showed leadership qualities above and beyond their ACD titles. Their work caught the eye of Gerry Graf, which led to the creation of one of the funniest Sprint NASCAR spots produced. Whether I was at a Client meeting, away on a shoot or out on vacation, TJ and Bill seamlessly managed the team of 20 creatives most professionally. They gained respect of their peers and those who reported in to them. If I could I’d hire them again I would in a heartbeat.”
— Tony Soares, Creative Director, managed TJ at TBWA\Chiat\Day
“On a busy and challenging account, TJ and his partner were our go-to resource for creative and thoughtful work in a hurry. From TV to print, from DM to Out-of-Home, TJ demonstrated time and again his knack for edgy ideas with real stopping power. Better still, he did it all while staying on strategy -- and without the temperamental attitude that’s the plague of good creatives. It would be a pleasure to work with TJ again.”
— Peter Borrell, Creative Director, managed TJ at Draft
TJ’s is a complete professional. He can take a pharma assignment and deliver inspiring 360 creative on strategy. He rolls up his sleeves and leads by example and has the ability to breath fresh thinking into older brands. After seeing what he can do in the pharma space I’m interested to see what he does with a category that’s less restrictive.
— Mickey Paxton, ECD, managed TJ at Unit7