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Louie Spivak
November 8, 2022

Rising Star in Advertising Credits Berry College with Sharpening His Wit

Louie Spivak ’16 was recently listed in the top 100 most innovative and inspiring individuals of 2022 by Adweek but claims he wasn’t an academically driven student when he started at Berry. With his discovery of communication courses, however, things clicked. Later, Spivak was introduced to the PR firm Jackson Spalding through Berry’s alumni network and took a job there out of college.

While he liked PR and was thankful for the position, the day-to-day role wasn’t lining up with his passions. That all changed when the chief creative officer saw Spivak’s writing and invited him to join the creative team. Swapping PR for copywriting, he started on the path to being named associate creative director at Tombras, a full-service advertising agency headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Although Spivak didn’t originally pursue advertising, he always loved humor. As a kid, he entertained friends with harebrained ideas, and now his job gives him the opportunity to do that on a much bigger stage.

For Spivak, a career in advertising is more than just being funny. “Humor is a vehicle for bringing joy,” he says, “and the ability to make people actually feel something is inspiring.”

Remembering Spivak’s time at Berry, Associate Professor of Communication Curt Hersey says, “Humor and Persuasion, a course in his communication major, played to Louie’s strength — a fine-tuned ability to put people at ease with humor and also convince them of his point of view.”

Noting the commercial credits for his Adweek top 100 nomination, Spivak says, “At Berry, when studying humor, we discussed call-back jokes. I’ve always loved this kind of joke that refers to something that happened earlier. In class, I learned it works because it communicates an established shared language. ‘Guy on a Buffalo Wing’ is the perfect example of a call-back joke where we drew on the viral YouTube experience of a certain age group.”

“Guy on a Buffalo Wing,” a commercial for Zaxby’s that aired during the 2022 college football national championship, received more than 3 million impressions on Twitter in under 24 hours and now has its own website. “Good work often splits the room,” explains Spivak. “It asks people to have an opinion. ‘Guy on a Buffalo’ got a lot of love, but other people thought it was ridiculous. It was fascinating to see people have strong reactions.”

Having benefited from Berry connections and lessons learned, Spivak encourages students to take a genuine approach to networking: “When talking to employers as a college student, I wasn’t taking interest in the work they were describing. Instead, I was thinking, ‘Can you get me a job so I can get paid?’ Instead, be sincerely interested in companies and individuals. As a jobseeker, you will learn more about roles you might not know exist. Be curious for curiosity's sake rather than pretending to be curious to score an email address.”

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