Rob Carducci is an experienced and highly sought-after freelance advertising professional. During the course of his career, he has won almost every significant and prestigious award the industry has to offer. Robert Carducci has worked for a host of well-respected advertising firms across the globe, from agencies in New York and Los Angeles to Western Europe. A former instructor at the School of Visual Arts, Robert Carducci is also passionate about doing work that contributes to the greater good of humanity whenever possible. This predilection for fighting the good fight is perhaps best embodied by the public service announcement he created for the nonprofit States United to Prevent Gun Violence, a spot that MSNBC hailed as “the best gun control commercial ever.” When not at work, Rob Carducci loves to take an in-depth look at the news of the day. He also collects vintage guitars.
Why did you decide to become a freelance advertising professional?
Basically, I got into advertising because the industry meshed really well with my skill set. I’ve always been good with language and design. I can communicate ideas and encapsulate meaning well. That being the case, advertising seemed like a natural fit for me, and since my first foray into the field, I’ve been pretty successful. I became a freelancer because of the freedom it affords me. The idea that every job is temporary is appealing to me. This way, if I like a firm and its culture, it’s my prerogative to work with them again if they ask me, but if I don’t, I’m not tied to them for any meaningful length of time.
What do you love most about the industry you are in?
I think the thing I love most about it is the variety. Each job I take on is different, with a unique set of features and requirements. I pretend that each campaign I create is a problem or a puzzle that I need to solve. That way each project stays challenging, and my mind doesn’t get bored and start wandering.
What keeps you motivated?
The news has become so dour and bleak lately. Doing whatever I can in my capacity as an advertising professional to help promote hope and encourage positive change is what keeps me motivated. Every once in a while, a contract lands in my lap where I think to myself, “I have an opportunity to make the world a slightly better place with this one.” For example, some time ago, I created a public service ad for a nonprofit called States United to Prevent Gun Violence. I really believe in that organization and the things they’re trying to achieve. Jobs like that provide me with ample motivation.
How do you motivate others?
That’s the whole nature of advertising put into one question, right there. How do you motivate others? How do you motivate them to buy something, or to try a new product, or to be aware of a cause? It all boils down to the base elements of persuasion. You have to capture their interest—hook them in. Once you’ve done that, 75% of the work is already done. Then it’s just a matter of appealing to their desires, or, if you want to get dark about it, their fears. I try to stay away from the latter, though. It just doesn’t sit well with me to motivate or convince people by making them afraid of something. Although, I have seen it work many times in the past.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I derive a lot of inspiration from music. All kinds of music, actually. I love classical, rock, pop, and jazz pretty equally. It’s always on at my place. When I’m working, I find that having music playing in the background helps me to think better.
How do you maintain a solid work life/balance?
I probably find negotiating my way through that problem a little bit easier than some of my peers and contemporaries. One of the great things about being a freelance professional is having the liberty to refuse a job if it doesn’t line up well with my schedule. As long as I’m in no great need of the compensation—and it’s been quite a few years since I’ve found myself in that position—I’m under no obligation to accept a work offer. It’s a great situation to be in if you want to take a spontaneous vacation, or you need to take care of a sick loved one, or even if you’re feeling particularly down and need to take a week off to shore up your mental health.
What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?
Above all else, do quality work. I always tell people, whatever shortcomings you might have can almost always be overcome by producing quality work on time and on budget. Besides that, the only suggestion I have is to work hard at networking and making connections within the industry. The combination of producing quality work and cultivating a strong professional network will land you more work offers than you know what to do with.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
There have been so many accomplishments during the course of my career that it’s hard to choose. All the awards have been great. But if I had to pick just one accomplishment, it might be when MSNBC called the public service announcement I put together for States United to Prevent Gun Violence “the best gun control commercial ever”—that was a huge honor.
What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?
In terms of advertising, I would say the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is not to underestimate the general public. A lot of people in the industry will pander to the lowest common denominator thinking that’s the only way to sway public opinion. But most people are smarter than they’re given credit for. They can sense when they’re being taken for a ride. I find that going the other direction and appealing to their better nature is a more effective and persuasive route more times than not.
In terms of life overall, I would say the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to simply be kind to people. Even if you’re not having the greatest day, there is nothing to gain from being short or mean-spirited with anyone. It may be corny and cliché, but I think empathy and compassion are some of the most important traits a person can have in this life.
Outside of work, what defines you as a person?
I’d like to think that when others characterize me, they say something like, “Rob is a consummate professional, a talented, funny guy who does his best to make life on this planet a little better.”
Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?
If all goes according to plan, I’ll start taking on more work on behalf of charitable organizations and nonprofits that align with my personal values. I’m at the point in my career where I’m sitting well materially and financially, so the next logical step is to start putting my efforts behind causes I believe in. Maybe by the time five years have passed I’ll be working full-time for the World Wildlife Federation or Doctors Without Borders. Or maybe by that time I’ll have found a political figure who I think can actually enact meaningful, positive change in this country and turn my talents toward getting them elected to higher office.