Nana Grace Kwapong
Meet Casie Cook, Strategist, Writer, MFA
"It's your job to make an audience as excited and fascinated about a subject as you are."
Casie Cook - Strategist, Writer, MFA Candidate, is one of the most nurturing marketers and people you will meet. She currently works as a Senior Strategist at Space150. Before that, she was a Strategist at Haberman and a Production Manager at Jump! Casie's introduction to the advertising world was working as a Digital Strategist and Account Executive at Colle+McVoy. She is currently working on her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Hamline University, where most of her work features nonfiction writing, essays to be exact.
After completing a year of generals at Normandale Community College, Casie studied for her undergrad at the University of Minnesota, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a minor in Management. She worked multiple part-time jobs amounting to more than full-time hours throughout undergrad and learned how to leverage those indirect job experiences when interviewing for marketing positions later on. She believes every experience is valuable if you are intentional about what you put into it and what you want to get out of it. Her first job out of college was working as a Marketing and Media Coordinator at Simonson's Salon and Spas. Casie is a fantastic mentor who strives to make a difference in her mentees' careers.
What does a typical day in your role look like?
I probably couldn't nail down a typical day, but if I think of a typical week I'm generally building at least one presentation at any given time, trying to keep my inbox from getting out of control since one day can sometimes bring 100 emails, meeting with client partners and internal teams, writing creative briefs and doing some form of brand or audience research--be that interviewing humans or scouring the internet for studies and articles and weirdly insightful Reddit threads.
I would bet a day in the life of my fellow spacers (definition: humans at space150) is counting how many times I say the word "human." I believe brands should exist to make human lives better, and I feel my mission as a strategist is to help brands (well, the teams who work in service of them) better understand the humans they're trying to connect with so they can make connections that resonate. Those are the kinds that drive results.
What are you passionate about?
Aside from humans, there is nothing I care more about than the art of storytelling. I spend nearly every weekend in various coffee shops around Minneapolis working on my master's thesis in creative writing (because no amount of student loan debt and time scarcity can deter me from the classroom). I write nonfiction, meaning essays. It continually surprises me how much my creative work feeds my professional work. I'm seeking the deepest and most compelling truths about humanness as both a writer and a strategist. My thesis advisor and mentor often uses the phrase "No insight, no essay" and the same can be said of a creative idea: No insight, no idea. So really my life is an endless string of questions, research, and writing all in search of insights and creative ideas that make people feel, think, and act differently.
What do you find most challenging about your job/career?
The definition of advertising is ever-changing, and so are the rules for brands to engage with their audiences. People don't want to be "advertised to" but they do want to be "engaged with" on their own terms. The question is how do we make creative work that's engaging? That's not blatantly self-serving? That puts the human first? All hard questions when you consider the history of advertising. But trying to answer these questions is what keeps me and my teams going, keeps us pushing into new territories and having illuminating discussions.
What do you find most enriching about your job/career?
Advertising is a true community in Minneapolis, and it's a community filled with ambitious humans who are all motivated by how to generate emotion through creative ideas. Our job is to create feelings. That's pretty remarkable. That's quite a privilege. And I'm grateful for it.
How did you find yourself in your current career?
I never actually planned on going to college. Then a year out of high school I was bored out of my mind. So I went to the University of Minnesota, majored in journalism and had more love for my advertising classes than my news writing classes. A year after graduation, I interned at Colle+McVoy, and they hired me thereafter. That place will always be special to me. I started in account management and transitioned to digital strategy during my time at C+M. Then I actually left advertising for almost two years when I started grad school and worked at a children's book publisher. When I realized how much I missed the energy and challenge of agency life, I decided to get back into it. Now I'm part of a brilliant strategy team at space150, where we as an agency push each other every day with our smarts and weirdness.
Words of advice for anyone who wants to pursue this career?
Learn the roles from the people who live them. Ask people to coffee, request informational interviews, apply for internships even if you have a full-time job (which I did). Read what people in agencies read and ask them questions to show your curiosity and seriousness about the business: Communication Arts, Adweek, Creative Review, Fast Company, PSFK. Oh, and the MPLS Egotist has a stellar job list.
Also: BE YOU (but, you know, be professional and stuff when you meet with people). Almost every person I know in advertising has some kind of surprising personal pursuit that brings them fulfillment outside of their profession but in many cases feeds their professional life. Find whatever that is for you, and tell people about it. As Ricky Gervais says in this interview, "It's your job to make an audience as excited and fascinated about a subject as you are."
If you would like to learn about Casie and her incredible career journey, her philosophy, and creativity, please click here.
Thanks for reading!