In his day job, Gerardo Ortiz may just be working with a celebrity.
Von Miller was in the room, and Gerardo Ortiz (Advert’10) was happy.
Beginning in April 2017, the senior art director at 72andSunny helped create a commercial for his longtime client Adidas, which entailed filming 25 celebrities over nine shoots in three countries—the United States, Spain and England. The stars included French soccer player Paul Pogba, Houston Rockets guard James Harden, musician Pharrell Williams and supermodel Karlie Kloss. The commercial, “Calling All Creators,” aired around the holiday season.
The thing that has stood out most to me about Gerardo is his willingness to teach, to mentor and look for ways to create opportunities for new talent.”
Ortiz was in charge of the script, wardrobes and general satisfaction of the stars, including Miller, a Denver Broncos outside linebacker. It was hectic, but getting to work with one of his favorite athletes helped.
“Of course I wanted Von Miller,” says Ortiz, who grew up a major sports fan in northeast Denver and aspires to work for the Broncos someday.
With six years at the Los Angeles-based international advertising company, Ortiz, 30, is accustomed to a chaotic work life. He’s traveled the world to work with clients, most recently Uber, Starbucks and Google. As art director, he and a team of writers devise creative concepts and designs, then travel to filming locations to oversee the final product.
When approaching a new brief, he first draws on his own experiences or those of others as a baseline. Ortiz’ favorite project, created for Adidas, features several athletes sprinting after rabbits in burning sugar cane fields in the tiny city of Belle Glade, Florida. The area is famous for producing several agile and speedy NFL athletes, based in part on the chasing tradition.
“As long as you start with the truth, you can have fun with it,” Ortiz says.
Ortiz’ creativity was spurred at an early age by his older brother, who passed away five years ago after battling illness for 16 years.
“My brother was the illustrator, the very creative one,” he says. “He was the best role model anyone could ask for.”
Ortiz and his family established a creativity-based scholarship in his brother’s memory at Denver’s North High School, which is in the neighborhood where Ortiz grew up. He also hopes to establish one at CU Boulder someday.
“Scholarships were the only way I could go to CU,” he says.
When he attended CU Boulder, Ortiz faced uncertainties about his college career. He credits his family, friends and mentors such as Dave Martinez—CMCI’s inclusion and scholarships coordinator—with motivating him to continue his studies at CU. Ortiz pursued an advertising degree after taking an introductory class that showed commercials.
Inspired by the support he’s received, Ortiz aims to help the next generation of creators. He envisions someday opening his own agency dedicated to helping small businesses and young creatives.
“From an outside perspective, I shouldn’t be where I’m at,” he says. “I had a lot of help growing up, and when I can give back, I want to do what I can.”
Those around him have noticed.
“The thing that has stood out most to me about Gerardo is his willingness to teach, to mentor and look for ways to create opportunities for new talent,” says Jason Norcross, a 72andSunny partner and executive creative director. “That’ll have more impact on our company and in this business than any ad he could ever make.”
Update: Ortiz, now creative director at Uninterrupted, a Springhill Company—an empowerment brand founded by Maverick Carter and LeBron James—was selected as CMCI's commencement speaker for 2021.
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