4 minute read

Work Hard, Dream Big, Dream Crazy

William Frazier ’11 is a member of the team that created Nike’s Emmy-award winning “Dream Crazy” advertising campaign narrated by Colin Kaepernick. In many ways, William’s professional path reflects the ideals of the campaign, which celebrates people who never give up on their dreams.

By Lee-Anne Black, editor

William Frazier ’11 is living his dream. For the past three years, he has worked at famed Portland, Oregon-based advertising agency Weiden + Kennedy, where he spends his days (and often nights) supporting Nike’s marketing efforts. Like many dreams realized, this one came with hard work, perseverance, humility, and a willingness to take risks.

After graduating from Country Day, William headed to Western Carolina University—both to play baseball and pursue a degree in entrepreneurship. As a kid who had a natural business instinct (he sold strawberries door-todoor to buy his first Game Boy, and built and sold birdhouses as a teen to make the down payment on his first car), he was drawn to WCU as one of the few schools offering a full entrepreneurial studies program.

Unfortunately, after two years of Division 1 play, William suffered a baseball career-ending shoulder injury. “Although I didn’t get to play all four years, I learned how to balance an incredibly demanding schedule, along with the importance of failure in growth,” says William. Around this same time, he first learned of W+K through a friend who interned there.

“When I looked up W+K, I found many ads from my childhood that had an impact on me, especially the Nike ads,” says William. “I had no idea what kind of job I could get there, but I liked that they promoted a culture that flies in the face of traditional advertising, thrives on passionate people, and celebrates failure as a key part of the growth process.”

From that point on, William relentlessly pursued his dream of landing a job at W+K, an agency where jobs are highly competitive.

Creativity and Risk Pay Off

After graduating from WCU in 2014, William learned quickly that e-mails and letters would not get him the job he coveted. “It felt like a big leap to move across the country, but my parents always taught me to take risks in life, rather than make the safe choice and wonder what could have been,” he says. Once in Portland, William landed sales jobs. And while successful in those roles, he kept dreaming of working in advertising.

He got creative telling his story. Influenced by his father’s baseball card collection, William created his own set of cards to highlight his journey, career highlights, and ambitions. He distributed them to every creative agency in Portland. “The card packs immediately got people’s attention and resulted in interviews,” says William, “but I was always told to get experience somewhere else and come back.”

This excerpt from the back of one of the cards demonstrates how rejection couldn’t deter William: “I know that I will excel if given the opportunity. I have envisioned the life I want to live and moved across the country to make it happen.” William continued to network through his friend working at W+K, until he finally got an interview with the global account director for Nike.

“We had a great connection and conversation; when he got to the part where I was usually told to get my experience elsewhere, he said ‘the great thing about this place is that you don’t need it.’’’ In July 2017, William began as an assistant account executive, then became a brand executive, and now is a brand manager for the Nike account.

Award-winning Work

In William’s first year at W+K, he was part of the team that brought the “Dream Crazy” campaign to life. The ad, an extension of the longtime “just do it” slogan, is famous for both its use of controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick as its narrator and for winning an Emmy as Outstanding Commercial–2019. His role was to manage the relationships with the Nike clients, while working with the production and creative teams to deliver the campaign.

With a fast turnaround, many late nights, and the uncertainty that an ad like this might not ever make it to air, William and his coworkers worked full steam ahead nevertheless.

“The campaign was all about having dreams so big that other people might think you’re crazy,” says William. “It was all about finding people with improbable stories that continued to chase their dreams. I think Colin was a perfect fit for our message since he put his beliefs in front of his career, but we celebrated all kinds of athletes and stories that demonstrate big dreams.”

Ultimately, says William, the goal was to inspire kids to dream big and not let anyone tell them they can’t do it. Kind of like a crazy dream to work at a worldclass advertising agency in Portland.

COUNTRY DAY IMPACT

Country Day was really the catalyst that got me ready for college and the next steps in my life. I transferred in my sophomore year and was fortunate to join a great class with lots of wonderful people who accepted me right away.” “Mr. (Chris) Martin was my mentor and became a close friend through my time there. He opened my eyes to some great literature, but also supported me in my endeavors. He genuinely cared about his students and where they were heading in their lives. “I consider myself lucky to be there for Mr. (David) Ball’s final years as dean of students at Country Day. He is one of the nicest, most compassionate people I’ve ever met.