souder/turner/1stjc/mark2nd

Kirk Souder

Co-Creative Director

Ground Zero Advertising

Age: 35

Kirk Souder was a physics major at the University of Delaware when he had an epiphany during his junior year.

"I watched some of these grad students coming up from a basement where I was probably going to spend the rest of my life, and I got really depressed," Souder said.

Instead of a basement, Souder works in a bizarre warehouse office in Santa Monica stuffed with such artifacts as a pop-art papier mache TV set with a red flashing light in the middle of the screen, and giant blown-up baby photos of all the Ground Zero employees, including himself.

As half of the creative partnership that has made Ground Zero one of the nation's hottest young agencies, Souder isn't just enjoying himself a whole lot more than he would have as a physicist he's making a much better living.

Ground Zero currently has billings of $55 million after only three years in existence, and that figure is expected to balloon this year.

Souder and creative partner Court Crandall launched their agency with a bang in 1994. In order to get money to fund the start-up, they sold their talents as freelancers to BBDO West, developing an ad for that agency on behalf of Pioneer Electronics.

The commercial, which portrayed a wildly swinging bridge that was apparently being rocked by the sound waves from a young man's Pioneer car stereo ended up winning a Clio, an Effie, and a host of other industry awards.

Dan Turner

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.