LEADERSHIP TEAM

NORM BILOW
MANAGING DIRECTOR & FOUNDER

Norm stewards the growth of The Escape Pod, overseeing client relationships, evolving our service offerings, running company operations and having an occasional good creative idea.

He spent a decade working at large holding company agencies leading blue chip accounts including McDonald’s, The Home Depot and OfficeMax. In 2006, Norm decided he liked creating advertising and helping his clients grow their brands vs. fighting it out in the political and bureaucratic battlefield of the holding company networks, and with colleague Vinny Warren escaped big agency life and founded The Escape Pod. They had a singular vision: to create a nimble agency focused on bringing brands to life through powerful creative ideas that sell products fast.

From pioneering the first branded entertainment reality TV hit, “Schooled,” for OfficeMax to launching Wheat Thins’ “Twitterventions” viral sensation, to having NFL MVP Drew Breese retire for one day for Can-Am Spyder and working with YouTube star Action Movie Kid for Toys”R”Us, The Escape Pod has earned its reputation as a fiercely independent agency creating game-changing work for companies across the retail, food & beverage, technology and automotive categories.

Norm is committed to bringing fast, fearless ideas to clients in the most cost-effective manner possible. An industry thought leader, he has spoken at Google on the topic of leveraging technology to “earn an audience” and at DePaul University about entrepreneurial approaches to advertising. His work has been featured in industry publications from The New York Times and Wall Street Journal to Advertising Age and Screen.

VINNY WARREN
EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR & FOUNDER

Vinny was born in Galway, a small but cool town on the Atlantic coast of Ireland.

Vinny learned his craft in New York from Ed McCabe, arguably the best advertising creative of all time.

The very first beer commercial Vinny wrote was voted best beer ad of the year by Advertising Age magazine.

Vinny created the legendary Budweiser Wassup! advertising campaign.

Ricky Gervais liked it.

So did James Corden.

Vinny has two Emmy nominations for best commercial.

Vinny is on wikipedia

Listen to Vinny’s opinions on Super Bowl advertising here. 

Read his opinions on Super Bowl advertising here.

According to the Gunn Report, Vinny created two of the top 20 advertising ideas of the 21st century.  For Budweiser and Volkswagen.

Vinny is married to Susan and has three children – Kirsty, Fiona and Liam.

KENT KWIATT
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Kent has been producing bold, breakthrough marketing content for more than two decades. He began his career at Ogilvy & Mather working in the fast-paced retail category, quickly learning how to navigate the intricate dynamics of stewarding sound creative concepts through the complicated production, post-production and review processes.

From there, he honed his production chops at numerous agencies including Young & Rubicam and DDB, where his experience spanned myriad brand categories from high-volume retail to high-concept automotive. Kent has produced on five of the seven continents and for every media channel including cinema, network, long form-branded television, documentary, and the ever-evolving digital space.

His work has won the acclaim of every major industry award organization including the Cannes Advertising Festival’s coveted Grand Prix, The Grand Clio, The Grand Addy, Best of Show in The London International Advertising Awards, as well as garnering two Emmy nominations. Additionally he has the distinction of having his work inducted into the permanent collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art.

Through 20+ years of technological development in the production industry, Kent believes the central responsibilities of an effective producer have never changed: to be well versed in the tools and language of the ever-developing communicative arts and to use those skills to protect and steward creative concepts from idea through execution into actualization.

An adventurer at heart, Kent is an accomplished solo sailor, has dove with great white sharks, meditated alone in the funerary chamber of Cheops, once poked a Komodo dragon with a stick, has been struck by lightning and won the only known footrace around the Homestead Florida NASCAR track.

MATTHEW JOHNSON
DIRECTOR OF ACCOUNTS

A senior leader at The Escape Pod, Matthew oversees valued client relationships while also heading up the agency’s media department. He acts as a true partner to our clients, ensuring their growth by working closely with the creative team to develop efficient, media agnostic plans that break through the clutter to reach consumers in new and exciting ways, while also delivering business results.

For more than two decades Matthew has carved out a reputation as a proven problem-solver who thrives on bringing creative ideas to life in the most interesting—and efficient—ways possible.

He is a champion of challenger brands and takes pride in his success fueling the growth of such brands as Corona and CareerBuilder by making their smaller budgets punch heavier than heavily funded market leaders. He believes breakthrough work happens when brands take a holistic view on their marketing spend, and creative ideas are fused with media from Day 1.

Prior to joining The Escape Pod, Matthew served in senior Media roles at Cramer-Krasselt and PHD, creating award-winning work for OfficeMax, LaSalle Bank, Hyatt Hotels, and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

He is a native of Joliet, Illinois.

JARED CREASON
CREATIVE DIRECTOR

As Creative Director for The Escape Pod, Jared helps fuel the agency’s signature hard-hitting style of advertising, while also mentoring young talent and playing a key role in driving new business efforts.

An award-winning Creative Director, Jared started his career at Goodby Silverstein & Partners, where he created the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign, earning the #1 spot on the USA Today Admeter and the Cannes Titanium shortlist. While at Saatchi & Saatchi, he created the Tide “Montanaland” campaign, a Super Bowl commercial hit that won a Cannes Film Lion and garnered the #2 spot on the USA Today Admeter.

A true hybrid creative bringing a unique passion for both art and copy, Jared also freelanced at many of the nation’s top advertising agencies, including StrawberryFrog, DDB, David&Goliath, RPA, JWALK and Olson. He has created innovative campaigns for Starbucks, Trident, JC Penney, Hans Brinker, Head & Shoulders, Miller, Visine, HP, Scotch Tape and Sprint, and earned a host of industry accolades from the Cannes Lions, Clios, One Show and Art Directors Club to Creativity and Communication Arts.

Originally from Newport Beach, California, Jared is an avid sailor, surfer and golfer, with a passion for creating silk screens and writing screenplays. He also loves hanging out with his Boston Terrier, Buck.

HEATHER HAYDEN
DIRECTOR OF TALENT

As HR lead for The Escape Pod, Heather is a talent scout, connector, mentor and champion of our creatively driven culture. Her multifaceted experience prior to recruiting on both the account and production sides of the business, coupled with her sharp instincts and empathetic approach to hiring, has fueled her unique ability to spot raw talent and see potential where others don’t. Heather strives to uncover dimension beyond a portfolio or resume, taking a wholistic casting approach for building teams, not just filling seats—all in support of producing a supreme creative output.

In Account Management for more than 10 years at such agencies as Element 79, FCB and JWT, Heather learned the invaluable skills of brand building, strategic thinking and creative problem-solving. Most importantly, she honed her passion for championing and protecting curiosity, creativity and ideas, as well as fostering collaboration.

With five years on the production side, Heather built a huge network of advertising/production talent and gained incredible knowledge about the craft of production. She believes that the idea will always be king. And no matter what new or emerging channel or platform, an idea goes nowhere without flawless execution.

Heather values integrity, authenticity, hard work, entrepreneurship and a sense of humor.

CELIA JONES
BRAND DIRECTOR

Celia is responsible for stewarding The Escape Pod brand and telling the agency’s story across all external communication channels. A seasoned writer and marketing professional, Celia brings nearly two decades of strategic marketing and communications experience, with a focus on brand strategy, positioning and fueling the growth trajectory of creative agencies and entrepreneurial companies.

Prior to The Escape Pod, she was Group Brand Director at Havas Worldwide Chicago, where she crafted the agency’s brand narrative as a creative force and culture catalyst in the industry, and led external marketing, PR, events, awards, and internal culture initiatives.

Before Havas, Celia was Global Marketing Director for Critical Mass, where she helped catapult the digital agency from a niche player into a world-class experience design agency. She also served as Director of Content and lead Copywriter at Designkitchen, an interactive marketing and branding agency. There she developed integrated marketing programs for brands across a range of verticals, including Manufacturing, Education, Hospitality, Health & Fitness, Real Estate, Travel and Technology for such clients as Life Fitness, Oprah’s Angel Network, Motorola and Jones Lang LaSalle.

Celia has also managed brand marketing and communications initiatives for a diverse range of organizations, including an international software company and interior design show producer, Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc.

She graduated cum laude with a B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame and also holds a Juris Doctor from Loyola University School of Law.

Outside of work, Celia is a passionate blogger, photographer, foodie, traveler and culture connoisseur.

MARK ANDEER
CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER

Mark Andeer is Chief Marketing Officer of The Escape Pod, responsible for leading the company growth initiatives, supporting current client account teams with strategic input, and participating in creative campaign development.

A veteran marketing and advertising executive, Mark has been instrumental in developing innovative, brand-building ideas and global award-winning campaigns—garnering the rare distinction of earning more than a billion viral views.

Previous to coming to The Escape Pod, Andeer was CMO/vice-president of creative with Kmart and was previously with OfficeMax, where he held the vice-president of brands strategy role. Prior to his corporate roles, Andeer held leadership roles in advertising agencies BBDO in Minneapolis and Lowe in New York. Andeer has earned numerous awards and accolades, including Best of Retail Gold Effie, Cannes Lions, One Show, Graphis, World Retail Awards and Best of Show at RAC. His ElfYourself campaign is included in the Forbes top 10 viral websites ever created. Andeer has a BFA from College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan and attended post-graduate at Miami Ad School in Miami, Florida.

DAN FUNK
DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY

Dan leads The Escape Pod’s Research and Strategy group, stewarding brand and communication strategies for clients and evolving the agency’s strategic offerings.

Dan has served in strategy leadership roles for some of the world’s most creative brand and communication agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather, TBWA/Chiat/Day and Leo Burnett. He has developed high growth strategies for iconic brands across a broad range of categories, including finance, packaged goods, retail, spirits, IT, consumer electronics and the military.

He has been recognized with multiple effectiveness awards, including a Grand Effie in 2008 for the launch of the Nintendo Wii, voted the year’s most effective marketing campaign by the American Marketing Association.

Beyond advertising, Dan is also a serial entrepreneur, launching a number of innovative ventures in the food and agribusiness sector. He holds an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.