Jimmy Smith + His Amusement Park Entertainment Makes Dope Shit

Jimmy Smith + His Amusement Park Entertainment Makes Dope Shit

Today on Not Real Art, we are joined by the one and only Jimmy Smith from Amusement Park Entertainment (APE), an advertising legend who has been in the game since 1985. He got his start working on the Nike ‘Just Do It’ campaign and his career has included stints at Wieden & Kennedy, where he created ‘Book of Dimes’, an ad starring LeBron James and Bernie Mac for Nike; BBDO, where he served as Executive Creative Director for Motorola; and TBWA/Chiat/Day L.A., where he was Group Creative Director for Gatorade.

Click play button above to hear this episode with Jimmy Smith

In 2012, Fast Company named Jimmy one of the Top 100 Most Creative People and, in today’s episode, he shares with us the power of ideas and why it’s so important for creatives, especially creatives of color, to treat their ideas as precious resources. We also discuss the difference between making an ad and creating a piece of culture that lives on long after the campaign is over and Jimmy shares the incredible story of how he convinced Luke Aikens to jump out of a plane without a parachute for Stride Gum in 2016. For more awe inspiring stories from a true creative force to be reckoned with, make sure not to miss this episode with Jimmy Smith!

Ad legend Jimmy Smith and founder of Amusement Park Entertainment
Ad legend Jimmy Smith and founder of Amusement Park Entertainment

“Ideas are valuable. They have extreme power.” — @JimmySmithAPE [0:29:18]

“Jo Muse [said this] thing that I carry with me to this day: think the unthinkable, do the undoable and, above all, make the motherfuckers sweat.” — @JimmySmithAPE [0:42:09]

Jimmy Smith is an inspiration

“What do you do in an ad? I’ve got to go pee. I’ve got to go make a sandwich. Let me go handle this and, as soon as that ad block is done, I’ll be back and sit down and watch whatever [it is I was watching]. But if it’s a piece of culture that resonates, I’m not going anywhere. I’m interacting with whatever that thing is. I don’t want to see it just one time and then the commercial is gone. I’m going to YouTube or, if it’s a movie, I’m going to watch Space Jam.” — Jimmy Smith

Key Points From This Jimmy Smith Episode:

  • The importance of aligning yourself with the innovators and one-upping the ‘knuckleheads’.
  • Why Jimmy believes the highest-paid people are oftentimes the givers.
  • Some of the challenges that come with creating something completely new.
  • Why you’re probably not innovating if you aren’t ruffling some feathers.
  • The battles creatives have to go through sometimes to bring their visions to life.
  • Why Sourdough encourages creatives to “take heart” when their ideas are stolen.
  • Jimmy emphasizes the value of treating ideas as precious, especially as a Black creative.
  • Insight into why APE co-owns ideas with the brands they work with.
  • The difference between making an ad and creating a piece of culture that lives on.
  • Hear the story of how Jimmy got Luke Aikens to agree to jump from a plane without a parachute for Stride Gum.
  • The quote from Jo Muse that Jimmy lives by, which starts with “think the unthinkable."
  • Jimmy cautions that, as crazy as your ideas are, they have to still serve the client.
  • Some of the ideas he is working on right now, including an oil product that reduces smog.
  • How he has seen the advertising game evolve and where he believes it is headed.
  • Examples of how brands can leverage podcasting to their benefit.
  • Jimmy closes with his belief that, if it isn’t going to be great, it’s time to go home!

Space Jam is just a giant ad campaign, [like] Lego movies, and Star Wars. I’m sure they make more money off the video games and the t-shirts than they do off the actual movie. There are large advertising platforms and if you can catch that wave, create that wave, and then ride that wave, it lives until Jesus comes.” — Jimmy Smith [0:36:46]

Jimmy Smith’s Heaven Sent ad for Stride Gum earns a world record

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

“There are a trillion times a trillion things that you think are impossible, but it just takes that person who has that spark [to say], ‘Actually, we might be able to do that!’”— @JimmySmithAPE [0:43:40]

“Anything that you’ve got a human being involved in, and you’ve got a mic, and you’ve got some film, and you’ve got sound, there’s something dope to be made out of it.” — @JimmySmithAPE [0:55:30]

Scott "Sourdough" Power

Scott “Sourdough” Power is the the creator and executive producer of NotRealArt.com. He is also the co-founder of Crewest Studio a digital media company in Los Angeles dedicated to creative culture and the $2T creative economy.