Dynamic Seattleites: Creative Creature, Jim Haven

Trendsetting and trailblazing — this visionary talent is a creative powerhouse.

Jim Haven is a person of deviation, a fountain of ideas and an innovator of solutions. His strengths (which he once identified as weaknesses) have evolved into award-winning strategies used for the many high profile clients his advertising and marketing company, Creature, services across the country.

Jim Haven at the Creature office in Capitol Hill; Photo by Chris Laurion

“Creature is a collection of creative and ambitious people,” Haven said of his team. “We are strategists, artists and business people all solving problems for our clients in unique ways.”

Having started Creature in a “selfish” manner, Haven said he and co-founder and fellow University of Puget Sound alumnus Matt Peterson tossed their company into the Seattle business ring so they’d have a place where they enjoyed working. Partner Robson Grieve joined shortly after and the trio set forth with their passion and creative endeavor.

Raised on an apple orchard in Yakima and having spent his summers fly-fishing and floating down the Yakima River, Haven’s modest upbringing taught him to steer clear of complacency.

“We still have a long way to go, we never wanted to be satisfied,” Haven said. “We’re at 30 percent of our potential here. We want to make this a place where creative people from Seattle and all over the world want to come and make things.”

Haven has worked for some of the most elite communication agencies on the map, including Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco and a firm in Amsterdam, and felt Creature would be filling an entrepreneurial void in Seattle.

As executive creative director for the company, Haven’s responsible for making waves and hiring the industry’s most desired hands and discovering the freshest minds to mold. Having recently won the account of Kraft’s A1 Steaksauce, Creature boasts a greatest hits list of prestigious brands and clients since their 2002 creation, including Seattle’s Best Coffee, Umpqua Bank, Hotmail, Google, Nike, The Wall Street Journal and HBO.

Most recently, his individual presence, perspective and command of the company has put Creature on the map not only in Seattle, but in national publications such as Adweek and The New York Times as well. Recently, he flexed his creative critique at the annual Advertising Competition for Communication Arts Magazine in Palo Alto, a publication Haven described as the “bible of the industry.”

When he’s not defeating the world’s marketing evils with the swift arms of innovation, Haven is garnering credibility as a global traveler — his next destination is India for backpacking, and he takes multiple yearly trips to visit his wife’s family in Norway.

Proud to be a Seattleite, Haven certainly isn’t without his quirks. As a certified mayonnaise-hating local, he’s a frequenter of Quinn’s Pub in his work neighborhood and is currently taking Norwegian classes at the Scandinavian Language Institute in Ballard so he can dissipate a minor language barrier with his in-laws.

When it comes down to it, though, those quirks all serve a purpose — namely, getting things done in the name of his client list. He says Creature is an “evolved agency,” which strives to offer “something that’s never been done before for every single client.” Methodical and pragmatic, his approach to work is fairly simple: rather than trying to be something he’s not, he aims to be “the creature the problem requires.”

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