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I left to chase big ideas. I came back to find Des Moines full of them.

Brandan Jenkins in DSM USA

January 17, 2019

I was 14 when I found my true calling. I was watching 60 Minutes with my dad and saw a segment about an ad agency creative department. I was instantly enthralled. I watched in awe as creative types poured passion and energy into coming up with ideas. But what stuck with me was how much fun they were having. Now, 18 years into my career, I’m happy to report that working in advertising is — well, as advertised.

Whether I’m using my creativity to come up with breakthrough ideas that solve my clients’ problems or shaping brands’ meaning in the marketplace, I adore my job.

I grew up in Earlham, graduated from Iowa State University and started my career at an ad agency in Des Moines. I cut my teeth on launching the “Choose Your Adventure” campaign for Iowa State, multiple campaigns for Iowa’s anti-tobacco project “Just Eliminate Lies” and was even able to name a new concert series coming to Des Moines: 80/35.

Yet after five years in Des Moines, it was time to choose a new adventure. My journey took me to Cincinnati, where I worked for an ad agency called Northlich on brands such as Birds Eye Vegetables, Finlandia Vodka and Long John Silver’s.

Cincinnati’s great. But Cincinnati’s a haul. A 660-mile haul back to Iowa. That distance was ultimately the deciding factor in my next adventure: Chicago!

In Chicago, I worked at Leo Burnett, where I climbed the ranks to vice president/creative director while working on exceptionally fun campaigns. I helped Allstate’s Mayhem character burglarize a couple live during the Allstate Sugar Bowl. I created and voiced Kraft’s very first Super Bowl commercial. I traveled the world, won multiple Cannes Lions awards at the International Festival of Creativity and partnered with multiple Fortune 500 companies.

Success at a Cost

But my success came at a cost.

With a growing family, my wife and I bought a house farther from the city. My commute mutated into a daily 2 ½-hour slog. That plus unpredictable work hours equaled a very worn-out me. With a new baby boy onboard in 2018, my internal compass pointed my wife and I back home.

Brandan Jenkins & family

Work-Life Balance in DSM USA

In October, I accepted a creative lead position at Meyocks, a West Des Moines-based branding and marketing agency. Here, I hope to find a better work-life balance by putting more focus on the “life” part of the equation and putting my family closer to our families.

But that isn’t the only reason I moved back. Truth-be-told, I’ve been in awe of what Des Moines has become since I left. I love the local businesses that have blossomed in my absence. Stores like Raygun. Restaurants like Americana. Must-visits like Zombie Burger and Hurts Donut. Destination drinking experiences like Foundry Distilling Company. Bit by bit, business by business, you can sense this wonderful, local zeitgeist transforming Greater Des Moines into something greater. 

I see Des Moines as more than a city. I see it as a brand. And thanks to the developments in the Greater Des Moines area, a brand that wasn’t exactly sure what it was when I left 12 years ago has developed into something entirely its own. It’s transformed from a place people didn’t remember to a city they won’t forget. A distinctive brand. A meaningful brand. One I’ve quickly become a proud ambassador of.  

If you’re reading this and happen to be among those who have poured your passion, vision and creativity into putting Greater Des Moines on the map, thank you. You’ve helped a wayward Iowan who left to find adventure find his way back home again, eager to discover Des Moines all over again.  

Job opportunities and career resources are abundant in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Are you interested in moving here? Relocation Packets offer information on everything from neighborhoods to shopping, parks and local attractions. Or, kick start your career by checking out the DSM USA Career Center. It has over 10,000 jobs listed!