Today, I'd like to introduce you to Nicholas Capanear, EVP, ECD at GSW, New York, and his brother Joe Capanear, SVP, CD at Area23, New York. They were born as identical twins in Newark, New Jersey, and they have both found their way into advertising, albeit into different agencies. The campaigns they created were featured a total of 15 times over the past two years and there will be more in the upcoming issue, Vol. 5-18. Joe and Nick were "raised on a steady diet of comic books, B-horror movies, guitar rock and their father’s construction job sites." They get a lot of questions about the name. “It’s Italian, but was changed somewhere along the line (possibly to avoid the long arm of the law). We’re not exactly sure”. All this weird stuff mixed together, made them decide to go to art school to study advertising and design and build on their creativity.
What is it like having your identical twin brother in the same industry? Is it competitive?
Nick: Makes for some awkward holiday dinner conversations. Growing up with a twin has – I think – naturally made us more competitive. There’s always someone you try to beat and that makes you better every step of the way. But if I have to lose to someone, I’m ok with it being to him.
Joe: I usually ask other creative directors for opinions on work. So it’s convenient having a brother as a CD especially since I can tell him to fuck off if I don’t like his opinion.
You were both featured in back-to-back issues of Archive Magazine recently (and a combined 10 times within the last 12 months). What does it mean to you?
Joe: Sometimes I flip through and get jealous about how I didn’t have that idea. So it’s nice to think maybe other creatives are doing that with my work. To be published at all is great but to be in the same issue is really cool.
Nick: A tremendous honor. I’ve worshiped your magazine for years. Grew up on it, learning from the work inside. As most of our work is in healthcare, it’s nice to be recognized outside of that sector. We’re not trying to make great healthcare work, we’re just trying to make great work, period. So being published in your magazine feels like proof of that.
What made both of you get into healthcare advertising specifically as a sector?
Nick: It definitely wasn’t intentional but I do see it as the modern-day version of the gold rush of the 1800s in America — only in advertising. It still feels still like an untapped landscape for great work. There’s so much meaning and potential in our industry and it's just begging for smart, emotionally driven work to come along. I guess we’re just 2 of the people among others who recognize that and seek to make it happen.
Joe: I went to a big company workshop with creatives from all over the world. We did some work in a group and this other creative guy says to me, “You’re good at this. Why would you be in healthcare advertising?” There was a weird disdain in his voice. I asked him what cool thing he works on – he said “John Deere Lawnmowers." No disrespect to John Deere, but I’d argue that it’s much more interesting, challenging and fulfilling to make a great ad about saving a baby’s life, than cutting the grass.
Looking at the recent advertising output from around the world, what are some current campaigns you admire?
Joe: The bible of BBQ. That thing is amazing.
Nick: I went to Cannes this year and saw some great stuff. I remember particularly “The Fin”, which was for the first amphibious prosthetic for amputees. Also recently, I like the print work for Budweiser. They cleverly got around rights issues and used Google search in a fun way.
Do you have any advice for other creatives?
Nick: Listen to AC/DC, watch Tarantino films. Go to a Saint Laurent show. Then figure out a way to infuse more of that badass attitude and rebellion into your work more consistently.
Joe: AC/DC, that’s key. But also make something you’re excited by. If you’re not, no one else will be either.
Client: NYC Botanics. Ad Agency: GSW, New York. Creative Directors: Adam Hessel, Michael Austin, Nicholas Capanear. Copywriter: Ron Larson. Digital Art: Illusion, Bangkok. Featured in Vol. 4-2018 of Archive.
Client: Stand for the Silent Inc. Ad Agency: Area 23, New York Creative Directors: Joe Capanear, Tim Hawkey, Chris Bernesby. Art Directors: Felipe Munhoz, Jeremy Lonsk. Copywriter: Aubrey Minutaglio. Photographer: Lahdesmaki, Markku. Digital Artists: Lahdesmaki, Markku, Dippin Sauce. Featured in Lürzer's Archive 4-18.
Client: Janssen. Ad Agency: Area 23, New York. Creative Directors: Joe Capanear, Tim Hawkey, Chris Bernesby.
Art Director: Joe Capanear, Abby Stellpflug, Zuzana Zaloudek. Copywriters: Mike McKeever, Chris Bernesby. Photographer: Ale Burset. Digital Artist: Diego Speroni. Featured in Lürzer's Archive 3-17.
Nick and Joe Capanear, Adland's (only?) identical twins. Photo: Andrew Coppa