Bill Fritsch • Written January 2015
Bill Fritsch is the CEO and board member of Digital Kitchen, one of the most creative companies in the nation (at least if Emmy Awards and Cannes Gold Lions and Grand Prixs mean anything).
Bill originally hails from Akron, OH and Seal Beach, CA. After graduating from the University of Akron he became an accountant—and hated his job. His grandfather on his deathbed convinced Bill to seek his fortune with Walt Disney, and the next thing he knew he was unemployed in California. The last thing Disney wanted was an accountant from Ohio who really wanted to be a creative guy. But after four months of perseverance, Disney gave up and hired him.
Today, as CEO of DK, Bill is leading its Seattle, Los Angeles and Chicago offices into the new era of brand-as-defined-by-consumer experiences. While many know DK for its work on opening sequences for Six Feet Under, Dexter and True Blood, the agency today brings its unique digital magic to a blue-ribbon list of major brands that includes AT&T U-verse, Cosmopolitan Hotel of Las Vegas, HBO, Netflix, FX Networks, Este Lauder, Underwriters Laboratories, Microsoft and NBC.
Bill joined DK in 2012 to help the company meet the future in a way that capitalizes on its creative heritage and provides growth and opportunity during this sea-change in the marketing communications industry. He brings 35 years of experience building creative business enterprises, along with a deep knowledge about brand marketing and corporate strategy.
Fritsch began his communications career in 1976 at Walt Disney, where, as director of creative services he helped to launch multi-billion-dollar emerging Disney enterprises, like the Disney Channel and Disney Home Video. He also learned life-long lessons about team-building and managing creative environments. At Disney, he worked alongside the people who built the Disney empire with Walt.
In 1981, Bill and his wife, Elaine, had the first of two daughters—Amy (now at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). About that time, Dave Sharp (also a MARKETING IMMORTAL) convinced Bill to join his fledgling Seattle agency, Sharp, Hartwig and Vladimir.
Bill’s primary reason for taking the job was to get out of LA, and Dave was willing to pay his moving expenses. He’d heard that ad agencies were awful places to work and saw it as a temporary job at best. So go the best-laid plans of mice and men...
Three decades later, Bill is still in the business. He spent six years with Dave Sharp, then launched his own firm, Christiansen & Fritsch, which eventually bought Sharp Hartwig and later sold to Foote, Cone & Belding. Second daughter, Kathy, came along during this flurry of creativity!
Before joining DK, bill consulted with creative enterprises, helping entrepreneurs shift from proprietorships into enterprises that grow and scale. He currently serves on the boards of cutting-edge communications companies deeply involved with digital, social and mobile marketing. He also serves on the boards of some of the Northwest’s leading public institutions, including the Seattle Public Library Foundation, the Pacific Science Center and IslandWood.
Pub. Note: Bill also was a long-time contributor to MARKETING with his always-insightful and informative Fritsch On Advertising column.