Doug Fidoten is president of Dentsu America, Inc. (www.dentsuamerica.com), a full-service agency that is part of the Dentsu Network. He is a graduate of Oberlin College, an experience he was able to customize to address his interests in business and photography. Doug’s regard for photography has served him well as he moved from the creative side of the advertising industry to roles in account management and eventually to the leadership team at Dentsu America. Doug Fidoten led the Canon team at Dentsu America and remains active in that account despite the demands of his role. In 2006, he was named the first American presi-dent for Dentsu. Still an avid photographer, Doug lives in Manhattan with his wife and three children.
The following excerpt is from my interview with Doug for Advertisers at Work.
Tuten: Did you study advertising in college?
Fidoten: I went to Oberlin College. At that time, I was still continuing to figure out how to bring these halves—science and art—together. Oberlin’s a great school, very intellectual, very willing to let students kind of chart their own path, and rather than adopt a traditional major, I actually had the ability to do my own major. I designed and named my own major, which, if I still remember correctly, was “physiology and perception of visual arts.” My thinking behind it was a combination of how the physiology of our nervous system and our brain affects the way we perceive the world and the way we perceive art. The psychology behind it, which is not necessarily part of the wiring, and then ultimately, how that expresses itself in the development of art over time. Like the single-point perspective in the Renaissance, and things like that. That major gave me the opportunity to continue to use photography as my artistic expression.
Eventually that led me to an opportunity away from school in which I apprenticed as a photographer. I literally apprenticed in New York City with a professional photographer, a very famous guy by the name of George Tice.1 He was not a commercial photographer in the sense that he was shooting for advertising. He made his money selling his work through galleries, selling books, and he’d won either a Guggenheim or a MacArthur. I really forget which, but something that allowed him to spend most of his time taking photographs and not so much making money. I went to work for him for that period and really learned the craft of photography and developed a passion for it in a way I’d never had a chance to do before. I’d never had that level of skill or mentorship.
1 George Tice is most famous for his large, black-and-white photographs of New Jersey. His work is included in many major museum collections throughout the world and is depicted in several books including Hometowns: An American Pilgrimage (New York Graphic Society, 1988).