Philly Creative Guide

Creative Firm

Kurt Shore

D4 Creative: Rule Breaking and Success Making
by Kurt Shore, 1 Mar 2010

D4 Creative is one of Philadelphia's Top Ten agencies, (Business Journal), specializing in the telecommunications and cable industries. Kurt Shore is President and Chief Creative Officer of D4.


Here are the rules we broke:

  • Most successful agencies are founded by a creative director, an art director, or a marketing strategist. Not D4.
  • Most successful agencies open their doors with at least a few significant client connections- especially in this town. Not D4.
  • Most agency-client relationships last 3 to 5 years. D4's largest client- 20 years.
  • Never go into business with your spouse.
  • Most agencies subcontract out audio and video production facilities.

Here's how we broke them:

  • D4 was founded by a mechanical engineer, Suzanne Hatfield. Suzanne is not a Philadelphia native, and in fact, had very few business contacts when she opened her doors out of third floor of her home in 1990.
  • D4's first client was Comcast and twenty years later is still is our largest client.
  • In 1994, she partnered with me, her future husband, Kurt Shore, a former Top 10 record producer, musician, studio-owner, (Kajem Studios). We're still partners and still married.
  • In order to meet the speed-to-market demands of promoting Comcast's services, we always have and continue to invest in production facilities: Hi-Def video suites, motion graphics suites, audio suites, shooting and recording studios, composers, editors, animators along with the normal agency compliment of creative directors, writers, art directors, web developers and designers, and of course, account services professionals – all housed in their newly purchased 15,000 square foot headquarters in Manayunk.

To truly get a sense of what makes D4 different, you'll need a little more background about Suzanne and myself.

Suzanne graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado (1977), was the first female engineer hired by Abbott Labs in Chicago, won their president's award her first year for designing a machine the older guys couldn't figure out. She's the problem solver, the strategist, the "there's always a way" person.

I, on the other hand, lived and breathed the music business for the first half of my life, had a recording contract at age 19, as singer-songwriter for the duo, Dialogue, founded and managed a very successful recording studio, produced a top five Billboard hit, and am completely conversant with almost anyone from any walk of life. So, that makes me the creative guy, the team builder, and rule breaker.

Together, we've built D4 into one of Philadelphia's Top Ten agencies, (Business Journal), specializing in the telecommunications and cable industries. That is, until recently, when we decided to launch some consumer brands of our own, MyGallons.com and MoreGallons.com, (in partnership with another entrepreneur.) Now, when we pitch concepts, we get a chance to: a) argue with ourselves, or b) blow smoke up our own butts.

D4 Creative: Rule Breaking and Success Making

One example of how well our unique left-brain, right- brain relationship works relates to winning a large project with Rosenbluth International, whose corporate mascot is a salmon (you need to know this for the story). For the pitch, I dressed up in a large fish costume complete with a very large fish head alongside Suzanne's professional business attire. When the CEO saw us, he looked concerned. I mitigated the CEO's anxiety by letting him know that I was a carp, not a salmon. The entire pitch went flawlessly, Suzanne outlining the strategy while I did the creative song and dance- which is hard to do in a fish costume. We won the business.

Of course, none of D4's success would be possible without the national-class team of professionals we employ. The senior team includes: Dave Lesser and Bob Seabert, (Sr. Creative Directors); Wicky Lee, (VP of Design); Chris Zurzolo, (Director Audio); Angela Mancini, (Agency Producer); Chris Albany and Sara Stuard, (VP's of Account Services); and Melissa Shusterman, (Director of D4 Digital).

Although D4 has never abandoned our specialization, we've branched out through the years to include a diverse range of consumer and B-to-B clients, and serve all kinds of marketing communications needs. Lately, we've been educating our clients about our 360° approach to advertising including 'social media' which we prefer to call 'conversations with customers', SEO techniques, leveraging our video expertise for the Web because the novelty of just having any old junk on the Internet has worn off, and doing our best to make Powerpoint presentations extinct.

So, whether it's branding and graphic identity, TV and broadcast, Web and interactive or Print, D4 has it covered. A trip to our website will reveal some illuminating samples of our work. But it's not our best. We're saving that for you.

Print Article Brought to you by: Kurt Shore | President and Chief Creative Officer of D4

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