Contact

Currently, Ahmer is creative director of Design Hierarchy NYC.
ahmer@hierarchy.design

Previous Experience

2011-2015 mcgarrybowen, Dentsu
Executive Creative Director
Clients experience: JPMorganChase & Co, Chase, Chase Private Client, Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire, Chase Ink, Chase Liquid, Mission Main Street, Chase Sponsorship, Chase Business, Marriott, Residence Inn, Courtyard, Fairfield, Springhill, Marriott Rewards, Maserati, Chevron, Brand USA
Global Creative Director / Executive Creative Director
Clients experience: Intel, Holiday Inn, Staples, Mastercard, General Mills
FOUNDER / CO-CEO / CO-CCO
Clients experience: Genworth Financial, Intel, Nokia, Kamik, Promotions.com, Gilda's club, Safe Horizon
Art Director to Executive Creative Director
Clients experience: 7up, Dr Pepper, Diet Dr Pepper, Sunkist, Pella Windows, Kraft, Computer Associates, AT&T, Citibank, Showtime, United Airlines, Wildlife Conservation Society, STP, Sony, Pepperidge Farm.

876 words that sum it all up.

Born in Karachi and raised in Hong Kong, Ahmer Kalam spent his childhood trying to decide whether he liked dumplings more than samosas. He's still unable to answer this question to this day. Ahmer's first job in advertising was at Moffatt/Rosenthal in Portland, Oregon, where he worked as an intern during his junior and senior years at Lewis & Clark College. His main responsibility, as he recalls, was staying out of the way, but he eventually learned the basics of art direction. After graduating with art history and finance degrees, Ahmer packed his bags and drove 3,000 miles to Atlanta to attend The Portfolio Center. He was a quick study, completing the two-year program in one year. His next stop was the obvious one: New York. In 1996, Ahmer managed to secure an interview at Young & Rubicam. During an interview with Ted Bell, the Worldwide Creative Director of Y&R, Bell gave him the opportunity to offer some art direction on an actual pitch Y&R was working on for the Bronx Zoo. Fourteen hours later, Ahmer presented those ideas to Bell. And then he was back on a plane to Atlanta. Two days later, Linda Baff, Senior Talent Recruiter at Y&R, called with two pieces of news. The first was that his work had helped Y&R win the Bronx Zoo account. The second was that Y&R wanted to offer him a job as a junior art director. A ruthless negotiator, Ahmer insisted that he was not interested unless Y&R agreed to pay him a $500 signing bonus. The firm immediately agreed. Ahmer quickly rose up the ranks at Young and Rubicam. It took him three years to be named VP/Creative Director and just three more to become Executive Creative Director on the Dr. Pepper and Computer Associates accounts. His responsibilities for Computer Associates, a global account with billings of $120 million, included all advertising and marketing activities— television, print, radio, and direct mail—in 46 languages and 17 countries. His client experience at Y&R included AT&T, Citibank, Kraft, Pella Windows, Pepperidge Farm, 7-UP, Showtime, United Airlines, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Ahmer also served as Co-Executive Creative Director of Klamath Communications while at Y&R. In that capacity, he helped launch GE Finance's Investing and Insurance division, Genworth Financial, when it was spun off from GE in 2003—the second-largest IPO of 2003 and the most significant insurance IPO ever. The launch TV commercial featured Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, and the subsequent $35 million brand campaign featured in-depth profiles of real people—all centenarians—running across various media, including television, print, Internet, and digital media. In addition to being one of the youngest VPs at Y&R, Ahmer received two Emmy nominations and recognition in every major advertising show, including The One Show and the Cannes Lion Festival. His creative work is also in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). In October 2006, Ahmer left Y&R to co-found Howald and Kalam with his writing partner, Rachel Howald. Their clients included Intel, Nokia, Promotions.com, Gilda's Club Worldwide, Genworth Financial, and Safe Horizon. The agency enjoyed strong growth in billings and would indeed have continued to do so, but the opportunity knocked again in 2009 when they joined McCann Worldwide. That role includes managing Intel, Holiday Inn, Staples, and important work for General Mills and MasterCard. Ahmer played key roles in the launch of Holiday Inn's global identity campaign and MasterCard's Priceless Cities campaign. In 2011, it was time for another change. Dentsu offered him the opportunity to head up both the JPMorgan Chase & Co and Marriott accounts. For JPMorgan Chase & Co, he oversees all creative development for JPMorgan Chase & Co, the Chase Retail, Business, Sports Sponsorship, Credit Cards, and Private Client business. His work for Marriott Brands included Residence Inn, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn & Suites, SpringHill, and Marriott Rewards. The integrated team for those two accounts includes over 40 creatives and 100 account support professionals. After 20 years of helping Fortune 500 Brands solve their most significant marketing challenges, Ahmer decided to start Design Hierarchy, a purpose-driven communications consultancy that helps philanthropists, artists, and change-makers launch new ideas into the world. Design Hierarchy's senior consultants worldwide develop innovative ideas that help brands tell their stories through all forms of digital communications. From award-winning videos for the Obama foundations, a PBS series focusing on the #Metoo movement, and 360 VR videos for the Rockefeller Foundation, Design Hierarchy's branding and communications solutions have helped clients of all sizes and resource levels. Design Hierarchy's work can be viewed at www.hierarchy.design Last but not least, he makes a fabulous chicken tikka masala. Optional appetizer: dumplings or samosa. But don't ask him to decide for you, because he can't.

Nice quotes from bosses!

“Ahmer exemplifies everything I believe makes a great – yes great – Creative Director.  He creates ideas, yes, really big ideas which he then executes flawlessly.  He is a team player, both internally and externally and builds trusted relationships with clients and peers.  On a one to ten he’s a 11.5.  And most of all a great great person with integrity and values that are rare indeed.”
Gordon Bowen, Global Chairman, dentsu mcgarrybowen
"Ahmer Kalam has exactly what I look for in an creative director:  a great eye and a big heart. He approaches even the most challenging projects with enthusiasm and a drive to do something remarkable. For that, he’s won awards (at Cannes and elsewhere), the trust of clients and the admiration of his bosses and peers."
Joyce King Thomas, President/CCO, McCannXBC
"Ahmer was simply one of the very few at the top of my list of ‘go-to’ art directors when I needed something in a hurry and was absolutely confident he could deliver. He always did, and it was always first rate. In addition, he is one the most exceeding nice people I have ever worked with. A true gentleman."
Ted Bell, Vice Chairman, Worldwide Creative Director, Young & Rubicam