Editor's note: Anomaly's "Puppy Love" Super Bowl ad for Budweiser was voted the top commercial by Hulu viewers and earned the top spot on USA Today's Ad meter. Scroll down to watch "Puppy Love" and Anomaly's other ad about a soldier's homecoming.
Despite being a founding partner of his own multinational marketing agency, Jason DeLand ’98 still dreams of playing professional baseball.
“If one day the New York Yankees announce that they need a center fielder, I want to be able to at least show up to the tryout,” the 38-year-old jokes.
A love for baseball brought DeLand to Ithaca College in 1994. He played outfield under coach George Valesente, twice leading the Empire 8 in batting average.
DeLand spent a lot of his time in the Park School of Communications, switching his major from politics to television-radio during his sophomore year. He enrolled in several advertising classes and quickly found that the ideas appealed to him.
“It clicked,” DeLand says. “I liked the atmosphere, and I liked what my professors were saying. I liked using knowledge of current events, arts, and culture to create a persuasive message. At Ithaca you can follow your passion, and that was mine.”
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After working in the Ad Lab class—where students come up with advertising campaigns for real corporations—and spending a semester in the college’s Los Angeles program, DeLand started his career with TBWA/Chiat/Day, a prestigious multinational advertising firm. There he met with clients like Kmart, Seagram’s, and the International Olympic Committee after winning their accounts and helping transition them to the agency.
He started working the day after graduation. DeLand was promoted to new business manager a year later, and he was eventually approached by PCCW Hong Kong, a telecommunications corporation based in China.
“I took the job because it was a total stretch role that scared me, professionally and culturally,” he says. “I figured the learning curve would be the steepest in my career, and in retrospect, that turned out to be accurate.”
Less than a year after he moved to China, however, came the events of September 11. For DeLand, who had numerous connections to New York City, the event was a wake-up call.
“What characterized my career up until that point in my life was an unrelenting focus on work,” DeLand says. “So much of what I identified with was in the city: my friends, my family, the country that I loved. During the weeks after 9/11, my priorities began to shift from trying to excel professionally to focusing on the type of person I wanted to be, where I ultimately wanted to end up, and who my friends were and reconnecting with family. I hit the pause button.”
DeLand quit his job with PCCW and moved back to the United States. He took a year off from work, traveling around the country to catch up with friends and family. During this period of introspection, he had the idea for Anomaly, his newest venture.
In 2004 he helped found the company, an agency that, according to DeLand, is attempting to forgo the bureaucracy present in the marketing industry and instill a stronger sense of community and morality. Clients include American Express, Converse, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Google, Marriott Group’s Renaissance Hotels, Nike, Proctor & Gamble, and Budweiser. Anomaly produced two of the most popular ads during the Super Bowl this winter: one about a puppy that kept running away to be with its Clydesdale buddy, and one about a soldier’s homecoming, both for Budweiser.
DeLand’s work with Anomaly landed him a spot on AdWeek’s “20 Most Influential People Under 40” list in 2012.
Despite his obvious professional success, DeLand prefers to focus on his mindset, attitude, and more recently, his personal life. He and his wife, Rhonda Roseth DeLand '98, have a two-and-a-half-year-old son whom DeLand delights in teaching the finer points of baseball.
As for the future, his goals are modest.
“I love what I do,” DeLand says. “I have plans in terms of what I want to achieve, but how I get there is never really planned out with too much specificity.”