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Chris Buerke

Chris Buerke never thought he’d end up in advertising. Likely story, Chris.

“I don’t know if I would have expected to be here.”

It’s a tale as old as time: Someone thinks they won’t work in advertising and then they do, much to their surprise and no one else’s. While the result is perhaps to be expected from someone with strong communication skills and a knack for problem solving, his path to copywriting and creative strategy is far from typical. Let’s start at the top.

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Berry Wars and Other Domestic Conflicts

Chris was raised in suburban St. Louis. His mother worked a variety of jobs taking her from a glass company to a wine distributor. His father worked as a computer analyst his entire career. Chris credits his mother for his people skills and his father for his logical, analytical side.

He and his older sister grew up in a neighborhood community overrun with young families. With so many kids in one neighborhood, Chris and his friends would spend most of their time outside of school hanging out and causing mischief, as you do when kids outnumber grownups.

When the usual activities lost their luster, Chris and his friends were infamous for inventing group games. Chris remembers a much-anticipated annual event violently titled “Berry Wars,” which consisted of picking berries off of a bush and then throwing them at other kids… and that’s it.

“You figure out that if someone else isn’t gonna talk about it, you need to be the person that talks about it.”

They wouldn’t advertise the event per se but would often get excited enough to make banners or t-shirts. Chris remembers this being the first time he ever wanted to create an event or system for a group of people.

“Growing up, it was never a place where I wanted to be that person, but it felt like there was a need for that person to exist,” Chris said. “I would do it reluctantly but then realized that I really enjoyed it as well.”

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Chris’s role of reluctant leader continued into high school as he became more involved in SLUH theater and parish youth ministry. He now acknowledges the “weird element of advertising” that goes into talking about faith with other people, especially when it comes to recruiting friends to prayer nights or retreats.

“You figure out that if someone else isn’t gonna talk about it, you need to be the person that talks about it,” Chris said.

With curiosity in his bones, Chris has lucked into some interesting situations throughout his life. The most notable is the time he pulled over on the way to school because he saw Hannah Montana’s tour bus in a parking lot. This detour ended with him eating bananas with Billy Ray Cyrus for a radio contest.

A Minor Collection of Majors

After graduating from high school, Chris moved to Kirksville, MO, to attend Truman State University as a math major. That didn’t last long.

“I took a five-hour calculus II class, and I realized right away that I needed to make other plans for my life.”

He then switched to psychology because working with the human brain seemed like a cool change of pace. Then English because he realized he mainly enjoyed the writing. Then speech pathology because it involved working with language and helping people. Then linguistics because it felt like a balanced blend of his majors so far.

He was right. Fifth time’s the charm. And this seems like the natural spot to jump into creative advertising, yeah?

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Nope. After graduation, he followed the Jesuit spirit of his high school and moved to Kansas City to work at Rockhurst University for two years as a hall director, all while completing a master’s degree in education administration.

Once his time in KC came to an end, Chris found his way back to St. Louis to work for Truman using what he learned in his master’s program.

While the work wasn’t exactly checking every box in his heart, he enjoyed meeting lots of people and capitalized on the free summers that came with working in education. His first summer, he traveled to Ireland by himself and spent his time fraternizing with the locals. The next summer, he worked at a school in Belgium teaching English to French and Dutch speakers. Neither experience found him too far out of his element.

But wide open summers weren’t enough to hold him down. After three years with Truman, Chris decided it was time to open a new chapter in his professional life. What happens now might shock you.

Embracing the Inevitable

What does someone with a background in writing and communication do when they want a fun job that comes with healthcare? Any ideas???

“I started looking for new opportunities and reached out to a bunch of ad agencies, just because I thought it would be a cool way to use writing, learn more about other industries, and push my curiosity,” Chris said.

Right you were, Chris.

“Advertising doesn’t have to be a game of putting out products and simply contributing to capitalism. It can an opportunity to connect with people and have conversations.”

Chris started at Paradowski as an intern in the summer of 2018, eventually falling into the role of Creative Strategist and Writer. Though he initially felt like he was best suited for a copywriting position, his tendency to gravitate toward research made him and others believe he might do best bridging the gap between creative and strategy.

“I realized how fun it was to take a deep dive into a client without knowing what would come out of it, and then being able to share that with creatives and see how it would influence their work,” Chris said.

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And he’s grown to love taking the time to sift through opportunities for his clients, not only for their sake but for the betterment of their consumers.

“Advertising doesn’t have to be a game of putting out products and simply contributing to capitalism,” Chris said. “It can an opportunity to connect with people and have conversations.”

Outside of work, Chris can often be found either cooking or consuming food, depending on which sounds like more fun to him at the time. He fessed up to having not one, but three Facebook albums dedicated to pictures of food he’s cooked. He balances his food-related hobbies with running and Zumba classes.

Chris is constantly looking for his next adventure, which usually results in some sort of trip that quenches his desire to learn. Otherwise, Chris is a creature of habit who thrives in systems and routines.

He fessed up to having not one, but three Facebook albums dedicated to pictures of food he’s cooked.

From creating solutions for his brands’ biggest issues to churning out puns in team Slack channels, Chris is known at Paradowski for his natural curiosity, unending wit and desire to help—a dangerous combination that could take him so many places. He’s also known for his karaoke rendition of “I Believe In a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness from our company holiday party, but that’s a story for another time.

“No matter what I do in life, I want my position to involve language, communication and people in some way, shape or form.”

We’re glad we check all three of those boxes here.