Meet Dan Rapp: Executive Creative Director at Upstream360

Jun 25, 2024

What does magic and creative work have in common? According to Upstream360’s Executive Creative Director and resident copywriter, “Magicians sell the story, and put in a lot of effort to make it look effortless.”

Putting in the Effort

It also takes years of hard work, dedication, and always pushing one’s own creative limits, skills which Dan Rapp is no stranger to.

Dan got his start at Northlich, a top Cincinnati creative agency in its heyday during Dan’s time there. Starting as a PR intern, he became interested in copy and ad-writing, something he didn’t know even existed until his internship. He worked there for 22 years before becoming Executive Creative Director at LEAP Agency, a digitally-focused agency.

In December 2020, he joined Upstream360. His background in strategy and creative work as well as his ability to work with clients, television production companies, editors, and audio engineers offered him a unique portfolio that aligned with Upstream360’s science-centric, product-focused take on marketing.

Looking back, Dan realizes his love of advertising and media started at an early age. “I used to make fake ads with the family video camera. And branded my hand-made greeting cards to parents and grandparents.”

Give a Damn

Dan’s strength as a creative and a leader is his ability to always learn and try new things, a must in the world of creativity.

“Working in a creative field is a challenge unto itself. You’re being asked to think of something others haven’t thought of yet and do so under pressure.And do it again and again and again.”

Being able to learn and adapt is what makes Dan good at his job. Really good. Because it’s not just about being good at your craft—in this case, at copywriting and leading creative teams. It’s also about “doing more.”

“Learn how to think strategically. Still think like a creative, but also understand what it’s like to be a client. Practice presentations and selling the work. Showing your passion is important. Know when to talk. And know when to listen.”

Dan’s philosophy can be boiled down into the three words that appear on a felt banner hung behind his desk: Give a Damn.

Telling and Selling the Story

Dan has had a chance to put this philosophy into practice at Upstream360, a completely different company and experience from the more traditional agencies that Dan has worked at over the years.

“At other agencies, a team of strategists work on a brief to define the ONE THING the communication should say. Then it was creative’s job to say it in an interesting way. Here, we’re doing both jobs. We’re helping brands figure out WHAT to say as well as HOW to say it in meaningful ways.”

Like any good magician pulling off the greatest tricks, Dan’s secret to telling and selling the stories that bring some of the world’s biggest brands back to him again and again?

“Surround yourself with great talent. They will take what you do and make it exponentially better. Better than even you could have imagined.”

Which is exactly what Dan does as Executive Creative Director at Upstream360. He leads a team of talented designers, illustrators, copywriters, and editors to produce creative products that range from ideation to research to customer-facing marketing and consumer-facing commercials.

The challenges Dan addresses every day are big ones. There are smart agencies and creative directors all over the world who are trying to solve them. The difference is that Upstream360 does it better and faster.

“99% of the time, clients are really blown away by the work we do. They’ll say we accomplished in a week what would have taken them 6 months.”

There’s satisfaction in that, Dan says.

And maybe a little magic, too.

In his free time, Dan works with several Jewish organizations. He has served on the board of the Jewish Community Relations Council for over ten years and was on the board and served as board president of Jewish Family Service.

Want to learn more about Dan and Upstream360’s work? Check out our website at Or visit our LinkedIn and Instagram to learn more about our culture and see some of our work.