Agency execs tell us what their smartphone home screens reveal about them

For years, magazines had a reliable feature in which they asked some prominent person to empty the contents of their purses, bags or briefcases to show us what lay within, and perhaps let readers catch a glimpse of their psyche.

The modern equivalent of that may well be your phone home screen: Which apps you feature — and how you lay them out — might tell us something about you.

So we asked five agency execs to walk us through their phone home screens. Consider it the modern media version of “What’s in your bag?”


Erica Hoholick, president, TBWA\Media Arts Lab
Hoholick, who heads up operations at the agency network responsible for Apple marketing, wears her client love on her sleeve: “My wallpaper is the Apple logo that got lots of Twitter love the day same-sex marriage was legalized in the U.S.  I was in Cannes at the Lions Festival and changed it on the spot,” she said.

Her latest additions to the home screen are the Apple Watch and Apple Music apps. And she uses Apple Pay “everywhere. I love it.”

But like many people, Hoholick has an app that she loves that she’s too embarrassed to put on her home screen: the booking app for Drybar, the national blowout salon. She’s also the controlling type and gets “anxious” when her home screen is full of notifications. “I need to go check those out now.”


image1Eric Weisberg, executive creative director, J. Walter Thompson New York
Weisberg said his iPhone screen reflects the rhythm of his day and his personality: a “little Type-A and a little ADD.” There’s a mix of themed folders in addition to a few apps that have made the cut to fly solo.

Some client love here too: On his home screen is a new Johnson & Johnson project he’s working on called HealthyDay, an app that helps people figure out if, based on their symptoms, they have a cough, cold or the flu.

Weisberg gets around, so Uber holds a place of prominence. And wherever he goes, he’s likely to snap a photo, hence editing apps a-plenty: “Like most creative people, I’m a photo nerd. So hidden in my Photography folder is Snapseed, VSCO and Photoshop Express so I can geek out on my captured pixels.”


Sean Cummins, founder, Cummins and Partners
Cummins bucks the trend with a Samsung phone and — wait for it — a PC, not a Mac computer.

His favorite app is Broadway show ticket app “Today Tix” because “me and my inner gay man love musicals.” His current favorite shows are “Curious Incident” and “Something Rotten.”

Then there’s The Weather Channel app: “Because after the age of 50, knowing the weather is important. It just is.”

But there is one app there that tells you something about Cummins: It’s the Australian Football app “Footy Now.” “That’s my touchstone to my sporting passion,” he said. His least-used app on this sparse home screen is the Subway app. It’s “inert,” he said.

image1John Heath, group creative director, 360i
Heath, well-versed in all things social, organizes his home screen by the top 10 mobile sharing apps: Facebook is first, followed by YouTube. Google+ (R.I.P) comes in last, for obvious reasons.

Clearly a call-free man for the 21st century, Heath doesn’t have the phone app on his home screen.

The background image is of a “lion eating a cardinal because I love The Kansas City Royals. And I hate the Cards.”



Jonathan Byrne, creative director, DDB California
Byrne said his desk is a mess but his home screen isn’t — and these days, an organized phone screen is probably a better indicator of an organized mind. His screen has the Nike running app in pride of place, because he’s “always” running and biking.

He’s also on planes at least once a week — which explains the two airline apps. Like Hoholick, he also hides less useful apps on the last screen. But unlike her, he’s no Apple fanboy: On his last page are “useless” apps like Apple Watch and Newsstand.

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