How did you get where you are now?
Roll call: Bite to Grayling to Freuds as Head of Digital. Freuds showed me the power of earned creativity, so I moved on to pure creation at Porter Novelli and then MHP (Engine).
But I have the impression that I only really “got there” after resuming creative training at the SCA four years ago. It strengthened my faith in the power of public relations.
What has been the highlight of your creative career?
Honestly, most of the creative highlights have been outside of PR: publishing books, making apps, releasing records. The freedom of these balances and fuels the daily work.
It was such a pleasure to make the Tropicana Sun, which lit up Trafalgar Square with a huge artificial sun shining on the shortest day of the year, such a great social moment. Stunning images of the stunt flooded social media at a time when people were embracing Instagram and it reached millions before it even made the headlines. It was a huge lightbulb moment for me. Geddit?
But I feel more excited about the work I can do at H+K right now. Oil perfume Mach-Eau for Ford and Soap & Glory Land – an immersive game on a social gaming platform (dare I say metaverse?) for Boots – launched the same week: I was on vacation, in the sun, in bask in shiny numbers, feeling like the king of the world.
… and low light?
There’s a room in my brain that stores unfortunate campaign flops and office mishaps and protects me from goofy memories. I’m not allowed in there, so neither are you.
What is your favorite campaign from the last three months (not the one you or your organization participated in) and why?
Controversial perhaps, but Tony’s Chocolonely caused a stir with its advent calendar, which lacked a chocolate to represent inequality in the chocolate industry and for cocoa farmers.
Sure, the cover was about disappointed parents and deceived children, but I think most of their target audience loved the boldness, and the story will have boosted mental readiness. I’m sure they would have liked to go a little further to make sure little Tarquin’s parents knew there were two chocolates the next day, but whatever you think of their shtick, it got people talking in the press and at home.
How do you solve creative writer’s block?
It’s a daily occurrence, so I have a catalog of methods that help.
Talking to anyone and everyone and asking lots of questions about the subject always brings rewards. Someone else almost always has the seed of the idea; I just need to coax her out and dress her up.
I have a step-by-step process for “gadzooks, I need something, pronto”, which combines an elaborate series of bookmarks of tools and techniques. Learning to write freely was a blessing. The best things tend to come when I run out of ideas and keep going.
How should PR develop their creative prowess?
The industry is really booming, but we still try to treat creation as a real discipline. A dedicated and trained creative practice changes the game, but that doesn’t mean a handful of quirky characters can own it. Winning ideas so often come from people who don’t call themselves creative, so I think we have a responsibility to nurture that and make sure everyone can have the same zeal and pride in the work. Creative work shouldn’t be an extracurricular activity, crammed into an hour with an eye on incoming emails. All together now…