Interviewed by LBB editor, Gabrielle Lott
LBB: What is it about Amsterdam Worldwide that makes it so distinctive?
RG: We describe ourselves as Creative Entrepreneurs. It’s an attitude towards how we work and it forces us to continually question what it is we do and how we do it. Many of the things we do fall out of the classical definition of what advertising is, but have created real success for our clients. We’re proud of that.
LBB: You won a Gold Lion at Cannes 2010 for your print work for Onitsuka Tiger. The work was stunning and used traditional methods of Japanese design with digital technology. Can you discuss the inspiration behind the work?
RG: At the centre of the campaign was a one and a half-meter Tansu cabinet in the shape of a Tiger shoe. It existed in the physical world and the digital world and was an evolving story telling platform that we invited people to explore throughout the year. I really enjoyed the crossover between cutting edge digital and a 200 year old craft. They were completely complimentary.
The inspiration behind the campaign has been the same for all of the Made Of Japan campaigns we have created for Tiger over the years. It’s a celebration of their authentic Japanese heritage.
LBB: One of your clients is Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor chip that designs and builds technology for computer devices. It’s not, traditionally a ‘cool’ brand and appears to the uneducated eye as a real challenge. How do you connect the consumer to the brand and sell ‘possibilities’ rather than chips?
RG: It’s quite easy when you shift the focus from what Intel make to what Intel make possible. When you think in these terms - what they’ve enabled people to do through their technology - they’re the coolest company in the world.
LBB: You’re British, born and bred. When did you move to Amsterdam and what is it about the city that keeps you there?
RG:It is, in my opinion, the best city to live in the world. And I emphasise the ‘live’ part of that sentence. I find a lot of cities really confrontational. They’re hard work. Exciting, inspiring, yes, but tough. Great places to visit, but to live… nah. Amsterdam lets you be.
LBB: Most of your work is for global accounts, but do you also work with locally based clients?
RG: We recently won a local client, Feadship. They are luxury yacht designers and builders. But we’re talking the most super of all super yachts. Their target [clients] are billionaires around the world. So yes, we have local client, but the work is global.
LBB: How do you select and find talent for Amsterdam Worldwide?
RG: Talent generally finds us. People look at what we do and if it’s the sort of thing they want to do, they contact us. I then narrow them down to those people fitting the following criteria: are they brilliant, are they nice people. I have no time for assholes or lack of talent.
LBB: Current trends see advertising agencies creating and marketing their own brands. Is this something that happens at Amsterdam Worldwide and what do you think about it?
RG: Yeah, of course, we’re all trying to differentiate from each other and different agencies have different values and ways of going about things, but ultimately you’ve got to judge an agency by what they do not what they say. Anyone can talk a good talk.
LBB: You’re reportedly won over 55 awards for your creative work. How important are awards to you and the agency?
RG: Some clients like them, others clients are suspicious of them. If you’ve won a lot of creative awards some clients see this as a sign that you won’t actually listen to them because you’ll be too busy being ‘creative’.
Winning awards makes me feel good so I suppose they must be important to me. They make excellent paperweights and doorstops.
LBB: You once said that one of your favourite quotes was ‘Advertising is the rattle of the stick in the swill bucket’… Can you elaborate further?
RG: It’s a wonderfully brutal reminder to pull your head out of your ass, and that’s never a bad thing. But I don’t actually think it’s completely true. We can do things that are genuinely wanted, useful, inspiring and worthwhile. So perhaps great advertising isn’t the rattle of the stick. Perhaps great advertising is the bucket?
LBB: How did you get into advertising?
RG: I was overflowing with ideas and didn’t know what to do with them. One week I’d be painting, another printing t-shirts, hosting a nightclub, writing, taking photos or whatever. I don’t think it was simply an unwillingness to settle down and do one thing, I think it was an inability.
Then I realised there was a job that was all about ideas, that allowed you to work in so many different mediums. I knew it was for me. So I dedicated every waking hour to landing my first job.
LBB: What do you love about this industry and what do you wish you could change?
RG: This job is the pursuit of the brilliant. We are desperate to amaze and create wonder, to achieve something truly remarkable. I love the energy this industry runs on. And I love the state of change. We’re in a perpetual state of reinvention. There is no boredom. The thing I’d love to change is the wastage. Ninety-five percent of the best ideas never see the light of day. It can be so frustrating.
LBB: What was been your favourite job this year and why?
RG: We created a series of documentaries for Intel’s Visual Life this year that I’m really proud of. The reason I’m so proud of them is that they are documentaries that work as advertising rather than advertising posing as documentary. It’s a good example of how we are trying to push the boundaries of what advertising is.