Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production

Day in the Life of… Orlando Warner

Associations, Award Shows and Festivals
London, UK
Creative Director at WCRS chats to the Creative Circle about his role, how he got there and more

Next up in the series from the Creative Circle, Orlando Warner explores his role as Creative Director at WCRS.

Day in the Life… is a series from the Creative Circle, celebrating and championing the diversity of talent across Britain’s creative community. Encompassing creatives from all areas of the advertising and creative spectrum, each edition will focus on an individual and their role within our exciting community.   

Here Orlando Warner, who just finished work on the outstanding End Youth Homelessness Sleep Out campaign, discusses the excitement of a good idea, Pedigree Chum, and learning lessons from Graham Fink.  


My role...

I'm a Creative Director at WCRS. I'm responsible for the Royal Navy, NHS Blood Donation and Green Flag. All great accounts in their own ways. I also like getting involved with smaller, pro bono charity projects, which are nimble by nature and good for the soul.

How I got here...

I had no idea what I wanted to do after university. I just knew I wasn’t going to pursue a corduroy-clad career in archaeology. 

My first job in advertising was at Grey as an account handler (an impossible job done impossibly well by impossibly few people). My role involved finding top breeders to recommend Pedigree Chum. This meant hightailing it to dog shows up and down the country to interview curious individuals who mate dogs for a living (not like that!) It wasn't exactly the Mad Men-style career I'd imagined for myself, but it was a year I wouldn't change for anything. I met some fascinating people and learnt a lot about what it takes to be a great account handler, and quickly understood that I wasn't one.

The creatives in the agency seemed to be having much more fun than anyone else, so I thought I’d give that a go. I went to Watford to study under Tony Cullingham. If Mister Miyagi and Barbara Woodhouse set out to create the ultimate drill instructor, then that would be Tony. He's a great teacher and I'd recommend anyone considering advertising to try and get a place on his course.

My first job as a creative was at St Luke's when it was both bonkers and brilliant. I feel privileged to have started my career there. Then I went to M&C Saatchi for eight years where I had the good fortune to work for Jeremy Sinclair and Graham Fink amongst others, where I came to understand the power of brutal simplicity and doing something different. And now here I am at WCRS…


My typical day...

Every morning I have a bath. A wise woman once said: "There must be quite a few things a good bath won’t cure, but I can’t think of many of them." I then go and ruin my meditative state by negotiating London’s roads on my bicycle. By the time I get there, I’m so pleased to be alive that the day is like a gift. 

I love working with young teams. The enthusiasm and lack of jadedness is refreshing. I still get excited when I see a good idea. It’s the sense of limitless possibility.

I might have a client meeting in the afternoon. Getting the right work is only half the battle. The war is getting it made. I’m lucky enough to work with clients who are genuinely interested in taking a leap into the unknown. When a client has that kind of confidence in you, you do everything you can to make sure it pays off. 

Tomorrow morning at 5am I embark on an epic shoot with the very talented Ed Morris. Now that should be interesting…


Hardest part of my job...

That would be watching your babies get slowly drowned. Ideas are precious and every detail needs to be fought for if they are to fulfil their potential. God is in the detail. I find the hardest part of the creative director's job is keeping the cooks at arms-length from the broth. I once heard a great description of how unnatural the process has become. Let’s say someone asks you to draw a picture of a horse. ‘I can do that’ you say to yourself. You start sketching away, but before you know it another hand is placed on yours. ‘Maybe you should do it this way.’ One by one more and more hands clutch the pencil, one on top of another, all struggling to take control. The elegant, concise lines drawn at the start, have become unruly and artless. What is left is not a refined sketch of a horse, but a heavy-handed dog-giraffe mess... and nobody wants to end up with a dog-giraffe mess.


What I enjoy the most about my work...

Clichéd though it is, I love the people. I can’t imagine any other job where you’d be surrounded by such an extraordinary cast of characters, most of whom have a lively sense of humour. But then you have to have a sense of humour in this business.

I also love the alchemy of turning a blank page into a finished product. And seeing it out there in the big wide world is either a moment of exhilarating pride, or stabbing regret. Either way it makes you feel alive.