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How Cream Kick-Started the Career of Advertising's Elite

Trends and Insight 1.1k Add to collection

Ana and Hermeti Balarin, Chris Bovill and John Allison - four former winners - share their CREAM experiences as they return as jurors in 2015

How Cream Kick-Started the Career of Advertising's Elite

Cream is an annual, worldwide competition, run by executive search company The Talent Business, introducing the best emerging talent to the creative business community. Now in its 16th year, Cream has launched the careers of some of the industry’s best creative directors, and so it seems fitting that each year the jury panel includes some hugely successful creatives that credit Cream with their break into the industry.

As previous winners, Ana Balarin, Hermeti Balarin, Chris Bovill and John Allison know first-hand the value of the competition for aspiring creatives. The Cream experience has come full-circle for the four who this year are sitting on the other side of the table, as Cream jurors. 

As the Joint Heads of 4Creative, Bovill and Allison have built highly successful careers since winning the competition in 1999. Until Cream, the duo were working in John’s flat, scribbling ideas and cold-calling ECDs for almost two years. The pair hadn’t even seen any portfolios other than their own, but the exposure that the competition offered paved the way to career success.

“Cream provides a structure and a benchmark to aim for but manages to keep it exciting, fun and inspiring to boot. Cream was the level we worked towards,” they acknowledge. “Only by achieving that level did Trevor Beattie then notice us, give us our first job and set us on our merry way. Going on to be CREAM winners gave us confidence and, for once, a deserved reason to go to the pub.”


Chris Bovill and John Allison, Joint Heads of 4Creative


Success in the competition has led to offers, placements, and full-time positions at agencies such as adam&eveDDB, Wieden+Kennedy and, for Ana and Hermeti, Mother. It was through relationships the pair formed at Cream in 2006 that led to a placement at Mother and, subsequently, their present roles of ECDs at the agency. It is stories such as these that demonstrate how the competition can be a springboard for a young creative’s career.

For agencies and aspiring creatives the event acts as the ultimate speed-dating event, cramming a year’s worth of interviews into one night. It is often difficult for young creatives to get their books seen by the senior creatives who are able to give the best opportunities, so by connecting the two together, Cream can fast-track careers.

Devised by Grey London, this year’s stylish theme is a diamond heist and Cream branded balaclavas have been sent to those whose responsibility it will be to nurture and develop this year’s emerging talents. “Like this year’s brilliant campaign says, the young creatives are rough diamonds,” believe Bovill and Allison. “They are raw but shine brightly. Nurturing them is essential as they need refining and shaping, all the while keeping that brilliance.”


Ana and Hermeti Balarin, ECDs at Mother London

Whilst the competition’s essence has remained the same; continuing to introduce the best emerging creative talent to the creative business community, Cream has inevitably evolved in its 16 years. Returning as judges, the four have noticed that the event has changed massively, becoming bigger and more glamorous year on year.

“It’s had to evolve,” comment Bovill and Allison. “Our industry has transformed… although the importance of nailing a good idea will never change.”

“The process has reminded us that regardless of how they’re brought to life – be it through a rough scamp or an elaborate case study – great ideas are still what make books memorable,” believe the Balarin's.

“It’s always inspiring to see so much great work,” add Bovill and Allison. “You always go back to your own projects with renewed zeal. You’re just there to help people, if you think of yourself as a ‘judge’ it’s a slippery slope to an inflated sense of self-importance.”

So having completed the Cream journey, progressing from emerging talents to established creatives, is there any advice the winners-turned-judges can offer to aspiring young creatives?

“When putting a book together, make sure you have a strong insight before jumping into executions” says both Balarin's.

“Work hard and be nice,” add Bovill and Allison. “Show your personality in your work. Spend a hugely imbalanced proportion of your time on talking through your ideas and strategies before writing anything down. Make less campaign films.”

This year’s winners will be unveiled in a private showing at Grey on 17th September.

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The Talent Business, Fri, 11 Sep 2015 08:53:05 GMT