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How to Be Brave

The Influencers 515 Add to collection

Creative Social co-founder Daniele Fiandaca talks to Caroline Pay, LA Roynane, Nils Leonard and Sophia Tassew

How to Be Brave
What is bravery? Is it advertising a zoo by getting people to follow the birth of an elephant in the knowledge there is a 25% chance it will die at childbirth (Antwerp Zoo)? Is it handing over your twitter feed to a whole nation (Curators of Sweden)? Is it creating India’s first ever Transgender pop band to sell more tea (6 pack band)? Or is it asking people to give up their Facebook statuses to see ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ Only finding out that the answer is potentially losing your client.)  Defining what ‘bravery’ means is keeping us up at night, as we establish the criteria for our ‘Bravery Award’, in partnership with Kinsale Sharks. 

For Caroline Pay, joint CCO at Grey creative bravery is ‘proving the doubters wrong’. While for Sophia Tassew, Art Director at FCB Inferno, it is ‘being unapologetically you no matter what space you're in and not conforming to the standards of being a creative, like pretending you know what something means when you don't, dressing a certain way or speaking a certain way. Being brave is being yourself.’

Or maybe Nils Leonard, founder of Leonard Associates, has it right when he says: ‘Arguably, there is no such thing as creative bravery, only true creativity. Is it creative if it’s safe? If it’s familiar? Or if it’s just clever? Forging the genuinely new - and then bringing others on the journey with you as it becomes reality - is the definition of creativity. And it’s always brave, because the new is always the hardest thing to comprehend before it’s real.’

Creative bravery is turning your back on the brief and doing what feels right rather than what makes you the most money or you know will keep the client happy. Creative bravery is refusing to work with a client because you know the work will be destroyed by their safety.  Creative bravery is fighting for something you believe in no matter what.  Creative bravery is about putting the entire business at the service of creativity and bringing everyone into the creative process as that is the only process.

It’s this bravery that leads to work that really stands out. And perhaps it’s the industry’s relentless pursuit in keeping clients happy means that there is less and less work that seems to stand out today. In fact when we asked some of creative leaders what they defined as brave, only one piece came from the advertising world.

As we enter an age of creativity, it will be the brave that will be the big winners. And Nils summarises it well by saying:

‘Our industry is guilty of thinking that a name on the door, or a quote on the wall is enough to guarantee an open-minded view to new types of idea. But our industry is guilty of following what has come before, because we know it worked, and it comes with less risk.’

The truth is that a lot of the real bravery that happens in our industry happens way before the idea is real. Bravery in our game is the creative that finds a completely new way and isn’t afraid to look a fool amongst her peers. The team around her buy in with trust and open minds, even though its something they’re not familiar with.

And it’s an ambitious client partner, one that will take this unproved idea and make it real. Real bravery isn’t on one person, it is the culture in a crew, and all the conversations and challenges you overcome in making something truly excellent, real.’

What work represents creative bravery to you?

Caroline Pay, Joint CCO, Grey London


I remember the moment I first saw her. March 7th, 2017. Scrolling through my Instagram feed, milliseconds after opening my eyes, to a tsunami of #internationalwomensday this and #internationalwomensday that. She stood out like a sore thumb. No words. No tech. No brand. No hashtag, just her: 50 inches high and 250 pounds of solid bronze. And in my opinion, solid genius. Staring down the age-old Charging Bull. I was instantly in love. She represented everything I had felt facing into this industry, still having to fight to be taken seriously, even in this day and age. She personified the confidence to stand proud and say it all in a single expression - I’m here and I’m not afraid.

LA Roynane, Creative Director at Havas London


This was my favourite thing from the past year by a country mile. It’s brave for a bunch of reasons. It acknowledges failure, calls bullshit on norms, defames the bloke it’s meant to be making more famous, was posted without sign-off, is as farcical as it is nihilistic and tells the truth in a thoroughly piratey way.
Hat tip to director Ryan Staake for turning a fuck-up upside down. And hats off to Young Thug for being cool enough to let it live.

Nils Leonard


Fearless Girl by Lizzie and Tali at McCann for State Street.

Because the go-to for this client, and this category, is a crap manifesto. And this says more than words ever could. 

Because outside of adland’s new wave of diversity awareness, I can imagine all the potential cynicism and criticism from the investment world swimming in the heads of the client as they made this happen, but they did it anyway.

Because whether you think it helps or hinders the diversity debate in Wall Street, it helped the debate actually reach Wall Street via the front pages.

And lastly, like all moments of bravery, it leads.
It’s one of very few examples of work that convinces our industry to create things that actually matter in the real world.

Sophia Tassew, Art Director at FCB Inferno


I can't imagine what that must have been like when pitching this idea. The film was an incredibly brave work of art to make. Tons of backlash followed after which I'm sure Peele expected anyway. Despite all of that he broke records and told a story that is a harsh reality for the black community which is a very important one to share. I love it because it felt like a relief for me. It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Something that you completely relate to is on the big screen for all of you to see and there's nothing you can do about it. He said what we were all feeling and dealing with and turned into a creative, award-winning, box-office smashing, creative master piece. Now that's brave.


Caroline, Iain, LA, Nils and Sophia are all spoke at CS Presents… How to be Brave to celebrate the launch of the Kinsale Sharks Bravery Awards in association with Creative Social. More information and details on how to enter the awards here.

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The Sharks, Thu, 01 Jun 2017 09:56:26 GMT