LBB’s ‘5 Minutes with…’ channel has been profiling the top people in the international advertising, marketing and creative industries the world over since we started doing interviews back in the mists of internet history. As an editorial team, it’s our chance to have in-depth conversations with the most prominent and inspiring people at the pinnacle of creativity today about their personal stories, views on key issues and trends and whatever we find most interesting about them.
This year alone we’ve published 106 interviews in the channel, sitting down with top creatives, directors, CEOs, strategists and every other shade of ad industry luminary there is. Here are the 10 that most resonated with our readers in 2021.
Global chief creative officer, BBH
Having these sorts of broad conversations with global creative leaders like Joakim 'JAB' Borgström is great for understanding details of a person’s character - clues that explain exactly what someone like him at the helm of a creative powerhouse thinks like. And JAB gave us some interesting insights into the way he works. One intriguing habit of his is the 25-year-long practice of ‘downloading the internet’. Since 1996, if he likes something, he saves and then recreates it so he can put it to good use when he needs to draw on such creative raw materials. “It’s become my personal source of inspiration,” he said. “The act of saving is like in university when you write things down to remember them. So I remember all these things. I have them in hundreds of folders and hard drives. And I have a lot of things. I love advertising so I have saved, for example, all the Cannes Lions Cyber Gold winners from 1999.”
Partners, M&C Saatchi Accelerator
From time to time, we do double header interviews on the 5 Minutes with… channel. But only with a pair as inseparable as Richard Alford and Ardy Danielewicz, who have been finishing each other’s sentences since they founded their creative agency to solely service businesses in startup or scaleup stages. Capturing and harnessing entrepreneurial spirit is core to what they love doing, so much so that they claim they need to be “the opposite of most agencies.” As Richard puts it, “where they ration creativity, we are generous with it. Where they over charge, we under charge. Where they are slow, we are fast. Where they put juniors onto accounts, we put ourselves onto all our clients. So, faster, cheaper, smarter.”
Co-president, BETC Etoile Rouge
Spending 5 minutes with Delphine de Canecaude is more than enough for you to understand the magic she finds in the luxury brands the agency works with. “Luxury, fashion and beauty, more than other brands, invite us to keep pushing back the limits of creativity,” she said. “Brands, as well as artists, are open today to the idea of creating singular and innovative dialogues with their audiences. Retail is becoming more immersive, brands, more entertaining and great luxury groups, more cultural. However, our job as ad people is still essential to define brands’ positioning and big ideas, in order to answer precise business objectives and to encapsulate the different actions spread out on all touchpoints, and thus, to create a coherent and powerful brand.”
Chief executive officer, DDB Chicago
We love the honesty which proven and respected business figures bring to this channel. Like CEO of DDB Chigago Andrea Diquez did when she spoke to my good colleague Addison Capper in September. Originally from Venezuela but having worked in the US since 1995, she concedes that there are things in American culture that she still doesn't understand. “There'll be times when I see an idea and I have to ask for clarification because I don't get the reference. And you must have a team on the other side saying, ’she's not stupid, it's just that she's not from here’. You need that kind of dynamic in your agency where people are able to ask whatever question they want. They should be able to share their opinions and be taken seriously, without being afraid of being judged because they don't know something and don't have the same life experiences as others.”
President and chief creative officer, FCB Chicago
One role of the 5 Minutes with… channel that we particularly value at LBB is the chance to reflect on world-class examples of creative work a few months or even years down the road, so we can consider in hindsight what made it really sparkle. FCB Chicago’s Kelly Graves and Andrés Ordóñez gave us the chance to do just that this year, discussing ‘Boards of Change’ for the City of Chicago - an idea so potent that it received a Commendation in the Immortal Awards 2021. https://www.lbbonline.com/news/the-immortal-awards-announces-2021-winners As Kelly reflects, “there were many points in the process too where you had to make a bet or take a risk. With the boards, do we spend a bunch of money to pull them down and store them? We didn't quite know exactly how it was going to work. But we said, ‘There's something here, let's do it’. In the end it ended up being what it was, which was incredible, but I think along the way we never would have seen this path because it certainly wasn't linear - we had to follow our gut.”
Executive creative director, MullenLowe Singapore
Singapore’s position as a global and Asian hub puts it in a unique position that invariably inspires the creative leaders we speak to there. Boldly, MullenLowe Singapore ECD Daniel Kee revealed to my good colleague Natasha Patel that he thinks working on certain global accounts out of Southeast Asia lends him and his team an advantage over their peers in London and New York. “Work originating from more developed markets tends to reference higher-level issues such as gender and racial equality, and social justice,” he said. “But those ideas may struggle to get a foothold in less sophisticated markets that are still trying to comes to terms with basic human needs and literacy rates. Here, we have a view from the ground. We’re familiar with selling shampoo without showing hair in markets such as the Middle East, Malaysia and Indonesia. We can anticipate how Guangzhou will inevitably disagree with Shanghai. What’s masculine in most parts of the world is still too effeminate for Russia. Any message in English needs more time to be delivered in Indonesian and Vietnamese, and then even more time in Thai. In developing any big, scalable idea, we are already anticipating a range of local needs and requirements. It takes a few years, a number of flights and cultural osmosis to internalise the learnings, but the IPG and Unilever network keeps us focussed on the big picture, while our geography keeps us within reach of reality.”
Chief executive officer, OTO Film
Despite his esteemed position as founder of OTO Film, Orka, and Cafe Ole, often described as the ‘father’ of Polish advertising and lauded for being one of the industry’s great ‘transformers’ there, Jacek Kulczycki’s 5 Minutes with… interview is candid about how far Poland has to travel creatively: “I would say that the industry here is not fully matured yet, maybe just reaching the end of its teenage years but there are still many things to be done,” he said.
“However, in terms of infrastructure and quality we are absolutely competing with the best, by which I mean the likes of the US and the UK. It’s interesting when people come over here - some of them are surprised to find we have cars on the road, let alone world-class production facilities! But our task now is to continue cementing our reputation across the world with more high-quality productions. And that’s exactly what we will do.”
Chief executive officer, TBWA\Chiat\Day New York
Of course many of our interviews with leaders the world over detailed what their businesses are doing to address the shortcomings of the industry in diversity, equity and inclusion. As CEO of TBWA\Chiat\Day New York, Nancy Reyes, underlined the seriousness with which she and her team are working on this. “We treat Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as a client,” she said, “serviced by a 100 person team of volunteers. Clients are an agency's highest priority, and Diversity receives the same level of prioritisation and dedication.” She also clearly listed the action that this has led to. When a leader speaks like that so publicly, you know that they intend to deliver or be held accountable.
Owner and managing director, BIG KAHUNA FILMS
The pandemic of 2020 was enough to contend with for people around the world, but on top of that, Beirut had to deal with the tragedy of the huge explosion that ravaged it in August that year. Production company boss Eddy Rizk told my good colleague Laura Swinton that the explosion “left a big scar in all of us” and on 2020 in general said: “There were moments, mainly in the beginning, where we were completely in the dark, from a ‘what is happening’ perspective and our mental state. This was a shock to the system, as we were never used to doing nothing.
“We are constantly shooting and travelling… and shooting and travelling. It was actually exhausting. Then everything stops, and not by choice. It took us a few weeks to really realise how serious the damages were on a business level, and in terms of the whole economy.
“Like everyone else, we tried to keep our head above water. Even though as a company, we are good and healthy, there’s only so much anyone could last with no projects and a considerable head count.”
Executive creative director, McCann Manchester
The UK industry has been shamefully stuck in its London bubble forever, it seems. So when I got the chance to interview Imogen Tazzyman, ECD at one of the best agencies outside of the UK capital McCann Manchester, I had to ask how she feels about the network’s focus on the many parts of the country the industry too often ignores. “For so many of the brands that come to us, getting out of the London bubble mindset is absolutely key,” she said. “One of the things that attracted me to McCann and back again was the fact that whenever you want to tap into a particular geographical mindset, there is always an actual person at the end of the phone you can just have a chat with. We create meaningful roles for brands in people’s lives – you can’t do that without understanding people from every walk of life.”