ADC Awards March 22, 2017
In a world where every blockbuster movie is a sequel, and memes grind a 15 minutes of fame moment into a fine powder, it’s difficult to be truly new and unique. And when you work in advertising and design, the challenge to not have a ‘me too!’ concept that still resonates with audiences is a taxing struggle.This makes hitting that ever-elusive home run and earning top honors that much sweeter.
As the judging for the 2017 One Show and the ADC 96th Annual Awards unfolds in Bermuda these next several days, we will be catching up with esteemed jury members to find out what excites them after all these years, both in their careers and in the jury room.
Global CCO, J. Walter Thompson
2017 One Show Film Jury
Years in the industry: 30
Most kids want to grow up to become doctors or astronauts. When did the advertising bug bite you?
I knew quite early on in my life that I wanted to be in advertising. I know it sounds lame, but I used to watch Darrin Stephens on Bewitched and I thought “that looks like a really cool job, always coming up with new concepts and ideas.” I investigated a little more, and I’d say that I was about 13 years old when I knew that I wanted to be in advertising. I went after that goal, and by the time I was 20 I finally started working in an agency.
They say you always remember your first time. Can you recall the first industry award you ever won?
I remember my first major one, which sort of set the tone for others to follow. I was 23, and I won Commercial of the Year at the Perth Art Directors Club Awards. That honor led to a job offer in Sydney, so I moved there, and that really got things moving in regards to my career.
When judging the 2017 One Show, you’re looking at pieces of work that couldn’t have possibly existed when you were first making strides in the advertising industry. How can you judge something that’s so far beyond what you even dreamed possible for most of your career? To put it bluntly: what do you know, old man?
(laughs) I think the key to being able to understand the work in the world today is that you must remain curious. You must be interested in what’s happening in technology, in society. That’s always been the case, but even more so in the last ten years. If there is something you don’t understand, you must be willing to learn and investigate in order to stay on top of things.
I remember back to when digital creativity was emerging. I didn’t fully get what was going on, so I researched and built myself a website. I find that you have just jump in and try all of the new technologies and mediums out there, whether or not you end up using them and making them part of your repertoire.
On the flipside, name something that is as true today as it was 30 years ago when you were first breaking in?
The one truism is that work must still be centered around a real human insight. If you let technology lead the way, the idea will lack purpose. If humanity leads, the technology can support the idea.
Some say that judging award shows have lost a bit of luster, due to the fact that all the great work has already been shared across everyone’s social feeds. What do you think?
It’s funny, because you come here thinking you’ve seen all of the best entries before you’ve arrived, and there are always some amazing submissions that are new to you, particularly from countries and markets that you don’t frequent. The industry has more than a few tricks up its sleeve, and it’s nice to be truly surprised in the jury room. It’s the perfect antidote to cynicism!
The 2017 One Show and ADC 96th Annual Awards will be presented during Creative Week, May 8–12, 2017.