When ADC was founded in 1920, its mission was to give the commercial art of the day — beautifully crafted magazine ads, posters and billboards — the same critique, commentary and commemoration usually afforded fine art. Thus the ADC Annual Awards were born, and although the advertising industry has come a long way in nearly a century, ADC still believes that the creative output of the community should be held to the highest standards. Few people understand those standards more than Mark Tutssel, Global Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett Worldwide and new Creative Chairman, Publicis Communications
As Chair of the ADC 95th Annual Awards Advertising Jury, Mark will be leading a team of fifteen other acclaimed industry professionals in studying, debating and eventually choosing the very best of the past year of creative advertising. We chatted with Mark about his own career, his role as Leo Burnett’s head creative honcho, and his thoughts on chairing the 95th year of ADC glory.
Some kids want to be doctors or firefighters or professional wrestlers when they grow up. What drew you to this crazy world they call advertising?
I grew up in the UK at a time when the television commercials were more exciting, entertaining and memorable than the programs themselves. Some of the greatest advertising campaigns of all time were created during this period. I studied graphic design at Cardiff College of Art & Design. My cousin, Glenn Tutssel, was a renowned designer in London. My first exposure to advertising was when Glenn introduced me to a friend of his, an art director at J. Walter Thompson, working on Kit Kat. I instantly fell in love with this industry.
I won an advertising fellowship scholarship at Harrison-Cowley, a sister shop of Saatchi & Saatchi, and spent eleven months there. In my first three months, I won the biggest account in the agency. Of course they wanted me to stay, but Glenn insisted I go to London and said, “If you’re serious about a career in advertising, this city is where you need to be.” At the time, London inspired the world with its hugely innovative work.
I arrived in the Big Smoke in 1980 and stayed for 22 years before taking up a position at Leo Burnett’s head office in Chicago.
Work from earlier in Mark’s creative career
They say you always remember your first time. Do you remember the first industry award you ever won?
The first major award I ever won was the Eurobest Grand Prix for Gordon’s Gin “Bloody Mary” in 1991.
You’ve been Global Chief Creative Officer of Leo Burnett since 2006, and Global Deputy CCO before that. This puts you in an incredible position to look at the creative industry in a very macro way. So reflecting on that time, what is happening in 2016 that you could barely conceive of ten years ago? What creative directions have honestly surprised you, and conversely, which ones could see coming a mile away?
Technology has made it ridiculously easy for us to connect to-, yet incredibly hard for us to connect with- people. Brands now understand they don’t have a divine right to people’s attention, and they can no longer buy their way into people’s lives. Brands have to earn the attention and interest, and more importantly, create value.
Mobile has obviously been a major disruption the past decade and has become the main screen for everyone — it’s a human remote control. It sits at the epicenter of modern day communication.
Advertising today doesn’t only compete with advertising; Advertising competes with popular culture. Our work has to be irresistible and more interesting and immersive than anything else people are searching for. We have to ignite the alchemy of creativity and technology to create content and human experiences like never before. Growth for our clients will ultimately come from creative brilliance.
“Advertising today doesn’t only compete with advertising; Advertising competes with popular culture. Our work has to be irresistible and more interesting and immersive than anything else people are searching for.”
Leo Burnett has always done well at the ADC Annual Awards. Last year you were named Network of the Year, and you did so on the strength of work emanating from locations far outside of the usual advertising hubs. What’s going on in places like Dubai and Costa Rica? Is the creativity playing field leveling out?
Being named the 2015 Network of the Year at this prestigious show is a wonderful honour. This is the third time our network has been bestowed this coveted title, the last two times being in 2009 and 2014.
There’s no doubt that we’ve been seeing more world-class creativity from regions previously unrecognized on the international stage in advertising. Now it is a level playing field. As the world becomes even more interconnected, the flow of brilliant ideas and talent to more parts of the world is something I’m truly excited about.
I believe in ‘Creativity Without Borders,’ a fluid ecosystem where talent, regardless of geography, have the ability to work on major brands. By giving our creative talent these opportunities, we ignite their appetite to create breakthrough ideas. Some of the best work that resulted from this operating system are P&G Always “#LikeAGirl,” Coca-Cola “Small World Machines,” Samsung “Maestros Academy” and “S-Drive,” and multiple pieces of work for McDonald’s.
Our Mexico City and Buenos Aires offices have created internationally-acclaimed work despite being in smaller markets. Leo Burnett Mexico City’s “Intimate Words” for P&G Always won the first Cannes Grand Prix for Mexico in 2015. Over in Argentina, Leo Burnett Buenos Aires took home the country’s first Cyber Lion in addition to a future-facing Titanium Lion for Samsung “Safety Truck.”
And of course, our office in Dubai won the incredibly rare ADC Black Cube last year for Du Telecommunications “Two for One Tickets.”
This proves that world-class creativity resides in all geographies and cultures today. The joy of technology in our time is how it has enabled our industry the power to operate as one.
“…world-class creativity resides in all geographies and cultures today.”
95 consecutive years is an extremely long time to be handing out awards for advertising. Aside from its longevity, what sets the ADC Awards apart from others?
The ADC Awards sets the bar for excellence in our industry. Historically, ADC has always had an art bias in its celebration of the art of communication. The club discovers and celebrates rare talent whose work have changed the world with their artistry and craftsmanship. ADC has a standard it upholds, and does not lower it for anyone. There are years when there are no winners of the Black Cube because the jury is not unanimous in its decision, making winning an ADC Black Cube the pinnacle of one’s career. It truly is a show that adds value to the future of our industry.
“ADC has a standard it upholds, and does not lower it for anyone.”
Can you give any examples of work you’ve seen over the past year or so that made you grit your teeth and say “damn, I wish Leo Burnett did that!”
Below are some of the work that have stood out in our highly competitive industry.
• ZDK EXIT-Deutschland “Nazis Against Nazis. Germany’s Most Involuntary Charity Walk” by GGH MullenLowe
• Leica “100” by F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi
• Intermarche “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables” by Marcel
• Honda “The Other Side” by Wieden + Kennedy London
• Apple “World Gallery” by Apple and TBWA\Media Art Lab
• GEICO Insurance “Family: Unskippable” by The Martin Agency
• Nike “House of Mamba” by AKQA London & Shanghai
• Volvo “The Greatest Interception Ever” by Grey New York
As Jury Chair, it’s your duty to guide the conversation amongst the other Jury Members. What instructions will you be giving out in order to get the kinds of winners you’d be pleased with?
Our mission is to select and honour the best creative work of the year that has transformational impact and will serve as inspiration for years to come. We’re looking for the “rarest of the rare,” and it is our duty to push for that standard of excellence.
The campaign for the ADC 95th Annual Awards is called “Rare For a Reason”, and it highlights extremely uncommon occurrences. Name a possession of yours that’s pretty rare and that you’re proud of.
The Black Cube is rare for a reason. My prized possession is from the “The Black Pearl.” Anyone who knows me well will tell you I have an incredible passion for “the beautiful game” – football, the one you play with your foot. My prized possession is a personalised, autographed football shirt from Edson Arantes do Nascimento aka Pelé.
Have your very best work be judged by Mark and his Advertising jury by entering the ADC 95th Annual Awards. You just might win a are ADC Cube! The deadline for Advertising and Innovation submissions is this Monday, February 8, 2016.