Rob is featured in the UK’s Top 10 creatives, and currently ranked 9th Most Awarded globally; he continues to inspire award-winning and iconic work.
Hear what Rob has to say about LIA and how originality and creativity are the cornerstones of our business and culture.
We have heard you mention, "Creativity is the source of all goodness". Can you please elaborate on that?
It may sound obvious to say that creativity is the source of all goodness in our industry, but it’s all too often forgotten. And it’s not just confined to our industry either. When the world’s biggest taxi company doesn’t own any cars, the world’s biggest hotel chain no hotels, and health care looks destined to be dominated by a company which started as a search engine, creativity is the rate limiting factor for the success of any company in the modern age. It’s becoming the only way for business to survive. And frankly how most of the world’s problems are solved (as long as it’s applied with humility, tolerance and diplomacy). In a world which is becoming more automated, pure creativity will be one of the last things they program. And raw, non-tangential, unadulterated creativity will be the most precious human commodity on the planet.
Integration is how an idea has integrated into society and impacted culture in a fresh and innovative way. Do you believe that in order to achieve that kind of relevance one of the best ways is to appeal to the dreams and emotions of the consumer or to give rational reasons?
It’s not a question of either/or, but of both. The fascinating thing about humans is that they simultaneously appear to do things for firm rational reasons, and yet at the same time can be seen to do things for no apparent reason at all. This uncanny valley is what makes advertising an art as much as a science. The practice of which becomes leveraging the right human insights, seeding the most compelling of ideas and dreams and deploying them at the right time and place to be rationally compelling. It’s always a mixture of math and magic. That’s what makes good advertising actually factually awesome and the good practice of it inordinately valuable to brands and businesses.
What is the horizon that you focus on when working for a brand?
Longevity. Maintaining brand relevance for tens of years can be tough, which is why brands must consistently play a meaningful role in people’s lives. And a realistic one. Times change, but the role and therefore the purpose of a brand must not waiver. This single-minded endeavour means a brand can move with the times, change its products and offerings, but still maintain business effectiveness and trade off long-standing brand equity along the way. Finding that appropriate and meaningful role is what a good agency should help to define.
We have heard you quote Captain Kirk of Star Trek, "To boldly go where no one has gone before". Is this the mantra that pushes you and your team every time you get a new brief?
Without a doubt. Originality and creativity are the cornerstones of our business and culture. But, we’ve taken Kirk’s ethos further (for the record, I’m not necessarily a ‘trekkie’) – to include not just ‘Bold’, but ‘Interesting’, and ‘Open’ as well. We encourage everyone to behave with these values in mind. We’re bold in challenging our clients and making work that has never been created before; we find interesting approaches to solving our clients’ problems, and we’re open with inclusivity to fresh ways of doing things to move the industry on. We’ve instituted ‘Open Hour’, a recruitment tool we use to attract talent from all walks of life. We have ‘Elevenses,’ a daily drop in session, which opens up our executive team for an hour to anyone and everyone. The openness breeds boldness, which leads to the most interesting creative work.
Tell us why you think LIA has become one of the top international award shows?
I think, initially, fusing the idea of London with the glamour of Vegas, then attracting top quality judges and making sure the creative community benefits as a whole from the awards, has helped LIA become one of the top International award shows. But ultimately, the creative community needs to have a feeling that the quality of the winning work reflects the quality of the show. And the best work has been winning consistently over the years at LIA.
What about LIA do you think makes it better than some of the other shows?
The flexibility of judging and the fact that all judges see every piece of work, which helps ensure the body of winning work is undeniably the best possible. Also, there is time built in for conversation at every stage of the judging process that sets LIA apart from some other award shows. And finally, the selection of judges and most notably the Jury Presidents (in most cases) is obviously excellent.
Creative LIAisons, LIA’s fully funded program for young creatives, is one of the most sought after invites. How much do you know about this program? What do you think makes it different from young creative programs at other awards?
Creative LIAisons is gaining a reputation in the industry as one of the best programs for junior and mid-level creatives. It's a great opportunity for driven creatives to be exposed to talks from speakers they would otherwise only see at events like Cannes, which they may not necessarily get to attend. Also, it's a much smaller group therefore more valuable and speakers are within reach. Finally, the fact they get to sit in the judging room on metal day is a unique opportunity. It’s incredibly informative for them to see first-hand what juries are looking for and to observe how a piece of work is judged and analysed.