Money makes the world go around, ideas have the power to stop it.
What were the 3 most interesting Brand Challenges in your career?
Johnnie Walker: in 2001 the idea of Keep Walking was seen to have merit but had stalled and was under-exploited. The challenge was to develop it into a powerful but regionally flexible idea. Without losing focus on the core thought, we found a way of expressing that in a way that inspired people in their own culture, across 200 markets.
PlayStation: Relaunching PlayStation 3 in 2008. We had a machine that was too far ahead of its time, and Wii had opened up a new audience of social gamers for whom we had little appeal. A major shift was needed. The first thing that became clear was that without an installed hardware base the PlayStation business model wouldn’t work. The correct solution was: discount the product massively and get it installed. Clever marketing ideas simply weren’t going to solve this. The second step was to make PlayStation a more open and engaging brand that allowed both social and hardcore gamers to use it for what they wanted. A brand that had traded on its own power became open and playful – it became about the people that use it rather than about the brand itself. The third step was to deliver it creatively in a consistent yet flexible way. Playstation didn’t need an endline, it needed a behavioural system and a graphic style that balanced the varying tone of each game with a core “perfume” that was PlayStation. We delivered on it and it worked.
Dexter: Building an Alternate Reality game to launch the new series of Dexter. You find yourself in creative reviews looking at ideas of which you have very little understanding. This idea had layer upon layer of complexity and mystery. Historically the best ideas are defined by simplicity. This idea, by its very nature as an immersive gaming experience, was deliberately complex. You have to learn about the different micro-culture of active communities on the web and the way to position things so they have credibility with them. You have to allow people who are either in those cultures or close to them run the projects and the ideas. Insight and credibility is everything.
What have been the most inspiring moments of my career so far ?
When I first started at BBH in ’98 I got hold of a copy of the Levis historical reel. My mates would come around on a Saturday night and we’d drink beer and instead of asking to watch TV they would ask me to put the reel on. Those ads were the soundtrack to our teenage years and they serve as an inspiration as to how marketing can really effect culture and change positively how people feel about things.
My first big shoot with Tony Scott in New York shooting Scorsese in a yellow taxi. Scott called up DeNiro to ask if we could use his image in the ad and the head of Columbia Studios for permission to use the original music from Taxi Driver. It was proper Mad Men territory and it was crazy.
Walking down 5th Avenue in New York with my dear friend and ex-partner Gary Koepke after having dinner with the beautiful Lauren Bush, following a great Clinton Initiative meeting earlier and feeling like we’d stuck our fingers into the plug socket of America. We believed we could change so much. It’s amazing how America can still do that.