ITIAPTWC Episode 31 – Javier Campopiano

This week’s interview is with Javier Campopiano, Chief Creative Officer of Saatchi and Saatchi New York.

On the basis of his award-winning work and super-high-flying job, he’s a very worthy interview subject, but I also wanted to chat to him because he achieved all that from a starting point of Argentina. Now, I’m not suggesting for a moment that South America is some kind of creative backwater – far from it – but I wanted to explore his story to see if the lessons we can take from it are universal. And indeed they are.

Javier has made great work and moved to the top of his industry, just like you’d like to. But his path could be anyone’s path; it just happened to start in Argentina.

So have a listen and you’ll see how that journey happened, with the following specifics…

Advertising = Business + Art.

Networking by fixing Macs.

The influence of Agulla y Baccetti.

Start your own company before you get a job.

Move jobs via tennis.

Or weddings.

The benefits of working abroad.

The rise of South America.

How awards affected networks and vice versa.

How to become an ECD and what to do when it happens.

The experience and effect of winning a Cannes Grand Prix at an agency you’ve left.

The pros and cons of winning awards.

Zombie grannies.

More moves to the US.

The power of ‘Nothing Is Impossible’.

Cracking the Superbowl for P&G.

Comedy/Darkness.

Here’s the chat, the iTunes link and the Soundcloud link:

And here’s some of Javier’s best work (more here):

 

 

 

 



It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Charles Dickens, A Tale Of Two Cities (1859).

After writing the best of times/blurst of times post below, I decided to look up the real quote.

It’s one of the greatest sentences ever written, it’s about comparing 1775 to 1859 and it’s skin-crawlingly relevant in 2017.



I try to understand because I’m people too, and playing games is part of human nature. My heart’s in overdrive It’s great to be the weekend.

Fluid art (thanks, T):

How to make potentially lethal prison wine:

Comedy wildlife photos of the year (thanks, N).

London’s prettiest cinemas (thanks, A).

Classic movies condensed into a single frame (thanks, T2).

The best shots of all time (thanks, J):

Pacino does a cockney accent (kind of. Thanks, A):

British threat levels.

What’s it like being Pornhub’s ad agency?

Star Wars opening 40 years ago.



It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times.

Having interviewed around 30 people for my podcast, I’m getting a sense of certain things as far as 2017 advertising is concerned.

I’m not going to go into all of them – life’s too short, and anyway everything is available on the podcasts in a form that hasn’t been filtered through my subjective brain.

But I am going to focus on one general point: we live and work in an age when there are more opportunities in more media than ever before. Isn’t that fan-fucking-tastic? Kind of. On the surface that’s a giant upside, but for some reason the work is worse than it’s been for decades and people in the industry don’t seem to be very happy about this glorious proliferation of chances to tell the rest of the planet about washing powders, cars and Pop Tarts.

The good bit is indeed good: having a bigger palette from which to paint and a bigger canvas upon which to splash that paint can only be a GOOD THING©. Alas, weirdly enough, it’s also the cause of some new SHIT THINGS©.

(Having said that, there’s no reason to get all depressed. After I wade through the poo, I end on an positive note…)

Anyway, here are some good things and their less good consequences:

  1. Loads of different media in which to work. Yes, on the surface that seems like a brilliant opportunity to be creative in different ways; to stretch and explore; to create artful graffiti instead of wiping poo on the walls. But the problems are legion: back in ‘the day’, when you only had to make press, poster, TV and radio ads, one team could do them all and one person could CD that team. Now you have to have digital, social, experiential, branded content and that jazz, and although one team might be able to manage it all from a conceptual standpoint, they probably can’t do so in the time allotted. So they need a few more people to help and those people are likely to be young, cheap and (at the time they’re briefed) not yet very good at their jobs. So the quality of work gets diluted and (here’s the real kicker) so does the money to pay for it. It’s simple maths: £100 between two people is more for each person than £100 between eight people. Then you’ve got the CD, or rather CDs, or rather ECDs. The modern ECD can’t possibly oversee all that stuff, so he must delegate some of it to other CDs, some of whom will be equally important ECDs in the digital, social, experiential or branded content agencies on the client’s roster. Of course, this splits the money up and leaves us in a situation where a big team in 2017 earns the same as one in 1987 (and I’m neither joking nor exaggerating. £100k-150k is the sum I’m talking about). But in 1987 you could buy a house in Chelsea with three years’ wages. Now you’d need 33 years’ wages. So now there are indeed lots of great opportunities, but also lots of people with whom to share your salary, and the ownership and/or control of your campaign.
  2. There are lots more jobs (I think). As a corollary to point 1 the wider range of things that are now required means that more people must be employed to do those things. And although I’m sure that many companies have simply asked the same number of people to work harder, there are definitely people on the creative side of things who weren’t there in 1996, or 2006. But are they just different versions of what advertising used to need? That’s a hard one to answer. Digital/Experiential/UX staff might simply have replaced some copywriters and art directors. The other thing that might well have happened is an acceleration of ageism. With so many more new, cheap youngsters arriving at the bottom of the pyramid, the top has probably shrunk. ECDs might even want to keep the older members of the department on, but when they look at budgets, work required and headcount, something has to give, and £200k worth of senior team might well be the most obvious version of that ‘something’. This is another manifestation of the requirement for quantity over quality that seems to have increased in recent years.
  3. More opportunities all over the place. This is slightly different to the possible increase in the number of jobs. Have you noticed that every company on Earth thinks it can be an ad agency right now? That’s odd, isn’t it? Production companies, media agencies, post houses, clients… They all think that they can offer ‘creative solutions’ along with whatever else they used to provide. Does that mean what ad agencies do is easy to replicate? Is the work that comes out of these places any good? Does the (I assume) financial saving justify using people who are new to the whole game? And does this whole movement devalue advertising? After all, if any old Tom/Dick/Harriet can come up with a viable agency then what’s the point of the good and/or expensive ones?
  4. Globullshit®. Ads are now running everywhere. That’s pretty cool, isn’t it? Your copy line might be running in Singapore, France or the Democratic Republic of Congo! Wait till your mum finds out! And for some brands that can mean good things, after all, most winners of the Cannes Grand Prix for film could run all over the world, and some do. But that’s the top of the top of the top of the top of the top. For everyone else it’s the death of a thousand comments about cultural differences and language barriers that means reducing your laser-guided brilliance to the drunken pull of a shotgun trigger. But money talks, and making one ad for 7.5 billion people is much cheaper than making 45 ads for the same audience. Does that compromise the quality? Of course. Does anyone really care? Maybe, but do they even know if they’ve compromised the quality? I’d argue not. One person’s 7/10 is another person’s 6/10. And if people don’t know or care, why would they pay to solve a problem they don’t think exists?

So where does that leave us? I think there are still a lot of people out there who got into advertising to do great work and have a good time. The work has certainly become less great overall, but that doesn’t mean greatness is impossible, so the carrot of wowing the world is still there. But chasing after a smaller, mankier carrot is obviously not as tempting a proposition as chasing a big, fat, juicy one.

Has the amount of fun changed? That’s harder to say. I’m sure some of the younger people getting into the industry still find it very interesting and enjoyable, and I’d imagine for many of the others it still beats digging roads or emptying the dog shit bin in parks. But I’d be a lying bastard if I told you that was the case for everyone. I’ve had a few chats recently (not podcasts) with creatives of my vintage who are just fed up with it all. Is that because twenty years of doing the same thing has left them bored and jaded? Or is it because the job really isn’t as free and fun as it used to be?

So what, if anything, is the solution? That’s up to everyone who wants to stay in the business. You can still do the kind of thing you did in the mid-nineties, or you can get with the fascinating new shizzle that seems to be all over the place. You can work at JWT, or you can work at Framestore, or Apple, or set up your own place and do everything exactly as you would like.

There really is not a shortage of options. They may not all pay what they used to, or send 90-second, million-pound cinema briefs across your desks on a regular basis, but those horses left town a long time ago. Just tighten your belt a little, decide what really floats your monkey and work out how to do it. I know that’s easier said that done, but so is literally everything.

Good luck!



ITIAPTWC Episode 30 – Danny Kleinman

This week I was utterly delighted to chat to Danny Kleinman.

As I looked through his work a Kanye West lyric kept repeating in my head: ‘I’ve forgot better shit than you ever thought of’. This is because I kept finding classic ad after classic ad that made me think, ‘Oh yeah! Danny did that one, too’.

When I started in advertising he was just rising to prominence as one of the handful of directors (Budgen, Glazer, etc.) that attracted and did justice to all the prestige scripts.

In 2001 my AD and I were fortunate enough to write something that Danny agreed to direct (the Pepsi spot below), leading to a most enjoyable week in New Orleans and a delightful ad.

It’s also worth mentioning that he did all the James Bond title sequences since 1991.

Anyway, he’s a great director and fine company. Here’s what we discussed:

How he started in music videos with the help of Steve Barron (and his sister).

Danny’s pre-punk music career, which connected with Adam Ant, among other famous people.

Why the video for Don’t You Forget About Me features the band in a roomful of toys.

Music videos as film school.

Fleetwood Mac’s tricky 80s stage.

Comedy? Post? Comedic post?

Van Halen led to a life in advertising.

Paul Silburn.

Famous comedians (particularly Peter Kaye).

The director’s job is to bring the performance out of people.

Diversity vs a set style.

Lack of money made the John West bear better.

How do the Bond titles happen?

How do you create a Cannes Grand Prix-winner (and do Cannes Grands Prix matter)?

Camden mudskippers.

Johnny Walker ‘Fish’, and how hard it was.

Audi ‘Jimi Hendrix’.

How Rattling Stick came about.

Adam and the Ants x Jimmy Savile.

Here’s the chat, the iTunes link and the Soundcloud link (I hope it’s all good. The switch to Garageband has been a little stressful. And I’ve been really busy this weekend).

 

And here are some of his best promos, title sequences and ads:

 



Show me round your fruitcage ’cause I will be your honey bee. Open up your fruitcage Where the fruit is the weekend.

History of the entire world, I guess (thanks, D):

The 100 best photos with no photoshop (thanks, T).

50 best 1970s movie posters (thanks, A).

How to count past infinity:

Heartbreaking story about modern slavery.

The actual recording session of Waterloo Sunset.



Apologies/My Social Media Holiday

Hello.

If you’ve been hoping for posts and/or podcasts, the last couple of weeks must have been deeply devastating for you.

I missed doing a podcast last week and I’m not going to do one this week. There are two reasons for this:

  1. I’ve left Media Arts Lab. This meant that I had to get my Macbook wiped for security reasons. As a consequence (I now warn you, this is about to get quite dull) I had to reload Audacity, the programme I use to do the recordings. That was easy enough, but then it requires a second programme, appropriately entitled ‘LAME’, to export to MP3, the format I need to upload the file as a podcast. Uploading LAME is a massive arse. On the previous occasions where I’ve added LAME I’ve required the assistance of MAL’s IT dept. I didn’t fancy popping back just for that, or calling in the Geek Squad, so instead I’ve been familiarising myself with Garageband (If it’s good enough for Marc Maron…). I’m now ready for two recordings next week, so hang on till next weekend.
  2. I’ve been inept at scheduling. I could have recorded Caroline Pay last week but I got the time difference wrong and it all went tits up. We’ll chat soon.

Sorry about that.

But here’s a post about the month during which I decided to take a break from social media.

A little context:

  1. I’m only really on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I could count Linkedin, but it’s not much of a distraction, so bollocks to it.
  2. I intended not to visit any of the sites for the entire month. For reasons I detail below, this didn’t quite happen.

Let’s go through them, site by site:

Facebook: This is normally the biggest distraction for me, but I finally worked out why – If I commented on something I got myself in deeper because I wanted to track further comments and get into the conversation, possibly requiring more comments, leading to a never-ending cycle of comments and replies. Once I decided not to comment the lure to return became very weak indeed. There were a few times that I logged on, but this was because of messages people sent me on Messenger. For some reason my iPhone Messenger doesn’t work properly, so I had to go back into the proper site, which meant I saw my feed and scrolled down it a little. But without the comments (and likes) it had very little hold on me. So lurking instead of engaging worked well to stay up-to-date without dragging me in. Now that I’m ‘allowed’ back I just pop in once or twice a day for no more than a few minutes. It’s also worth saying that I used to feel a bit guilty about liking some things but not others, so I’d like most things just so I didn’t seem mean to people who liked stuff I posted. Where do you draw the line? I drew it quite a long way away. Now I’m not bothered.

Twitter: This is the one I tend to spend most time on. Not because I tweet a lot, but because it’s become a sort of quasi newspaper for me. I’ve curated a ‘list’ down to the kind of things I’m interested in (news, Arsenal, movies, advertising, humour, music etc.), and the links they provide often take quite a chunk out of the day. But that’s just like continually reading a newspaper that’s updated all day, so it’s really just a portal to other interesting things rather than something that’s interesting in itself. But I stayed off it for most of the month, returning only for regular information (a Tim Stillman Arsenal column on Thursdays; a weekend preview from Box Office Mojo on the same day), which didn’t keep me on the site very long. Now that I’m back my use has returned to the same level as before.

Instagram: This was the last social medium I joined, Before my ‘holiday’ I was posting maybe five pictures a week. Then I stopped and I didn’t miss it all and haven’t returned, even for a second.

Facebook and Instagram send you emails if you haven’t been back for a while, trying to tempt you to return. They didn’t really work on me, other than to remind me of their existence. The success of my holiday feels like a V-sign to all that.

Did it give me lots more free time? Not really. I learned that procrastination is procrastination, and that without social media I can still find many ways of not doing the constructive things I’m supposed to be doing (i found the questions and answers on Quora to be particularly distracting, although not so much now that I have Twitter back). But I do feel freer without them.

Overall, I think the pros might just have outweighed the cons, but it wasn’t as transformative as I was expecting. If you’re interested, give it a go. There were no withdrawal symptoms and the consequences were interesting enough to make the experience worth going through.

 



In September my cousin tried reefer for the very first time. Now he’s doing horse, it’s the weekend.

Fantastic trippy animation:

Photo explanation of the cover of Sergeant Pepper.

Design fails (thanks, J).

Slo-mo pole vault:

Welcome to a supercut:

And a temper tantrum supercut:



Alcoholic kind of mood, lose my clothes, lose my lube. Cruising for a piece of fun, looking out for the weekend.

How McDonald’s french fries are made:

The cast of The Godfather reunited for a chat.

8 things Bill Gates learned at TED (thanks, B).

Touching video game about learning that your son has cancer:



Adcan is back!

Hi there,

This year’s Adcan competition is open for creative and filmmakers to do some good for themselves and others.

Its founder, Brydon Gerus writes:

With all the turbulence in the social and political landscape lately, there couldn’t be a better time to help creatives turn their skills and passion for different causes into direct action. So today we’re thrilled to announce that ADCAN has gone global, helping unsigned filmmakers break into the industry by having them create content for non-profits and charities in need!

We’ll be sharing more about the expansion of ADCAN soon but in the mean time, check out the 6 charities we’re partnering with this year, download the briefs and GET INVOLVED at Adcan.com. 

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

If you’re looking to break into the industry in a way that helps others, this is for you. Their partners include Anonymous Content, Rattling Stick, Partizan, Nexus, Psyop, Vice and many others. So it’s a remarkably quick route to the top of the industry.

Here are some of the films made to promote the launch. Good luck!: