CELEBRATING AND INVESTING IN CREATIVITY
 

2015 Creative LIAisons

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Mariam Guessous

Senior Art Director
DigitasLBi
New York
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I really enjoyed the Creative LIAisons experience. What a great opportunity to meet talented people, sit in judging sessions to observe Statue Discussions and come back fired up and inspired!

It was very insightful to hear the speakers talk about the current state of the ad industry and the role we all play in shaping the future of advertising. I¹m excited to be part of the new generation of creatives to shape the future and hope we can carry forward the legacy of those who came before us.

Thank you LIA for this unforgettable experience!

DigitasLBi unicorns: London, Paris, Boston and NYC.

Las Vegas is a city of high action. Slot machine sounds everywhere, music pumping from all corners, larger than life architecture—when you visit Las Vegas, you should be ready for anything. And boy, we were definitely not ready for this. But action… we definitely got.

In 5 days, we had about: 26 hours of seminars. 30 hours of lively discussions and debates. 8 straight hours of judging sessions. And probably about 10 hours of sleep total.

This doesn’t include the few hours of gambling sprinkled here and there, because well… when you’re in Vegas you might as well play a few hands, right? Right.

This city is so intense, it sucks up all you’ve got. Your energy. Your stamina. Your beauty sleep. And sometimes, even your money. Lucky for me, I won a few dollars and I got to experience a very inspiring and energizing Las Vegas—except for the beauty sleep part…

The week was filled with inspiring moments, amazing people, some unavoidable debauchery and lots of inspiration. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas…but for the sake of sharing, please allow me to share with you 7 (lucky) moments and quotes I will take with me for the rest of my career.

1- When Ralph Van Dijk (Founding Creative Director, Eardrum) told us something so obvious, it blew our minds: “If you have more than ONE message, make more than ONE ad.”

This is a great rule of thumb. Why should we bombard our audience with multiple messages at once? Chances are, if we try to say too much too soon, we completely lose them, so it’s best to focus on one message at a time…duh.

2- When Chris Smith (Group Creative Director, The Richards Group) shared his secret to selling ideas: “If you want to sell anything to anyone, make them think it’s their idea.”

This trick is particularly useful when selling ideas to clients. Involving them early in the creative process will definitely improve our chances of selling the idea we want, and with the least amount of revisions. Tell me one creative that doesn’t want that! Thanks for the tip Chris.

3- When Pum Lefebure (Co-Founder/CCO, Design Army) reminded us that: “The notion of PLAY is something you should never lose as a creative.”

All creatives want to play. Actually, all humans want to play. But with technology distracting us all day and deadlines getting tighter and tighter, we tend to go full force at the office and forget to take a breath, relax, smile and play. After all, we are hired for our ideas, and no good idea can come from an agitated and stressed mind. Play is an integral part of what we do. Let’s not lose that, she said. Amen, Pum. Amen.

4- When Ted Royer (CCO, Droga5) insisted that empathy is everything. He said: “You can’t be a great creative without having empathy for the people you talk to. The more you care, the better creative you are.”

The best thing I heard all week! I think empathy is extremely important in our industry, as we have a huge responsibility to spread our clients’ messages to the general public. We shape culture. We shape brands. We are the link between brands and the people—that’s why we have to care, a lot.

5- When judges didn’t fall for it: “This is a beautifully shot case study video” they said, “but where the hell is the idea?”

As I was listening to judges debating whether an idea should win an award or not, it suddenly hit me: nothing has changed in our industry in decades! The most important thing is still the idea and the insight. Period. No amount of data can save your idea. You can’t hide an idea behind a nicely shot case study video. And judges have a very good BS meter. If there’s one thing I took away from this experience, it’s this: If your idea is not based on an insight, and if it doesn’t make an impact, it’s not worth submitting to any award. It’s that simple. And that hard.

6- When John Merrifield (CCO, Google Asia-Pacific) dropped this truth on all of us: “The impact is so much more important than the awards.”

I was surprised and delighted to see that most young creatives I spoke with over the week simply don’t care about awards. Not because winning awards is not fun. Not because winning awards is not exciting or important. But because most of us were pretty tired of having our ideas measured by the awards they received. An idea should be measured by its impact. Was it relevant and useful to the audience? Did it help people? Did it sell products? Did it help build an honest brand? If we manage to make this kind of impact, awards will always come. #Believe #AwardsAreComing

7- When Amir Kassaei (Worldwide CCO, DDB Worldwide) got very real with us and gave a speech we’ll dream about for years to come: “Be a great human being, and stop the bullshit. Do this, or DIE.”

Amir delivered the most emotional speech we’ve heard all week. As someone who recently experienced an unfortunate brand catastrophe with his client Volkswagen, he showed us how one can be passionate about a brand and how we can keep pushing a brand forward no matter what happens—it’s our duty. Save the industry, he said. Stop the bullshit. Be great human beings. And reinvent the industry. He said that we all have a huge responsibility to shape the future of this industry. We have the responsibility to change things for the better. And if we don’t do this, we will die as creatives, and so will this industry.

In a room full of passionately desperate young creatives, this is exactly what we needed to hear before we head back to work and begin the journey to make this industry the best it can be.

Thank you LIA. Thank you DigitasLBi. Thank you Las Vegas. All 100 of us went back to our agencies inspired, re-energized and feeling like we just won the jackpot. Of course some of us did win (a small) jackpot.

 

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