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Rob Reilly’s Epic Challenge

Interview

The global creative head of WPP has cracked big objectives time and again to be where he is today. But now he has the most humongous brief yet. He sat down with us to share the challenge and the thrill of working to build the world’s leading creative company.

Date:

29 March 2023

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L[A]Rob, thank you for making time for us and our readers.

RR:  Thank you for having me. No one loves this magazine more than me. When I was growing up in the business, my goal was to get into Lürzer’s Archive. It is a huge honor for me to be part of this issue. I believe that everything is craft, and craft is everything. This publication and its site captures our craft better than anything out there.

1_23 Lürzer's cover

This feature is from Lurzer’s Archive Volume 01/2023

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L[A] You’re coming up to two years in this role at WPP … in May?

RR: May 1st will be two years. I did the math.

L[A] What was the brief you’ve been working on these past two years?

RR: When I first spoke with Mark Read, CEO of WPP, I was very happy at my old job. But he said: ‘I want to be the most creative holding company in the world …’  I said, ‘Maybe you did research and knew that that’s the thing to say to me.’ Creative people are simple when it comes to our expectations. Pay us fairly, don’t lie to us and care deeply about creativity. As Mark and I talked more and more over the course of a few months, our ambition evolved to not just be the most creative holding company, but rather, how do we become the most creative company in the world? Not necessarily compared to other holding companies, but to brands like Disney and Google and Netflix. As grandiose as it sounds, I love that I have a CEO partner who dreams big.

When you have an ambition that is so big it forces things. I can always point to it when there is a challenge and say: ‘Well, that’s our ambition. If we don’t want to do the things to get there, let’s change the ambition.’ And in two years, that hasn’t been the case. Everybody understands that’s our plan. And then you have our mission of creative transformation, which is using the power of creativity to build better futures for our people, planet, clients, and communities. That combination of ambition and mission is unbeatable.  

Nike advert featuring Serena Williams

Never Done Evolving

Nike is a brand that is ‘addicted to creativity’, with a consistent boldness that has worked for decades, like this ad that used AI to pit Serena Williams against Serena Williams.

L[A]  So there was a vision already there but the work was how to get there?

RR: There’s always been a financial benchmark at WPP, like every company.  We also have a clear creative benchmark. But it is even more complicated now because you also have to create a nurturing, inclusive and positive place to work. The pandemic has raised the bar for all of us in management to really think about our employees and their experience.

L[A] How does the creative benchmark work?

RR: Awards are the by-product, never the motivation, of doing great work and the right thing by our clients, especially for big regional and global brands and important local brands. But it is something that we’re judged upon. The metric I care about most is bold, magical creative ideas that lead to wildly successful business results. Yes, we are artists and use a tremendous amount of artistry, but we are in the business of selling. As a general rule, I don’t talk about work that did not lead to commercial success.

Dove Toxic Influence: stills of TikTok videos show women injecting lip fillers

Dove Toxic Influence

Dove’s pioneering work is still spoken about a decade later, and its bold mission continues today with campaigns like this.

The trick is to get people and clients and brands addicted to creativity. Once you make something and it has great business results, no one wants to get off that train: success breeds success. Then you get another shot and then you get another shot and then you get a brand like Nike that is addicted to creativity. It’s not just that they’re bold, it’s that they’re consistent with the boldness – because it has worked for decades.

L[A] How do you make that culture a living thing?

RR: I think we have in places. One brand that has been doing breakthrough work for a long time is Dove. It’s because there are bold leaders on their side and dynamic creative people, account people and strategy people on our side. And there is a great product with a consistent mission that really hasn’t changed for a long time. It all started with Dove Sketches, a game-changing idea from Ogilvy that people still talk about a decade later.

L[A] Why does that culture not always happen in competitors too?

RR: You have to break the seal on starting to do good work. For example, I worked on Microsoft for a long time in different agencies and I’m working on it now. Fifteen years ago, when Crispin Porter + Bogusky took on Microsoft, there was a magazine cover with Bogusky on it that asked, ‘Can this guy make Microsoft cool?’ No one thought Microsoft would ever be cool. But what we did back then, and what their agencies have consistently done since, is not try to make Microsoft cool but show that Microsoft does cool things. That’s how Microsoft went from a brand no one thought would ever be a creative superstar to being awarded Marketer of the Year at Cannes two years ago. It is because they had consistent creative leaders, like Kathleen Hall, who have never wavered when it comes to promoting  their mission of empowering people and organizations to achieve more. And then they green-light the kind of work that the press writes about and the world loves, shares and spreads.

L[A] Is there now an excess of purpose-led marketing? We see a lot of it in awards. 

RR: I don’t worry that the world has too much purpose-led marketing. We need as much as possible. Governments, mainly for lack of money and sometimes lack of ability, often don’t have the resources to help people. Brands have really stepped in and filled that void. Our industry has been a huge part of making that happen. In fact, it’s the entire ecosystem of brands, agencies and production partners that have the opportunity to continue to help people lead better lives. And it doesn’t always have to be saving the world, it could be adding utility or more fun in their lives. That’s why I feel like this is the most exciting time to be part of this industry.

L[A] Creativity is everywhere improving the world …  it happens in things like vaccines and all sorts of amazing things that we create. But how far can the communications industry go?

A hamster playing synth

Synth Hamster, Pringles

By Grey London.

Two miniature figures standing in a miniature elevator

Christmas Always Finds Its Way, Coca Cola

From a set of films launched on Amazon Video and created by the bespoke integrated team OpenX for the client.

RR: I have been saying that creativity is now the world’s most valuable asset for some time. For example, let’s take the COVID vaccines. We’re here today because somebody figured out how to sell the governments on a product that didn’t exist, which is not how governments usually work. So, that kind of salesmanship, that kind of creativity and ingenuity, is the reason we didn’t have to wait four years for it, which is what most vaccines take. 

Some people will. also say creativity can’t be taught. I disagree. Maybe it can’t be taught to a level where everybody’s going to be a genius like Steve Jobs but we can get people to use their brains in ways they never thought of, and good things will come from that. I think creative problem-solving should be taught in school from a very young age. We need to evolve the definition of creativity beyond things like Hollywood, the art world and marketing at large.

L[A] People can be the facilitators of great creativity because they better understand what’s needed?

RR: It’s about creating the environment for creativity to be successful. That’s part of my job too, whether it’s the combination of people we put together or the way we set things up. It needs to be everywhere. Big agencies go bad if you think along the lines of: ‘These accounts are going to do the creative work. These accounts are going to pay the bills.’ That’s an old model. Now, everybody has to take responsibility for creativity.

A man with motor neurone disease records his voice with his young daughter

I Will Always Be Me, Dell Technologies and Intel

VMLY&R New York’s ‘I Will Always Be Me’ voice bank campaign, which helped sufferers of MND record their voices.

Image of a credit card with 'True Name' written on it

True Name, Mastercard

An innovation in the USA that allowed people to use their chosen name on a card, thereby supporting trans rights.

To us, creative excellence is not just a philosophy, it’s a discipline. Inside all of our agencies, there’s a creative excellence person and a process of ways to get to better work and to make sure our work is seen in its best light. All of those things require funding and commitment from Mark, as it does from all of the companies of WPP. It is one of the major reasons we ended up as the Creative Company of the Year last year at Cannes.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am big on process and spend a lot of time on briefs. I’m excited by the tools we have for getting better insights, including AI, helping to make our briefs tight and inspiring. Make it easy. Make it one page, make it 12-point type and not eight-point type that you’ve shoved into a page. Make it have tension, a point of view, answer a specific question. Put some free ideas in the brief. Make it a document that a junior team that has no ideas at midnight, and has to show work at 9 am, sees as a gift from the heavens.

The stuff I talk about is simple but it’s hard to execute and it’s hard to get people to always believe in it. Some people are set in their ways, so it is a constant push to get the masses to spend more time believing the briefing process is the key to the entire creative output. I’d love to get to a point where we have one brief for the entire industry. That would be awesome.

L[A] How do you manage to implement a consistent approach across such a huge disparate business?

RR: My job is influence, inspiration and visible leadership. There are 110,000 people at WPP, so you can’t have authority over all those people. I often say: ‘Hire great people and get out of the way.’  You’ve got to hire the right people to do the job and then give them every ounce that you have, be available to help them be successful. Everybody knows the scoreboard. We know if we don’t make the kind of highly creative work that leads to great business results we’re not going to be around for a long time. I don’t have to remind the CCOs and their CEO partners who are running our companies. They get it 100%.

A photograph of a bronze statue of a girl facing a bronze bull statue on a city street.

Fearless Girl

An award-winning campaign from McCann New York for State Street Global Advisers.

L[A] How many thousands of people are in creative departments at WPP?

RR: I am not sure. I know it’s well into the thousands. But I always want more. More creative people, more strategy, production, technologists, etc. I believe every individual, in every department, is instrumental in supporting creativity. 

A few years ago, my friend Mark Dowley had a great perspective on why a CCO is the best job somebody like me could have. His thought was when you’re the “product” person, your job is to constantly be pushing to make the product the very best it can be. That’s what your CEO expects from you, Which is why I spend a lot of time finding the best talent and putting them in a position to kick ass.

L[A] How do you keep a view on the work that’s going on?

RR: My job is not just to work on the work. I do a lot of that. It’s pushing us into different areas like entertainment, music, design, technology, fashion and gaming and being part of all of that. I do get involved in some projects, but I also spend a lot of time with the brands. We have some brave clients who really believe in the same things I believe in. That makes me want to get up in the morning. 

As for my relationship with all of the CCOs inside of WPP, I don’t think I could ask for a more dedicated, passionate and talented group. They are the best in the business, so we are more partners in crime than anything particularly formal. 

L[A] Are we doing enough to make this industry attractive to young people? Or would they rather be working for Disney or somewhere else? 

RR: Why wouldn’t you want to work in an industry that encourages you to use your brain to solve a problem in a creative way … and it’s different every day? How many industries are like that? We haven’t done a good enough job explaining that to people and promoting what the business is about to a wider range of people.

Maybe that is a contributing factor to why the industry has struggled with diversity. (Of course, there are many.) From a strictly marketing POV of our industry, we haven’t articulated how amazing this business is and how welcoming it is to anybody with a creative mind. And it is on all of us in this ecosystem of advertising/marketing to do whatever it takes to evolve, so we get more and more interesting voices brought into this industry.

Two boys, one with limited mobility, playing computer games together

Changing the Game, Microsoft

An ad by McCann New York that saw evolution of gaming tech to support people with limited mobility.

L[A]  To be more open might be seen as being open to more risks.

RR: I do think we need to bake in more time for experimentation and, to some degree, failure. We’ve lost that a bit. That’s the exciting part about seeing AI tools like ChatGPT and DALL·E 2. In my opinion, these tools will help our creative people play around faster which is important in a world of smaller budgets and challenging timelines. If technology can help us get back to trying crazy shit more often in service of coming up with the magic, then I am all for it.

L[A] Can these new tools shake up how fast our ideas develop?

RR: You have to be curious. If you’re not curious, you’re not going to survive. You have to get into ChatGPT and DALL·E 2 and all these other things that are coming up.  If you want to understand how to reach people on TikTok, spend a month on it. If you are a senior creative, don’t rely on the kids to do it for you. Don’t rely on your teams to solve it. Put the work in so you can judge the ideas that might live on TikTok in the most informed way. 

L[A] Do you think there’s a need for more discussion about creative ethics, particularly around how technology is used?

RR: Yes. I hope that people in a position to influence how things are used are moral leaders, to some degree. I hope I’m seen as a moral leader with good business acumen, who understands that there has to be a balance. You want to do the right thing, but you’re also trying to figure out how to promote something. But you have to think about how everything is going to affect people. 

L[A] There’s constant interrogation of what you’re doing?

RR: There is constant interrogation of everything we do in life and I hope more people are interrogating some of the decisions they’re making. But you don’t want to go so far that it means there is no fun anymore. I would love for advertising to be more fun. I do think we could laugh more, both at the work and ourselves.

Mini counterfeit flyer

Mini Counterfeit, BMW

Reilly’s reputation for creative leadership was forged by more than a decade of outstanding work at CP+B. Among the award-winning output was an all-time dark comedy masterpiece, “Mini Counterfeit”, which ingeniously exploited direct response TV rules to devise a spoof story of a global culture of laughably-fake Mini cars.

Whopper freakout screenshot

Whopper Freakout, Burger King

Spoof mastery was also demonstrated in “Whopper Freakout”, an elaborate trick that stimulated near hysteria with its message that the Whopper was to be withdrawn.

L[A]  When you think of advertising at its best, often it’s because it makes us laugh.

RR: Making people laugh is an incredible thing we get to do. The other side of it is how advertising has the power to make a massive change. Making people simply feel good is also a card we get to play.  Grey did a series of wonderful films for Coca-Cola that ran on Amazon – Christmas Always Finds Its Way. We are extremely proud to be able to help Coca-Cola play such a positive role in people’s lives around the holidays. These big moments – whether it’s Ramadan, the holidays in the UK, Lunar New Year, or the Super Bowl – are huge opportunities to really show how we can entertain and lift up the world.

L[A] So, finally, what’s the question we really should ask you?

RR: Would the industry be better if award shows went away?

L[A] I think you know the answer to that!

RR: We are very fortunate to have the kinds of clients that value creativity at the highest level. The debate on award shows happens every year. To me, they push us forward. When you have giant global brands really investing a lot in creativity and seeing the business results … that’s a great thing. Other global companies notice and want to get in on it. 

L[A] What would you like to see that might be more celebratory?

RR: The world needs to really know the things we do in this industry, the lives we impact, the joy we bring and the innovations we create. It’s sometimes reduced to a headline about the Super Bowl and the ads. We need to promote what we do, as a collective. We are one tribe of creative professionals that make a huge impact. The industry would benefit from the world understanding, young people especially, about all the types of creativity we do and all the magic we bring to the world … financially, socially and culturally. 

L[A] What a great point to end on.

RR: Right on. Thanks again for finally making my 23-year-old self’s dream come true. 


Rob Reilly is Global Chief Creative Officer of WPP

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The global creative head of WPP has cracked big objectives time and again to be where he is today. But now he has the most humongous brief yet. He sat down with us to share the challenge and the thrill of working to build the world’s leading creative company.

L[A]Rob, thank you for making time for us and our readers.

RR:  Thank you for having me. No one loves this magazine more than me. When I was growing up in the business, my goal was to get into Lürzer’s Archive. It is a huge honor for me to be part of this issue. I believe that everything is craft, and craft is everything. This publication and its site captures our craft better than anything out there.

L[A] You're coming up to two years in this role at WPP … in May?

RR: May 1st will be two years. I did the math.

L[A] What was the brief you've been working on these past two years?

RR: When I first spoke with Mark Read, CEO of WPP, I was very happy at my old job. But he said: ‘I want to be the most creative holding company in the world …’  I said, ‘Maybe you did research and knew that that's the thing to say to me.’ Creative people are simple when it comes to our expectations. Pay us fairly, don’t lie to us and care deeply about creativity. As Mark and I talked more and more over the course of a few months, our ambition evolved to not just be the most creative holding company, but rather, how do we become the most creative company in the world? Not necessarily compared to other holding companies, but to brands like Disney and Google and Netflix. As grandiose as it sounds, I love that I have a CEO partner who dreams big.

When you have an ambition that is so big it forces things. I can always point to it when there is a challenge and say: ‘Well, that's our ambition. If we don't want to do the things to get there, let's change the ambition.’ And in two years, that hasn't been the case. Everybody understands that's our plan. And then you have our mission of creative transformation, which is using the power of creativity to build better futures for our people, planet, clients, and communities. That combination of ambition and mission is unbeatable.  

L[A]  So there was a vision already there but the work was how to get there?

RR: There's always been a financial benchmark at WPP, like every company.  We also have a clear creative benchmark. But it is even more complicated now because you also have to create a nurturing, inclusive and positive place to work. The pandemic has raised the bar for all of us in management to really think about our employees and their experience.

L[A] How does the creative benchmark work?

RR: Awards are the by-product, never the motivation, of doing great work and the right thing by our clients, especially for big regional and global brands and important local brands. But it is something that we're judged upon. The metric I care about most is bold, magical creative ideas that lead to wildly successful business results. Yes, we are artists and use a tremendous amount of artistry, but we are in the business of selling. As a general rule, I don't talk about work that did not lead to commercial success.

The trick is to get people and clients and brands addicted to creativity. Once you make something and it has great business results, no one wants to get off that train: success breeds success. Then you get another shot and then you get another shot and then you get a brand like Nike that is addicted to creativity. It's not just that they're bold, it's that they're consistent with the boldness – because it has worked for decades.

L[A] How do you make that culture a living thing?

RR: I think we have in places. One brand that has been doing breakthrough work for a long time is Dove. It's because there are bold leaders on their side and dynamic creative people, account people and strategy people on our side. And there is a great product with a consistent mission that really hasn't changed for a long time. It all started with Dove Sketches, a game-changing idea from Ogilvy that people still talk about a decade later.

L[A] Why does that culture not always happen in competitors too?

RR: You have to break the seal on starting to do good work. For example, I worked on Microsoft for a long time in different agencies and I’m working on it now. Fifteen years ago, when Crispin Porter + Bogusky took on Microsoft, there was a magazine cover with Bogusky on it that asked, ‘Can this guy make Microsoft cool?’ No one thought Microsoft would ever be cool. But what we did back then, and what their agencies have consistently done since, is not try to make Microsoft cool but show that Microsoft does cool things. That’s how Microsoft went from a brand no one thought would ever be a creative superstar to being awarded Marketer of the Year at Cannes two years ago. It is because they had consistent creative leaders, like Kathleen Hall, who have never wavered when it comes to promoting  their mission of empowering people and organizations to achieve more. And then they green-light the kind of work that the press writes about and the world loves, shares and spreads.

L[A] Is there now an excess of purpose-led marketing? We see a lot of it in awards. 

RR: I don’t worry that the world has too much purpose-led marketing. We need as much as possible. Governments, mainly for lack of money and sometimes lack of ability, often don't have the resources to help people. Brands have really stepped in and filled that void. Our industry has been a huge part of making that happen. In fact, it’s the entire ecosystem of brands, agencies and production partners that have the opportunity to continue to help people lead better lives. And it doesn't always have to be saving the world, it could be adding utility or more fun in their lives. That’s why I feel like this is the most exciting time to be part of this industry.

L[A] Creativity is everywhere improving the world …  it happens in things like vaccines and all sorts of amazing things that we create. But how far can the communications industry go?

RR: I have been saying that creativity is now the world's most valuable asset for some time. For example, let’s take the COVID vaccines. We’re here today because somebody figured out how to sell the governments on a product that didn't exist, which is not how governments usually work. So, that kind of salesmanship, that kind of creativity and ingenuity, is the reason we didn’t have to wait four years for it, which is what most vaccines take. 

Some people will. also say creativity can't be taught. I disagree. Maybe it can't be taught to a level where everybody's going to be a genius like Steve Jobs but we can get people to use their brains in ways they never thought of, and good things will come from that. I think creative problem-solving should be taught in school from a very young age. We need to evolve the definition of creativity beyond things like Hollywood, the art world and marketing at large.

L[A] People can be the facilitators of great creativity because they better understand what's needed?

RR: It’s about creating the environment for creativity to be successful. That's part of my job too, whether it's the combination of people we put together or the way we set things up. It needs to be everywhere. Big agencies go bad if you think along the lines of: ‘These accounts are going to do the creative work. These accounts are going to pay the bills.’ That's an old model. Now, everybody has to take responsibility for creativity.

To us, creative excellence is not just a philosophy, it’s a discipline. Inside all of our agencies, there’s a creative excellence person and a process of ways to get to better work and to make sure our work is seen in its best light. All of those things require funding and commitment from Mark, as it does from all of the companies of WPP. It is one of the major reasons we ended up as the Creative Company of the Year last year at Cannes.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am big on process and spend a lot of time on briefs. I'm excited by the tools we have for getting better insights, including AI, helping to make our briefs tight and inspiring. Make it easy. Make it one page, make it 12-point type and not eight-point type that you've shoved into a page. Make it have tension, a point of view, answer a specific question. Put some free ideas in the brief. Make it a document that a junior team that has no ideas at midnight, and has to show work at 9 am, sees as a gift from the heavens.

The stuff I talk about is simple but it's hard to execute and it's hard to get people to always believe in it. Some people are set in their ways, so it is a constant push to get the masses to spend more time believing the briefing process is the key to the entire creative output. I'd love to get to a point where we have one brief for the entire industry. That would be awesome.

L[A] How do you manage to implement a consistent approach across such a huge disparate business?

RR: My job is influence, inspiration and visible leadership. There are 110,000 people at WPP, so you can't have authority over all those people. I often say: ‘Hire great people and get out of the way.’  You've got to hire the right people to do the job and then give them every ounce that you have, be available to help them be successful. Everybody knows the scoreboard. We know if we don't make the kind of highly creative work that leads to great business results we're not going to be around for a long time. I don't have to remind the CCOs and their CEO partners who are running our companies. They get it 100%.

L[A] How many thousands of people are in creative departments at WPP?

RR: I am not sure. I know it’s well into the thousands. But I always want more. More creative people, more strategy, production, technologists, etc. I believe every individual, in every department, is instrumental in supporting creativity. 

A few years ago, my friend Mark Dowley had a great perspective on why a CCO is the best job somebody like me could have. His thought was when you’re the “product” person, your job is to constantly be pushing to make the product the very best it can be. That’s what your CEO expects from you, Which is why I spend a lot of time finding the best talent and putting them in a position to kick ass.

L[A] How do you keep a view on the work that's going on?

RR: My job is not just to work on the work. I do a lot of that. It’s pushing us into different areas like entertainment, music, design, technology, fashion and gaming and being part of all of that. I do get involved in some projects, but I also spend a lot of time with the brands. We have some brave clients who really believe in the same things I believe in. That makes me want to get up in the morning. 

As for my relationship with all of the CCOs inside of WPP, I don’t think I could ask for a more dedicated, passionate and talented group. They are the best in the business, so we are more partners in crime than anything particularly formal. 

L[A] Are we doing enough to make this industry attractive to young people? Or would they rather be working for Disney or somewhere else? 

RR: Why wouldn't you want to work in an industry that encourages you to use your brain to solve a problem in a creative way … and it's different every day? How many industries are like that? We haven't done a good enough job explaining that to people and promoting what the business is about to a wider range of people.

Maybe that is a contributing factor to why the industry has struggled with diversity. (Of course, there are many.) From a strictly marketing POV of our industry, we haven't articulated how amazing this business is and how welcoming it is to anybody with a creative mind. And it is on all of us in this ecosystem of advertising/marketing to do whatever it takes to evolve, so we get more and more interesting voices brought into this industry.

L[A]  To be more open might be seen as being open to more risks.

RR: I do think we need to bake in more time for experimentation and, to some degree, failure. We've lost that a bit. That's the exciting part about seeing AI tools like ChatGPT and DALL·E 2. In my opinion, these tools will help our creative people play around faster which is important in a world of smaller budgets and challenging timelines. If technology can help us get back to trying crazy shit more often in service of coming up with the magic, then I am all for it.

L[A] Can these new tools shake up how fast our ideas develop?

RR: You have to be curious. If you're not curious, you're not going to survive. You have to get into ChatGPT and DALL·E 2 and all these other things that are coming up.  If you want to understand how to reach people on TikTok, spend a month on it. If you are a senior creative, don’t rely on the kids to do it for you. Don’t rely on your teams to solve it. Put the work in so you can judge the ideas that might live on TikTok in the most informed way. 

L[A] Do you think there's a need for more discussion about creative ethics, particularly around how technology is used?

RR: Yes. I hope that people in a position to influence how things are used are moral leaders, to some degree. I hope I'm seen as a moral leader with good business acumen, who understands that there has to be a balance. You want to do the right thing, but you're also trying to figure out how to promote something. But you have to think about how everything is going to affect people. 

L[A] There's constant interrogation of what you're doing?

RR: There is constant interrogation of everything we do in life and I hope more people are interrogating some of the decisions they're making. But you don’t want to go so far that it means there is no fun anymore. I would love for advertising to be more fun. I do think we could laugh more, both at the work and ourselves.

L[A]  When you think of advertising at its best, often it's because it makes us laugh.

RR: Making people laugh is an incredible thing we get to do. The other side of it is how advertising has the power to make a massive change. Making people simply feel good is also a card we get to play.  Grey did a series of wonderful films for Coca-Cola that ran on Amazon – Christmas Always Finds Its Way. We are extremely proud to be able to help Coca-Cola play such a positive role in people’s lives around the holidays. These big moments – whether it's Ramadan, the holidays in the UK, Lunar New Year, or the Super Bowl – are huge opportunities to really show how we can entertain and lift up the world.

L[A] So, finally, what’s the question we really should ask you?

RR: Would the industry be better if award shows went away?

L[A] I think you know the answer to that!

RR: We are very fortunate to have the kinds of clients that value creativity at the highest level. The debate on award shows happens every year. To me, they push us forward. When you have giant global brands really investing a lot in creativity and seeing the business results … that's a great thing. Other global companies notice and want to get in on it. 

L[A] What would you like to see that might be more celebratory?

RR: The world needs to really know the things we do in this industry, the lives we impact, the joy we bring and the innovations we create. It's sometimes reduced to a headline about the Super Bowl and the ads. We need to promote what we do, as a collective. We are one tribe of creative professionals that make a huge impact. The industry would benefit from the world understanding, young people especially, about all the types of creativity we do and all the magic we bring to the world … financially, socially and culturally. 

L[A] What a great point to end on.

RR: Right on. Thanks again for finally making my 23-year-old self’s dream come true. 


Rob Reilly is Global Chief Creative Officer of WPP

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