Q&A: Reed Collins – We Need to be Practical on What Brands Can Promise and What They Can Deliver

Branding in Asia recently caught up with a longtime fixture in the creative world, Reed Collins, Ogilvy’s Chief Creative Officer for APAC.

Collins has been with the agency for nearly a decade, starting off as Chief Creative Officer in Hong Kong before eventually ascending to the creative lead for the Asia-Pacific in 2020.

Over the course of our conversation, he talks about post-pandemic trends, creativity’s role in sustainability communications, his upcoming work on LIA’s Digital and Social Media & Influencers Jury, his first awards win, and more.

 
 

As we emerge from the pandemic, are there any particular trends you’re seeing?

Thankfully, we’re seeing fewer commercials with people singing and playing instruments from their balconies. But seriously I’m hoping some of the lessons learned while being forced to live and work more closely with technology have made us all more comfortable creating ideas for a digitally enabled world. In many ways, we simply cannot return to what things were like a few years ago.

Ogilvy Consulting recently published a piece about sustainability communications and the disconnect between long-term brand goals and people’s more immediate needs. How important is creativity in helping solve these problems and perhaps bridge the disconnect?

To create long-term growth, you need to manage both. As the old adage goes – ‘brands over time and sales overnight’ or something like that. We just need to be practical on what brands can promise now and what they can deliver over time. Consumers can see straight through the spin and lies if you’re not being transparent … they will however cut you some slack if you are living up to the goals you set out to achieve.

On purpose-driven campaigns, do you think that brands have lost sight of how to connect with their audience through their brand proposition instead of through using a current cause or purpose?

No, I do not for the most part. Brands that are taking responsibility for their own impact and actions in the world we all live beyond communications should be celebrated and encouraged. What is awarded at advertising festivals is a different story.

 
 

The last time I counted maybe 3 out of 4 Cannes Lions awarded were somehow purpose related and a few that were quite dubious in my mind. I’d personally like to see more work that actually sells products being celebrated… it’s a lot harder to do. 🙂

“I would like to think all the recognized work at different festivals is highly creative. But I do agree that purpose-driven campaigns hold a narrow advantage in a jury room, especially in the early judging process.’

Awards most often focus on purpose-driven campaigns. Do you think that gives them an advantage in the jury room over more creatively-driven campaigns?

I’m not sure I would discriminate between purpose-driven and creatively-driven… I would like to think all the recognized work at different festivals is highly creative. But I do agree that purpose-driven campaigns hold a narrow advantage in a jury room, especially in the early judging process. Nobody wants to be too harsh on work that is trying to do good in the world – it’s just human nature.

You’re on the Digital and Social Media & Influencers Jury at LIA this year. What are you looking for from the work that will make it stand out from the rest?

Two incredibly important categories to judge in today’s world. Really excited to see some fresh ideas not already recognized at other festivals this year. Looking for more advanced use of technologies that bring brilliant insights and ideas to life. Social media is so vast in what platforms are determined ‘social’… will be interesting to see how the jury broadens its definition and application.

“I’m hoping some of the lessons learned while being forced to live and work more closely with technology have made us all more comfortable creating ideas for a digitally enabled world. In many ways, we simply cannot return to what things were like a few years ago.”

You’ve been part of a lot of award-winning campaigns over the years. What was your first and how did you feel the first time you won?

Wow, I’d have to go back a long way to jog my memory but I definitely remember feeling like was destined to be a forever finalist in my early career.

But I guess that made me more tenacious in producing even better work and in 2001 the dam wall broke when I was at Cliff Freeman & Partners working on Fox Sports. It won everything under the sun and was extremely pleasing to get that recognition from one’s peers.


This is part of a series of interviews done in collaboration with the London International Awards. To enter your work in LIA 2022, go here. The final entry deadline is September 2nd.

Related