The Cresta Awards’ Lewis Blackwell recently spoke with David Lubars, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer at BBDO Worldwide about awards shows, managing creative teams working from home, and more.
As a multiple ‘Network of the Year’ winner, in many creative awards including Cresta, what does retaining that title in our 2020 awards mean to the network? How do you maintain and develop the standard across so many offices and cultures? Is there a distinctive core approach, a kind of BBDO creative DNA that keeps regenerating and delivers some kind of momentum? Or is it more about a constant fresh effort to drive renewed focus, innovation, achievements?
There are two ways to look at creative award shows: on the one hand, you can view them as beauty contests designed to massage egos, and there is some of that. On the other hand, you can view them as inarguable data. Our biggest award winners have proven to be our clients’ most successful programs. And there are third party metrics from organizations like IPA in London that proves that highly creative, well-recognized work is overwhelmingly more effective than blander work. So we believe creativity functions as an economic multiplier for our clients. And well-respected competitions like Cresta help determine if your creative is up to snuff.
As far as maintaining excellence across all the BBDOs, it’s a standard that’s baked into our DNA. Our culture is about constantly learning new things, but it’s also about unlearning old, no-longer-useful things. You have to be aware of not letting the “cement harden”, can’t get stuck and left behind. You’re always stirring it, keeping it liquid, so the agency can flow wherever clients – and the world – need it to go.
I know it’s sound-bitey, but I like to call us a “global boutique”. Most all of our leadership team comes from boutique backgrounds, from Andrew Robertson on down. We come from cultures that were nimble, fast, edgy, agile. We had a dream of working that way but on a larger, global canvas. We think this combination puts us in a category of one. Not a slow dinosaur network, yet deep enough to wrap our arms around large, complex problems.
How difficult has it been to have so many of BBDO’s worldwide creative team working from home over the last year? Is the goal to get back to working in offices as before? And is there anything to take from this unusual situation that can evolve the way creatives, and creative departments, work?
We’re in a service industry. Meaning, day and night, 24/7, we’re there for our clients, no matter what. When you’re built like that, you adjust to obstacles quickly to help your clients in any new environment. So yeah, a little difficult, but we figured it out. When will we be back in the office? Who can say? I can tell you the work will maintain the quality no matter when that happens. On the upside, it’s been a good experience to learn and re-evaluate how we work.
“Creatives teams aren’t difficult to manage. They’re easy to manage if you can figure out what inspiration each person needs to perform at their best, and then figure out how to give it to them. “
Creative teams are notoriously difficult to manage. What words of advice do you find it most useful to give to those moving up the ladder of creative management?
I respectfully disagree with the premise of your question. Creatives teams aren’t difficult to manage. They’re easy to manage if you can figure out what inspiration each person needs to perform at their best, and then figure out how to give it to them.
We have noticed a growing confidence and quality in the work coming out of the Middle East. Impact BBDO Dubai in the forefront, of course. What are your thoughts on why that is happening now? And where else in the world do you think there is a notable upward trajectory?
What Impact BBDO and BBDO Pakistan have done over the last three or four years is incredible because they’re being recognized, not just in the context of the Middle East, but globally, as producing some of the best work in the world. Proving a point we make with all our agencies: when a piece of creative is being evaluated by a jury, all work is created equal.
You can read the full interview over at journal.cresta-awards.com.