Most ad ideas seemingly last for an instant. For Mike Spirkovski, Chief Creative Officer, Saatchi & Saatchi Australia, his creative work on “Earth Hour” during his time at Leo Burnett has not only lasted for 15 years, but it has also grown year on year.
With a nearly two-decade career, Spirkovski has previously at agencies including Clemenger BBDO, Droga5, and Leo Burnett, as well as founding his own creative company Cassius Clay. Along with his CCO role at Saatchi & Saatchi Australia, he also sits on the Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide Creative Board as well as the Worldwide Toyota Creative Leadership Team.
Over the course of our conversation, he talks about how the pandemic has affected him on a personal level, building his own bikes, the creative work he is most proud of, and more.
These are strange and unusual times. How has the pandemic been for you personally?
I guess it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. It’s also proved how delicate we are as a species and the importance of having a light touch on our planet and to back off mother nature when she says so. The last few years have been a great time to reflect on the most important things in life like family and how we can all be more sustainable as a species.
Do you have a side-hustle? What do you do outside your job as a counterbalance to the stresses and strains of your job?
I love cycling and spend every free hour on my road bike riding up and down the rolling hills of the upper North Shore in Sydney and other idyllic and isolated locations. Finding cycling years ago changed everything for me and has made me better at everything especially my health, well-being, and overall mindset. I build my own bikes and love the craft and delicate detail which goes into making a superbike. I’ve also found my love for camping again and now own 4-wheel drive which I am also building up for a family trip around Australia to relax and do absolutely nothing.
In your career, which one piece of work are you most proud of?
There are many ideas I am proud of but none more than Earth Hour which we launched in 2007 whilst at Leo Burnett Sydney.
It’s by far the most important idea I’ve ever made and has lived on globally and continues to grow each year.
Plus, it’s the one idea my young children found out about on their own through school initiatives and support each year all while never knowing their dad made it.
If you weren’t in advertising, what would you be doing now?
Probably working for the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) and solving environmental problems through innovation. Or I’d be building bikes or cars or anything that involves making something.
Are awards important?
Yes, because they identify the best of the best and push us to do better. Whilst awards are a sense of acknowledgment and achievement (and sometimes just a necessary pat on the back for working bloody hard), they are also about direction and foresight. Importantly awards can identify changing cultural trends and have the power to encourage the type of work we do for brands in the future.
What does it mean to be a juror of The Caples Awards 2022?
It feels excellent. I’ve never judged the Caples before and love the fact the Caples is free to enter which puts all focus on the work. An award show that’s not just about money says a lot about the organization and its values, so I’m super proud to be involved.
“Plus, it’s (Earth Hour) the one idea my young children found out about on their own through school initiatives and support each year all while never knowing their dad made it.”
What sort of work are you hoping to see?
I’m hoping to see ideas that make me feel that special feeling you get when you see something special. It’s like a combination of pride, envy, and gratefulness all at once, and that someone somewhere had the ability to do something you didn’t think possible.
What is your one all-time favorite piece of advertising, the one idea you both admire and envy and wish that you’d done yourself?
There are so many ideas I envy, but one that really impacted me at a very positive part of my career was the Tap Project for Unicef by Droga 5. The sheer simplicity of making consumers think about the true value of something they get for free, and the difference this can make to those who don’t, really changed my point of view on the world.
The Tap Project, and many others like it are the reason why I love work that has a greater purpose in life. I’ll always push to make ideas like this above all else because they matter, and work that matters is what we as an industry should all be striving for every day.
To find out more about entering The Caples Awards, go here.