Every once in awhile it’s nice to get another perspective on creativity and its influence in the advertising industry. So this week the creativity blog focuses on an interview with Rob Reilly, the creative lead of WPP. We also acknowledge the passing of an icon who truly embodied the power of creative excellence, Dan Wieden. Below are some excerpts from that interview conducted by Carly Weihe.
In sitting down with Reilly, his passion for creativity and the high quality standards he puts into his work is clear. Under his creative lead, WPP won the Most Creative Company of 2022 at Cannes. Animated and engaging, it’s no surprise he is the chief creative officer for the largest advertising company in the world. With a little over a year under his belt at the company, his outlook on the future is a positive one, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and brand consistency as key factors for continued success.
I have a photograph of the Fearless Girl in my room. I discovered that you had a hand in bringing it to life.
That’s one of the best things someone’s ever started an interview with. I think the accomplishment you can have is to create something that has an impact long after you leave this earth. When the stock brokers come out, they have to face her and remember to do the right thing the next day. The City of New York wanted to move her into a park because she was causing a lot of traffic. We were like, ‘no, we’ll move her to Tokyo or London instead because everybody wants her.’
So, we showed them the comp of the only place we would accept, State Street, and that’s where she is today. We don’t know what the return on investment is on that piece of work, because who knows if it inspired, some president or someone starting a company or finding a cure to a disease, because they were inspired to be a bit fearless.
You’ve been a part of other social justice campaigns such as #NYCSaysGay. How do you leverage real problems to inspire people?
Well,if you’ve seen anything that I’ve done or any presentations I’ve made, I really talk about creativity being today’s most valuable asset. So yes, the NYC Love was a campaign that we did against the Don’t Say Gay issue that they had in Florida. (The campaign was digital billboard advertisements strategically placed across Florida that emphasized NYC’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community, in partnership with New York City’s mayor Eric Adams.)The idea is great. But the media placement is what makes it really great.
The creative headlines are fun and interesting and pretty punchy, but it’s a fact, that you’re able to buy the media in the States basically telling people to leave Florida, and the state of Florida couldn’t stop it. You need some real ingenuity and real creativity to do that. I have high hopes for creativity being taught to children in schools eventually. We’re teaching our kids a lot of things, and we should be teaching them to use their brain and creative ways to solve problems.
Too many people think, “Oh, I’m not creative.” But you don’t have to be an artist to be creative. You just have to use your brain in different and unique ways to solve things. I feel like more and more creativity is going to be used to get us out of sometimes the messes we create as a country and as a world.
How does hiring talent play into that mission?
I think younger people want to work for companies that are doing the right thing. Whether you choose to work at a company or whether it’s the couple of brands you choose to support, you’re watching what they do. But you also want to have a good career and make money and these two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
I think we’ve got to continue to attract unique and different types of individuals by doing the right things for them, and then the right things out in the world. I think where we’re struggling when we get into the diversity and inclusion aspect. I feel like we got to do a way better job of making sure all types of people with all types of opinions and voices and backgrounds are included and this is the business.