Friday, January 11, 2008

It's No Longer Safe In The Water


This is Jon Williams, formerly a digital creative director... who just got hired to be executive creative director of one of Britain's biggest above-the-line agencies. Full story here.

Okay, so it's only Grey.

Nevertheless, one has to ask, does this news not represent a massive threat to all above-the-line creatives, or perhaps more accurately, to all above-the-line creatives without digital expertise and experience?

Let's just say I believe it's no coincidence that this fellow shares his name with a certain composer called Jon Williams...

40 comments:

rjhayter said...

'Above-the-line-creative' sounds like such a quaint, old-fashioned thing to say, these days. According to the story in Campaign, Mr Williams has looked after lots of different kinds of creative departments. Sounds like he could be the archetypal 'modern' creative director.

Just like you, eh Scamp ;-)

And Brummy Trev wouldn't have hired him if his work was shit – he's no mug.

Scamp said...

Has he "looked after lots of different kinds of creative departments"?

Looking closely at that Campaign story, it says he has "run" 3 interactive/online/digital creative departments but only "worked at" three above-the-line agencies.

I'm not saying he's no good - I don't know any of his work (although, that is actually a bit of a low-quality signal)...

But it sounds to me like he was never an above-the-line superstar, so went digital. And now he's returned as the king.

Maybe that makes him smart I suppose.

Anonymous said...

funnily enough, as the UK finally gets all digital and shit, here in the US there's a move the other way, ie back to TV. the reason is simple. it's waaaaaaaaaaay too hard to get a sizeable audience online for a national brand. the internet is simply hostile to advertising, turns out.

GET 25% OFF BRAKE PADS NOW - try making that message viral.

Mike Laurie said...

He also shares the same hair as Bill Bailey.

Lunar BBDO said...

John W. said: "I have run departments before, so I'm not some green 23-year-old computer geek."

That's quite a telling quote, combining as it does, defensiveness, avoidance of a real discussion of his creds and the weakest possible justification for why he deserves this job.

Is it a good hire? Scamp, as you said, it's Grey. Let's hope he can make the work 3.5 out of ten instead of the usual 2.

Kate Moss said...

I wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Scamp says in his post

'one has to ask, does this news not represent a massive threat to all above-the-line creatives, or perhaps more accurately, to all above-the-line creatives without digital expertise and experience?'


If you're working as an above the line creative and you haven't yet realised that you need to get up to speed with the digital revolution, then I'm afraid you deserve everything that's coming to you. Namely you'll become very difficult to employ within 5 years.

I wish above the line creatives would stop being so precious about the medium and start adapting. Great ideas live anywhere, not just on a poster or in a TV spot.

There is no threat as long you keep an open mind. Simply keep learning, and keep yourself abreast of all the new technologies and opportunities that become available and you'll be fine.

So stop panicking, and start embracing what could be a very bright and interesting future for the UK advertising industry. As someone famous once said 'adapt or die.'

Paul said...

Should we be expecting great things from Grey now? I don't know this bloke but perhaps someone can point to any great digital work he's responsible for. He does look like someone who takes part in historic battle re-enactments at the weekend though

Grey Creative said...

Hey, Jon, check out this brilliant TV ad I just did!

Oh, you've no idea how to judge it because your expertise in that area is woeful.

Well, at least the banners look nice.

A further plunge in Grey's creative reputation, here we come!

Scamp said...

Last anonymous - I don't think panic is such a bad thing. It helps create change.

]-[appy Thought said...

I'm some green 23-year-old computer geek

:)

]-[istory will be my judge

Anonymous said...

Let's ask the question: Does anyone know of any work that Jon Williams has done, good or bad, digital or otherwise?

Also, does anyone remember him from JWT, Saatchi & Saatchi or WCRS?

Agree with lunar that the Campaign quote is remarkably weak. Won't the clients question his credentials? New business prospects will at least.

Anonymous said...

There's long been a pecking order in this country.

There were those who did poster, press and 'films' and then there was everyone else.

Now the 'everyone else' are hammering on the walls like the zombies outside the pub in Shaun of the Dead.

Hope you've got a shotgun.

Anonymous said...

If you search Jon Williams on thereel.net there is one ad from 2000 for Sensodyne toothpaste. Here is the description from the site: "A woman explains why you should carry on using Sensodyne toothpaste even after you teeth no longer seem sensitive to hot or cold food. She illustrates the point by cruelly running taps while her boyfriend is in the shower."
It's not quite Guinness Surfer.
Incidentally this was made by an agency called PTK. Who?

Geeky McNerd said...

However, if you look up Jeff Smith (I'm assuming it's Geoff Smith) and Simon Butler, whom Jon will oversee...

Oh look, they did Stunt City. And the Reg and Al posters and much of D&AD 1995 (snapple, death cigarettes etc.)

Thank god they have this pillar of creativity to point them in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Maybe there should be a new D&AD Category now

for creatives who are 'good in meetings'

Anonymous said...

i reckon he's gone to Grey for all the free Mars bars they must have in the basement.

Anonymous said...

Yeah you know what, i'm sure Grey just hired him on a whim. They probably didn't do any background checks or CV skim overs.

If only they could've asked what you all thought before hiring him they wouldn't have made such a big error.

Anonymous said...

They clearly didn't uncover anything they wanted to boast about to Campaign.

rjhayter said...

I say again, Trevor Beattie is no mug. And he hired Williams. OK, so he's let him go pretty damn quick, but he must have something worth having initially.

I agree that the 'nerd' quote in campaign doesn't paint him a very good light. He'll regret that one day.

And are creatives who have never done 'a film' really like zombies? If so, maybe like the ones in 28 Days Later. There's loads of them, their very quick and hard to escape...

rjhayter said...

Apologies for incorrect use of "their" in my previous comment.

Must be my zombie fingers.

Anonymous said...

Just got back from the pub. What are you all whinging on about?

Anonymous said...

What's all this not being able to judge agood TV campaign guff about? Have any of you actually sat through an ad break recently? Approximately 1% of the stuff I see online or on TV is any good anyway. Great results=great comms whatever the channel. On the reputation front apparently he was the guy behing the HP Hype work that cleaned up at Cannes a couple of years ago so it doesn't sound like he is a mug.

Anonymous said...

They could have hired Nick Bell instead of King Charles the Second. But maybe he would be too strong for an agency chief who has never run an agency to handle?

Anonymous said...

Hands up all those who want to work for Jon Williams? Or who might actually consider working at Grey now

Anonymous said...

for some reason my arm's gone dead.

Anonymous said...

me...because he may not be a tedious arsehole who thinks tv ads are some sort of artistic pinnacle...

Anonymous said...

how do you know he's not a tedious arsehole who thinks digital ads are the future that will wipe away everything else?

Anonymous said...

Why are atl creative directors so afraid of digital. You all go on about embracing it but it couldn't be further from the truth.

I was in a meeting today when a CD said 'of course they'll be a big tv ad to go with this' as if we wouldn't be interested in creating digital work for a digital product (which makes the most sense to me).

Atl cd's should be pushing alt creatives to do more digital work and get the business.

When's this bitching blog going to backfire?

S.

Anonymous said...

wow, the UK is really behind on this whole digital thing. you're where the US was 7 years ago. i think your infatuation with "film" is killing you. it's still about Frank and Frederick really isn't it.

this guy is going to grey. you could put a juggler in charge of that place and it wouldn't make an iota of difference to the output. calm down!

Anonymous said...

Who are the UK creative directors in "atl" agencies who are interested in digital? Is yours?

Mike said...

Being a junior creative I spent my whole last year determined to be abtl ad man but after a stint at a digital agency my curios was sparked and now feel it would be good to learn a bit more about digital before I venture out into the above the line world, do you think I will have more to offer?

Anonymous said...

mike, do the digital thing first. you're young, you're supposed to be digital. any idiot can do tv, including me.

rjhayter said...

Hey Scamp, what have you got against Grey anyway? I mean, they haven't set the world alight creatively for some years, I'll admit. But live and let live, eh?

And before you ask, no I don't work there.

Toad said...

While none of the US agencies has actually gone out and hired a digital CD for ATL work, they all make lots of noise about how digitally-savvy they are, to the point that you'd think it pained them to actually have to do a TV spot.

But of course nothing could be farther from the truth: they all want to digital if it means making a TV commercial that gets posted to YouTube (rather than CNN) and hopefully goes "viral."

An actual DR-type online project or site build? No way in hell.

One of the anonymi mentioned that TV is making a comeback in the States, and that's true- not sure if it's actually happened yet (it's one of my 2008 predictions on my blog) but it will, for the reasons s/he mentioned. Also people are realizing that banners are more or less online versions of outdoor billboards - something I see on my way to somewhere else. They can be engaging as all get out, but if I'm online to check the weather before I leave the house, I'm not clicking.

But as for the topic at hand: If you were Grey, wouldn't you try something like that to shake things up? I mean it's not like all sorts of top notch ATL creatives are lining up to take that job.

Scamp said...

What do I have against Grey? What do I have against Grey? I'll tell you. I'm out here on the front line, day after day, busting my balls to produce the most creative ads I can come up with, and Grey, Grey are.... oh, forget it.

Scamp said...

toad - good point.

I actually think Grey have done a smart thing. It will impress clients and that, after all, is their business model.

Anonymous said...

i was interviewed by Mr Williams once. I turned his job offer down. After having met him, i could never have imagined myself working with someone who had said to me, "Son, Do you know I am the most highly awarded CD in the UK! Now... show me your book..."

fuck you! I've got a cannes lion. I have never heard of you or your shitty agency.

(now thats exorcized years of frustration)

futureofmarketing said...

I've worked with Jon. I saw his CV before he was hired at HTW.

Yep, he's got a list of awards longer than this blog. Which is one of the reasons why he was hired by the most awarded DM agency in the UK.

He brought two disparate departments together and made 'em realise they had more in common than they thought: the idea.

Fact of the matter is, if your idea only works on TV and a 48-sheet these days, you're history.

Yet what are these ATL 'ideas' the people on this blog ponder Jon being able to spot? Kerry Catona? Cillit Bang? Confused.com?

99.999% of all TV advertising is shit (maybe that's why there are so many odour products being advertised, to mask the stench of bad creative).

DM is stagnant.

Digital is the only place where there's anything interesting happening.

So, greycreative (if you really are a member of that department): if your ads are so brilliant, then why is your agency's reputation so shit?

Why are ad breaks so excruciating? And why are more and more people buying digital technology that lets them cut your programme interruptions out?

It won't just be in five years' time that you'll be struggling: a quick look at the Economist from two weeks ago tells us yet again that, if a recession hits, the first thing clients will pull will be their advertising budgets.

By the same token, the need for digital is predicted to keep rising and to buck any slowdown.

Slowdown aside, by the end of this year clients will be spending more on digital than they will on telly spots.

Don't worry, though. I'm not that much of a cunt. As I head past the dole queue in my addy lee car, I'll throw you some coins.

But only if you do me a little dance first.

Anonymous said...

at last. well said future. just read all the above wishing bad thoughts on you losers. If you trip up, step shit over your hall carpet or lose your keys it worked. its the quality of creative overall thats shit at the moment. banners are SHIT (but have a budget of £20) tv is just as shit (but have a budget £100000) - which is worse? i dont know. the only things that are interesting are the things where people are playing together and doing something new. not just mouse over to spin the car or some twat skipping along to some folksy humming song drawing rainbows everywhere.