My career in advertising has been a lot like that old 90s’ movie Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow. Imagine your life one way, the way you think it should be… then one single thing happens (in the movie it’s whether she does or doesn’t walk through the doors of an underground train) and your life path is completely different.
My sliding doors moment wasn’t on a train in London, but walking through the door of a plane at London Heathrow headed to the States (at first), to join a new experiential agency in a global network.
If I hadn't got on that plain: I probably would have continued my career in London as an integrated creative director with a side-hustle of BBC drama producer and writer. I probably would have got a home in Notting Hill, downsized to a cool pad in Shoreditch and lived happily ever after. Done. Dusted.
But I stepped on that plane.
And my life since, has taken turns I never could have predicted.
Leave your comfort zone
Creatives often talk about the need to get out of their “comfort zones”.
But how many actually do professionally? How many step away from a demographic/customer description on a brief to see and feel and hear and touch the consumers of the world?
How many of you understand how brands have to translate into this vast global marketplace? The realities of how creative should be adapted?
Or just the sheer pleasure of marketing to a target audience you’ve never ever encountered, let alone heard of before?
We love the Internet right? We love our Insta and tweets and Facebook and Tik Tok… social media has the power to bring the world closer second by second. But what if, as a creative, you went through the screen,through your door, and lived/worked abroad in all these countries you look-up?
Things would never be the same. And as a creative you would be forever changed.
London isn’t the centre of the universe
I understand, that when you’re sat in the middle of it, creating content, ideating ads, producing digital campaigns, creating events – you think this is it. This is the most important market and you are doing the most important work. But in reality, London/UK is such a small part of the creative world.
I can’t begin to tell you what I’ve learnt from global agencies and consumers. What I’ve learnt from Iraqi mums in a war zone, a NASCAR fan in Middle America, an African-American teen who is looking for mentors, a Latina mom who is trapped between three generations resettled in the States, a NYC young professional too busy to get to the store… and the list goes on.
There is such a joy for the creative mind in understanding the complex make-up of people, their roles, their wants, their needs – and then delivering creatively, no matter what the medium.
Looking beyond stereotypes
Because in a global world of customers, when it all comes to it, we all want the same things. Humanity. Compassion. As a creative you have the power to look past the stereotypes and grab their hearts and help those individual consumers become the people they want to be.
Doesn’t that sound just a little bit more exciting than creating an ad for someone you don’t really care about just to get through the day?
The world is a wonderful place.
You only have to see the great global creative work being produced the past few years from Uber, ‘Ubertoys’/DDB Paris, Nando’s ‘#rightmyname’/M&C Saatchi Abel, Tourism Australia, ‘Dundee’/Droga5 US.
The list from quirky one-offs to major campaigns goes on and on and on.
Think how much you could learn, how you would grow and change as a creative; if you were in that agency, in that country – if you could just find your door to step through.
Someone once said – “The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live”.
So live. Be brave.
Find the handle/entry card/automatic entry to your door.
I’m sure there’s one left ajar somewhere.