To a lot of people, the ability to generate ideas is synonymous with creativity. Richard Bradley, VP and executive creative director at Jack Morton Worldwide, doesn’t quite agree.
“It’s easy to come up with really cool ideas, designs, exhibitions and to try and shoehorn that into your response to a client,” says Bradley. “That’s not actually your job. You always have to reread the brief. What’s the actual problem you’re trying to solve?”
This focus on effectiveness helped Bradley build Jack Morton Australia into an office with the “highest client-win rate in the network globally”. Now Bradley is based out of Singapore and works with clients like Nike, Volvo, Google and Procter & Gamble. In this regional role, he is focused on instilling this discipline in new talent.
“A creative director and mentor that I worked under years ago always used to tell me to RTFM [read-the-fucking-manual],” explains Bradley. “What does that mean? Well, it’s like building an Ikea furniture without reading the manual, only to realise later that there’s one leg missing. It’s the same going into work with a client.”
For a brand experience agency like Jack Morton, Bradley believes this is especially important due to the complexity and technical expertise required for creating “live experiences”, something he says that ad agencies don’t instinctively understand because of their focus on the “big idea”.
“We collaborate with ad agencies and they will usually have thought of an idea for some kind of live brand activation and experience,” says Bradley. “It will sound like an amazing idea but, from a practical perspective, completely unfeasible.”
Bradley puts it down to a difference in “approach to strategy, technical expertise and understanding of cost, project management and the creative process,” even though he says ad agencies often take the glory.
“It does get me pissed off sometimes that they get the credit and that when they say something at an ad festival that Jack Morton has been doing for a year, it’s like the next big thing,” says Bradley.
Starting out in the early 90s, Bradley worked for a “small creative studio” called Red Pencil in the UK, an experience that set the tone for the rest of his career and the type of creative he would become.
“This little agency [Red Pencil] had big clients and was run by an ex-agency creative,” says Bradley. “He used to hate the big ad agency networks. He never entered awards and was bitter and twisted. I think that kind of rubbed off on me.”
- 2015 VP & ECD, Jack Morton Worldwide
- 2013 ECD, Jack Morton Worldwide
- 2011 ECD, Salmat Digital
- 2010 ECD, Be.Group
“I was also trained in design and gravitated towards designing experiences. That’s probably why I never joined an advertising agency even when the opportunities came up,” Bradley adds.
Bradley then worked in Australia and spent the next 15 years working as creative director for a string of leading local agencies specialising in digital and brand experience -— a path that would eventually lead him to Jack Morton.
“In the mid-to-early 2000s experiential marketing wasn’t quite solidified,” says Bradley. “We’d make it sound amazing but it was basically just a touchscreen or something.”
Of course, those times have changed. Technology and digital have advanced rapidly, but instead of replacing analogue experiences, technology has fused with them and will continue to do so.
To do successful creative work, he says creatives need to “put their business hat on” and note “an idea is in service to a strategy and that strategy is in service to a problem.”
“As a creative the more you know about strategy, business, production and everything else, the better,” says Bradley. “Some people think it will water down your idea. But the more you know about other areas, the more your idea will hit the mark and deliver. And remember: ‘RTFM’.”