I always dream of finding geniuses that are tech savvy and big ideas magicians. I think you have to build a team with different profiles and let them play the game together, a bit like in football.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
My bio has nothing spectacular and I would totally understand any digital natives reader who'd just quit here. Bye mate !! But here you go: I'm 44 years old, married with 2 kids. I love ideas, writing, champagne and golf. I started as a copywriter 20 years ago, worked for ad agencies like TBWA Paris, DDB Paris, Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam, BETC Paris, before joining JWT Paris 4 years ago. I had the extreme privilege to work for great brands like Nike, VW, Orange, NOKIA, BMW, KITKAT, ... amongst lots of others.
What do you do for inspiration?
I do nothing special. I'm a natural sponge. I naturally absorb everything that surrounds me. Wether it's music, fashion, style, politics, news, films, stars, books, digital, apps, or just observing the way people walk their dogs. And I think the best sponges make the best creatives. You have to deal with so many different topics and problems, jumping from charity to luxury, from shoes to chocolate, that each brief has to resonate with something you lived as a human being, and that's by digging into your own experience that you find ideas. As a creative, you are your first audience, that's a very egocentric job. You have to please yourself first to do good work.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
PGA european tour, FWA, creativity.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Being a french copywriter hired by Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam.
World premiere ;)
How many hours do you work each week?
50 hours on a regular week ( no pitch ).
How do you relax or unwind?
I play golf every week-end, which is way more frustrating than relaxing. True golfers will understand. But that's the beauty of it.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
I'd love to be a screenwriter. But man, that's such a hard job, the toughest marathon ever. Rewriting your story 28 times in 3 years. Respect.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
Favorite part: just when you've cracked it, when you gave birth to the big idea, when you start dreaming about it, you picture it as the most beautiful baby ever.
Hardest part: when a client kills an idea you love.
When stuck, I try to get back to the core basic question to solve, and that's probably the most difficult thing to do when you sort of lost your mind on a brief.
What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
Each time I changed jobs. I've always been called for more than just a new job, for a true personal challenge. You say YES ! And then you go, stupid jerk, there's no way you can make it. I shaped my career with a few big kicks in the ass.
What software could you not live without?
None. I'm not a pure player geek.
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
No clue ! Too much I guess, something like 12, all media included.
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
An iphone app that's called GIF CAMERA. Easy animated gif maker, great fun.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
I have a deep admiration for almost all the work coming Wieden & Kennedy, Unit 9, and Party ( in Japan ).
Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?
Anrick Breckman from Unit 9 has a blog called jollybutcher, he changed the navigation recently, but it used to be a full screen site with almost invisible navigation tools that was really new 2 years ago. I liked the Nike HTML5 site called "betterworld". I likes MINI MAPS on google maps, produced by UNIT9 again ...
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
For sure. FWA is a reference that validates a great digital idea or execution. Since JWT Paris has a traditional ad background, it helped us to demonstrate that we were relevent in digital, I'd say mostly for creative reputation and hirings.
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
The miracle viral fantasy is dead. Even though it may happen that your idea or your site makes a hit only by word of mouth on social media for example, major clients know that they have to support any digital idea with big media budget. But still, people have to click on you, so you'd better make it interesting.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
My very first digital initiative was a football game on a CD-Rom I did for NIke in year 2000. It was such a challenge, I felt like climbing the Mont Blanc in Converse. I hope no one still owns a copy of this, it was terrible.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I wrote many titles for potential books I never wrote ;)
Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?
Not really. I love travelling, and each trip puts me in a strong creative mood, I don't know why. Probably, getting out of the daily routine.
What was the last digital effort you saw (or were a part of) that used social media in a way that really made sense. Why?
It's a classic now, but I think DECODE JAY-Z from Droga5 is the most outstanding piece of communication I've seen recently from far. Social media was at the heart of it. And in the opposite, budget-wise, I really loved the obvious simplicity and brilliant cleverness of Ben&Jerry Fair tweets.
Have you been a part of a campaign that was rooted in digital and THEN reached over into other consumer touchpoints? Did this happen organically or was it a part of the plan from the beginning?
KITKAT ultimate break. A promotional initiative where you have to enter codes found on kitkat packaging to take part to an online promo. We did a few seasons with that concept executed differently each time. It was part of the plan from the beginning, being rooted in Nestlé promotion strategy.
The web is getting out of the web. Do you find that thinking in digital solutions alone hinders you? Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?
Yes and No. Ideally, a big idea should be media neutral. And it's great when you feel you can make it work everywhere. But in real client life, budgets are limited of course, and it forces you to invest in selected media to make an impact.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
No f.... clue ! Way beyond expected I hope.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
I think Nestlé extreme studio2ciné we did 3 years ago with Grouek studio in Paris was a huge achievement for us, our first big initiative with an experiential site. It was a thriller short you could edit and write yourself, using existing shots and text to speech.
How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?
That's a very difficult task. I always dream of finding geniuses that are tech savvy and big ideas magicians. I think you have to build a team with different profiles and let them play the game together, a bit like in football.
How do you keep up with the latest capabilities of Flash or do you rely on other members of you team to do this?
I'm an ad guy first. I rely on a great creative technologist who has a tremendous patience with me. I'm sure he feels like teaching flash or HTML to his grandmother.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
A great documentary. To find a real story to tell in long format about a brand, about people or else.
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
The last 10 years totally changed the world. I can't wait to live the coming years. I think we're living in a golden age thanks to digital endless potential. And as a person, I hope the future will bring me a single digit golf handicap ;)
What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?
I want to learn and understand more the metrics that are behind the web.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Find what you love doing, you'll never work a day in your life. I can't remember who said that.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
My pleasure, it's a great honor. Thank you Rob.