The creative director at Clemenger Group's eg+ worldwide on being a daydreamer, why a simple pen and paper is the best way to create and idea and why he advises clients to not be scared of a good idea
Creative director Simon Kitching began his newly-created role at Clemenger Group’s eg+ worldwide last month. Prior to this he was a graphic designer and art director at agencies across Australia before becoming creative director at Austin Begg and Partners. Some of the major brands Simon has worked with and been responsible for include, NEC, Liberal Party, Cadbury, Schweppes, Honda, Fosters, Heinz, Holden, Kraft, Ford, Telstra, Pura Milk, BRW, Devondale, Ericsson, Jennings, Glenvill, Racing Victoria, Unibic Biscuits, Myer, Goodness Superfoods, Borders, Diamaru, Sportsgirl, The Age, MFB, Go Pet, Dahlsens, Razzamatazz.
Get to know more about his creative processes below.
I’m an easy-going guy and I am more of an introvert than an extrovert. I like being around people and watching them. Not in a creepy way, just getting a sense of who they are and understanding what makes them tick. This is probably why I like to paint portraits. I love an interesting face with expressive eyes.
When I was a kid, I was always a daydreamer. Lost in my own imagination. At school I was constantly reprimanded for not paying attention. I had countless dusters thrown at me. Even now, I catch myself daydreaming. Gazing out a window, occupied by my own thoughts.
I tend to see the world through rose-coloured glasses. I prefer the good to the bad and this helps me navigate life without too much fuss.
For me, creativity is innate, and I think everyone is creative. Some of us just spend more time being creative and applying it with more direction. The trick is learning how to funnel your creativity. Never give up, keep pushing it around until you find an engaging solution. Then let it loose on the world. I enjoy all forms of creativity and appreciate the art of it all. Music, dance, painting, architecture, landscaping, film, advertising… it’s all fantastic and it makes the world go around.
When I judge a piece of creativity in advertising, it needs to tick a few boxes. Is it engaging? Is it communicating the SMP? Does it come from a sound insight and touch a nerve with the consumer? Is it sticky?
The ideas and advertising campaigns that have been the most memorable are those that have really worked hard.
Many years ago, I created a campaign for the NEC Sportz mobile phone. At the time it was just another mobile phone with no new features or product benefits.
By positioning the phone as a necessity for child safety, the campaign created a new category and brought mobile phones out of the office and into the home. It became the biggest selling mobile phone in Australia. An article in BRW by Neil Shoebridge later claimed, “the positioning and advertising campaign were the key elements in the out-of-the-box success.”
What frustrates me the most about the creative output of the industry is the amount of wallpaper. The lack of a solid advertising idea to engage the consumer. I don’t understand how this happens, is it the client or is it the agency?
I can’t come up with ideas unless I have a black marker and a layout pad in-hand. There’s something about the physical nature of pen and paper that helps the ideas slip out. My process is simple. Do some research, have empathy for the consumer and come up with an insight into their behaviour. The best ideas always come from a truth, so you need to walk a mile in the target markets shoes.
Once I have thought around the problem, I like to distance myself from the brief. Let it distil through the grey matter. Then look at it with fresh eyes the next day. This process works for me. Perhaps this is because I am a daydreamer. My brain keeps processing and thinking of solutions when I am staring out the window.
Initially I like to work alone. Get my thoughts straight. Then I like to work collaboratively. Everyone is creative, so the more input the better. I don’t consider myself to be the oracle of ideas. And I value everyone’s ideas and opinions.
My family has shaped me. My parents are both creative and so is my wife and three adult children. To be honest, I think they are all far more creative than I am.
To hone creativity, you need to experience life. Walk around with your eyes and ears wide open. Drink it all in and store it in that bottom draw in your brain.
My advice to clients is don’t be scared of a good idea. If it makes you nervous then it will probably have cut-through. If the idea is on strategy and communicates the SMP, then have some faith. Every creative person I have worked with only wants the best for their client’s business.
Agencies can help facilitate creativity by not pigeonholing staff. Ideas should come from everyone. The more brains the better. It does not matter what department they are in. Create a structure where ideas can be voiced without fear, fostering an inclusive all departments approach.