John Jay of Wieden+Kennedy: Break Out of Your Silo

Today’s Saturday Matinee is a quick video from another Widen+Kennedy heavy hitter, executive creative director John Jay. This post was originally published April 04, 2012.


Wieden+Kennedy is one of the most successful and dominant advertising and marketing agencies in the world. Their clientele includes such international brands as Coca-Cola, Electronic Arts, Proctor & Gamble, Nike, Converse, and Old Spice. (They are the firm behind the “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” commercials starring Isaiah Mustafa.) Their global executive creative director, John Jay, was #41 on Fast Company’s 2011 list of the 100 most creative people. In the video below John shares his thoughts on being a creative.

Break Out of Your Silo

What John shares in the video resonates with me profoundly as a creative. Don’t you get tired sometimes trying to fit into the mold of what other people think you should be? The kind of photographer you should be. The kind of filmmaker you should be. Musician. Writer. Graphic designer. Whatever. It’s one of the reasons why I’m always encouraging people to take my “comparison kills creativity challenge.” Be bold by being yourself. Break out of the silo that your friends and colleagues have put you in.

Being True to Your Style Without Imposing It

There’s one point John makes in the video I think is worth addressing. He talks about the importance of listening to your clients; then promoting their truth. He states that a company doesn’t hire an architect to have his style imposed upon it. Or an agency to have their thinking totally imposed upon it. You have to listen and have empathy for the culture of your client, to truly understand “their soul,” then make that soul relevant to a greater number of people.

I completely agree with this sentiment as it pertains to creative studios whose job it is to develop a marketing message. Even if you’re just a small “mom and pop” creating a local TV spot for the bakery down the street, you need to create a spot that authentically represents their brand. It’s how we at Dare Dreamer Media work with our clients. To understand their message, then use our gifts as storytellers and marketers to communicate that message in a way that is true to their brand. Never wanting to “impose” our style on them.

This doesn’t mean you can’t still be true to your style as an artist. Even as you craft creative that communicates the truth of your client’s brand, the spirit of your style will imbue that  marketing message. If you stop trying to be like someone else, and embrace YOUR style as an artist, you will attract clients (whether they be brides or businesses) who connect with that style.

The best way to not impose your style is to start with a client relationship wherein the client wants your style. And they are out there. I don’t care how much better you think one studio’s work is over yours, there are clients out there who don’t want StillMotion, or Zack Arias, or Philip Bloom, or Vincent Laforet, or a Dare Dreamer Media. They want YOU! But you’ll never know if you don’t be true to who you are.

The video below is only 2.5 minutes. It’s time worth spending to watch, listen, and learn.

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