Redefining Bravery NYC at Creative Week

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Last week, Redefining Bravery emerged in NYC during Creative Week where each of our speakers defined bravery in their very own ways. Our moderator Gerry Graf of Barton Graf 9000 opened our event by defining bravery in his own terms.

“When you do brave work, it’s because that means you have value. Brave work means it’s original, and original works. Being brave means to question everything.”

He welcomed the panel which included Winston Binch and Pete Favat of Deutsch Inc., Tor Myhren of Grey, Wyatt Neumann of Fox Creative, Jeff Kling of Fallon and Suroosh Alvi of VICE.

“Brave work is infectious. People want to be around brave work. They (panel) have all been brave.”

Here are the key takeaways from some of our bravest leaders in the advertising industry:

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Winston Binch, Chief Digital Officer & Pete Favat, Chief Creative Officer, Deutsch Inc

Winston and Pete kicked off the presentations and defined bravery by showcasing a number of clients that inspired their bravery throughout their careers. They spoke about how these marketers pushed their agency executives to pursue work that was challenging and provocative, which is where the true bravery lies. According to Pete and Winston, the client doesn’t always get as much credit for their challenging attitudes and bravery as they should.

Brave clients (current and past) include:

1) Dr. Cheryl Healton, CEO of American Legacy (present)

2) Bryan Finke, Director of Digital Marketing, Nike (2001 – 2005)

3) Joanna Jacobson, VP Marketing and Product Development, Converse Corp.

4) Dominos Pizza (present)

5) Brian Niccol, CEO of Taco Bell (2015)

6) Russ Klein, president of global marketing, strategy and innovation at Burger King (present)

7) Jeff Jones, EVP and CMO, Target (2012 – present)

“When you think about it, we always take the credit for the clients work, but they (the clients) never come up with us. AD Club started to recognize our clients.” – Pete Favat

“We want to say thanks to our brave clients, because that’s the reality. They’re the brave ones.” – Winston Binch

Key Takeaways from Pete and Winston:

  • Client credit: The clients are often the ones who encourage us, their agencies, to be brave and to do brave work.
  • Gratitude goes a long way. Clients deserve equal recognition when it comes to receiving a creative award. The AD Club and ANDYs acknowledge this as imperative compared to other creative award shows.

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Tor Myhren, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer, Grey

Tor spoke about an important truth for inspiring bravery: provide a work environment that empowers, encourages, and provides comfort.

He introduced Grey’s “Heroic Failure Award”, which has been won only by 7 people before. It’s given to individuals whose ideas failed when they were presented, but they failed epically. The ideas were provocative, ballsy, and innovative – and the individuals should be proud of their ideas and efforts, despite the failure. Being brave is something to be rewarded.

“We at Grey do something that’s called the Heroic Failure Award. Awesome to win it, just don’t win it twice.”

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Wyatt Neumann, Photographer, Fox Creative

Wyatt is a renowned photographer who was publicly accused of posting child pornography of his daughter across his social channels. Lobbyists tried to have his Instagram, Twitter and website shut down and publicly shamed him for his art.

His first instinct was to fight back and to defend himself, his daughter and his art. But ultimately, he took a higher road, transcending the negativity, and bravely shared those same photos in a gallery because to him, this was art and an expression of love for his child. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, and he is now known for this act of bravery rather than the accusation.

“Your initial response is to fight back, which I did. When you get stuck in these situations, if you’ve done everything with integrity, then it’s not that hard to be brave.” – Wyatt Neumann

Key Takeaways from Tor and Wyatt:

  • Choices: People will judge your character not in good times, but in bad times. This is when you have a choice to be brave or stay silent. The latter can taint your brand/name forever. When you get stuck in these situations, if you’ve done everything with integrity, then it’s not that hard to be brave.

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Jeff Kling, Chief Creative Officer, Fallon

Jeff shared an anecdote about his first day at his first advertising agency, Wieden + Kennedy, on April 1st, 1996. W+K was celebrating their anniversary, and had a talent show where Jeff decided this was the perfect moment to do standup comedy…and he failed miserably.

He talked about the fear he had up on stage, and how fear is an essential element that feeds bravery. And really, creatives are not bravery experts but rather fear experts. But harnessing this fear is what keeps you alive and successful.

“Fear sits all over us, and it makes for a terrible muse. Fear keeps us alive.”

Key Takeaways from Jeff:

  • Fear: We are fear experts in advertising. Fear is terrible, but fear keeps us alive.

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Suroosh Alvi, Co-founder, VICE Media

Suroosh opened with a video montage of his bravest moments – he has gone with VICE all over the world and covered the darkest, scariest places to uncover the truth. There is a massive amount of fear that accompanies the bravery of diving into these unknown situations. In just a few years, VICE has evolved from a magazine publication company to a massive and popular news / media /content producer today. Starting on this new venture with no idea what to expect was scary, exciting and incredibly brave.

“Bagdad helped me overcome certain fears but scared me shitless…At times, we’ve taken certain risks, but if we don’t come back with a story we’ve failed.”

Key Takeaway from Suroosh:

  • Bravery disguised as fear: Going to scary places and coming out alive can make a person brave by first being fearful.
  • Fear of the unknown: Sometimes the bravest thing to do is pursue something you’ve never done before or have no knowledge of, whether that’s going into an unfamiliar country to get a story, or expand your company not knowing what lies next.

We learned a lot this year, particularly that bravery has and always will remain timeless. A very special thanks to everyone who had a part of the ANDY Awards – whether that was judging work, submitting work, or celebrating bravery every day – and most importantly for inspiring us along the way.


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