Sunday, June 4, 2023
HomeUncategorizedWPP's Rob Reilly on the Power of Great Ideas

WPP's Rob Reilly on the Power of Great Ideas

Rob Reilly is a true creative. He has worked in the industry for decades and knows what it takes to create impactful, meaningful work. Not only that, but he is willing to share his knowledge and successes in hopes of inspiring the next generation.

Sitting down with Reilly, his passion for creativity and the high quality standards he has for his work are evident. Under his creative leadership, WPP won the 2022 Most Creative Company Award at the Cannes Film Festival with a landslide of over 300 points. Dynamic and engaging, he is without a doubt the chief creative officer of the world’s largest advertising agency. Having been with the company for a little over a year, his outlook for the future is positive, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and brand consistency as key factors for continued success.

I would say there is actually a picture of a fearless girl in my room. As I was preparing for this interview, I was so excited to find out that you were making it a reality. This is one of the best things someone can do to start an interview. I think the achievement you can have is to create something impactful long after you’ve left Earth. As soon as the stockbroker comes out, you have to face her and remember to do the right thing the next day. NYC wanted to move her to the park because she was causing a lot of traffic. We were like, ‘No, we’re going to move her to Tokyo or London because everyone wants her. So, we showed them the only place we would accept, State Street, which is where she is today. We don’t know what the return on investment of this work is, because who knows if it inspired some president or someone to start a company or find a cure for a disease because they were inspired to become a little fearless. Well, if you’ve seen anything I’ve done or any demo I’ve done, I would really say that creativity is the most valuable asset today. So yes, NYC Love is our campaign for Don’t Say Gay in Florida. (The campaign is a digital billboard ad strategically placed across Florida in partnership with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, highlighting New York City’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.) This idea is great. But the location of the media makes it awesome. Creative headlines are fun and powerful, but the truth is, you can buy media in the U.S. and basically tell people to get out of Florida, and Florida can’t stop it. You need some real ingenuity and real creativity to do this. I have high hopes for eventually teaching creativity to children in schools. We are teaching our children a lot, and we should teach them to use their brains and creative ways to solve problems. Too many people think, “Oh, I’m not creative.” But you don’t have to be an artist to be creative. You just have to use your brain in different and unique ways to solve problems. I feel that more and more creativity is going to be used to get us out of the mess we sometimes make as a country and as a world.

How does recruiting get involved in this mission? I think young people want to work for companies that do the right thing. Whether you choose to work for one company, or choose to support several brands, you are paying attention to what they do. But you also want to have a good career and make money, these two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I think we have to continue to attract unique and different types of people by doing the right thing for them and then the right thing in the world. I think when we get into diversity and inclusion, we’re struggling, just like everyone is struggling. I feel like we have to do a better job of making sure to include all types of people with all perspectives, voices and backgrounds, and that’s business. We are continuing to work out how to do this.

You have spoken in the past about the public aspect of creativity. H How do you think technology and virtual work have affected this sentiment? We are in the apprenticeship business. I have this job because I’ve spent decades listening to my boss talk about things that aren’t even the projects I’m working on. Because I’m there, I’m part of this community. You can sit at your desk and listen to these things happen. I learned a lot and I feel like this is a real danger for young people. We have to do a better job of making sure that when people go back to the office, everyone is included, [and] people who work in a hybrid model. I wonder if technology has caught up with hybrid workplace ambitions. It exists, but it’s expensive. We had to figure out how to make our space more interesting. So it’s part of the technology and part of the atmosphere. This is a complicated thing.

WPP won the Cannes Creative Awards by a significant margin this year. Is there any specific method or anything you would say you can attribute success to? I’m a big believer in talent, and if you hire the right people, you’ll get better results. I think making sure we’re the best place to work or the most attractive place to work, or the most inclusive place to work. These are important because the best people are attracted to these things. It starts with our CEO, Mark Read, who says, “I want to be the most innovative company in the world.” It starts there, and then it starts with all the other CEOs. We wouldn’t be a creative company if the CEO didn’t want to be a creative company. But our CEO will do it. If we’re not prepared to do what it takes to be number one and be seen as one of the most creative companies, we’re going to fail, and it all starts with the CEO. Fortunately, we have great ones. I think right now, we’re probably one of the best places to work, and I think the momentum is there. Good stories come from our company, and good stories come from our WPP Center. I think that’s very appealing to people. So people plus process equals consistently brilliant ideas. It’s not that complicated, but it’s very difficult to execute.

What do you think you have learned this year, in this new role? What I’ve learned is that just because a company is big doesn’t mean it can’t be a really supportive place. Mark has created a very special team where all CEOs work together. I’ve learned that constant communication, meetings, and conversations are really the way to get large organizations involved. So not one person, but 20 people, and they’re all really heading in the same direction. And I know this works on a smaller scale because I’ve been involved in it, but I don’t think it works on a larger scale. I think part of that is ongoing communication and Mark is very good at getting good input from everyone and listening and then making really informed decisions. This is probably the most important thing I’ve learned, if you communicate a lot, and in a real way and with a real purpose, you can make a very large organization function in a very cohesive and meaningful way.

What do you expect? What do you hope to accomplish next year? We have had a tough few years as a country and as a world, we’ve been through the pandemic, and now we’re going through another tough year because the world There are other things going on, like a looming recession. I think in these moments, people really want the brand to be stable. What I’m most excited about is making sure these brands are well represented in the world and bring stability, hope and inspiration to those who need it. Now is not the time to panic, now is the time to really use creativity to solve some problems because it will be difficult. As agents of brands and marketers, all we can do is make sure our brands are healthy and serve people as well as possible.

Short format videos such as TikTok and Reels , how has your job changed?

My entire creative process was looking forward to how this idea would land in the culture. What people like, share and spread. This is the whole creative process. So no matter how you bring it to life, or where it appears, it can appear on TikTok, it can appear in long form — it can appear as a [linear] TV or a Netflix series, it can appear in motion Or appearing in more traditional TV commercials during live entertainment. But video as a delivery device has reached unprecedented heights, and I think it will grow more and more. I think curiosity is the most important thing about being a creative person. As you gain more experience in business, if you don’t stay curious and try to learn all the new platforms and where young people are, you will fail. You have to put in the work, you have to keep refreshing your skills and thinking. By the way, it’s getting more and more fun and easy, and it’s not blind. I don’t think brands have fully cracked something like TikTok yet, but we will, we just have to keep playing with it. I’m happy to be a part of it. I guess we just have to be curious enough to get hold of it.

What do you think led you to do this at a moment in your career? I wanted to be a game show host since I was a kid and I feel like I’m still alone today because I let the show go on conduct. This is the job of the chief creative officer. I like the simplicity of advertising, I like the instant gratification of things right now. I think a really important part of what we do is we can put things into culture, advertising and agency. We’re doing a lot more than we were 10, 15, 20 years ago, we’re creating products, we’re creating policies. I mean, we’ve changed policy in a lot of places, not just WPP. I hope more and more candidates and young people are attracted to our industry, hopefully through WPP. But if not, other great companies are out there. Because I think we need them. Doing meaningful work can lead to a good life, and that might just be pleasing people. We don’t always make people cry, I want us to laugh a little more. We’re really trying to be politically correct everywhere, and I think we’ve lost a little sense of humor. I just wanted to spice it up a bit because the world is heavy. We need some fun. Advertising is of course where you can have crazy fun.



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