The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

If You Thought Wieden+Kennedy Was Chaotic Before, Wait Till You Read This …
April 5, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Creativity, Culture

So yesterday I posted a link to some exciting news that is happening at Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai and that is happening for me.

For those who missed/ignored it, this is it.

Yes, Wieden Shanghai is – as we already have in Amsterdam and London – opening a school.

Not just any school, but one focused on creativity.

Not the theory of it, but the application of it.

It is something we have wanted to do for a very long time and the fact it’s happening is very exciting to all of us.

The other thing that’s exciting is that anyone who has a passion for creativity – whether you like writing, painting, photographing, coding or cooking – will be eligible to apply.

It will last 9 months, it will be based inside our offices and it will be focused on how creativity can push, challenge, destroy and create.

Oh, and I’m going to run it.

Some of you may know, but teaching – especially teaching creativity – is something that is very important in my life.

It’s so important, that I have spent the past 5 years training to become one so I can [hopefully] make it my post-advertising career.

So when Wieden asked me if I would run their school, I jumped at the chance.

Sure it will be challenging, sure it will be difficult to balance it with my planning job … but apart from the fact the company, my team mates and my colleagues have all been super supportive, encouraging and helpful in ensuring I’ll be able to do it while making sure I’m still a [semi] good husband and father to my wife, son and cat [ignoring the fact you all think I don’t do any work anyway] … it is an opportunity that doesn’t come around very often.

So what is that opportunity?

Well, as far as I see it, it’s being given the chance to destroy the old and explore the new.

The reality is The Kennedys in Shanghai will not teach how to craft advertising.

I’m a planner … I have no capability, let alone credibility, to teach the skills of copy, design and art direction.

Those are disciplines that take creatives, creative directors and designers an incredible amount of time to master and there’s no way I’m going to pretend I can do it when I have brilliant colleagues who could teach more in 2 minutes than I could learn in a 1000 lifetimes.

While I’ll definitely be calling on their – and countless others – expertise over the journey of the course, I’m going to be focusing on teaching the things I am good at … thinking creatively … acting creatively … releasing creativity.

In other words, I’ll be focused on two things:

+ Helping these 10 talented individuals use creativity – in the broadest sense of the word – to solve problems rather than just communicate them.

+ Helping these 10 talented individuals find and express their individual creative voice.

While the challenges are often going to be tough, tight and complex … the students will be told ‘anything goes’ in terms of how they approach them, as long as their creativity intrigues, involves and impacts the issue and the culture around it.

It’s for this reason The Kennedys is open to anyone who believes – and practices – creativity in it’s broadest terms … which, I will reiterate, can be anything including writing, thinking, photographing, painting, organising, blogging, needle working, coding, DJ-ing or cooking. 

It’s also for this reason that I’m far more likely to ask the students to think of ways to get kids to eat more greens or create a board game that promotes positive debate than I am to get them concepting toothbrush ads.

The reason The Kennedys is about teaching the application of creativity in it’s broadest terms, not its narrowest is not just because Wieden has always valued creativity over advertising, but because if the industry is going to evolve, it needs to welcome those who see and practice creativity in ways that go beyond the narrow confines that adland has fought to defend and protect for the past 50+ years.

That’s not to say we won’t explore communication and how to do it brilliantly, nor does it mean we will ignore the great advertising from the past … it just means the focus of The Kennedys will be putting creativity into culture rather than pushing sales messages into ad channels.

If truth be told, it’s all going to be one giant experiment but then so was cynic and that was one of the great times of my life … so I’m hopeful it will be fun and valuable for me, for the students and for Wieden.


So if you know someone who believes in the power of creativity, send them this way and let’s see what trouble we can get them to create.

39 Comments so far
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It’s even worse than I thought. You’re taking it seriously.

Good write up though, you’ve made me want to apply except I know you wouldn’t let me in. This is going to be interesting to watch.

Comment by DH

you mean watching the faces of wieden global management when they realise what the fuck they have done.

Comment by andy@cynic

A nine month commitment

Comment by john

That will feel like 30 years in solitary confinement.

Comment by DH

ok campbell, youve handled this well. not claiming to be a fucking agency creative was a smart move. fucking obvious but i know a ton of planning twats that would have fallen down that hole. seems youre still a wily fucking fox.

i hate to say it but youve made it sound good. even fucking worse, i think you might be good for it. better than some agency creative twat who can only ripoff d&ad and youtube clips to make a 30 second manifesto that they think is the height of creative genius. fucking hell, youve got me waxing lyrical, you manipulating fucking fuck.

Comment by andy@cynic

if you make the fuckers create a car for nike ill fucking smack you though.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’ll hold him while you smack him.

Comment by DH

Ideas powered by creativity. Not advertising ideas, powered by executions.

Comment by George

i know you dont call yourself a planner anymore but youre still spouting high falutin planner wank which means youre the worst sort of planner, one in fucking denial.

Comment by andy@cynic

Andy FTW.

Comment by DH

What I said is correct though.

Comment by George

Yes it is George … though not all of it is going to be focused on that, the starting point are getting people to recognise their own creative voice. The last thing I want is to create a bunch of students who answer ‘advertising problems’ in a way where their individual talent and outlook is ignored.

Jesus, look at me being all artsy!

Comment by Rob

I will keep this forever. Then I’ll call you a DR.

[But thank you, that’s praise indeed]

Comment by Rob

it was not fucking intentional.

Comment by andy@cynic

Brilliant write up Robert. I’m excited for you and exceedingly jealous of all the students who will learn from you.

Comment by George


Comment by DH

What’s the holiday allowance?

Comment by john

For me or for them? Obviously they won’t be the same. Ha.

Comment by Rob

Fantastic Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

This looks great Rob. Are people from outside of China allowed to apply too?

Comment by Pete

If they can be in China legally, they can. We can help … but we can’t guarantee their application unfortunately.

Comment by Rob

Wow this is interesting to me, since I am trying to get into the creative ad world. Congrats!

Comment by flyingonemptythoughts

What students do you take, and do you take out of Shanghai. Is there a link i can check the program out?

Comment by flyingonemptythoughts

Hi Flyingonemptythoughts …

Well, the links are in the post, but I’ll help you because I’m feeling kind today. And yes, we do take people outside of Shanghai but you will be responsible for visas.

Good luck.

Comment by Rob

part of me likes flyingempty couldn’t be fucked to click on the links that make it fucking obvious the info they want is there. part of me despairs for mankind.

Comment by andy@cynic

Well Andy accessing from the mobile app, so links are not that visible. But thanks for not adding value in any way to the comment though.

Comment by flyingonemptythoughts

That’s creatives for you.

Comment by john

oh but i fucking did, but i guess cant see that on your mobile app either.

Comment by andy@cynic

Look if you want be nasty, dont come online at all and definitely not by hijacking someone else’s blog post. Am done. No time for this negativity.

Comment by flyingonemptythoughts

Hey ‘flying’ …

I’m sorry someone on here upset you, that’s not what it’s about, however if you find that tough, I’m worried you might find the whole industry something you’re not going to like because you’re judged by everyone on everything and how you deal with it will have a big impact on how you grow within it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a great situation, but it is a real one and what you do with it has a big influence in what you become because of it.

Hope you still apply.

Comment by Rob

That’s only you.

Comment by john

I’m sending my son Michael to audition. Please be nice… or at least pretend to be nice.

Comment by scott silverman

You’re asking a lot Scott …

Comment by Rob

Faith-based request to a god of advertising.

Comment by scottinapac

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