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Tim Nudd, editor-in-chief of the Clio Awards, sat down with Lee Clow, chairman of TBWA/ Media Arts Lab and director of Media Arts at TBWA/Worldwide, to discuss Clow’s time in the advertising industry, to be featured on Clow’s upcoming podcast, “I’m Only Going to Say This Once.”
Clow has worked on many campaigns for companies like Adidas, Apple, Gatorade and Pepsi. Clow spoke about the work he created with Apple Founder, Steve Jobs, for many years; his favorite campaign was “Think Different” because Apple was taking the time to put themselves and their product back on the right track.
During the seminar, Clow credited his successful advertising career to Jobs and Jay Chiat, former CEO of Chiat/Day, because of their demanding nature of Clow’s work.
“If anyone here in this business is lucky enough to work with — work for — someone that challenges you every day and expects more of you than you think you are capable of doing, you are in a very lucky position,” said Clow.
However, Clow also spoke on his own self-motivation that helped him to become a more creative person. He believes that media is not the type of idea that advertisers should be trying to sell, and people need to stop relying so heavily on multimedia platforms. Ideas should be the center of advertisements, and they should stem from simple intentions with a clear message. According to Clow, people do not have a long enough of an attention span to decode ads, and that is why a simple, pure message are imperative.
Today, though, brands are becoming more than just a symbol or icon of what distinguishes one business from another.
“I’m a big believer that everything a brand does now is advertising, and so there has to be a consistency across everything you do,” said Clow.
Through a brand, anything can be an advertisement if it captures the attention of the consumer. Everything a brand does, adds up to who they are.
While it is necessary for brands to stick to their core values, there is now an obligation at this time for businesses to stand for something or take sides on societal issues. However, Clow brought this back to how short people’s attention spans are, and if a brand is not taking a clear stand on an issue at the moment, they have no reason to do so in the future if it does not affect the core values of the company. If the message looks insincere, then consumers could negatively react.
A brand’s responsibility is to the consumer. Pushing out daring advertisements that a customer does not expect is scary but the brave and right thing to do.
Clow has become an icon in the advertising world and wants to change the narrative that advertising is only about manipulation. Advertising is a creative realm that is able to inform consumers through a certain type of artistry, and Clow has been one of the leaders in this industry.