Ahead of The Drum's December issue we've been quizzing industry luminaries, including judges for The Drum Advertising Awards, about what they love about advertising – and why the word shouldn't be considered a badge of shame.
First up is Jo Wallace, creative director at J Walter Thompson and founder of Good Girls Eat Dinner.
What ad made you realise this was the industry for you?
It was the Tango ‘Orangeman’ advert with the slap and the tagline ‘You know when you’ve been tangoed’. Oddly, several years later I went on to work for Trevor Robinson at Quiet Storm. I got to meet the guy who created it, work with him and now he's a friend which is awesome. The ad was just so different. It was unlike any advert I had seen. Looking back, that era was such a strong time for advertising and the Tango ad stood out and made me think 'wow, how unusual'.
What ad that you’ve been involved exemplifies the power of good advertising?
For me, that would be a recent campaign my team and I did with The National Centre for Domestic Violence. It was a proactive piece of work that we had no time or money to do.
I was the creative director on it and the team came to me with an idea. I looked at it and it was just amazing. We made it happen, got it out there and it took off. People talked about it and it was written about in at least 12 countries. The amount of money we got, in terms of exposure for what we actually spent, was incredible. It shows you that if an idea is brilliant then it will travel, make people talk and get attention regardless of how much money you have pushed behind it. It's a great reminder that advertising is about having brilliant ideas.
How do you explain what you do to a taxi driver or a hairdresser?
When you see an ad on TV or digital or on a poster, we're the people behind that. I'm someone who people show their ideas to and then I help make them better. We'll then talk to the clients about it and mostly it's about trying to engage people and make them look at something that they kind of know about (or sometimes don't know about) in a whole different way that excites them.
And what is your message to anyone who considers advertising a dirty word?
I don't think advertising is a dirty word. We've been burnt by some of the behaviours of our industry. However, advertising is a form of creativity to engage people and entertain them. In its purest form it's something that I think we all enjoy and we certainly need it. Without advertising we wouldn't have all of our wonderful free platforms, we wouldn't be able to enjoy some of the incredible things advertising allows to be out there.
The finalists for The Drum Advertising Awards have already been announced - so get your tickets here. To coincide with the awards, the December issue of The Drum magazine will be dedicated to debunking the idea that ‘advertising’ is a dirty word. If you’re not already a subscriber to The Drum, you can sign up here.