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ARF Brings You Cannes Lions 2015

Award Winning Chief Strategy Officer on Agencies and Career Advice

Nick Barham – Chief Strategy Officer, TBWA\Worldwide

Nick Barham believes that award-winning creative is not something that can be reduced down to a formula: “At the heart of great work is human understanding, a strong sense of what a brand believes in, and a unique way of bringing that out into the world.”

Barham is the Chief Strategy Officer of TBWA\Worldwide, the agency behind Apple’s iconic ‘Shot on iPhone6‘ World Photo Gallery, a brilliant marketing strategy that highlighted the iPhone’s new camera by featuring photographs captured on iPhones around the world at the forefront.

Their work won the Outdoor Lions Grand Prix at Cannes Lions this year.

“Mobile has transcended being a touchpoint. I think mobile is the way that people are in touch with every part of the world in their lives. I always find it funny when people talk about “mobile strategy.” It’s like talking about “people strategy,” which is slightly redundant.”

Barham shared his thoughts on agencies adapting to the rapidly changing technological landscape and the desired skillsets needed. A successful model entails having good writers and beautiful designers and marrying that with people who understand data, mobile and understand those verticals.

After working in London, Shanghai, Portland and now in L.A, Barham realized how differently the role of advertising played in markets across the world. China was a booming and rapidly growing market when he worked on Nike campaigns: the role of brands was “land grab,” creating visibility and awareness to get in front of new people and cities. However, in the United States, the model was much more about creating differentiation in a market where people are mostly over-aware of brands. The key for brands is to maintain the same values while making a presence in different markets.

His career path wasn’t a traditional one, but rather gut-driven decisions based on his interests: “My best job advice is to do more stuff that you do like and less stuff that you don’t like.”

“For me, the appeal was always about the chance to be connected to the velocity of culture, and how people are behaving and having the chance to have conversations with people to understand their behaviors and motivations. That’s where research and strategy comes from—an interest in how people behave and how you have significant relationships with them.”

As far as his predictions for the upcoming year, Barham echoed Evan Spiegel (Co-Founder and CEO of Snapchat) on vertical creativity. More content is going to be developed viewable in a portrait fashion, as people are consuming more media through their phones.

“I would love to see fewer terrible ads on mobile. I think we’ve become very thoughtless and inhuman about the way brands show up in our world.”

Check out more in the video interview, brought to you by The ARF in Cannes Lions 2015.

Nick Barham was the Planning Director for Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai, working on Nike’s 2008 Olympic campaign and engineering a first-of-its-kind rock road trip for Converse. In 2010, Nick became Global Director of Wieden+Kennedy Tomorrow, responsible for creating new revenue and working models focused on sustainability and emerging technology. Nick lives in Los Angeles, where he works with brands including Airbnb, Nissan, and Southwest Airlines. He is also working with the city of Los Angeles to develop and communicate its first sustainability plan. He is the author of Disconnected, a book that explores the creativity and chaos of British youth culture.

He spoke at the Cannes Lions Festival: 25 Years of Disruption: Conversation with Today’s Most Disruptive Marketers

See TBWA’s presence at Cannes Lions.