Spikes Asia 2015
Hollywood Versus Arthouse With Reed Collins

The Ogilvy Hong Kong chief creative officer today addresses Spikes Asia on the hot topic of independence over tested popularity…


Reed Collins says it’s simply human nature to gravitate towards the glitz and glamour of fame. The bright lights of Hollywood, where what people think, how people behave, and who you know, matters.

“In the advertising world, we often herd together around these Hollywood style pillars of importance. Losing the beauty of independent and free spirited thinking and instead giving in to the norms and expectations of ‘the brief,” he says.

He encourages us to celebrate the arthouse approach to creative development where independent thinking is celebrated and ideas are free to be realised. “Aren’t the most effective ideas and lasting messages borne from something you don’t expect? It’s time we did more of that.”

Before taking to the stage today at 4:20pm alongside creative director John Koay, Reed sits in with LBB to share his thoughts…

LBB> Having worked and lived all over the globe, including Sydney, Johannesburg, London, New York, Chicago and now Hong Kong, do you think it’s imperative for creatives to get a global perspective?

Reed Collins> I’ve been lucky enough to work in different countries meeting different people in exotic new locations. It’s rewarding and inspires your outlook.

Even if you are not globetrotting, as a young creative you should work at different agencies to get a fresh perspective on everything, including what or what not to do, and to get used to working alongside a lot of diverse personalities.

LBB> Your theme for this year’s Spikes presentation is ‘Hollywood Vs. Arthouse’… what do you hope audiences will take away with them?

RC> I hope they take something away! The theme is looking outside of our own industry to define similar problems and more surprising solutions. I’m also going back in time to mainstream and independent cinema as there are a lot of similarities between holding companies and independent companies; not that either are better or worse, but there is a thread of where creativity always finds a way. Regardless of if you work within or outside a system, they both still include one another.

I also look at how technology has broken ‘the system in place’ at various times, and for varying industries, of course depending on the tech that has come out of that time – be it radio, TV or the internet.

For a long time, TV was the cemetery for filmmaking: reality TV and homogenised content was forced on people and safe guarded by those who ran the channel and then cable came along and changed all of that. It didn’t have to play by the rules, and thus became more interesting. Tech and platforms available today for filmmakers (and advertisers alike), means there is another push in perspectives, and the raw material coming out is experimental and exciting, triggering a reaction out of the mainstream channels too – they feed off one another.

LBB> What do you think of the creative coming out of Hong Kong on a whole?

RC> If I am honest, advertising creativity is sporadic at best. There are lots of very creative people in different industries in Hong Kong – it’s the financial mecca of China. The strong educational system and the kind of focus the Hong Kong people have is very driven, but in a very non-creative manner. However, outside of advertising, there is loads of creativity in the film, design, fashion and the arts sectors. As a westerner, I probably don’t get to see, touch and feel all of this as much as I could; I’m a bit removed due to the language barrier – like any foreigner.

Hong Kong is a relatively small market with just seven million people and the weight of the western and mainland brands kind of squeezes out a lot of the local brands. I guess there is a sense of pride from the Hong Kong people because you can see that the homegrown brands that have developed there are constantly in battle with foreigner influences and global popular culture.

LBB> Is there a person/topic or speech you are most looking forward to at this year’s Spikes?

RC> I’m looking forward to seeing our creative director John Koay doing his speech for young creatives on ‘45 Tips in 45 Minutes’.

LBB> What’s been your favourite campaign to work on this year?

RC> The two most visible campaigns were The Face of Litter and Pizza Hut Blockbuster Box. Both got lots of local and international coverage and I really enjoyed watching them come together. They were both very different campaigns to work on too.

LBB> How important is it to win awards, receive peer recognition, and to attend regional award shows?

RC> I’ve always valued recognition from award shows. Advertising awards are valuable for anyone’s career and I wouldn’t say it hasn’t helped me progress. If you are wanted or desired it also attracts talent (especially when you work for a creatively recognised company) plus it keeps talent.

LBB> How’d you find this Cannes this year?

RC> It felt a lot like the Cannes Festival of Philanthropy and not the Cannes Festival of Creativity. There was a lot of work that was trying to change and save lives and it felt like we were trying to take on too much… and possibly it’s the wrong signal to be sending to creatives and brands. It felt like all of the awarded work had a social cause at its heart. This is fine, but if you have product categories and channels, you should also be awarding them, and not just rewarding social change.

LBB> What keeps you most inspired to work in advertising?

RC> I’m kind of good at it and I’ve invested a lot of time into advertising. Don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of times I’ve been frustrated and fed up but often a change of location and/or job gives you that energy and new perspective you need. Travel is good; I like traveling.

First Published on The Little Black Book.

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