PODCAST: Orlando Wood

‘I’ve just done a Volvo ad with no car in it, it doesn’t get any better than that!’
Those were the first I heard on day one at AMV/BBDO.
It was the Art Director’s way of saying ‘it’s good here’.
I appreciated the intent, but thought it was weird.
Who cares if the ad has a car in it? Is it a good ad?
But that’s how a certain group of creatives think.
For them wins are – running an ad word-free, securing hot director X to shoot their ad, getting the word ‘dick’ approved in a headline, keeping a logo as small as it was on the initial rough, and yes, whether they can avoid showing the product.
Those kind of things can be helpful, but they shouldn’t be the goal.
But, to them, they’re just doing their job, which they see as being creative.
Breaking rules.
Going crazy.
‘Fucking around with shit’.
Being lead by what’s new, different and of course, their own instincts.
Clients are viewed as obstacles.
Research is for dullards.
They often create interesting work, but not much of it runs.
Why? ‘The client bottled it!’ or ‘The agency rolled over’.
Maybe if they were called ‘Communicators’ rather than ‘Creatives’ they wouldn’t feel the need to appear so damned creative all the time?
Instead of spending all their waking hours with their noses in Japanese animation, Dutch deconstructed typography or surrealist photography, maybe they’d offset if with subjects linked to communication?
Rather than just look forward, maybe they’d look back at what worked, what didn’t and why?
Maybe they’d ask people outside the creative department what they thought?
Maybe they’d see data, psychology and research as helpful?
There are people in creative departments like this, I’ve worked with them – Tom & Walter, Rich & Andy, David Abbott and John Webster to name but a few.
This second group tend to do better work than the first group.
But if the first group feels more like your gang, here’s a trailer by South Korean animator Seunghee Kim for her film ‘The Realm of Deepest Knowing’. Enjoy.

If second lot is more you, you may enjoy this chat with Orlando Wood.
He’s the Chief Innovation Officer at System1, where he forensically observes links between advertising, psychology and the creative arts.
We chat about his findings on what’s working, not working and why (which have been published with the IPA in two volumes; ‘Lemon’ and ‘Look Out’).
Hope it’s useful.

Here’s a few of the things we refer to in our chat.

This chart.


Ads that Orlando found ‘disrupted and got noticed by the industry but didn’t connect with the public’.

a) Burger King.

b) Bodyform.

A current ad for people searching for something (without a story).

An old ad for people searching for something (with a story).

An ad that is purely trying to entertain.

A performer picked to his turn’ on behalf of a brand.


In a left brain dominated environment everything has to be pre-planned and buttoned down, reducing the chances of improving and evolving an idea.
In a right brain world the the unplanned can be turned into gold.

(Literally in some cases.)

In 1961 the Director of a Dulux ad brings his dog to the shoot, it accidentally walks onto set and into history.
(It’s still it’s brand icon today.)

A prop leaf falls from a prop tree, leading to a script rewrite.

A robot falls over, it’s kept in and becomes the best bit of the ad.

The star suggests an old music hall gag – looking at his watch and pouring a drink in someone’s lap.
It becomes the campaign.

The star won’t stand still, she needs a loo break. (Admittedly, people would go to jail for this now,. but it added charm back then.)



a) Having a long running theme.

b) Using a character.
(And having a long-running theme).

c) Localising work.



d) Using an easy to understand moral to a story.
(If you want a proper cup of tea you should drink Yorkshire Tea.)


(Available from Amazon.)

4 responses to PODCAST: Orlando Wood

  1. Seba wilhelm says:

    This loft is full of fantastic stuff. So simple, true and clear.

  2. Nghi says:

    Hi Dave, may I ask what book did you mention, I can only hear “Why the … bird sings?”

    Thank you, Nghi

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