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Creatives Are Born, Then Made

Creatives Are Born, Then Made

Michael Carnevale

Michael Carnevale

October 3, 2018

We all have it in us.

Leon Jacobs

Leon Jacobs, Executive Creative Director at Boondoggle, talks about the future of advertising, his daughter as his creative muse, and his trick for getting out of creative ruts.

 

How’d you get your start in advertising?

Advertising was a thing that I knew I could do while figuring out what to do with my life. When I started, it was the kind of business in which creative ability was the most important skill. So I managed to get a junior copywriter job and wrote things that actually got made into creative work. I’ve worked hard, but I’ve also been extremely lucky. Almost 25 years later, I’m still figuring out what to do with my life, but I’m grateful for all the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met in this crazy business.

If you hadn’t become an adman, what would you be doing now?

Wearing a tweed jacket, smoking a pipe, writing novels that nobody would be interested in reading.

How do you describe your position to those who don’t work in the industry?

I try and bring the best out of the people who have to come up with ideas that can change the world.

Is advertising headed in the right or wrong direction?

For too long, we’ve allowed mediocre. That’s made clients disrespect us and forced good people to leave. I believe the pendulum will swing back. I think clients will realize that no matter how much ad tech there is, people will always remain the same. They want to be entertained, compelled, touched and blown away by great stories and ideas. Then we can go back to our core: to create great work that makes a difference.

Are creatives born or made?

Of course, we’re all creative. Some of us are just better at it than others. And we get better by working at it and not giving up. So yes, creatives are born. Then made.

I’ve heard it said that everyone has a minimum of two careers—a first and a second career. Are you in your first or second?

Hopefully my first.

"My daughter. Because the smarter she gets, the smarter I have to be."

Why Boondoggle?

We are unique in that we understand brands and communication, but that we have the core skills to design and build services for clients that help cash the checks our ads write. If we say Brand X is about convenience, for example, we can help create services for Brand X that makes its interactions with people more convenient.

Who is your creative muse?

My daughter. Because the smarter she gets, the smarter I have to be.

How does someone overcome the times when he or she doesn’t feel inspired?

A long walk can do wonders for the mind.

What’s the biggest impact that you feel you’ve made in your career, so far?

I love seeing people grow. From time to time, I’ve been lucky enough to manage or mentor people who have made some leaps forward in their personal or professional development.

Who, or what, has made the biggest impact on you?

John Hunt, one of my first creative directors, had a profound effect on my career. I would not be the creative professional I am without his influence.

What are your must-sees in Belgium, Cape Town, Geneva, Hong Kong, and Johannesburg?

Belgium: You have to come to Boondoggle. We are right inside the original Stella Artois brewery.

Cape Town: The whole city will blow you away. But at some point in your life, you have to be on Lion’s Head waiting for the sun to rise.

Geneva: Walk the streets of Carouge, the famed Sardinian quarter of the city on a Saturday morning, and take in the sights and sounds of the market and the bustle inside and around the cool cafés.

Hong Kong: The food, the food, the food. So many great places around every corner. Lived there for so long, but never felt I even scratched the surface.

Johannesburg: The city’s downtown renewal is amazing. Amazing buildings and spaces are going up. Like John Hunt once said, “Jo’burg started as a mining town and never lost that edge. You’re always two meters away from someone trying to stake a claim and strike it big.”

Leon Jacobs

Leon Jacobs, Executive Creative Director at Boondoggle, talks about the future of advertising, his daughter as his creative muse, and his trick for getting out of creative ruts.

 

How’d you get your start in advertising?

Advertising was a thing that I knew I could do while figuring out what to do with my life. When I started, it was the kind of business in which creative ability was the most important skill. So I managed to get a junior copywriter job and wrote things that actually got made into creative work. I’ve worked hard, but I’ve also been extremely lucky. Almost 25 years later, I’m still figuring out what to do with my life, but I’m grateful for all the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met in this crazy business.

If you hadn’t become an adman, what would you be doing now?

Wearing a tweed jacket, smoking a pipe, writing novels that nobody would be interested in reading.

How do you describe your position to those who don’t work in the industry?

I try and bring the best out of the people who have to come up with ideas that can change the world.

Is advertising headed in the right or wrong direction?

For too long, we’ve allowed mediocre. That’s made clients disrespect us and forced good people to leave. I believe the pendulum will swing back. I think clients will realize that no matter how much ad tech there is, people will always remain the same. They want to be entertained, compelled, touched and blown away by great stories and ideas. Then we can go back to our core: to create great work that makes a difference.

Are creatives born or made?

Of course, we’re all creative. Some of us are just better at it than others. And we get better by working at it and not giving up. So yes, creatives are born. Then made.

I’ve heard it said that everyone has a minimum of two careers—a first and a second career. Are you in your first or second?

Hopefully my first.

"My daughter. Because the smarter she gets, the smarter I have to be."

Why Boondoggle?

We are unique in that we understand brands and communication, but that we have the core skills to design and build services for clients that help cash the checks our ads write. If we say Brand X is about convenience, for example, we can help create services for Brand X that makes its interactions with people more convenient.

Who is your creative muse?

My daughter. Because the smarter she gets, the smarter I have to be.

How does someone overcome the times when he or she doesn’t feel inspired?

A long walk can do wonders for the mind.

What’s the biggest impact that you feel you’ve made in your career, so far?

I love seeing people grow. From time to time, I’ve been lucky enough to manage or mentor people who have made some leaps forward in their personal or professional development.

Who, or what, has made the biggest impact on you?

John Hunt, one of my first creative directors, had a profound effect on my career. I would not be the creative professional I am without his influence.

What are your must-sees in Belgium, Cape Town, Geneva, Hong Kong, and Johannesburg?

Belgium: You have to come to Boondoggle. We are right inside the original Stella Artois brewery.

Cape Town: The whole city will blow you away. But at some point in your life, you have to be on Lion’s Head waiting for the sun to rise.

Geneva: Walk the streets of Carouge, the famed Sardinian quarter of the city on a Saturday morning, and take in the sights and sounds of the market and the bustle inside and around the cool cafés.

Hong Kong: The food, the food, the food. So many great places around every corner. Lived there for so long, but never felt I even scratched the surface.

Johannesburg: The city’s downtown renewal is amazing. Amazing buildings and spaces are going up. Like John Hunt once said, “Jo’burg started as a mining town and never lost that edge. You’re always two meters away from someone trying to stake a claim and strike it big.”

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