James is a multidisciplinary creative who believes great ideas defy channel and discipline. He is currently the UK & EMEA Executive Creative Director of Weber Shandwick.
Question and Answer
How long have you worked at Weber Shandwick?
I've been based in London since Summer 2015.
In five words or less, how would you describe your Weber Shandwick colleagues?
What’s the coolest (or weirdest) place a project has taken you?
CERN, just before they discovered the Higgs Boson. I was actually there to weigh a garden gnome, in the name of science. It was for "The Gnome Experiment," a campaign for a precision scales brand. We were sending a gnome and a set of scales around the world to chart the tiny fluctuations of Earth’s gravity. TV crews and journalists were moving the particle physicists out of the way to get a better shot of the gnome — a surreal moment. The Gnome Experiment also took me to another cool place to give a talk on it — the TED stage. But to be fair, the gnome got to travel to many more interesting places without me, including the South Pole.
If there were a Weber Shandwick yearbook, what would your superlative be?
Most likely to drink coffee.
Everything we do for a brand should become part of one thing: a single, spikey idea, born of a single-minded strategy, conceived from a single-minded business need.
As a father and a creative director, do you ever get inspiration from a child's imagination?
I do. Actually it’s more their simple way of seeing the world that inspires me most. We tend to complicate things as we mature. We apply too much logic, analysis, and layers to what should be painfully simple. Because the greatest ideas always are. One time, just before a pitch I asked my then five-year-old what he thought of an idea. He simply said, "That’s not an idea Daddy." And he was right. So I threw it out.
You're a big proponent of "spikey ideas," can you explain what this concept is?
A spikey idea is the shape of an idea that I believe works best, today. A spikey idea emits opportunities to impale people’s attention, again and again. Anytime. Anywhere. Because with media fragmentation, audiences are everywhere and anywhere. Thinking spikey will help our industry to stop creating one-off stunts, content executions, or bitty Facebook posts. Everything we do for a brand should become part of one thing: a single, spikey idea, born of a single-minded strategy, conceived from a single-minded business need.
If you weren't working in this industry, what would you want to do?
Artist or novelist.
What is your favorite movie quote of all time?
“I'll have a half double decaffeinated half-caf. With a twist of lemon.” - Steve Martin, LA Story
Where would you love to travel in the world to gain inspiration?
What’s your favorite metaphor or phrase to use at work or in a pitch?
If you can’t explain it to a five-year-old, you probably don’t understand it yourself.