2019 Projections by John Patroulis, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer | Grey

John Patroulis, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer| Grey 




What will be the biggest shift in your approach to creativity in 2019 and why?


Every creative knows big, complex problems are best solved with simple ideas. So we answered the big, complex issues facing our (and our clients) business in the simplest way possible – by shifting 75% of our resources to the creative department. Seems obvious for a creative company, yes? But surprisingly it’s way above industry average. And can solve several issues our clients are facing in one elegant swoop: it removes all unnecessary layers and process (which happens to save money), frees up funds to fill the creative department with the broad variety of backgrounds and skill sets we and clients need to solve tomorrow’s problems in a huge variety of ways (which in turn, modernizes the notion of what those solutions are), clarifies our ambition for the work and intention for the business (both to talent who want to work at an overwhelmingly creative organization and to the kind of clients that want to work with them), forces creative leadership to play a bigger role in the leadership of the business itself, and ultimately provides a simple lens for every decision we make as an organization.

And it has the nice side benefit of forcing simplicity in client relationships – by flattening everything we don’t necessarily match up with deeply layered organizations, but do with deeply ambitious clients. Which means we’re talking to the people who can say yes more often, and better work is being sold.

This shift takes the scale of a big agency and turns it into an advantage instead of a burden, brings more value to the ideas we make – and to the clients business we’re meant to grow.

‘Simple’ is always the hardest thing to do – any great creative who’s faced a tough brief and a blank screen knows that – but is always the best answer. And while the process and logistics of this massive change haven’t been easy, we’re already seeing the benefits in the kind of work we’re doing (from developing products and services to social-led activations to more provocative advertising) and in our clients recognition like the recent “Company of the Year” and “Invention of the Year” honors for the work we’ve done together. Committing the overwhelming majority of resources to the people responsible for making the product, and partnering them with talented strategic and business leadership that is just as passionate about the work, is just doing what many of us tell our clients to do in a rapidly changing world – go back to your authentic selves. Then express those values in a way that makes sense to today’s audience.

There’s more to it, of course: how we brief, how we staff, how we connect the global network in ways that structurally take advantage of the best talent on any given brief, strategic partnerships with organizations like Betaworks Studios to guarantee we’re grounded as much in the start-up community as we are in the advertising community we love – it’s all fed by an overwhelming investment in creative.

We’re a creative organization. One that believes in the power of creativity to solve business problems. We’re just building something that brings it to life in the most modern way possible.


But that simplicity is exactly what the complexity of the industry demands.