Grand Jury Confidential: Adam Ledbury, Associate Creative Director, Muhtayzik Hoffer USA
New York Festivals Grand Jury is recruited from 75 countries around the globe. These 400+ award-winning creative minds carefully evaluate NYF’s entries and determine which campaigns will move on to the medal round to be judged by the Executive Jury. Their job is no easy task...it takes experience, brilliant creative chops, and dedication to their craft.
Grand Jury member, Adam Ledbury, Associate Creative Director for Muhtayzik Hoffer joined the San Francisco agency in 2014 and has produced work for Audi, The Golden State Warriors and most recently helped launch FinTech SoFi.
Adam took the scenic route to get here, England, Spain, Australia, and San Francisco. While in Australia at Clemenger BBDO, Tribal and DDB Sydney Adam created work for some of the world’s most iconic brands, such as McDonald's, Volkswagen, and Expedia and picked up a trophy shelf of awards along the way.
Keep reading to find out more about Adam including the single entry that stood out above the rest, the evolving client agency relationship, the philosophy that drives his career and more!
NYF: What cultural/social changes have influenced this year’s award-winning work?
Adam Ledbury: Cause marketing campaigns seem to increase every year, with each vying for our attention in ever inventive and occasionally brilliant ways.
We have great minds in this industry, and I applaud them for attempting to solve actual, real-world issues. But therein lies the problem. When I look at work of this nature, I can’t help but ask myself if it actually changed anything, or whether it was just a cynical attempt to appeal to advertising juries. I sincerely hope that it’s not the latter.
NYF: Could you identify any one single entry that stood out above the rest and if so why?
Adam Ledbury: There was a lot of great work, but The Fairest Night Of All for Andes beer stood out as one that really entertained me. Great insight, fun idea, and well executed.
In an ocean of worthy entries this was an island of comedic relief.
NYF: Is the work more creative today than before? Or is it simply driven more via technology?
Adam Ledbury: I wouldn’t say that it’s more creative, but technology has certainly opened up exciting opportunities. With the ubiquity of mobile and social media we can create ideas that have widespread reach. A great example of this is the ALS Ice Bucket challenge - something that began as a challenge between friends became a social media phenomenon. Even though this has been derided as ‘slacktivism’, an idea like this could not have existed before the advent of Facebook, and it has since been revealed to have been very effective.
NYF: Has the relationship between agency and client changed at all and if so how?
Adam Ledbury: It seems to have. The idea of an agency of record appears to be an outdated model in many circles, with more ‘promiscuous’ clients giving different projects to different agencies on a regular basis, often through a pitch process.
I can see how this would appear to make sense; getting work at a reduced rate, and often with very aggressive timelines. If you’re a client, what’s not to like?
I do wonder though if this is a false economy. Agencies need to make money (obvious statement of the day), so how long will it be before they refuse to pitch unless they’re paid? Or make money in other areas, hence the recent furor around media buying.
There is also a question of how this process affects the work? On one hand, there is the fresh thinking that comes from engaging different minds. On the other, there is the work that comes from a relationship and trust that has developed over time.
NYF: There’s been a whisper as of late about clients/brands creating in house departments to create their advertising, how do you think this will affect the industry with regard to creativity in communications?
Adam Ledbury: There will be creatives who look at going client side as an opportunity to earn more, have a better work/life balance, and work in an environment where they make the decisions, effectively being their own client. There are others who prefer the variety and energy that an agency provides.
For those who stay in the industry, it is going to be imperative that we offer something that internal departments can’t. Let our creative dogs off the leash so to speak. Offer ideas and solutions that don’t just compete with internal departments but better them.
We have the advantage of working on multiple clients. Each one being a palate cleanser for the last, keeping us fresh and enabling us to make connections that internal department might not think of.
There might not be anything that you can learn from making a billboard for a soft drink that you can apply to a 60 second manifesto spot for a large bank. But there might be.
It’s going to be a challenge, but one that we should relish.
NYF: What philosophy drives your career?
Adam Ledbury: Don’t put shit into the world. I definitely have, but I figure that as long as I’m making a conscious effort not to then I can forgive myself the odd misstep.
NYF: What’s the one smartphone app you couldn’t live without?
Adam Ledbury: I’d love to say something like Surfline so that I can check the swell every day, but it’s probably something far more mundane like Uber or Lyft.
NYF: Favorite music album of all time?
Adam Ledbury: Can you have just one? Surely it depends on your mood. My favorite movie is Jaws, but it’s not really answering the question is it?