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‘The smallness of the box is actually liberating’: Deutsch’s Favat, ANDYs chair, on bravery

Pete Favat, North American CCO, Deutsch with the lovely smile

The Advertising Club of New York named Pete Favat the 2017 Chairman of the International ANDY Awards. Favat, North America chief creative officer at Deutsch, takes over the first major show of the awards season, seeking what it takes to be brave in advertising.

“Pete is a creative visionary and his energy is contagious. We’re excited to have him lead the global jury,” said Gina Grillo, president & CEO, The Advertising Club of New York and International ANDY Awards. “His love for advertising is evident as he’s constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.”

Favat’s pushing of boundaries is evident in his extensive body of work. His creativity for brands like Taco Bell, Volkswagen, Target, Coca Cola, Converse, The “Truth” campaign and others stands out well above the fray. As chairman of the ANDYs, Favat will lead the global, integrated and inclusive jury, evaluating and distinguishing the bravest creative work around the world.

“We’re at a pivotal moment in advertising where we’re not just competing against each other. We’re competing with the internet and pop culture, which challenges us to be more provocative,” said Favat. “The ANDYs sets the tone for those that follow and consistently rewards bravery in our industry, establishing a high bar for what we and our client partners put out into the world. I’m honored to serve as the chairman for an organization I respect so much.”

On being brave

Favat’s version of bravery, especially as it pertains to the agency world, is definitely a more pragmatic one.

“Set in the context of what's going on in the world today, I don't know if we can say advertising is actually brave,” said Favat.

“It is the clients who have to stick their neck out on the line. It's their money. If we make something, it doesn't work, we're probably not going to lose our jobs. They make something, it doesn't work, they're probably going to lose their jobs. We push people to take chances. We push people to be brave, but, in a lot of ways, it's the clients across the table.”

Favat went on to point out that very few companies actually take risks to be the brave that the ANDYs pride.

“I actually love the idea that the Ad Club wants to embrace bravery. I think that probably 98 per cent of advertising is risk-averse. To take chances, it takes a lot of guts to do it,” he added, also noting that the work that tends to win at Cannes and other awards shows is actually effective and achieves results.

So how does one get to do work that’s brave, that earns results and accolades? Favat believes it’s when you have true parameters to your project.

I'm a big believer in ‘the strategy's the idea.’ As strategists, if you can make the box as small as you can for creatives, the smallness of the box is actually liberating,” he said.

While creatives might think that a small box is confining, Favat’s narrow box view has merit.

“The focus is liberating, so data helps you get the focus,” he said, referring to his work with Uber, a company that has mounds of data and has to focus that data to bring performance. “If you do have a very focused brief, we'll be able to execute that so many different ways.”

Perhaps a small box can bring bravery and success, as Favat pointed out regarding what he said is the bravest campaign he had seen. As a judge at Cannes he helped pick a Grand Prix for a Harvey Nichols department store holiday campaign. He noted that the campaign told people to buy something for themselves at the holidays.

“They sold like little toothpicks and drain stops, and all these other things. It was such a smash. The campaign worked so well for them, but it completely went the other way than typical holiday retail campaigns.”

As for his own campaigns, Favat noted that the work he and his crew did launching the Truth campaign while at Arnold took big risks which paid off.

“To go up against the tobacco industry. Not to do typical anti-smoking advertising, but to take on the entire industry and point the cannon back right back at them. That was very risky,” he said, going on to say that their clients were also taking legal risks, because the tobacco industry could have shut them down at any time.

Bravery is loyalty, including on a jury

Favat said that loyalty and trust breed bravery in advertising. The majority of Lions this year, he pointed out, were won by agencies and clients that have worked together five to ten years or more.

“Bravery is also based on trust. It's like when you're going out with someone, you're not going to tell them all about yourself on the first date. As you get to know each other, you make yourself more vulnerable. I think that it's the same way with clients and agencies who've worked together,” he said.

Bravery also breaks from the norm, especially in those who judge the awards — usually the same cavalcade of agency and creative folk on the judging circuit. The handpicked jury at the ANDY Awards veers outside of the traditional agency jury, adding in people from big brands, like Fernando Machado of Burger King, and from content providers.

“I think it's time that the award shows expand outside of advertising agencies. We've become very insular in the way we look at award shows. I say Vice and Buzzfeed are our competition. I'm not really overly concerned about J Walter or McCann or BBDO. I'm more concerned about companies like Buzzfeed and Vice,” he said.

“I wanted to make a point of putting those types of companies on [the jury], so that's a first. I do believe that there's a lot of great content being created outside of what you'd say are traditional ad agencies. I wanted to open up that.”

Favat comes in as chair at a time when the awards are getting more diverse, thanks to the i’mPART Initiative, and diversity is definitely represented in the jury.

“People like Kerstin Emhoff, who is the founder of Prettybird, who won a shit-ton of Lions this year for her Beyonce work, and a bunch of Nike work. As well as Maryann Butler, who's a creative director at the Framestore in New York. Two amazing production companies, at a time where craft is under siege, and trying to do great work is very hard. I wanted them to represent from a crafts and production standpoint, what that means and what they view as great work,” he said.

“There's a thing about making up a jury that's more representative of the work we're judging. I think that in the past a lot of these juries are made up of the typical ad people. I want to start to move the show away from that, and see if others will follow.”

After 53 years, watching the ANDYs get braver and more diverse may be just the thing the awards circuit needs about now.

The 2017 hand-selected ANDY's jury of globally-renowned creative leaders includes:

· Joe Alexander, chief creative officer, The Martin Agency, Richmond

· Tim Allen, president, Wolff Olins NA, New York

· Maryanne Butler, creative director, Framestore, New York

· Elvis Chau, partner, executive creative director, Anomaly, Shanghai

· Colleen DeCourcy, partner, global co-ECD, Wieden+Kennedy, Portland

· Kerstin Emhoff, co-Founder, president, Prettybird, Los Angeles

· Gerry Graf, founder, chief creative officer, Barton F. Graf, New York

· Naoki Ito, chief creative officer, founder, Party, Tokyo

· Judy John, CEO, CCO, Leo Burnett Canada, Toronto

· Margaret Johnson, executive creative director, partner, GS&P, San Francisco

· Andrew Keller, global creative director, Facebook Creative Shop, New York

· Jeff Kling, chief creative officer, Fallon, Minneapolis

· David Kolbusz, chief creative officer, Droga5, London

· Senthil Kumar, chief creative officer, JWT India, Bengaluru

· Nick Law, global chief creative officer, R/GA, New York

· Fernando Machado, SVP global brand management, Burger King, Miami

· Katrine Jo Madsen, senior creative, TBWA DAN, Paris

· Tham Khai Meng, co-chairman, worldwide CCO, Ogilvy, New York

· Jose Molla, founder, The Community, Miami

· David Nobay, founder, Marcel Sydney & Creative Chairman, Publicis Australia, Sydney

· Per Pederson, chairman of global creative council, Grey, New York

· Malcolm Poynton, global chief creative officer, Cheil Worldwide, London

· Ben Priest, founder, chief creative officer, Adam&EveDDB, London

· Chacho Puebla, chief creative officer and partner, LOLA MullenLowe, Madrid

· Tom Punch, global executive creative director, Vice

· Luiz Sanches, partner and chief creative officer, AlmapBBDO, São Paulo

· Eric Silver, North America chief creative officer, McCann, New York

· Leslie Sims, chief creative officer, Y&R, New York

· Mark Tutssel, Global CCO, Leo Burnett Worldwide & Creative Chairman, Publicis Communications, Chicago

· Götz Ulmer, partner, executive creative officer, Jung von Matt, Hamburg

Additional reporting by Doug Zanger.

Kyle O'Brien

I am a reporter for The Drum covering a wide array of topics but always trying to tell the best stories possible. I am a former west coaster from California and Portland, Oregon, now living in Pennsylvania — with time spent in NYC each week.

I also play saxophone professionally.

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