Creative Director’s Choice: Droga5’s Shannon Washington on Johnnie Walker’s ‘Citizenship’

Shannon Washington, creative director at Droga5

Creative Director’s Choice gives creative directors a chance to highlight the current work they think is the best out in the ad world – the ads and campaigns they believe are making a difference.

This week, Droga5 creative director Shannon Washington discusses Johnnie Walker’s ‘Citizenship’ spot by Anomaly.

One of the reasons I love our industry is how we can inform the masses with a perspective that many may know of but few actually experience, especially when we can go beyond a polarizing topic such as immigration. The process of arriving in the United States is one thing, but there is a deeper story that many Americans are less familiar with – the citizenship process.

Movies such as Green Card and The Proposal do a great job at making light of what is an otherwise long (five years at least) and extremely stressful, expensive and invasive process, especially for the average future citizen who doesn’t have the advantage of a specialized visa or connections, or who may come from certain nations. It’s something that I have participated in and witnessed both the joy and relief of when it works – and the heartbreak of when it falls apart.

That’s why, when I first saw 'Citizenship' from Johnnie Walker and the fine folks over at Anomaly, I found myself processing layers of emotions. Though it focuses on the finish line, the brilliant way it manages to humanize the process, touch on the importance of a support system and reframe the notion of citizenship for us “natural borns” who otherwise take it for granted makes the spot a home run for me. It does a lot, and it does it well.

Artistically, the pacing of the edit and camera angle on the main character when he has that moment of contemplation coupled with how you as the viewer find yourself thinking about the answer, and then the resolve and the closing line take you on a thoughtful journey with just the right dose of tension. The meaning of this spot will, depending on the viewer, touch the soul differently. But no matter what, it’s a memorable 30 seconds that make me a little jealous and very sentimental.

So, yeah. Cheers to everyone who comes here, works hard, stays patient, pays the fees, pays the attorneys and then studies and learns the answers to the 100 civics questions it takes to wave the stars and stripes and live in the land of the free. The least we can do is pour them a glass of Johnnie Walker Black on us. Or Blue – don’t be cheap.

Shannon Washington is creative director at Droga5 in New York.

View the 'Citizenship' spot by clicking the Creative Works box below.

To see the latest creative ads and campaigns, visit The Drum’s Creative Works section. If you or your creative director would like to be featured in our Creative Director’s Choice, please contact Kyle O’Brien at kyle.obrien@thedrum.com.

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