The Drum seeks out and talks to some of the most interesting people working in the global media and marketing sector in an effort to get to know them better. This week The Drum speaks to recent Adobe recruit, Chris Duffey on tech, his favorite piece of creative and his grand dad.
What was your first ever job?
My first job was as an art director intern at Leo Burnett in Chicago, at 35 Wacker Drive during what felt like the coldest winter ever. That wind that blew off of Lake Michigan tore into my soul. But the projects I had a chance to work on at Leo Burnett touched me equally as deep. It was while working on Nintendo in the late 90’s that I realized that creativity and software can create profound, inspiring and magical experiences for audiences through playful interfaces.
Why did you get into this industry?
I studied and I’m a fan of the history of art. One of my favorite pieces of art is Las Meninas. The BBC called this painting ‘the world’s first photobomb’. it is the first known royal commission in which the artist appeared in the painting. Essentially, Diego Velazquez was making a statement that creative artists and thinkers are royalty as well, because of their powerful ability to influence culture like no other. That always stuck with me and inspired me to get into advertising. Creativity is at the heart of our industry and creativity will always be the driving force of business and brand transformation.
What's the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
“Find a way or make one” was some great advice I received early on and it’s been a guiding principle ever since. Nothing beats doing. The key to success is truly in creation and experimentation.
What is the coolest thing you have seen in the last year in advertising?
I recently gave a talk at Cannes Lions Innovation on ‘AI-Enhanced Creativity’ discussing how technology-driven innovation such as Adobe Sensei will push forward game-changing creative with AI and machine learning. Creatives that integrate AI tech will not only have competitive advantage in what they create but how they create. The session explored examples of how to design unforgettable, rich and immersive experiences. It was great to see that many of the Lions success stories that won awards and were on the shortlists had elements of AI-enhanced creativity. Whether it was pulling in data to provide personalized experiences, as ambient os via new thought-provoking use cases. There is no doubt that the time is now to triple down on AI as an Intelligent Assistant.
What do you hate most about the industry?
I actually don’t hate anything about the industry. I do hate creative bias, when other industries deny or forget the impact creativity has on the bottom line. We are in the business of opportunity and nothing breaks conformity like creativity and innovation.
What is your favorite piece of creative work ever from the industry?
Wow, favorite piece of creative of all time! There’s so many, but I’d have to say it’s one of the first pieces that I noticed as a teenager. Growing up I had a subscription to Sports Illustrated. Beyond the anticipation of who was going to be on the cover, I always loved the ads.
There was one ad for an early edition of Nike Air Max that drove me crazy. It was cropped in such a way that it only revealed the air cushioning in the side of the heel and it left this sense of mystery and intrigue. This was before the internet, so it really was genius and bold as it forced people who wanted to see the whole shoe to go to the store. Beyond the fact that it was a great product technology advancement for the time, it was also a great use of knowing the audience’s context and tapping into those emotions - and that is timeless. It’s one of the best examples of cognitive design that I can think of.
Who is the person you most want to meet and why?
My grandfather was a professor of speech pathology. I always thought it would be fascinating to hear his evaluation of modern-day communication dynamics, advances and pitfalls.
If you could go to one marketing event this year which would you choose?
Having recently joined the Adobe team, I’m looking forward to the Adobe Max Creativity Conference in Las Vegas mid-October. I haven’t been before but have always heard it’s a great mix of information, inspiration, practical knowledge and creative magic.
What is your favorite social media platform?
I don’t really have any allegiance to any social platform. I try and look at it more from a marketer’s perspective and go where the attention of the moment is and where it will be. It’s interesting to note that messaging apps continue to grow. They offer huge opportunities for brands. For example - via bots to interject invited value into those conversations. It’s not so much about the trending apps but how we enable the trending apps with relevant content.
If you could ban one buzzword or piece of jargon what would it be?
“Technology is bad.” Technology is neither bad nor good - it's ultimately how it's used. When technology is created and used correctly it inspires us, pushes us, scales us, connects us, delivers us, and drives us.
10 Questions with... runs each and every Monday on The Drum.
Duffey is a judge for The Drum B2B Brave Awards. The deadline for entries is Friday August 4, apply now and celebrate rewarding the best of B2Bs marketing campaigns and strategies.
Sponsors for the awards are: 4A’s, ThinkLA and Stein IAS.