AMV BBDO’s CCO Nicholas Hulley: creativity is ‘only limited by our imagination’
In the first of a three-part ‘Marketing Now & Next’ video series from The Drum and Think with Google, AMV BBDO’s chief creative officer Nicholas Hulley explores the new lens for creativity.
Watch the Creativity Now & Next episode here for the full interview
“Craft is collaborative - it’s about who you work with, how you make everything a little bit more nuanced, a little bit better, a little bit more, which accumulates into wonderful creative work” - Nicholas Hulley, joint chief creative officer at AMV BBDO believes that creativity is driven by curious, passionate, empathetic people respecting the collaborative nature of the process.
The fundamentals of creativity remain, but the rules are changing; evolving narratives, emerging channels, and the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) evolving the way that creative ideas are brought to life.
Speaking with The Drum as part of a three-part video series from Think with Google, Hulley says: “We have a strong belief in craft and a creative ambition to do something that hasn’t been seen before or in a way that hasn’t been seen before.”
Along with joint chief creative officer Nadja Lossgott, Hulley is famed for genre-bending, culture-shaping work that has won multiple Cannes Grand Prix’s and Titaniums; with key achievements including redefining the period product category with work for Bodyform and rebranding tap water into ‘Guinness clear’.
While the tools used to execute creativity will always change, Hulley will always think of creativity as two main engines: “The creativity of storytelling as mythbuilding and mythmaking a narrative, the emotion and story worlds; and then creativity for problem solving, the ability to think laterally about barriers and problems that confront you.
“In 2023, creativity is the merging of those two engines, in terms of advertising and branding - starting with problem solving and layering on meaning and emotion with beautiful storytelling around it, so that it has value.”
With consumer expectations shifting how people encounter or experience brands in a multiplicity of ways, brands need to interact everywhere and creative needs to move and appear in so many places in different shapes and forms.
“We like to approach creativity from both ends in the execution of it,” says Hulley. “We find a big brand problem, a unifying thought, which supplies a point of view on the world, which supplies a tone of voice to the world, which supplies a look to the world. And then apply that big idea to all the incredible, amazing places that the brand shows up.”
The difference now being that AI is powering new ways of bringing creative imagination alive.
“AI is clearly not a gimmick but it’s so huge that it’s hard to know what’s coming,” says Hulley. “If I look at it today, I still think of it as two separate functions: there’s the production ability of AI where we can ask a machine to bring alive worlds and that I think has great potential because it removes barriers to what you can create - so you’re only limited by your imagination.”
“These tools are coming and we need to be open minded, flexible and curious, experimental, brave and stay open minded,” he says. “But it is still a tool to be used by imagination. It’s what you feed in and how you can articulate the vision that you have will determine the quality of the output. It’s not a replacement for quality, it’s a tool for creative quality.”
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Hulley believes that it’s “still the power of wonderful human stupidity and the beautiful human logic that conjures up powerful emotions to make creative leaps that distinguish yourself when everybody’s got the same tools.”
“Anything that feels new, transformational or promises a lot can lead to temptations,” says Hulley. “There are high roads and low roads and the temptation to believe that there are codes that can be cracked shouldn’t be at the expense of thinking time and creative magic, because it’s all in the craft; that’s how you get to emotion. Craft and detail and passion deliver that.”
To help marketers and creatives unlock their best ideas, Hulley offers three closing words of advice: stay curious, be adaptable, and keep an open mind to all the perspectives, opinions and stimulation the world has to offer you.
Watch the Creativity Now & Next episode here for the full interview where we delve into building a creative culture to unlock marketing and creative teams’ best ideas.
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