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Leo Burnett Chicago
35 West Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60601
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Maggie Shepherd

VP Reputation and Communications

Emily Doskow

Chief Marketing Officer

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The GPC From a First-Timer’s Perspective

The fourth-quarter Global Product Committee, comprising the top creative leaders from Leo Burnett Worldwide, met in Jakarta, Indonesia, to evaluate work from around the global network using the agency’s 10-point HumanKind Scale. Work that receives a 7-point rating is considered to be the benchmark for excellence in craft. (To learn more about the GPC and the HumanKind Scale, watch this video.)

At every GPC there are top creatives who have been going and evaluating work for a while now. We thought it would be a good idea to see the conference with fresh eyes, so we found three creatives who are taking in the experience for the first time. Garret Fitzgerald and Joe Hill, from Leo Burnett Melbourne, and Kat Limchoc, executive creative director at Leo Burnett Manila’s Blackpencil, tell us what from the GPC surprised them and what advice they have for up-and-coming creatives.


What were your expectations coming to your first GPC?
Garret: I knew there would be a lot of ads to get through and a lot of very senior heads in the room. Beyond that, I wasn’t sure as to how exactly the week would unfold. Having submitted to the last few GPCs, I was really intrigued as to how the work would be analyzed and discussed.

Joe: I expected to see a lot of work from the network, and to hear a room of really clever people talk about it.

Kat: That it would be like an intense, all-day oral exam.

What has surprised you about the GPC process?
Garret: I knew we would be scoring all the work, but the additional level of debate and just how thorough it is has really impressed me. There’s a real sense of duty in the room that we’re all here to make the work better.

Joe: I underestimated how intense an experience it would be.

Kat: It turned out to be a much kinder process than I thought it would be. It was still intense; with one having to be really “on” the whole time so one could really take in the work, analyze it and give good feedback should Mark call upon you. But the whole process turned out to be very positive and inspiring, where one could feel that it was really about celebrating the work that was good and learning from the work that could have been better.

What’s your impression of the work this quarter?
Garret: I think it’s been a strong quarter with some real standouts (as evidenced by the 8 balls). There were great contributions from right across the network and the level of craft has been high, particularly in areas like film.

Joe: There are so many ideas that take on ambitious, thoroughly human goals, far beyond conventional marketing imperatives. This really impressed me, and made me incredibly proud to work for Leo Burnett.

Kat: There was a lot of impressive work that came from different offices. The ones that really resonated where the ones that reflected purpose-driven thinking executed brilliantly, as we saw in the 8-Ball work like the Atlantic Group’s “The Cube” and the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s “Pray for Anna.”

Please describe some of your favorite pieces that you’ve seen over the past few days.
Garret: McDonalds All Day Breakfast TVCs: Verbalizing online speak to communicate the “we hear you” message was genius. And bloody funny to boot.

Stabilo note: This app really struck a chord with me. In simple terms, it scans highlighted text on a page and saves it down as a note on your phone. Students everywhere will be sure to benefit from it.

Vintage Is Beautiful: A lovely print campaign from Oslo for the Salvation Army. A simple message – beautifully executed.

Joe: “The Cube” for The Atlantic Group is compelling in every way. I loved the McDonalds All Day Breakfast spots — super smart in their strategic intent, and hilarious in execution. The Stabilo app is user-centered genius — analogue product given renewed, deepened relevance by deft digital thinking. I am also a very big Reword fan. I suspect it will remain one of the ideas I am most impressed by, and most envious of, until I retire from advertising to my mountain hut.

Kat: “Pray for Anna” to promote Thai tourism is a truly crazy, hilarious film that had the panel asking Bangkok’s creative heads who were there, “How the heck did you guys get the clients to buy that?” It was truly a piece of brilliant and brave thinking, tackling both the fear that potentially scares visitors away and a very real truth about Thailand in that it has some of the best food in the world!

What's it like sitting in a room with the top creatives from around the global network?
Garret: Both inspiring and intimidating at the same time. It was a great learning experience to be in the presence of such talented people from so many different cultures.

Joe: Thrilling and intimidating.

Kat: It can be both intimidating and yet highly inspiring. Hearing the top creatives from the different regions express their views and their builds on the work was such a privilege. Sitting in that room, I probably learned as much as I did in Cannes, if not more.

What's your advice to all up-and-coming creatives at the agency?
Garret: The GPC is where you want your work to be. Scoring high is hard but if your piece is original and the care and attention to detail is there, it really shows through in the room.

Joe: Take the human in HumanKind very seriously. Write her back into briefs that don’t have enough of her. Use her to test ideas of their worth. Let her remind you why you’re making something in the first place.

Kat: Look at the brands you handle through the lens of purpose driven thinking. It will lead you to big platform ideas and help you define the creative canvas you will play on.

Once you determine that purpose, tell the story in an authentic way that surprises, delights or touches a very real emotional chord.

Think about how you can overlay technology on the idea so it becomes even more powerful.

Around the world, our agency has tackled the big issues of the societies we move in. We should continue to do this, and continue to think of ways that we can truly make an impact and exercise our creativity to effect real change.

Be resilient. We saw work that was brilliant in what we all knew are challenging brands. This showed how these teams just kept at it, pushing themselves to do good work even when faced with so many limitations. It’s a very simple lesson, but one that we all need to be reminded of once in while.

Why is the GPC as a whole important to the Leo Burnett network?
Garret: The GPC is very important as it provides regular feedback that can be applied to make the work better. Putting a global lens on the work of individual offices exposes us to new ideas and thinking that we otherwise could miss out on. Essentially, it is a way for us to really take advantage of the creative firepower that we have across the network.

Joe: The GPC creates culture. Plenty of companies and other agencies talk a lot about their culture and assume that putting manifestos on walls or organizing staff social events somehow magically creates it. The GPC creates purposeful culture of the highest order. It’s this big, rigorous, generous conversation that endeavors to make the work better. That in itself is impressive. However, I suspect that its real power is unleashed in the aftermath — when everyone walks away with the conversation buzzing inside them, takes that buzz back to their agencies, and puts it to work to create things worthy of the next conversation. It’s this self-replicating magic that makes the GPC culturally powerful — a genuine institution.

What are the top insights that you've gained from this experience that you'll be taking back to your local office?
Garret: 1. A great foundation comes before great creative. If your thinking is off at a platform level, it’s hard to succeed.
2. Care, consideration and craft really show through.
3. We can’t ever rest on our laurels. The work can always be pushed and that is something we must continue to do.