David Blecken
Oct 14, 2014

15 minutes with Amir Kassaei

Offstage at Spikes Asia 2014, DDB's global chief creative officer offered a rundown of his inspirations and pet hates

15 minutes with Amir Kassaei

What is your current state of mind with regard to the industry?

I think we are still in middle of big disruption based on technology and everyone trying to work out how to restructure and find a way through it. Everyone is trying something and not many understand what’s going on with technology and data and how it will change things. The biggest disruption will happen in the next 10 to 15 years.

What was the last piece of work from Asia that most impressed you?

I like the Senna work from Dentsu. It’s a great example of how you can use technology as tool to move people emotionally, a great combination of creativity, humanity and technology. That is the single piece I would pick. It’s unusual for Asia; we see technological ideas but it has a human aspect to it and I like that. Maybe biggest mistake we are making is to categorise ideas— the brilliance is not the film itself but how it brought back old data and used it. I think it will do very well here at Spikes.

Which other industries do you think advertising would do well to look to for inspiration?

I think what we have to look at is how tech companies and startups are setting up their businesses and trying to be creative around challenges in a different way. We should also look at the consultancy business for how to gather market knowledge.

What do you find particularly irritating at the moment?

Still the bullshit bingo—using buzzwords to compensate for lack of knowledge: content marketing, storytelling… we should stop and think about how we can create relevance. We’re not focusing on what we should do; we’re focusing on a lot of things we should not do. 

If you could eliminate one industry buzzword, which would it be?

All of them.

How do you rate the standard of creative work in emerging Asian markets compared to the rest of the world?

A lot of people are still in process of learning. They’re still trying to find own way of doing things; a lot are still copying Western styles. You see universal insights and good executions but a lot of it is an adaptation of what’s in the Western world. What I would love to see is people coming up with their own way of creating stuff in the right cultural context. I think then we would have a totally different way of looking at things.

What would you say to a student here at Spikes who wants to get into the ad industry?

I would say they have to understand what the job is, which is the art of salesmanship. The job is not about trying to get awards or recognition. That will come if you do your job right. They should think about that and not confuse technology with ideas or art with what we are doing. We are not producing art; we are selling stuff. That and that you have to love what you are doing because if you don’t, you will not be any good.        

(This article first appeared on CampaignAsia.com)

Also read: Spikes Asia 2014: "Facebook is not your new television channel" - DDB's Amir Kassaei

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