Creative karma of Craig Davis

JWT’s creative boss wants ads to engage, not interrupt.

He’s been a biscuit maker, a bartender, law student, fashion show producer and a truck driver, among others. But as JWT’s global Creative Director, Craig Davis is better known as the ‘big-picture guy’ in the ad world. Recently in India to attend the Goafest 2008, an ad industry awards jamboree, Davis let his brethren know what he thinks is wrong with advertising as it exists. Possibly causing some to choke on their fenis and pina coladas, Davis in his session complained that the advertising community was not as generous it should ideally be. Before the participants could start pulling their wallets out, Davis explained what he meant. “Creative people have limited themselves, and gotten comfortable with limiting themselves, to just interrupting entertainment, rather than engaging the consumer within the entertainment itself,” he complained. “Instead of engaging the audience, recycling and sneaking on other people’s audiences seem to have become the mantra for many,” the Australiaborn chided.

JWTs Davis: Shake off the bad karma
Craig Davis
What would he have the ad creators in the industry do? “Create new media and create better content” in a rapidly evolving media environment. Those who do so will be the ones that “escape the trap of bad karma”, Davis explained. How is India doing on his measures? “I have been a frequent visitor to India over the last two years and what I have seen is that the quality of thinking and the quality of execution has gone up and you can see that in films such as Nike (cricket in traffic; a JWT creative that won an award at Goafest 2008) and Happy Dent (by McCann) that have been made here and that have the potential to travel around the world,” he says. Speaking specifically of JWT’s work, Davis says he’s happy but never content. “We are on a mission here to make sure that we have big brand ideas in place,” he says. In the ad business, that counts as good karma.

Anusha Subramanian