10 minutes with Graham Kelly

Graham Kelly.jpgEach week Campaign Brief Asia sits down with a prominent creative talent from our region and gets to know them better. This week in this regular "10 Minutes With" column is Graham Kelly, who recently left his position of Executive Creative Director at TBWA Singapore.

What did you do before getting into advertising?
An Honours Degree in Chemistry.  Then various odd jobs in the year between graduating and my first job in advertising - including running my own stall in a flea-market in Glasgow and delivering TV sets up far too many stairs in the city's high-rise flats.
How did you first get into advertising as a career?
I wanted a career that would let me be creative.  I thought it might be Chemistry, but soon after I started university I realised I would not be in the top 10% that do the breakthrough, prize-winning science. I had always enjoyed writing - and my sister seemed to have lots of fun (she was a journalist) - so some form of creative writing seemed an interesting option.
Who gave you your first big break in advertising?
Doing a D&AD Workshop with GGT in London. At the time they were the hottest agency around.  After this, I chucked out my portfolio (3 years worth of work) and started again from scratch.
What is your career highlight to date?
The "firsts" are always highlights: eg Asia's first One Show Interactive Pencil and Asia's first Media Lion at Cannes.  In terms of new business, winning SIA stands out.
angkor_desecration.gifNominate the two best ads/ campaigns that you have created or been involved in the creation of?
1) Royal Angkor Foundation: this was a print/tv campaign and it won lots of awards but more importantly it got results: by raising money for the Foundation and also getting stolen Buddhist statue heads returned to Cambodia (eg Metropolitan Museum in NY returned some pieces).
2) Gorillaz "SMS" campaign.  I think this was something genuinely innovative and used a new medium (mobile) in a way that hadn't been attempted before:
What have you been doing since leaving TBWA and do you have any plan or desire to get back into an agency? 
Mainly non-advertising things - though I did a month's teaching at LaSalle College of the Arts which was fun. I've been doing lots of travelling, and also remote learning courses. I have both plans and desires to get back into the industry.  My intention is to have a 6 month break/sabbatical, which ends in June/July, then take it from there.
Working in Japan at BBH must have been interesting... What is your take on creativity there? What is Japan doing better than anywhere else in Asia? 
Tough to compare Japan to rest of Asia. In some respects its more like the US (it's the world's second biggest advertising market) - so  there are huge budgets and things happen slowly, but when they do the scale is exciting.  Japan's interactive work is so far ahead of the rest of Asia its scary. They're also far stronger when it comes to the big integrated campaigns. TV is better than anywhere else in the region with the exception of Thailand.  


Is there an ad that makes you green with envy?
DDB's VW work: "Think Small" "Lemon" etc.  These were the ads that heralded the "Creative Revolution" in the 60s. Imagine being able to say your campaign changed the entire industry!
Do you have a 'worst mistake' or a most embarrassing moment in your advertising career to date?
Oh dear. If I went into detail on that it would be a bit longer than "10 minutes with Graham Kelly". The thing is, the funniest ones don't just embarrass me so it would be wrong of me to embarrass others in public by sharing them.
Who is the most interesting, or most inspiring, or funniest person you have ever met or worked with? 
I've been lucky enough to work with quite a few people who fit that description. Neil French and Steve Elrick (ECD BBH Asia-Pacific) would be two of them.
What's your favourite leisure activity/hobbies outside of advertising?
Travelling round Bali on a 1960's reconditioned antique Vespa.
Favourite holiday destination?
Favourite hotels?
Helga's Folly in Sri Lanka. Helga calls her place an "Anti-Hotel". She's had a song written about her by The Stereophonics.
Tell me something about yourself that not many people would know?
I used to write for "Pravda International" (the English language version of  "Pravda", the newspaper of the ex-Soviet Union).
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Anonymous said:

Top bloke and king of the ironic t-shirts.

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