Become a Member
Proudly Sponsored By
creatives / interviews with top creatives from around the world
IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > creatives > Slideshow « Colin Jeffery
Colin Jeffery

colinjefferylrg Colin JefferyExecutive Creative Director/Managing Partner

David&Goliath

Shuffling Party Rock hamsters? Yeah, Colin Jeffery is behind that. But both Colin and David&Goliath, where he is Executive Creative Director and Managing Partner, are much bigger than just the hamsters. Bigger than the cultural movement they instigated, and the turbo-jet speed at which they’ve propelled Kia into the forefront of the car market. Colin Jeffery is a worldly creative leader. His journey began in his native South Africa, where he learned from the some of the greats at TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris and helped build King James in Cape Town. Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore was next before heading for the States. Colin produced a long list of award-winning work for Volkswagen at Arnold Boston, and then began nurturing brave creatives and even braver work at David&Goliath. He has done more cool things than can fit in one interview, including writing The Check Up, a film that premiered at Sundance and was selected for the LA Film Festival, and he has also won the full gamut of accolades, including Cannes Lions, D&AD, Clios, One Show and Effies, to name a few.  He was cranking on 2012 Super Bowl work when IHAVEANIDEA caught up with him, and we’re thankful he paused to share some of his time and bring you some of his wisdom.

IHAVEANIDEA: Tell me about growing up in South Africa and Cape Town. It’s such an inspiring, creative place.

Colin: Yeah, absolutely, I think it is inspiring. South Africa is a giant mixing pot of color, culture, art, music and beliefs. While it has an incredibly complicated history, there’s something very simple, optimistic and soulful about it. Growing up I spent a lot of time outdoors, in the mountains, on boats and in the bush, it’s hard to describe, just vast and beautiful, really. I’ve always had a love and respect for the local art and music scene. As a student I was fascinated by township art and music, that’s truly inspired creativity. Sam Nhlengethwa is still my favorite artist; we have some of his work hanging in our home here in LA.

As a young kid I was fascinated by brands and marketing, largely due to the fact that we had limited exposure to international brands and the latest “cool” products. I still remember the first ad that really resonated with me; it was a Nike print ad that must have been in an overseas publication. It was just a young boy sitting on a basketball looking into camera, and underneath it simply read, “Someday.” It was such a powerful message, it made we want to be a famous athlete, wear Nike and be creative. Not sure who produced it, but “thank you.” I actually tore it out of the magazine and put it in one of my boxes of childhood memorabilia, and I still have it somewhere in my folk’s house in South Africa.

Even though art was something that I loved, I wasn’t entirely sure how to make a career out of it. Art Direction and Graphic design were not career choices that our teachers discussed at high school. Creative was still this kind of weird uncharted territory. Luckily for me, Brian Searle-Tripp and Allan Raaff (South African ad industry veterans and all-round great guys) had recently opened the Red and Yellow School and the program focused purely on advertising creative. I signed up and got to work.

IHAVEANIDEA: How did that go?

Colin: I struggled for the first year trying to get my head around concepts and problem solving. After the first year, Brian, called me in and said “I’m not sure if advertising is for you.” That kind of pissed me off and motivated me at the same time. So I spent the next year basically working day and night trying to improve my skills. At the end of my second year I actually won the top student award in South Africa at the Loeries (the South African advertising awards). At the time, there was only one student award, the student gold for best campaign in the country.

IHAVEANIDEA: What were some highlights of those early years in the industry in South Africa?

Colin: Well, that challenge taught me a lot, it pushed me to dig deeper and try harder, and it allowed me to get into TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris in Johannesburg. I packed up my old Toyota Corolla and headed across the country armed with a bag of clothes and my Power Mac 5200. Hunts is a legendary shop, I was lucky enough to work with some of the greats like John Hunt and Tony Granger, who were leading the charge creatively. That place is built on pure passion and takes craft very seriously. It was exciting to be a part of the magic. I worked around the clock on any brief I could get my hands on, just trying to get noticed and make it happen. I touched a wide range of clients including BMW, Land Rover, Nando’s Chicken, Mica Hardware and South African Airways.

Then I joined King James in Cape Town, a new creative shop at the time. Alistair King was really focused on building something special. I’ve always liked the idea of being part of building something, much like we’re doing at David&Goliath. So I jumped in and spent the next 2 years there. I got a lot of great work out of it, and it’s been wonderful watching them expand. They’ve become a major player back home.

Even though art was something that I loved, I wasn’t entirely sure how to make a career out of it.

IHAVEANIDEA: And from South Africa, where did you go?

Colin: Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore. My partner and I got an offer to go across as a senior team. Saatchi Singapore was one of the top creative shops, so it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. I was ready for an adventure and new challenges. I worked on Lexus, Toyota, Singapore Navy, Burger King and Hewlett Packard. I produced a bunch of award-winning work and managed a number of significant car campaigns in various countries across Asia. I was also head of art on the Hewlett Packard account, helping oversee creative from 16 countries in the region. That was my first taste of what it’s like to manage pieces of business, which I liked and I wanted more of.

IHAVEANIDEA: But the U.S. came calling?

Colin: I got a call from Arnold in Boston to come over and help manage the VW account in America. I was a big fan of the “Drivers Wanted” campaign and jumped at the opportunity to be a part of it. The VW group at Arnold was very close-knit, everybody understood the voice and personality of the brand. There was this humanity and soul at the heart of it that resulted in consistently great work. It really felt like we were build a movement rather than a brand or campaign. Those days were definitely a career highlight.

I spent the next year basically working day and night trying to improve my skills. At the end of my second year I actually won the top student award in South Africa at the Loeries.

IHAVEANIDEA: What are you most proud of from that time?

Colin: The launch of the new Passat in 2006. We created the “Feature Films” campaign. It was hugely ambitious and ended up being one of the most awarded campaigns in the world at the time. We basically developed 120 films for the web each one inspired by a specific car feature, and it all lived on one big site. We worked with production companies, directors, designers and VFX artists from all over the world, US, Europe, Asia and South America. No one had ever done anything remotely like this and it was kind of a nightmare. (laughs) A lot of it was discovery, trying new things, working with eight or nine different production companies all at the same time, maybe more. That was just the web component, we also created a bunch of TV spots, print and outdoor that made up the campaign.

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

IHAVEANIDEA:  What inspired the leap from Boston to the West Coast?

Colin: At that point in my career I’d worked in large and small agencies around the world. There were pros and cons to both structures, and some markets made it easier to produce great work. For the most part big shops have big clients with healthy budgets, but also complicated approval processes and plenty of politics. Smaller shops, on the other hand, typically have smaller clients with limited budgets, but are able to move quicker and are more inclined to do breakthrough work.

I was in search of a creative shop that was the perfect blend of both.

I flew to LA and met with David Angelo. We sat down and talked about David&Goliath and where he wanted to take it. It very quickly occurred to me that this was what I’d been looking for; an independent agency with a great creative track record, a solid client list, but plenty of room for growth. David is a creative himself and passionate about producing innovative work. He was focused on building a different kind of shop, so I decided I would help him do it.

It very quickly occurred to me that this was what I’d been looking for; an independent agency with a great creative track record, a solid client list, but plenty of room for growth.

IHAVEANIDEA: So you decided to be Brave. Tell me about this philosophy.

Colin: Brave is our company mantra. It comes out of our name David&Goliath, but also our work ethic and approach to creativity. We are a challenger brand with challenger clients. We also have ambitious goals. Brave is a constant reminder to do things differently, to step out of our comfort zone, to innovate and evolve. It requires us to work a little harder, be a little smarter, quicker, and more ambitious than the big guys. It’s not some PR bullshit we threw out once and forgot about. It’s at the heart of our company and used on a daily basis.

brave team Colin Jeffery

IHAVEANIDEA: Do you think that inspires your staff in a unique way, because they can subscribe to Brave inside and the outside of the agency?

Colin: Absolutely, it was designed to be inspirational. “Brave” is a simple filter for us, it requires everyone to be open minded and willing to push the boundaries. We even have a “Wall of Goliaths,” which is an entire wall covered in framed images of our staff’s personal fears. Having them hang in the hallway is a constant reminder to be Brave.

goliath wall 1 1024x688 Colin Jeffery

IHAVEANIDEA: Do your junior teams have a chance to attack the bigger, braver work?

Colin: Awesome question. One of our junior art directors just sold a 60-second Super Bowl commercial. It’s his first commercial ever. I’m pretty sure that’s never happened in the history of the Super Bowl. Most people spend their career hoping to get a crack at the big time, and this kid nailed it straight out of school.

IHAVEANIDEA: What work are you most proud of at David&Goliath?

Colin: A few things come to mind. Firstly I’m really proud of the work we’ve done on the David&Goliath brand. Very few agencies seem to take the time to work on their own brand. Creating a distinct look, voice and clear goals for the agency has help us be more successful. This year we were named Ad Age “Small Agency of the Year,” won a bunch of new business including Carl’s Jr. and the California State Lottery, won Nielson “Automotive Ad of the Year” for the second year in a row, a Gold Effie, as well as a bunch of creative awards. Momentum is a good thing.

Here are a few of my favorite recent creative pieces.

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

king kong 1024x721 Colin Jeffery

IHAVEANIDEA: What is the one thing you are not brave enough to live without?

Colin: On a serious note, it’s my family. My wife and my kids. They give me balance. I love working, I love creativity and I find it almost impossible to step away.  Without them I think I’d run myself into the ground. They remind me that there’s more to life than just working. To continually be creative, you need to get out there, enjoy the world, be inspired and see stuff.

On a lighter note, I really miss is biltong, South African dried meat. Kind of like jerky, but way better.

IHAVEANIDEA: I’ve had biltong, so I can say that I understand that one.

brianna Colin Jeffery
Brianna Graves
Operations Manager, Writer
IHAVEANIDEA

Recent Comments
LATEST JOBS

Copyright © 2001-2014 IHAVEANIDEA inc. All rights reserved. No material contained in this site may be republished or reposted.
IHAVEANIDEA™ is a trademark of IHAVEANIDEA inc. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy

Copyright © 2009 ihaveanidea inc. All rights reserved.

No material contained in this site may be republished or reposted. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy