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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > creatives >  Patrick O’Neill
Patrick O’Neill

Executive Creative Director

patrickoneill Patrick O’NeillNot everyone was born with the kind of passion for the industry that TBWA\CHIAT\DAY Executive Creative Director Patrick O’Neill was born with. Obsessed with advertising since childhood, Patrick already had a job before he even graduated from the Art Center College of Design, and has kept the upward trajectory ever since. While he currently resides in Los Angeles, Patrick has held down the Executive Creative Director role on both coasts for TBWA\CHIAT\DAY. His time in New York resulted in award-winning work for ABSOLUT, Orbitz, Kenneth Cole, Embassy Suites and Joe Boxer, but moving to Los Angeles has not stopped the momentum. Now heading up the west coast creative product, Patrick oversees Gatorade, Visa, the Grammys (which saw record breaking ratings this year), and more. There is not an advertising award that has escaped him, from D&AD, to Cannes Lions, The One Show, the Clio Awards, the Effie Awards, the Webby Awards, and even an EMMY nomination. Not only an award winner, Patrick also served on juries for the One Show, the Andy Awards, the Clio Awards, Hive Award and The One Show Interactive. It is exhausting just typing that, but for Patrick, the work boils down to one thing: the people he works with and nurturing that talent to produce great ideas. Patrick paused for a few moments of his busy day to share with IHAVEANIDEA some of his priorities and goals, his favorite campaigns and his history in the business. Who is his greatest inspiration? Hint: his office is not far from Patrick’s own desk.

IHAVEANIDEA: What was your childhood dream?

Patrick: My first fully formed sentence was, “I have an Excedrin headache.” I used to act out the headache motions and mimic the commercial. I just loved advertising from the beginning.

IHAVEANIDEA: Did you follow a track that led to advertising from there?

Patrick: I was always creating comic book characters and doing creative things. I was influenced by advertising and products, and enjoyed being the first to try a new thing. New products were always something that captured my imagination when I was very young, whether it was on television or just shopping at the grocery store. I became fascinated with witty headlines that were surprising in ads when I was more of a teenager – I still remember how powerful and memorable some of those headlines were. In my early twenties I realized that I could have fun in advertising myself, so I went to Art Center and majored in advertising. I enjoyed the idea of coming up with something that other people would see and be influenced by, and it seemed like a lot of fun in addition to being challenging.

ipod Patrick O’Neill

IHAVEANIDEA: Would you still say is a lot of fun?

Patrick: Absolutely, yeah. I think the thing that I didn’t know when I imagined doing this as a career, is what a team sport it is. I imagined it would be something done alone, or with a partner, yet it’s far from that.  It’s more people-driven and team-focused than ever. There are all of these different mediums, different levels of expertise and different talents that come together.

I just loved advertising from the beginning.

IHAVEANIDEA: … centered around collaboration…

Patrick: The collaborative part of it ends up being, I think, the most inspirational, most creatively challenging, and the most engaging part of the job.  Seeing something finished and out in the world is really rewarding, but the process of creating it is a lot of fun. The people that you surround yourself with on your teams couldn’t be more important than they are now. It becomes a collective creative force.

IHAVEANIDEA: How do you encourage collaboration and inspiration for your creative teams at TBWA?

Patrick: I think, that just like in any business, it’s constantly thinking about where people want to go in their careers, what kind of ideas they’re naturally inclined to come up with, what challenges will keep them growing in their craft and expanding their expertise, encouraging them to try new things, and being engaged and exhilarated about what they’re doing. It’s about mixing it up and keeping it fresh. That’s the difference, that’s where the ideas come from. I try really hard to be in tune with that, and think about what’s going to make my teams be the best that they can be.

It’s about mixing it up and keeping it fresh. That’s the difference, that’s where the ideas come from.

IHAVEANIDEA: The Los Angeles office of TBWA\CHIAT\DAY is a massive advertising compound. Does the tone of the culture feel more like a small agency, or the big agency that it is?

Patrick: It’s not about a vertical hierarchical structure. The agency has a very open and inviting feel. Though we’re a fairly large agency in Los Angeles, each team and each brand acts as it’s own agency within an agency. Each team is pretty independent and has a small agency attitude. It keeps the work vibrant and nimble, and allows the teams to be able to react to things easily instead of through a big, giant, bureaucratic system.

IMG 0258b1 Patrick O’Neill

IMG 026211 Patrick O’Neill

IHAVEANIDEA: How do you create that open environment?

Patrick: The agency is designed architecturally with the mentality of “open.”  It’s like a little advertising city. We have our own culture inside, plus there are different areas where you can work outside your office, like the “Central Park.” It’s really unlike most offices. That reflects in the work and shows that we’re open to new thinking. We’re delivering an ambition on creative excellence, and we’re focused on that, but it’s done in a way that fosters creativity.

PARK Patrick O’Neill

IHAVEANIDEA: Let’s switch tracks and talk a bit about Los Angeles versus New York, since you’ve worked at agencies in both cities.

Patrick: I’ve actually worked at TBWA\CHIAT\DAY specifically both in New York and then now in Los Angeles. It’s a very different kind of creative culture in L.A. and I’m really enjoying it.

IHAVEANIDEA: How does it compare?

Patrick: Manhattan has a lot more agencies in a lot smaller of a space. In Los Angeles, the advertising culture of the city is very present, but the city itself is more spread out. Agencies don’t intermingle and you don’t walk down the street and run into someone from another agency very often.  L.A. is not as “industry.” I find it more about the work than about industry gossip, but then again, New York is a media town. New York is very inspiring and so spontaneous—that’s the thing I do miss about New York— and it’s a completely different way to work and live. Here in L.A., you drive home and you make plans, and you live your life in a little less spontaneous way. But I just love working here. It might just be the CHIAT\DAY Los Angeles culture, but it’s awesome.

I enjoyed the idea of coming up with something that other people would see and be influenced by

IHAVEANIDEA: What was the coolest thing you worked on pre-CHIAT\DAY Los Angeles?

Patrick: Well, there were a few things I really enjoyed working on. When I was at Deutsch, I had an opportunity to work on my first big TV ad with IKEA, which was a pretty groundbreaking campaign. I had some really big cultural things to work on there, and I felt really grateful for that luck, so it was great timing. I was in the right place at the right time.

At CHIAT\DAY New York, I worked with Absolut Vodka on the Sex in the City episode. That was really a great way to extend the brand into a new medium, and it was pretty cool. It was fun to be a part of that moment – the spirits advertising world, Absolut, Sex and the City and New York.  I really enjoyed being in the media culture of New York City.

IHAVEANIDEA: Out of everything you’ve ever worked on to date— to this very day—what is your absolute favorite campaign?

Patrick: (laughs)…that’s so hard. I’m really proud of the work that we’ve done with Visa for the Beijing Olympics. There’s nothing like the Olympics, and there’s no other time in the world where everyone comes together like that. From Morgan Freeman’s voice to all of the athlete’s stories, it was a real honor to work on. People really responded well and it captured the spirit of the games and the partnership with Visa. I was really proud of that work—those are some of my most favorite moments.

IHAVEANIDEA: Who is your greatest inspiration?

Patrick: I’d have to say Lee (Clow). He always stays true to his vision, is always inspiring, and thinks of simplicity and beauty in nurturing ideas. That’s demonstrated by the way he lives, the way he thinks and how he speaks.  His point of view on the world is just a constant reminder of how powerful our medium – our business— is, and what we do. It’s a real honor to be able to have him so close and to see him, work with him and speak to him about ideas. There have been a lot of people over the years that have been a big inspiration to me, but the one that has had the most impact is Lee. A lot of people will say that, but he’s our spiritual leader, he’s our guru.

IHAVEANIDEA:  What are your goals for the next six months?

Patrick: The number one thing is making sure we’ve got the right people on the right brand thinking the right way. Right now it’s just the talent, the people, and the team; just making sure that everyone is doing the best they can, in a position to do the best work of their lives. And if they’re not, then I will change it so that they are. With great people comes the great work and that’s where my priority truly is; that’s what is on my radar for the next six months.

We’re delivering an ambition on creative excellence, and we’re focused on that

IHAVEANIDEA: What is the #1 gadget you can’t live without?

Patrick: It’s cliché, but that iPhone. It’s something that I never leave anywhere; it’s always with me. It’s almost as essential, if not more so, than my wallet or my identification. It’s just a part of everything I do and unimaginable to be without it.

IHAVEANIDEA: What is the #1 non-gadget you can’t live without?

Patrick: There’s a book I really love that’s called, “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be.“  It’s a book of inspiration and it’s like a mini-bible. I think it’s really important to think of the bigger picture and what you’re really doing in this job, not the day-to-day stuff, or the up and downs that are out of our control.

IHAVEANIDEA: Well, now I feel like I need to go pick it up immediately.

Patrick: You definitely do.

brianna Patrick O’Neill
Brianna Graves

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