Q: Describe the high points and low points of your career in the communications industry to date?
There is no higher high in our industry than when great work works. Good relationships, smart thinking, a great idea, brilliant execution…all can be wonderful stepping stones along the way but the real prize, the highest form of satisfaction, is when it all comes together.
I've been fortunate enough to work with courageous clients on brands and ideas that have been big enough and bold enough to deliver dramatic, unarguable commercial return.
I've seen advertising turn perceptions of Skoda on their head in a heartbeat; drive demand for Sony Bravia TVs that only a new factory could sate; and move Cadbury from 'bottom of the handbag' to a genuinely marketing-led business. I couldn't choose between them as highs.
I've started two businesses in the hope that we could make those kind of outcomes if not quite inevitable for clients, then certainly more likely.
Happily, my lows have - thus far - been relative rather than absolute - opportunities to learn and to build resilience.
Q: In your work, who has had the biggest influence on your communications thinking and practice - and why?
To quote an old Orange endline that we could never quite do creative justice to: I am who I am because of everyone.
The planners who trained me, the creatives who challenged me, the account men who created the conditions for great work, the clients who bought space for it in their organisations.
Like everyone, I'm also in debt to those industry thinkers who 'market' best practice and new learning concisely and enthusiastically (we'd all name the same names), and try to live up to their example when given the opportunity. And to the IPA, of course, from whom I have learnt the answer to the next question.
Q: What knowledge or skill do you have today that you wish you had possessed when you started out?
The knowledge that advertising typically works over the long term, not the short, by building a profitable brand (and often by supporting price rather than driving volume); that it can pay back even when markets appear unchanged (indeed, that may be its very raison d'être).
And that emotional connection beats persuasion hands down.
Q: What is the single most important change you have seen in the industry since you started? Has it been a change for the better or worse?
'Digital' and globalisation are the most obvious over my professional lifetime but alongside these giant waves there has been an equally palpable erosion of the ad agency's (indeed, any agency's) position as the client's marketing thought leader.
Judged by the prices they can command (what other test of a brand is there?) agencies would seem to be valued less highly than ever by their clients at a time when their ideas may in fact be more valuable to them.
A change for the worse, not just for those who work in the industry itself but for all those who might profit from a more confident, better trained, unhesitatingly collaborative and suitably incentivised brand-building partner. The best agencies and clients still resist this commoditisation, just as they do for the brands they manage, and effectiveness is our best friend in this ongoing endeavour.
Laurence Green co-founded the creative company, 101, in January 2011. 101 undertakes strategic and creative branding assignments across advertising, design and NPD for a dozen clients including Sainsbury’s, Bailey’s, the BBC, innocent and Scottish Widows.
Before starting 101, Laurence was a founding partner and Chairman of Fallon London, one of the world’s most admired creative agencies and winner of Campaign magazine’s ‘Agency of the Year’ title in 2006 and 2007. Whilst at Fallon, Laurence planned the improbable resuscitation of the Skoda brand, the launch of Sony’s Bravia sub-brand with the celebrated ‘Balls commercial’ and the controversial revitalization of the Cadbury brand with a certain drumming gorilla.
Laurence has chaired the UK’s pre-eminent effectiveness and creative awards juries and edited two books on marketing best practice. He writes a monthly advertising column for The Sunday Telegraph, a start-up blog for Management Today and is a frequent contributor to the marketing press.
The only agency strategist named in The Financial Times Creative Business Top 50, Laurence sits on the Effectiveness Board of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, who recently named him an Honorary Fellow. He was a founding member of c&binet, the DCMS’s creative industries thinktank, and a founding trustee of the Marketing Academy, the not-for-profit marketing leadership mentoring organisation.
Laurence is married with three daughters and one dog.
Last updated 15/10/2013