GOT YOUR ATTEN TION?
Clockwise from top left: For Axe, 72andSunny
has replaced testosterone-driven campaigns
with more product-focused yet humorous
themes. The agency’s work for previous
clients such as Benetton continues to make it
a hot shop. Other campaigns have promoted
Ciroc Vodka and Samsung’s multimedia,
interactive approach to introducing Rihanna’s
most recent album, Anti.
How I stopped being a jerk and became more creative
In a past life,
John Boiler was
a revered creative
director at Wieden
+ Kennedy, the
West Coast advertising agency that
helped put Nike
on the map with
such as “Just Do
It.” He was also a
cynical egotist. So
he hit the reset
button. Years later,
he’s the co-founder
and creative co-chair, with Glenn
Cole, of 72and-
Sunny, an ad
agency “built on
works for the likes
of Google and
Adidas. –As told
to Burt Helm
M Y WIFE TOLD ME SHE DIDN’ T like what I was becoming.
God, to have somebody you love tell you that—it
turns you inside out. But she was right. It was
16 years ago, I was 35, and I’d been running the
Amsterdam o;ce of Wieden + Kennedy, the ad
agency. That night we were drinking wine—
probably a lot—and discussing my next career move.
I had adopted this fixed mindset that I was really
awesome and I didn’t need to learn—like, I’m not
interested in your input, Mr. Client, I’m here to
protect my idea because you’re going to screw it
up. I was doing better and better, but that cynicism
had begun to creep into every part of my life.
It took me a while to examine what needed to
change. I decided everything did. We moved to Los
Angeles, where I’d try to become a commercial
director with Glenn Cole, my creative partner from
the ad agency. We had a friend who ran a production
company and he started putting us forward for
small jobs—little art projects, surf videos, and
some commercial work.
I was a shitty director. Our producer friend said
to me one time, “You know, people who do well in
this business have return customers. The way you
get return customers is by not telling them their
ideas are lame.” It’s funny, when you own your own
company, it’s like you’re running around naked every
day. You can’t maintain the front of being a creative
genius when your survival is in the balance. All of
a sudden, clients’ ideas seem much smarter because
you depend on them. Most important, it changes
your outlook from one of having employees to one of
having partners. If anyone was good enough to work
with us for the little pay we could o;er, I felt com-
mitted to making them happy. Because there were so
few of us, we had to embrace everyone’s creativity.
That was the first big lesson for me. Once you
start treating employees as more than a job description, suddenly they go, “Oh, wow! Maybe I should
bring my whole self to work today!” Our secretary
would be making comments on all the work. That
secretary, Evin Shutt, is now partner and chief operating o;cer. Everyone got much more engaged. And
it got way more fun. If you don’t welcome input from
all your people, you narrow your creative product.
Eyes dim. When you get people with diverse backgrounds and experiences together, you get surprises.
That’s when really good things happen.
John Boiler | 72andSunny → Advertising agency
HOW I DID IT ; LAUNCH 38 - INC. - JULY/AUGUS T 2017