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Leo Burnett Company, Limited
175 Bloor Street East, North Tower
Toronto, Ontario M4W 3R9
+416 925 5997

Margaret Arnold

SVP, Director, Human Resources

EVP David Kennedy


Lisa Morch

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Q4 GPC Q+A: Nigel Tribe, Head Strategist at Leo Burnett Singapore

This week, the fourth-quarter Global Product Committee, comprising the top creative leaders from Leo Burnett Worldwide, is meeting in Indonesia to evaluate work from around the global network using the agency’s 10-point HumanKind Scale. Work that receives a 7-point rating is considered to be the benchmark for excellence in craft. (To learn more about the GPC and the HumanKind Scale, watch this video.)

We caught up with Nigel Tribe, head of strategy at Leo Burnett Singapore, who explains why “insights” is an overused word, offers praise for Leo Burnett Sydney’s work for the WWF and urges all delegates to continue the conversations about the work with their respective home offices.

Follow @TheLBGPC next week on Twitter for live, real-time updates from the GPC room.


Why are strategic insights so important to the creative process?
This is a really interesting question. I think even the word “insights” has become overused. As strategists, we are trying to find fresh human and cultural truths and the trick is knowing how to merge them with the brand or product.

The way that I operate, and the way that people around me operate, is we’re there to help set the creatives up for success. Yes planners come up with insights and strategies, but creatives are naturally insightful too. It's the partnership and the creative process that is key.

I had a conversation with a client about this: There are lots of insights that you could use—there isn’t just one insight. What's key is finding the right insight that will drive the creative product.

To answer the question, I think that insights are really important to the process but it is not, “Oh look, it's the planner that solely comes up with the insight.” I think we work with creatives to actually craft and fashion the thinking and get it into a space that is really compelling and can lead to really interesting great work.

What trends are you seeing in this quarter’s work?
For me, what is fascinating about Asia is there’s such a rich, cultural history and tapestry and nuance, and what we’re seeing from the work that is really successful is that people are understanding and tapping into that. But they’re also finding a credible way in which the brand can help add or solve a problem or a tension.

I think a lot of the great work we are seeing is very purpose-driven, which is great given Leo Burnett’s position and our thoughts. And the other stuff I’m seeing that is working really well is where technology is being naturally woven into the solution; it doesn’t feel like a bolt on but instead technology is actually at the center of the solution.

What is an example of a well-executed and smartly designed campaign that you’ve seen from this quarter?
One of the standouts has been the WWF work from Sydney. What is really great about it is they looked at the way cleaning products and other solutions based on natural products were done in the past and they resurrected that and made it relevant in a modern context.

What really stood out about that campaign was, effectively, it is doing a lot of education, but with education there is always a risk that it sounds patronizing. From a tonal perspective, the way in which the campaign uses humor adds a layer of authenticity to it. What’s also compelling is that it provides a new way of thinking for many people, and it elicits and creates action to address the issues that WWF is trying to achieve. That is fantastic, and the design work they have done around it is really clean and simple and fresh. Overall, from an idea perspective right through to the executional elements—from tone to design—everything is extremely well crafted and exemplary and gives us all something to learn from.

What have you learned from this GPC experience and how do you plan to apply it in your day-to-day work?
What we’ve seen this week is a wide range of diversity in work and thinking, and there are learnings from each campaign that people need to hear about. Exposing people to the work is the key thing. Whether you’re based in Singapore, London or Chicago, it is our job to go back and really show the work we’ve all seen and then have the conversation internally about what we can all learn from it. Because it is the work that is actually important. Strategy is only important if it gets to great work. Insights are only important if they get to great work that works.

I’d urge everyone to go back to their respective offices and share the work and create the conversations we’ve had here, so that people can actually be inspired by it and they can see where we can learn from things but also where some of the pitfalls may have been. And I think that all of that will provide an inspiring culture and environment from which we can all learn from work that inspires us to go forth and create better, more interesting, smarter work for our clients.