John McPartland is a Senior Art Director at the Havas Lynx Group. This year John was selected to represent the Havas Lynx Group at the prestigious London International Awards (LIA) Creative LIAisons in Las Vegas. John has provided us with a series of blogs from his time at the Creative LIAisons. In his second blog of the series, John recalls a day filled with insightful talks and workshops covering everything from Thai advertising to 6 second films.

As you walk through Vegas, there’s one thing that you can never seem to get past, and that is the all out assault on your senses. Even at 7am you are met with ringing of slot machines, the morning traffic and even more James Blunt.

First up for day 2 was Susan Credle, Global CCO of FCB. As younger creatives we are so often told to be nice to people, a fact reinforced so much that adorning the office walls of most creative agencies walls is Anthony Burrills ‘Work hard and be nice to people’ print.

Susan’s talk offered an insight into how to practically make that advice work. Drawing on her own experiences Susan talked of how transitioning from a creative to a CD meant having to adapt your approach to work. The characteristics that have defined you as an aspiring creative, tenacity & relentlessness would now have to be changed to a softer approach or risk being seen as tyrannical or an asshole (arsehole for us Brits).  After just over an hour, Susan had managed impart a treasure trove of advice and insights.

Following on from Susan we were transported from Vegas to Thailand. Leo Burnett offered us an insight into the culture of Thai advertising and why it has such a distinct tone. For years Thai ads have been at the forefront of humorous and outright weird work, from SunSnack’s fire farting ducks (watch it) to a fatty acid stopping traffic cop for Verena.

But what makes Thai advertising so distinct and unique? It turns out that the culture of the country is intrinsically tied to the work, Thai people are often perceived as happy, and so for years the work had reflected this. Over the past few years, political turmoil in the country has had a direct impact on the work. But now it’s making a comeback, this year has seen some utterly brilliant work coming back out of Thailand, one of the most notable being Friendshit, a 5 ½ minute film that breaks with all conventions and keeps you watching for every second. An insight into Thai advertising shows that you really must capture the culture of your audience, rather than talking to everybody, you must define your audience and talk to them in a language that they understand.

The final talk of the morning came in the form of audio (ironically). Tom Eymundson, Jill Kershaw and Ralph van Dijk opened up a panel discussion on the use of sound in branding and advertising. After a technical issue led to us spending 5 minutes listening to Kevin Spacey deliver the same line (he was back with a vengeance in this talk), we heard of the process of creating sound design. Often sound can be seen as very subjective, feedback from clients often becomes a personal preference, but the discussion helped understand the technical elements that can make informed decisions, thus creating technical and logical arguments for choices we make.

The afternoon was taken over by Great Gun and their 6 second workshop. With the way that media is now consumed we need to grab attention, and grab it quickly. Bearing this in mind we were asked to produce 6 second ads based on our very specific briefs (if you’ve never seen a set of 12 art directors hovering over a camera it’s truly a sight to behold).

The end results were varied but all remarkable and it offered a great way to reinforce how much you can get into a 6 second film when you think of it in a format of itself rather than a cut down.

With Day 2 coming to a close and most of the talks finishing up, its been another day of completely overloading me with life affirming learnings, Kevin Spacey and farting ducks. What comes next has a lot to top.