2019 AME Grand Jury Perspective: Damian Hanley
AME’s Grand Jury is the powerhouse behind the prestigious AME Awards, their high standard of excellence ensures that AME’s 25-year legacy is upheld and respected globally both by winners and industry reports measuring creative distinction. Their dedication results in truly award-worthy work being recognized.
Damian Hanley is a creative director and board director at In Company of Huskies, Ireland’s leading Independent creative agency. An art director by trade, a problem solver at heart, he has a passion for tackling challenging marketing problems and providing creative solutions. Damian has won many domestic and international awards for clients such as Nissan Cars, Aviva, O2, Liberty Insurance, Britvic Soft drinks, Allied Irish Banks, Lynx and Lyons Tea to name but a few.
For the first 10 years of his career Damian was the lead creative on many of Ireland’s top accounts, before joining Rothco as creative director in 2006. During the next 9 years the company grew into one of the largest agencies in Ireland, eventually becoming part on Accenture Interactive. Damian joined In the Company of Huskies in January 2015 where the agency is experiencing rapid growth through the combination of creative firepower and digital DNA and delivering creative and effectiveness for its clients.
Keep reading to find out more about Damian including his thoughts on creative process, the attributes award-winning work has in common, why effectiveness awards are important and more.
AME Awards: AME’s winners and entrants are behind some of the most innovative leading-edge creative work on the planet that delivers the most impactful result. Tell us about your process of creating and delivering creative and effective results. Are your ideas inspired or do they come together as the result of a collective brainstorming session with your team?
Damian Hanley: Ideas are a product of creating an environment where everyone in the agency is switched on, sharing ideas and always looking around them. Of course, an idea is a spark, a moment of inspiration and I rely on our creatives to be the drivers of great ideas and they are great at it. But ideas can and are encouraged to come from anywhere in the agency. If everyone in the agency has ambition to be involved in ideas, that is very powerful. And those ideas need to be born into the right environment. Our creative process is the responsibility of everyone in the agency.
The foundation of great work comes from great briefs. From the beginning we use multi-disciplinary teams led by a core team of Planning and Creative. Because we are a creative agency with deep digital DNA, omni-channel insights are feed into the creative brief from day one. Great briefs come from great planning and a great planner has the ability to analyse the information and data available to them. This enables a compelling insight that unlocks creative ideas which, in turn, will unlock business growth.
We build on our intelligence through close collaboration with our clients and inter-agency partners. As creatives, we know inspiration can come from anywhere. We also make it our business to develop a deep understanding of our clients’ business. I encourage teams to spend as much time in a client’s business as possible – often the idea lies there.
We are passionate about the work and constantly striving for better and it is this passion that keeps driving us forward, asking is this the best idea, can we do better, will this achieve our objectives. It is easy to blame clients if the work is too safe, but I think if you are asking your clients to be brave - you haven’t set up the strategy and creative right. But if you do, then brave just becomes smart.
AME Awards: As a strategic creative, what stand-out attributes do you recognize in award-winning creative and effective advertising…what do ads that have taken the brief and turned it into campaign that transforms opinions, evokes action and raises the bar for the brand have in common?
Damian Hanley: The most effective work has a very simple but powerful insight behind it. Often the creative job is to translate that insight in a simple way that does it justice. The best work avoids the temptation to add too many layers of creative interpretation. Simple creative ideas that communicate great insights are a very powerful combination. The “why didn’t I think of that” ideas. These ideas tend to stay with you, effecting behaviours for a long time afterwards. It stops us in our tracks and causes us to rethink or pushes us into action. You often see amazing ideas but sometimes you question did they actually work. The ideas that are the most effective ideas are the ones that truly influence behaviour and can deliver great results. And we often instinctively know if it is effective or not, even before we read the result.
AME Awards: Why are effectiveness competitions like the AME Awards important?
Damian Hanley: Effectiveness is the No.1 driver of creativity. If it works, clients will back better and better ideas. Without results, the work is subjective. And that’s a much harder discussion. Effectiveness is the proof that the work you have created works. As creatives we all want to produce award winning work, but our industry also needs to be appreciated for the commercial success we offer clients as well. Effectiveness awards are a reminder of this. The most successful agencies and clients embed the concept of effectiveness in to their cultures.
At Huskies, our team is united under the same goal to transform brands and businesses. We bring the art and science together to harness what we term the power of ‘Magic and Machines’ to deliver tangible business growth for our clients and we are very proud of our effectiveness records. There is nothing better than being at a pitch and being able to prove beyond doubt that it was your campaign that returned the investment many times over to the client. And in a time when budgets are getting squeezed, a global effectiveness award like AME is the ultimate measure of success as it rewards agencies that have demonstrated financial payback for their campaign.
AME Awards: Why did you agree to participate on this year’s AME Grand Jury and What do you hope to learn by viewing entries into this competition?
Damian Hanley: AME celebrates creative excellence that has been proved to deliver value to an organization. I am always reassured when I see campaigns that have had a transformational effect on a business or brand. I was delighted to be asked to be a judge for such prestigious global awards and I look forward to being inspired and sharing my learnings at home.
We should never ask or wish clients to be braver. That is unfair. Most clients are actually a lot braver in reality than some creatives or agencies! We have a responsibility to demonstrate why a decision might be the smart one. And then the client has a fair choice to make. I heard a great expression once: “the safe idea, is actually the risky idea, because you risk wasting all your money”.
Awards like AME help us all make smarter choices.