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May 3, 2011 / davebirss

An interview with Billy Mawhinney

A few years after I fled my homeland for the glitter and sparkle of London, there was a massive coup in the Scottish ad scene. Faulds, then the biggest agency north of the border, had managed to attract a top London Creative Director. And this wasn’t just any old London Creative Director – this was a man who had worked at BBH, had been the ECD of JWT and had enough awards to fill every mantlepiece at Balmoral. This man was Billy Mawhinney. During his time there, he helped the agency poach clients from big London agencies and – in turn – helped Edinburgh’s creatives feel they were a serious contender.

After that, Billy headed back to JWT in London, then to Manchester and now he’s out on his own working directly with clients.

I tried to catch up with Billy in the UK and failed. So we managed to get a Skype interview sorted out when he was visiting family in the States. You can hear the pearls of wisdom he gave me while standing in his pyjamas and slippers in upstate New York on the next episode of the podcast.

But here’s a little taster of what he covers.

  • When he started, JWT was very much like Mad Men.
  • What advertising lost when it hived off media.
  • It used to be agencies that took the fresh ideas to clients – now it seems that it’s the clients who’re taking them to agencies.
  • Clients are brighter than they used to be.
  • The conflicting agendas within agencies get in the road of great work.
  • We can learn something from carving wooden elephants.
  • Decision making has changed more in the last ten years than it has in the previous hundred.
  • These days advertising is chasing more than it’s leading.
  • Why people blame Sir Martin Sorrell for the fall of advertising.
  • The UK is peculiar in it’s tight attachment to the Art Director/Copywriter team.
  • Creative people rise or fall to the standards of the creative environment they’re in.
  • Plus plenty of wisdom from Bill Bernbach, Jeremy Bullmore, John Hegarty and others.
Keep an eye on your iTunes (I’m assuming that you’ve subscribed by now) – the podcast will be winging its way to you very shortly.

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