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Volkswagen - Singing in the Rain

Volkswagen
09/05/2024
London, UK
21
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Credits
Agency / Creative
About Jeremy Craigen
I got into advertising because I love advertising.

As a child, I could recite many commercials to my bemused parents. Little did I know at the time that the ads I loved the most were winning at D&AD and most were the work of the genius John Webster. A man I was very fortunate to be in the same building with many years later.

I started my career at Ted Bates, an agency that my then art director Jeremy Carr and I said we would never work at but we did. Needs must etc. While there, I was lucky enough to win a Young Creative’s Award from a Creative Circle competition but didn’t really do anything of merit during the time there.

The agency then merged with Dorlands (again defunct, hope that he’s not a pattern). I got to work on some big accounts like Heinz and Land Rover and helped launch the Land Rover Discovery. Although Dorlands was not a great agency by reputation there really were some great people working there. In all departments. But as the saying went then (and maybe it does now) “An Agency is only as good as the clients they have”.

Across the road from Dorlands was a brilliant agency with a brilliant client list - and that was BMP DDB. I ended up working there for 24 years in its various incarnations and enjoyed almost every minute of it. There I got to really learn how important culture is within an agency.

On the new joiners meeting even the new tea lady was invited. Everyone had to know about what we did and what we were about. Everyone was treated as an equal. From CEO to ECD to Receptionist and more. And remember this was not 2019, this was 1990. I did some pretty good work there, studying the book “Remember those great Volkswagen Ads “ like it was the bible. Getting in to the DNA of a brand is what makes me tick. And I’d like to think it showed in the work I did on VW over all those years from print and tv to getting VW on to Top Gear for twenty minutes free time of advertising on the BBC and an audience of 750 million.

Jeremy left to become a writer at another agency and I had the chance to work with a new art director, Joanna Wenley. Jo was a bit scary to me when I first arrived at BMP. She had worked with some of the best (and I mean best) in the business. Working with her was a different experience altogether. We laughed so much and produced some lovely work, too. Another lesson: you can have fun and produce great work at the same time.

During this time I was asked to be joint ECD at DDB with Ewan Peterson. I didn’t really want the title, I was enjoying my time with Jo, but I knew that with Ewan we could reignite an agency which was low in morale to put it mildly.

A reenergised creative dept quickly resulted in a Grand Prix at Cannes the following year. Ewan left soon after and I was left to pull the reigns alone.

I spent 10 years as ECD of DDB London and managed a department of amazing individuals that are all doing well somewhere in the world right now. I never really set out to create an International Creative dept, but over the ten years we had people from America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, France, Spain, Denmark and of course a few Brits working in the unglamorous world of Paddington. “Talented and nice, you had to be both” said Bill Bernbach and I’d like to think he would have approved of my dept.

What I am most proud of (apart from the people) was our consistency in producing great work.

We were the Gunn Reports Agency of the Decade for awards won across a number of award shows. I love winning awards. But you have to take them with a pinch of salt. They are a bi-product of what we do. We are in the business of creating amazing work for our clients. Not in the business of winning awards. If it wins an award, great. If it doesn’t, and you and the client and the consumer like it, great again.

Anyway, back to me.

In 2013, I stepped down from running the DDB London creative dept and turned my full attention to working on Volkswagen as Global Executive Creative Director, still keeping my eye on the UK account but really enjoying working with different agencies around Europe and the rest of the network.

In 2015, a new opportunity came up to become The Global Chief Creative Officer of Innocean Worldwide, an agency network set up primarily to service Hyundai and Kia. It was a fascinating four years. Trying to attract creative talent to this network was never going to be easy but it was something I achieved. From Sydney to Delhi to Berlin and on, the talent came in. Slowly but surely.

Berlin, in particular, is a nice legacy of my four years. When I arrived at Innocean, the European HQ was in Frankfurt, not the easiest place to attract creative talent. I was allowed the opportunity to set up the Berlin office which is now thriving with very happy Hyundai and Kia clients.

I am extremely proud of the fact that when I arrived at Innocean three of the senior clients around the world told me they would fire Innocean if they could! Four years later these clients were the first to ring or write to me to thank me for my time there and for the people I brought in.

So what next?

Working with different cultures would be my number one choice. Be it globally or regionally, it’s just so much more interesting. I would love a role that let me mentor people, my real strength. I’m not interested in titles. I’m interested in working with great people who respect one another and love what they do. Simple.

And then Covid happened....

After a couple of consulting jobs with DDB Europe, I set up The Craigen Partnership. This is not a start up agency. It’s about partnering with agencies, clients and production companies on projects until this ghastly virus is in our rear view mirror.

I still love the idea of working with different cultures but maybe those days of the global or regional creative chief are over.

And maybe I’ll love being my own boss?

TBC.


1984 - 1987 Ted Bates
Junior Copywriter

1987 - 1990 BSB Dorland (after merger)
Copywriter

1990 - 1996 BMP DDB Needham
Copywriter 

1996 - 2003 BMP DDB
Director of Creativity

2003 - 2013 DDB London
Executive Creative Director

2013 - 2015 DDB EUROPE
Executive Creative Director VW/DDB

2015 - 2019 INNOCEAN WORLDWIDE
Global Chief Creative Officer

2020 - THE CRAIGEN PARTNERSHIP
Director

EXPERIENCE (Accounts worked on)
VW, Hyundai, Kia, Land Rover, Sony, American Airlines, Marmite, Harvey Nichols, Budweiser, UNICEF, AIDS Council, Boo.com, Tropicana, Optrex, Barclaycard, The Health Education Council (AIDS), Barclaycard, Knorr, British Gas, Food Standards Agency, Heinz amongst others.