Up-and-Comers: Tom Davies, Special Group

We’ve given the mic to the industry’s future leaders. Tom Davies, a creative at Special Group, shares his thoughts on adland.

How did you get into advertising? What sparked your interest in getting into the industry?

I was drifting my way through a communications degree, with a career in radio or journalism loosely in mind. In my second year, we had an assignment which involved pairing up with a classmate (one the writer, one the art director) and sketching up some ads for a fruit drink. It was a pretty sweet assignment. Then I realised you could basically do that same assignment as a full-time job, still in a pair. Then I realised I really needed to find a mate who could draw.

It’s worked out well. I’m now working as a writer at an agency I love, with an art director I love to work with. And no one has to suffer my voice on the radio.

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on so far?

I’m stoked to say it’s one of my current projects. We’re helping an awesomely ambitious young guy kickstart a conscious tampon brand from the ground up. Packaging. Brand line. Launch campaign.

As much as any creative loves to get their hands on a big brand brief (and a big brand budget), nothing beats having a beer with the owner of a business, and earning their trust with your work. It’s not often I’ve been able to say my job feels really honest.

Also, as someone who hasn’t ever had a period, the job’s obviously an enormous leap outside my comfort zone. They say that’s good.

Where do you get inspiration?

Pragmatically, Victoria Park. Just a one-minute walk from work. Watching accountants play touch rugby at lunchtime has a strange way of relaxing the mind.

What’s been the most challenging thing you’ve had to deal with in your role?

I think most creatives would say this, but I’m going to say it anyway – the death of a great idea. Some of the killings are torturous, others swift and merciless, but they can all really get to you.

The only solace is that your next idea might be better. Even smarter, make it better. That’s advice I should really listen to sometime.

Are there any misconceptions about the industry you’d like to see busted?

Clients aren’t out to crush your creativity. The sooner you understand where their head is at, and why it’s there, the more sense everything makes, and the less frustrated you’ll be. Again, a real work in progress.

What advice would you give to those entering the industry?

Be passionate about your work, but don’t fall in love with it. That ends in tears. Ideas don’t have a great average life-expectancy.

Oh, and download the Headspace meditation app. I think there’s a limited time offer on.

This piece originally appeared in the 2019 Agency Issue of NZ Marketing magazine. Subscribe here.

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