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Campaign Brief (AUS/NZ) Online.
Campaign Brief Magazine : Nov Dec 2010
HOT SHOT It’s all about the work. The decision to leave Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco after 11 years to become ECD of Ogilvy Sydney was an unlikely one that surprised many, both in Australia and the US. But for Chris Ford, 42, who comes with a reel that has one of the most awarded TV ads of 2009, the Comcast ‘Rabbit’ commercial and the Saturn’s ‘Numbers’ campaign, which is archived in the Museum of Modern Art, it was much more appealing than moving to another state in the US or another agency in California. He also wrote, produced and directed the award- winning independent feature film The Village Barbershop during a summer vacation from the agency. Ford was offered the job by managing director Mike Daniels, who’d spent two years at Goodby’s as planning director, and lived in the same street as Ford in Mill Valley. “It just felt like when Australia popped up, I thought, huh, I’ve always been curious about the country, it’s warm, they speak English, I know Mike, he seems like a good guy. It all seemed pretty alluring,” says Ford. “I felt like it was a challenging opportunity – if you could make the work better here it would be no small accomplishment.” He also liked the fact that his two young children would get the opportunity to see life from a different point of view and experience a new country; the whole family is looking forward to summer, exploring the region and learning to surf. Ford admits there’s been some culture shock adapting to an agency that only recently overturned a long-held ban of entering awards. He thinks every agency needs some kind of North Star: at Goodby’s it was all about the work, something he wants to instil in everyone that works at Ogilvy Sydney. “If you can get people doing that, then everyone wins – the client wins because it’s about the work, the accounts team wins because the clients win, and the creatives win because you are doing better work,” he says. Ford had a few false starts on his way to working at one of the world’s best agencies. He briefly studied civil engineering at Berkeley before returning to his hometown, Reno, to study at the University of Nevada. Graduating as an English major in journalism and advertising, he moved to Chicago and tried to get a job in advertising, but ending up in the men’s fashion department of Lord & Taylor, something he describes as the “most miserable six months of my life.” Returning to Reno, Ford spent six months snowboarding before getting a job at a graphic design shop as a copywriter. For the next nine months he moonlighted as the office janitor to save enough money to move to San Francisco. He got his foot in the door at Wolfe / Doyle, San Francisco, thanks to a quirky letter he’d written to the owner about the owner’s long hair. He worked for free for the first three months but was on his way. Stints at JWT San Francisco and TBWA/Chiat/Day New York followed. A highly awarded Glenlivet whisky campaign out of TBWA got him noticed at Goodby’s and it remains one of the best advertising experiences he’s ever had. Ford, his art director, David Carter, their art buyer, and the photographer, Nadav Kander, spent a week in Scotland photographing the people living in the region where the whisky was distilled. “It was one client and he just believed in it and he was brave and all those things you want your client to be that they aren’t often enough,” says Ford. Looking forward, he thinks Ogilvy Sydney has a great list of clients and the opportunity to do great work. He’s just got to figure out how to make that happen and hopes to have something ready to enter into Cannes next year. “The clock is ticking, I hear it every day,” he says. PHOTOGRAPHY: DEREK HUGHES LOCATION: SYDNEY CBD
CB NAT FEB 2011