• Emily Osborne

03_Who Inspires Me?


The first creative I was ever obsessed with was Sir John Hegarty. Not an unusual selection for a graphic design and illustration student interested in creative ideas and when the University library has an abundance of his writings it’s easy to become encapsulated.


Saatchi & Saatchi 1972

Not only by the campaigns he creates, but in the level of integrity, he has within his work. His unwavering focus on the 'Idea' and how to properly engage with audiences. A staunch believer in the art of persuasion involved in the advertising landscape.


Looking at the legacy that is BBH, there seems to never be any particular BBH style that this agency approaches work with. They use the best methods and mediums for that idea, strategy, or campaign. But above all else, the work always feels finely balanced. As if, someone with the impeccable taste was behind everything, creating very simple, powerful, and elegant work. The fact this balanced work can be seen agency-wide across locations and campaigns is evidence of strong integrity both in approach to work and the creative freedom they allow within their teams.



"The Man Who Walked Around The World" - Johnnie Walker's 2009 BBH


Levi's 501 Launderette 1985

Hegarty created ground-breaking campaigns for major brands including Levi’s and Audi, bringing music to the centre of advertising with soundtracks from seven Levi’s ads making it to UK number one and coining the long-running slogan "Vorsprung Durch Technik" for Audi.


“The unpredictability is what makes what we do in advertising so exciting – you literally don’t know where you’re going to end up. Creativity isn’t about predictability – it has to surprise and challenge, it has to be daring and yet motivating.”

- John Hegarty, Hegarty on Advertising




It's Hegarty’s approach to the idea of creativity, the paradigm of what advertising should seek to be is the determining factor of the success within his work. Understanding that at the core of great work, whether that be an ad, a piece of copy, a film or a song. That at its core is a great idea. An idea founded upon either intricate insights of the audience or the willingness to surprise and delight an audience. To persuade through intelligence and insightful conversation, not the constant motion of Sell! Sell! Sell!


“Obsessing about one medium versus another is a waste of energy - it is the cultivation and management of ideas, and the people who generate them, that is the crucial factor.”

- John Hegarty, Hegarty on Advertising


An important aspect of Hegarty’s positioning within the creative world was the power placed within the idea. But not only the idea, the entire process, formation, and delivery. After all, a great idea with poor delivery does result in a great ad. Understanding how industry standards and practices will shift in the coming years will help me find where I might fit within the creative industry. As technology advances and the world shrinks, we will have to work that much harder to stand out and create engaging and sustainable content for our audiences and society alike.


“Technology is a delivery system – you just have to make sure what you’re delivering is memorable and motivating.”

- John Hegarty, Hegarty on Advertising


Finally, I will leave this short snippet from an interview between LBB’s Addison Capper and Sir John Hegarty in March 2021. Responding to a question around humor in advertising and why they may have been a decline in the quality of creative work being produced in the 21st century.


“We also have a lack of understanding of our history. We're unique as a creative industry that has very little regard for what's gone before... In our industry, you can literally say to a young creative today, ‘John Webster’, and they wouldn't know who you're talking about. It's a great shame because I think they're losing the value of this experience that these people put into their work and the creativity they put into it.”

It is in this very comment that my worries over finding more relevance in established creatives and advertisers such as Hegarty, Abbott, Bernbach, Gill, and Doyle were relaxed. Whilst it is relevant to stay on top of trends and new bodies of work, much like all other professions we can only improve and refine our practice by looking to those who came before us and learning from their learnings. Whilst applying them in the context of the modern-day.

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