Idols – Ian Wharton, by @DrewDavies94

Drew Davies

By Drew Davies


Idols – Ian Wharton


Meet Ian Wharton. Last Wednesday I did.


I have to admit I was skeptical arriving at AKQA. I pigeonholed it as a digital agency and prior to SCA digital scared me. My advertising heroes were old school. The likes of David Abbot, George Lois, Tom McElligott, John Webster and the revolutionary Bill Bernbach. My favourite ads were therefore also old school. Print, TV and radio. Classic advertising.


In one sense a simpler form of advertising.


Now there’s internet marketing, virals, smartphones, drones, pop ups, eye scanning machines, QR codes, big data tracking, social media, email marketing and much more to think about.


No, no, no. It would be much easier to sit back in a leather chair with a whiskey on the rocks and fire witty straplines at each other whist trying to figure out what the new secretary has got on under that red velvet dress of hers.


AKQA was an experience in itself. I’ve been in agencies before and they’re normally nice. AKQA made them look like a dingy flats from Leeds the morning after a squat rave.


Ian Wharton is the Group Creative Head and he was waiting for us in an office with sweeties and chocolate and soft drinks and books. They were all free.


He shown us some of the agencies work and gave us advice before letting us throw questions at him.


I think I can speak for my whole group and say we were in awe.



Before us was an attractive well built man (refer to picture above). He stood in a powerful pose. He didn’t fiddle or twitch. His voice boomed throughout the room. He articulated his words clearly and precisely. Hums and hahs weren’t part of his vocabulary. He was concise, to the point and maintained strong eye contact.


His portfolio was equally as impressive.


He studied a crazy mix of advertising, technology and media. During this he made a short film called ‘Solar’ which won awards for best student film. (Check it out


He was a partner at tech startup Zolmo, creating award winning apps for Jamie Oliver launching the startup into Design Week’s top 50 Design Consultancies.


He had a spell as an Art Director at The Mill making commercials for Audi, EA and Sony that earned him a place as on of BIMA’s Digital Hot 100 and Campaign Magazine’s A-List.


Now he’s a key figure at AKQA who always aims to innovate for their clients.


Meeting Ian was truly inspiring for a couple of reasons.


Here is someone I can look up to and aspire to be like.


I give myself ten years.


He made me excited about digital. I now see technology as an opportunity to express ideas in new ways rather than a hindrance.


In his book ‘Spark the Fire’ he articulates something I’ve had in my head a long time. The idea that creativity shouldn’t be limited to a discipline. That’s why for this year at SCA I will be pushing my creativity as hard as I can and not just in copy. I fully intend to develop a strong understanding of art direction and experiment with photography and illustration.


But the best thing of all is that he’s actually an SCA mentor so you can all meet him and see for yourself.


And now you also know a bit about him.

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