Jay’s High Five

Jay’s recipe for great creative work is a five-layer devil’s food cake to the bland vanilla content which populates our world. Here’s how Jay bakes his creative cake…


  • Different opinions
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 great creative idea
  • Risk-averse clients
  • 1 cup of Coca Cola in the cinema
  • Buckets of hard work
  • 1 tsp control
  • Pints of emotion
  • Manage the cooks in the kitchen. 

Why is there so much average, vanilla work? Too many cooks interfering, from the Creative Director to the creatives themselves, but most of all the clients. Take all their opinions with a pinch of salt and protect your creative idea.

  • Understand the clients are from another world.

They lose their job if they take risks; we lose ours if we don’t. We’ve got to stand out by being bilingual, thinking differently. Slurp Coca Cola too loudly in the cinema and end up in the movie. The clients won’t mind a silly stunt if it’s a smaller brief with room to play; in this case they loved it.

  • Work harder than anyone else.

This is the part of the recipe where you have to beat eggs vigorously for ten minutes. There’s no shortcut. But you could make it into a game; great insights come from real life, so play just as hard. I’ll make sure I play as hard as I work this term. 

  • Focus only on what you can control.

Shortly after Jay joined Saatchi & Saatchi, the CEO and CFO walked out, Charles Saatchi publicly assaulted Nigella Lawson, and a global financial crisis struck. He couldn’t control any of this. So he kept going, had fun and won some awards. This was the biggest slice of advice for me, a recovering control freak. Ice it on top of the cake.

  • Always make people feel something.

Maya Angelou said, ‘People will never forget how you made them feel.’ Harness strong emotions and you’ll never be forgotten, like this stunt for a horror film festival. Definitely more devil than vanilla. My favourite ads are always the ones that make me laugh, cry or both, so this reminder from Jay is one I’ll mix into every brief ahead.

Serve this devilish cake with a side of what surprised me. Coca Cola Slurp was a small brief because of the context: short videos in Danish cinemas warning people to be quiet. Jay showed how you can get a million views with no budget if you put the work out there, write your own articles and ‘send them to industry rags’. He found an opportunity that would: 1. Manage the cooks; 2. Get round the clients; 3. Take hard work (and play); 4. Control what could be controlled; 5. Make people feel (laugh).

When Jay said always make people feel, I assumed he meant consumers, but he also meant his colleagues. ‘Make people feel good and they’ll go to war for you,’ Jay said, and he’s right. I’m nowhere near the top of my creative cake but I never want anyone at any layer to forget how I made them feel. Hopefully not vanilla.


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