Creative Insights: 303 MullenLowe's Damian Royce on living by three principles

By Ruby Derrick | 7 November 2023

Creative Insights is an AdNews series investigating and uncovering the secrets of the creative side of advertising. 

Damian Royce: chief creative officer at 303 MullenLowe Perth

How did you fall into the industry? Was it deliberate or a misstep? 

My path into the creative industry was always a goal from a young age. I always knew I would do something that involved creative and design. My fascination with brands and creativity has been a constant part of my journey for as long as I can recall.  

What’s your secret sauce for commercial creativity? 

Firstly, effective commercial creativity involves getting to the right problem first, and ensuring creativity is viewed through a business lens. And that means lots of listening. 

Secondly, it doesn’t matter what we’re trying to sell. Brands need to be human and recognise what makes people interested in them. 

Thirdly, I try to live by the following principles - is it simple? Is it interesting? Does it move me? 

What’s the biggest hurdle now for creatives? 

There are many and the challenges are always changing. Technologies, including AI, will continue to change and influence the market. It’s a challenge, and an opportunity for creative people to be good curators of these technologies to get the best out of them. 

Now more than ever, I believe making time to learn and explore what’s possible is the key to staying relevant. Aside from exploring the possibilities of AI, I’ve been attending AdSchool’s Experience Design course as a refresher to my past digital-focused creative experience. This has enabled me to discover what’s new, to collaborate with my peers at other reputable creative agencies, and of course to impart the knowledge within 303 MullenLowe and our clients.  

With all that said, above all, at the heart of effective creativity is the human stuff. The things that click with us that AI cannot replicate yet. So, continually discovering and utilising those things is still the most important part of our craft.  

Do you wear the black t-shirt uniform or are you a nonconformist? 

I don’t conform to that mindset, and I don’t consciously dress to look like ‘the creative guy’ in the room. 

Can commercial creativity only take place in a room full of people in black T-shirts? 

I believe creativity and creative thinking should start from the top down in any organisation and not just when it gets to the marketing and creative departments. When companies recognise this and can harness the mindset, it often leads to commercial success. My hope is that at a board-level more and more organisations see creativity as one of the important things to help build and move their business forward. Not every person in the room needs to be creative, but organisations need to recognise the power of it. 

What was the latest campaign that you worked on that you really enjoyed? 

While we have a lot of new initiatives in progress with our great 303 MullenLowe clients, there’s one project that stands out over the past 12 months. I took some time away from the creative agency world to work as the marketing director of Pancare Foundation, an organisation in the pursuit of improving the statistics for upper GI cancers.

To generate a new revenue stream, we developed a new product and brand called SHOPE. It’s soap, for hope. A lot of time, effort and hustle went into it, but the key point about this initiative is that it started with a creative and investment commitment made by the CEO who understood the vision and opportunity. It’s already providing a valuable revenue stream for an important cause. 

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