Creative Insights: Liam Jenkins from The Royals on not being insular

By Ruby Derrick | 17 November 2023

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

Liam Jenkins: art director at The Royals 

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

When I was deciding what to study after school, advertising felt like a completed puzzle of all the pieces I was interested in - it fit perfectly at the intersection of psychology, creativity and design.

What’s your secret sauce for commercial creativity?

Don’t be insular. Knowing what’s going on in Adland is important, but we shouldn’t find all of our inspiration in ads made by others. Look to film, music, literature, video games. Find that thing that lights you up and fits snuggly into an idea.

Also look at what's going on in the world. Research has become an integral part of my creative process. Don’t just think of a cool idea to sell another product, see if there’s an opportunity to share a new story or insight into the human experience that maybe hasn’t been heard yet.

What’s the biggest hurdle now for creatives?

Budget and time are definitely two of the big ones, but I think the biggest hurdle is operating in a system that’s pretty outdated and exclusive. We’ve still got work to do.

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

I think conformity is antithetical to creativity, but not everyone literally wears their creativity on their sleeve. We all have different ways of expressing our creativity, fashion and self presentation is one of mine. That’s not to say that you can’t be creative in all black, because everyone pours their creativity into different aspects of their life.

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

Absolutely not. Can you be in the room wearing a black t-shirt? Of course. But if the only seats at your table are reserved for people who look, think and behave the same as you do, you’re not only limiting the potential of your output, but you’re limiting the potential of those who don’t fit into your perspective. Diversity, in all aspects, is incredibly important. 

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

I worked on a campaign for adult retailer Wild Secrets. We did a deep dive into pleasure and how it’s spoken about in culture, and found that seniors were almost always left out of the conversation. This has had a myriad of implications, including negatively impacting the health of older generations.

So we created the Better With Age campaign, helping older Aussies embrace pleasure and all of the benefits that come with it. It was definitely one of those “I can’t believe this is my job” moments, but also lovely to be able to start an important conversation that had been silenced for too long.

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