Creative Insights: Ogilvy's Clark Edwards on the baby turtle rule

By Ruby Derrick | 30 October 2023

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

Clark Edwards: executive creative director at Ogilvy Sydney

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

I had couple of bounces before I landed. After studying geography at Uni, I fell into journalism. But a passion for writing and a hatred of doing the research, meant I gravitated towards advertising. A friend of mine’s partner who worked for an agency suggested I do the D&AD night school course (the grandparent of today’s D&AD Shift Program). The rest isn’t really history, more just not geography.

What’s your secret sauce for commercial creativity?

Understand very early on in your career the baby turtle rule. Your ideas are like those hundreds of little hatchlings on the beach all struggling toward the ocean. Most of them will get killed. So, resilience is the secret sauce. Sure, have passion, but do not fall in love with your babies. Remember that you will invariably hatch better ones in the next round or brief.

What’s the biggest hurdle now for creatives?

The biggest hurdle for creatives is defining and owning who they are. In amongst meetings with 200-page gif loaded decks and rounds of research it’s easy to lose track of what you’re adding and what your role are in the process is. The hurdle is keeping your creative brain intact. Be the random one in the room who sparks something new, not just another slide or nodding face on a zoom call.

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

No, it’s way too hot in Australia for black t-shirts.

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

No, anything but. You make different by working different. This makes absolutely no grammatical sense. But rooms full of people in black t-shirts tend to produce ideas that only vibe with people in black t-shirts. It’s the black t-shirt creative death spiral.

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

Hope Reef. One of those creative opportunities that only comes along a couple of times in a career. It was a four-year project that was based on a genuine big brand initiative. The fun part was working with literally hundreds of different people – from our partners at Google to the scientists and islanders that helped make it happen. Not a black t-shirt in sight. Bliss.

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