Creative Insights: TBWA's Cat Williams on access to real people and scripts writing themselves

By Ruby Derrick | 4 April 2024

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

TBWA associate creative director Cat Williams:

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

Growing up in a small-ish town with no exposure to the advertising industry, I didn’t know what a copywriter was. So, when I moved to Sydney, I studied journalism. It was through an internship I discovered this jazzy creative copywriting thing. Then it was all very deliberate. I started as a receptionist in an agency and worked my way into the creative department. 

What’s your secret sauce for commercial creativity?

It sounds a bit obvious but real people, their stories and insights. I learned this not-so-secret secret early on as a junior writer working weekends at a bar to cover bills, rent, life. My then ECD encouraged me to keep the bar job because of all the access to real people. I continued shaking cocktails and chatting to those happy enough to share their stories. Scripts wrote themselves.

What’s the biggest hurdle now for creatives?

Timings. Why are we all going so fast? Never been done before takes time. 

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

The only black t-shirt I own is ruffly and has gold buttons down the back. Does that count?

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

Black T-shirts don’t say anything about your ability to think or create. Just that you can’t be bothered with ironing. 

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

I just finished a project with Media Arts Lab Sydney. Being a part of a team driven by great craft, emotive storytelling and human connection was both exciting and intense. I feel lucky. I learned a lot.

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