Industry Profile: INVNT executive creative director Adam Harriden

9 July 2019
Photographed by The Noun Collective

Our Industry Profile takes a look at some of the professionals working across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles and companies across the buzzing industry.

This week we speak to INVNT executive creative director Adam Harriden.

Time in current role:
Four months.

How would you describe what the company does?
INVNT is the global live brand storytelling agency, the challenger agency for challenger brands.

What do you do day-to-day?
I lead the creative output and direction for INVNT’s APAC clients, ensuring our campaigns embody INVNT’s challenger mentality and way of working, yet also resonate with local audiences on the ground.

Define your job in one word:
Complicated.

I got into experiential because:
I wanted to challenge my creativity. I’d spent 10+ years in the surf and fashion industry and wanted to see if I could influence the corporate world to think differently. Now I see myself as more of an educator, encouraging and inspiring a wider audience about the different ways they can start to look at the world’s problems, and even more so how our younger generation can get a start in our industry.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?
From the way we listen to music and watch movies to something as simple as ordering a cab, the world around us has become one of customisation, yet when it comes to events we still try to deliver the one idea, one journey, one experience and one message to the masses. My challenge – and passion – lies in transforming the experiential landscape to one that crafts bespoke, individualised experiences.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?
Sustainability. As marketers we’re able draw on our expertise to encourage our clients to take an eco-friendly stance, which in turn influences consumers to change their lifestyle habits, so let’s leverage that more. At TEDxSydney last month, for example, an event we design and produce, we activated a Think Tank, where our speakers – top brands, creatives, entrepreneurs and eco-warriors, tackled a range of sustainability related issues. It’s these types of platforms that can help to put the plight of our planet in the spotlight and encourage people to take action.

Previous industry related companies you have worked at:
Host/Havas’s PR arm, Red Agency, Clemenger BBDO’s experiential agency, Traffik, Jack Morton New York and Sydney, Photons C4 Digital and Live.

Notable ads/campaigns you have worked on?
I’ve worked on campaigns and events in Sydney, New York and Dubai. These include the Samsung Sounds Campaign and Sideliner, Sony Love True, Dell The Power To Do More NYC, Schweppes Cocktail Revolution and the Gruen Show’s Pitch with Motherland campaign. My most rewarding and memorable work would have to be Vivid Sydney, SXSW Austin and the recent TEDxSydney 10-year anniversary Legacy event.

Who has been a great mentor to you and why?
There’s been a few! I’ve been lucky enough to have some great thinkers around me at every agency I’ve worked at. Paul Blurton, our Chief Creative Officer is my daily guidance guru and provides different perspectives on challenges. He has that ability to see the bigger, long-term picture. David Mardon and I did some great work together and he was a solid mentor to me… You know sometimes a mentor is someone who very simply backs you and your talent – and that can come with its own pressures sometimes.

Way back when I started out, Matt Jones and Phil McDougal gave me a chance and taught me how to articulate an idea and sell it, and at C4 I was so lucky to work with Paul Swan from Naked, who guided me through a few big pitch wins. These mentors have all enabled me the opportunity to get a window into their way of thinking – they are all smart people who have a knack for creating a simple thought and shining a light on its brilliance.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?
Persistence, persistence, persistence, confidence, believe in yourself, share your ideas with anyone and everyone, and take any creative opportunity you can, they all add up and allow seniors to see who you are and how you think.

You don’t need to take the traditional ‘creative’ route to be successful – some of the best creatives I know didn’t opt for this approach. Whether its backpacking overseas, working in other industries or volunteering for charities, the collection of varied and interesting experiences you endure throughout this journey we call life is what sparks the most disruptive creative ideas.

Finally, whether you consider yourself a hipster or a punk, choose your personal identity, and stick to it. When I lecture at Bond University, I tend to run a session called the ‘you brief,’ to remind students of the importance of staying true to who they are. It’s what clients, employers, partners and suppliers are ultimately buying into, after all.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:
Working on my passion project Goodsurfwax, a beeswax based surfwax that’s petrochemical and bleach free. My family run a small business and we support bee farmers around the world through our product.

My mantra is:
It sounds corny, but live the day, ride it out…. Every moment. I truly believe our destiony is pre-determined, we just need to flow with it and be tuned into it.

My favourite advert is:
Direct TV: "Get Rid Of Cable" watch it, you’ll see. If we’re not telling real stories at least we can laugh when it comes to our ads.

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?
Both Spotify and Netflix are my main go-tos.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
I once made a tie for Keanu Reeves.

In five years' time I'll be:
Right where I am today: happy, challenged, content.

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