Campaign podcast: John Cleese on why 'advertising is like a very good crossword'

Jul 02, 11:33 AM
This week’s podcast is all about the four “C”s: Cannes, creativity, cheese and Cleese.

First up, Campaign’s associate editor Kate Magee and UK editor Maisie McCabe discuss the notable winners at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, which took place last week.

The pair move on to “cheese” - why aren’t more funny ads winning at Cannes? 

Then Kate Magee interviews the writer and performer John Cleese about creativity. 

Cleese has made regular appearances in ads throughout his 55-year career. As he says in the podcast: “There was a time when I was very popular with the advertising fraternity, but it was probably forty years ago. At that time, somebody said there should be an award for the best use of John Cleese,” he says.

In particular, he mentioned the “lovely times” he had working on the Sony ads that he did with Tim Delaney, now chairman at Legas Delaney.

He adds: “I always loved doing commercials because it wasn’t such a massive thing like a movie, but it was like a very good crossword - it takes two days of your life but it's awfully interesting.”

Episode notes

3:00 What happened at Cannes: AMV’s big win 5:20 Why aren’t more funny ads winning awards? 8:25 The John Cleese interview 13:30 Why people who rush decisions are cowards 15:10 Why play needs to be separate from everyday life 20:30 The real bar to creativity is the people in charge 26:50 Children know how to play - and then we train it out of them 34:00 Why the key to creative collaboration is diversity 36:00 Advertising is like a very good crossword 37:25 On ageism: “I like a slightly boring older director who knows what they’re doing” 40.35 Ego and self doubt: “We’re all more insecure than we like to admit”