On My Radar: Beth O'Brien
Beth O'Brien, creative group head at Colenso BBDO, comes up with her best ideas in the shower. Thank goodness, then, for waterproof notepads.
What’s the best ad campaign you’ve seen recently?
The Immunity Charm campaign for The Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health. It was my favourite campaign from D&AD / Cannes. Such a killer solution to a massive problem. No doubt everyone’s now seen it, if you haven’t take a sec and check it out – your creative bones will be jealous.
What’s the most recent piece of tech that you’ve bought and why?
Google Home. Because it’s wicked.
What film do you think everyone should have seen?
Easy, there’s a set of short films written and directed by the Eames Brothers called Powers of Ten. They were made in the late 70s and begin with an aerial shot of designer Paul Bruhwile sitting in a park having a picnic. The camera slowly zooms out and up from there at a rate of x 10 every ten seconds. It continues until it reaches the edge of the universe. It sounds sciency, but the films beautifully depict the scale of the universe. When I’m stressed I like to revisit them. In a weird way they can put your worries into perspective in ten minutes.
What website(s) do you use most regularly and why?
Nasa, VeryGoods, Eyeondesign, IGN, TechCrunch, TheNewYorkTimes, SightUnseen, and of course Reddit. Those would be my morning routine anyway. They give me a good overall snap shot of what’s going on culturally, all the way from politics to gaming.
What’s your favourite TV show and why?
Broad City. It’s killer. I read an interesting piece on the show last year, it spoke at length about this idea of the female id in relation to super e go. Abbi and Ilana (who write and star in the show) play themselves essentially. They use their real names etc. Only they’ve dialed themselves up to the most extreme versions of themselves and their ego. It’s oddly autobiographical in a sense, but also culturally has moved the goal posts for comedy. It’s important to note they achieved cultural relevance outside of normal TV network structures – Broad City began as a YouTube series. They really had to create a space for themselves and it only makes Abbi and Ilana more awesome in my eyes.
What’s your favourite app on your phone and why?
The Gram. For obvious reasons.
Where were you when inspiration last struck?
In the shower. It’s the best place to brainstorm. I’ve got a little waterproof writing pad in there and everything.
Facebook, Instagram or Twitter?
Instagram when I’ve got a sec. Facebook when I want to talk to my mum. Twitter when I’m angry and need company.
What’s the most significant change you’ve witnessed in the industry since you started working in it?
The move towards socially significant work and the necessity to be part of the cultural conversation. I’m stoked that things have shifted in that direction. It’s the kind of work I love to make.
If there was one thing you could change about the advertising industry, what would it be?
In the New Zealand industry? Diversity in leadership. As an industry we need to address it. And not because 'it’s the right thing to do', but because it’ll increase profits and lead to more powerful ideas. That’s been proven worldwide.
What or who has most influenced your career and why?
My upbringing. I grew up in a politically charged household. Injustice was a big topic, social good was a big topic, leftfield problem solving was encouraged. My favourite ideas hit right at that big meaty stuff.
Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know…
Ummmm, I’ve got great hand-eye co-ordination. I once tested in the 98 percentile for that. Someone once told me it’s a common trait of visual spatial learners. I guess I was always meant to be an art director.