The Interview Series // 44 agIdeas Special

What a head-shot! Pardon the pun! But seriously – get this – before Adam Hunt started his career in advertising, he had 80% of his brain removed. No shit! We only found out after we finished our interview, so you’ll have to see him speak at agIdeas (http://agideas (seamless plug (http://www NULL.agideas to find out the full story. Without giving too much away before he speaks as part of the International Design Forum (http://www NULL.agideas NULL.php?nodeId=19), Adam has had quite the career. Working in various countries, winning awards, making t-shirts (http://www NULL.goatboy, and pissing off the head-honchos at the ABC (http://www NULL.smh NULL.html). These days however, Adam is a creative gun for hire and runs Mamasan (http://www NULL.mamasan, an asian themed bar in Sydney! In his agIdeas bio Adam is quoted as saying he “thinks that most advertising is ‘brainfuckingly boring’, so he’s currently taking a break.” We kind of agree – so we thought we’d ask Adam how we can do better.


Junior: Ok Adam, from the top, how did you get into advertising?

Adam Hunt: Pretty much by accident and greed. A mate told me I could triple my salary if I moved from being a Magazine Art Director to an Advertising Art Director.

Jr: Wow. We wish we could triple our salary! Was it a difficult transition?

A: No. It was liberating. In editorial, words rule. In advertising (I believe) pictures rule. You’ve got to grab peoples attention visually & then reward that attention immediately. Also in advertising you work in a creative team – which can be either bliss or a bastard – depending on your teammate. I was blessed to work for 5 years in 4 countries with Ben Nott (founding partner/CD of Droga5 (http://droga5 We’re like best mates & brothers. They call creative partnerships marriages, so we even had a wedding photo taken. I was the bride, because back then I had bigger hair than Bon Jovi (http://www NULL.celebrityviplounge NULL.jpg).

Jr: At what point did you start writing ads and start calling yourself a Copywriter as well as an Art Director?

A: Ben used to say that he’d draw the words and I’d write the pictures. That’s pretty Zen, but accurate.

Jr: Obviously to have both skills is a real plus.

A: You can’t not have both skills – as they serve the delivery of ideas. (That’s if your ad has an idea in it, of course.)

Jr: You’ve worked all around the world, do you think overseas experience is a key ingredient to a successful career?

A: It’s essential. Working in advertising in Australia is like being a soccer player in Australia – you dream of running out onto Old Trafford & playing for Manchester United. I managed to score a gig at Saatchi & Saatchi in London, which was Mecca for creatives.

Jr: What has been the highlight of your career to date?

A: Travelling the world & meeting incredibly inspiring people – all because of the creative process when you say: “what if…” and then you scribble something on a piece of paper and see if it makes you laugh. By doing that I managed to meet people like Sir Edmund Hillary, Dennis Hopper, Salman Rushdie, Paul Arden, Cicciolina, Malcom McClaren, Damien Hirst, Bradley Trevor Grieve & Andrew Denton. These people are like an energy source that you can tap into and draw adrenaline from.

Jr: In your career, you’ve done a fair few things (http://www NULL.goatboy outside ad-land, and these days you own Mamasan (http://www NULL.mamasan – do you think it’s important to be creative outside of being a creative?

A: Of course – advertising creatives who live with their heads in D&AD Annuals may as well have their head up their arse. Inspiration comes from the world – and there’s a pretty big one happening out there beyond advertising.

Jr: Do you think your advertising background and skill-set have helped you run Mamasan?

A: I guess so – it’s all about managing an experience – what you see, hear, smell, eat, drink and feel. But by far the biggest help has been my beautiful Taiwanese/Japanese partner, who owned a restaurant that I hung out at between freelance gigs. Eventually we decided to sell it and open a bar together.

Jr: What made you decide to take a break from advertising?

A: Survival. I couldn’t get a job after the scandal of my ad (http://www NULL.smh NULL.html) on The Gruen Transfer. I soon realized that I’d have to tone my creative instincts down to land a corporate gig, as I was perceived as “too risky”. So I thought I’d try something else instead. In over 20 years in advertising I spent a lot of time in bars – I guess you could say that advertising has driven me to drink! Nobody takes risks any more – which is why advertising is so incredibly fucking boring. Pendulums always swing one way or another – at the moment the pendulum is well and truly in the court of the bland scientists who believe that people buy things for rational reasons, and that research can measure the effectiveness of an idea. They don’t and it can’t.

Jr: We think the work coming out of ad-land can be pretty uninspiring. And here we are either knocking on doors to get into an agency, or spending every waking moment in one. How can we all do better work do you think?

A: You can’t do great work without a great brief and a great client. The only time I’ve ever done anything regarded as any good is when these planets align. You need a brief that’s single minded and is based upon a simple insight about who you’re talking to. And you need a client who will take the risks required to go with something new and fresh. It’s a long time between drinks for those factors to occur – so you may as well come and have some at Mamasan’s bar. It’s made of 150 year old oak doors from China, and we have Asahi & Sapporo on tap. The food’s bloody amazing & there’s some cool shit on the walls. No ads though.

Jr: Nice. We love a good segway.

Adam is speaking at the agIdeas 2011 International Design Forum. 3 to 5 May. Tickets here. (http://www NULL.agideas

Written by Junior
Originally posted on: 14/04/2011