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Effectiveness Hall of Fame - Nick Kendall

The IPA Effectiveness Hall of Fame honours Nick Kendall, Group Strategy Director of BBH, for his contribution to effectiveness as a Convenor of Judges at the IPA Effectiveness Awards.

Nick was Convenor of Judges for the 1998 IPA Effectiveness Awards and subsequently edited the "Advertising Works 10" book of winning cases.

Q: Describe the high point and low point of your career in the communications industry to date?

My high and low points are one and the same: working on Johnnie Walker. Working on the world’s No.1 whisky, I travelled the planet for Johnnie for over 15 years helping make 'Keep Walking' happen.

I have stood in the Emperor’s Garden above the Forbidden Palace. I have danced in the biggest club I have ever been in with 3,000 hipsters in Mexico City. I have walked the F1 paddock and watched Lewis Hamilton triumph in Rio. Amazing!

I have also sat on numerous planes (I have over one million airmiles) on Sunday nights, and in too many meetings and too many frustrating 'debates' about 'in my market'. Global is 'complex' for sure and 'slow' for definite.

I guess that’s why I was so proud when "Keep Walking" received the IPA Effectiveness Grand Prix. Big canvas to play on. Big Global Idea. Big return on investment. Big highs and lows. Bitter sweet memories and worth every moment.

Q: In your work, who has had the biggest influence on your communications thinking and practice – and why?

My biggest influence, I always say, was my father. He did not ‘say’ much to me (or at least I don’t remember much he said). But I do remember one card he gave me before I went to college. It was a quote, I think from the Bible.

‘You can lie to the world, but you cannot lie to yourself’.

I think the best brands, and ideas (like the best people) do not lie to themselves and therefore they cannot lie to the world.

John Bartle was like a second father to me. Again, he did not say much but I do remember one rebuke - ‘Don’t be so bloody daft’. (I had suggested serving milk instead of water in a milk pitch). John had a ruthless common sense, a ‘say it as it is’ Yorkshireness, and an immense sense of integrity. Not bad things for a planner to learn when talking to creatives and clients alike. 

And then my other Dads - Nigel Bogle and John Hegarty - have also been massively important people to me. Nigel is a natural born leader and he always made me want to be better.

Heg? Well, Heg is a joy. He makes the world exciting and feel full of opportunity and 'magic' . I was lucky enough to learn from him how intelligence can help in that.

So in the words of the great Sugar Puffs ad...'There are four dads in my life one I am a son.. to the others I am eternally indebted '.

Q: What knowledge or skill do you have today that you wish you had possessed when you started out?  

Patience, but not much.

Q: What is the single, most important change you have seen in the industry since you started? Has it been a change for the better or worse?

The biggest change is the growth of process. Discipline in making stuff is central. All great creatives know that.  

But process is not discipline. Process forces attention away from the key issue - the need for an idea. It slows down the momentum of an idea. It strangles differences, begrudges chat and leaps and laughter. It is killing our business. It is 'product-izing' us to death. 

For me, there is no margin, and more importantly, no joy in process. It is starving creativity of the oxygen of chance. We need more 'anti-process'.

The 5th BBH belief says 'we believe in processes that liberate creativity'. An oxymoron or a timely call to arms?


After graduating from Christ Church College, Oxford, with a degree in English in 1981, Nick Kendall joined BBH in December 1986 to work on Liberty, Levi’s and later on Whitbread (Boddingtons, Murphy’s) and Häagen Dazs.

In December 1989 he was appointed to the Board and in 1992 was made Head of Department.

Having won an IPA Effectiveness Gold for Häagen Dazs, he completed a term as Convenor of Judges for the Awards for 1998.

He was promoted to Group Planning Director in September 1998, and in this role was responsible for the planning departments of BBH across the globe

Now, as well as working on global brands such as Johnnie Walker, Dirt is Good & Huawei, Nick acts as Group Strategy Director, helping lead and support the strategy community across six offices.

In his spare time he helped create and run the IPA Diploma. The Diploma is described as ‘the MBA of brands’ by the people who know, namely the delegates themselves!

Last year he was proud to receive the IPA President’s Medal for his 'services to the industry'.

Last updated 15/10/2013

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