Josh Bryer: “Stahp whineeeng”
Posted on May 21, 2019 | By Gijs de Swarte

Meet The World’s Most Awarded Creative Directors in this new series called the 6,5 interview: Australian Josh Bryer was one of the Creative Directors at Host / Havas behind Palau Pledge, one of the most awarded campaigns last year. At various agencies he won a grand total of 214 awards – including 18 Grand Prix.


1) What was your biggest fear when you just started?

‘Exactly the same fear I have today. “Can I crack it?” The fear’s just quieter now, and it goes away quicker once I start thinking. I guess - with experience - the fear transmutes into more of a healthy nervous excitement than fear. Like a seasoned actor about to go on stage, the butterflies are there - but that’s a good thing. It’s good for the performance.’

2) Please describe your key-career break moment...

‘My first big idea in my first job at O&M Cape Town was a magazine ad for VW Golf, in 1999, called ‘Hell’. There was no image of a car, just of a perfect little white-sand desert island in the middle of the ocean. With no roads. The ad got a One Show In-book and didn’t convert to metal, but the famous John Hegarty chose it as his ‘Best of Show’, which was a huge compliment. That’s when I started to get noticed, and cherry-picked for a transfer overseas to the Dublin office. Years later, in Australia, I was part of the team who did The Palau Pledge. As one of the CDs, I brokered the onboarding of the client, helped craft the copy, and sold it in to the President of Palau on the phone. With 16 Grand Prix, including 2 Black Pencils at D&AD and a Titanium Grand Prix at Cannes, it’s set us all up for further success.’

3) What was the lesson learned from your most loved mistake?

‘We shot a film for St Vincent de Paul Society with a lovely idea at heart. The execution involved people morphing in and out of an interior environment. The big mistake was going with the decision to shoot the morphs in-camera, instead of using VFX. It turned out to be a disaster, and we binned it. The lesson was this: if you can’t execute it properly, don’t settle for second best. Recommend another idea to your client.’

“If you can’t execute an idea properly, don’t settle for second best. Recommend another idea to your client.”

4) Where do you get your inspiration?

‘At the Red & Yellow School for Advertising where I studied Copywriting, there was a giant framed quote on one of the walls: “Be a sponge.” All inspiration comes from what you take in. The more you absorb, the more you can squeeze out when you need it. Read books. Take in turns of phrase and story technique: it will inform and inspire your copy. See films. Take in as much visual stimulation as possible: it exercises your imagination. Watch people. Take in how people think, speak and act: it helps you connect with them.’

5) If you want to get ahead in advertising these days, please, please do not ever...

‘Moan. Even if you think you have a good reason to moan, like “I’m really busy”, don’t. Everyone’s busy. All the time. It’s advertising. All moaning does, is say you’re lazy. That you think you’re busier, and better, than everyone else. No wonder people hate it! I’ve seen talented people’s careers grind to a halt, or even vanish into obscurity, all thanks to constant moaning. So in the words of Arnie, “Stahp whineeeng.”

6) If I was a millennial and wanted to start in advertising now, I would...

‘Think very carefully about whether I’m comfortable with sometimes just selling products. Because that will always be part of advertising. Not everything can have a lofty purpose that helps make the world a better place. If that’s going to irk me, I’d consider another career. It’d save me, and my employers, a lot of unnecessary churn-and-burn.’

(6,5) Also I'd like to state that…

‘Ideas are everything. Charge accordingly.’