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Tom Eslinger

Worldwide Creative Innovation Director / Saatchi & Saatchi

 

Tom works across Saatchi & Saatchi’s worldwide digital capability and is based in NYC. He has both a worldwide focus across network clients for integrated creative, strategy and operations. He concentrates on the creative growth of Saatchi & Saatchi’s integrated and digital talent, adding talent and capabilities and forging worldwide partnerships with best-in-breed creative partners.

Immediately after graduating from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design (and completing multiple stints as an 80s-era Minneapolis ad agency intern), the North Dakota native became a senior lecturer and key creative in the establishment of one of the world’s first creative-centred interactive media Degree programmes at the Wanganui School of Design in New Zealand.

He joined Saatchi & Saatchi in Wellington, New Zealand as a digital creative director where he began creating interactive and mobile ideas, launching early text participation and two-screen projects for Rugby Super12, NZ All Blacks, Telecom and NZ Dairy Foods.

In 2004, Tom partnered with The Hyperfactory in a network-wide partnership which embedded mobile creative and technical capability in five key Saatchi & Saatchi offices, creating work for Toyota, Lexus, Procter & Gamble and New Zealand Breweries.

During his tenure at Saatchi & Saatchi, Tom has also worked across social media, mobile, augmented reality and games for Toyota, Burton Snowboards, Coca-Cola, T-Mobile, Lexus, Visa, Sony Ericsson, Heineken, Novartis, adidas, Cadbury and Procter & Gamble. He was appointed to Saatchi & Saatchi’s Worldwide Creative Board in 2002.

Tom is a multiple Cannes Lion winner across outdoor, cyber, media, direct and promo for web and mobile work. In 2012, Tom was the first President of the newly minted Mobile Lions, following his 2007 Presidency of the Cyber Lions. This was Tom’s fourth Cannes jury appearance, serving on the 2002 Cyber and 2006 Titanium juries. He is completing a book on mobile and marketing which will be published in Winter 2013.

Tom has had a lifelong love of typography and has designed fonts for nearly 20 years. He created Just Type Anything, at the time the world’s first collaborative interactive typographical animation site  His work has appeared in RayGun magazine, The End of Print and CSA Archive/Design. His fonts have spelled stuff in designs for Swatch, Sega, Toyota, Levi’s, Warner Brothers, Urban Outfitters and Burton Snowboards

He lives in a NYC with his partner and Berkeley the dog, hoards thousands of comic books, snowboards whenever there is snow around and recharges his batteries at his humble, entirely solar-powered house on Great Barrier Island, New Zealand.

You have a strong relationship with Cannes Lions festival – besides all the awards received along the years, in 2012 you were the President of the first Mobile Jury and in 2007 President of the Cyber Jury, you were a member of the Titanium & Integrated Jury in 2006 and of the Cyber Jury again, in 2002. Can you name one category you never judged so far in any competition, but you would like to get to judge?

Media. And if they won’t let me judge can I just watch and learn from the really cool people they have on that jury every year?

What’s the best thing you take from a judging experience?

Giving someone their first Gold Lion.

Last year, there was a tie for the Mobile Grand Prix award and you suggested a revote which led to the winner winning by just one vote. What is the criteria that decides whether a campaign deserves a Grand Prix or “just” gold?

The jury votes it and in this case more than once. The criteria is always  whether it’s an idea worthy of a Cannes Gold Lion, then is it so awesome it’s a Grand Prix. Last year had lots of shades of Gold (and awesome).

Are some Cannes categories more difficult to judge than others?

They are all hard, but I’ve always thought film looked easy because you get to sit in the dark and watch ads, which sounds really fun….

Looking back on the campaigns from the past year, what’s the first work that comes to your mind when you think of great Mobile? And the best Cyber?

I don’t really think of stuff in categories or campaigns unless I’m running, or on, a Jury and then I become ruthless. I loved the work around the Prometheus movie launch, Around the World on One Charge was a cool low-fi way to do a product demo, Million Hoodie Movement and Hashtag Killer both made me cry. They were emotion and moved me and made me angry that I wasn’t involved.

What’s the project you’re most proud of? Why?

I’m proud of the work where we get recognized by our peers and the client for moving the sales and branding needles. We’ve been early in mobile and I’m proud of the work that got there first like Rubbish Films and more recently Chase for the Charms

Knowing what you know now, with the technology today, what past project would you have done differently?

None. When they are done they are done, and the ones with a heavy tech focus are best left to their moment in the sun. One thing I don’t have is completion anxiety.

What work from Saatchi&Saatchi do you believe is a top contender for a Cannes Lion this year?

All of it is the right answer, right?

From July 2012, you’ve been running the Hothouse for Miami Ad School interns at Saatchi & Saatchi in NYC. What’s the difference between the new generation of creatives and the ones that started in the business 10 or 20 years ago? 

Everyone that I work with when they start out is hungry for something – fame, money, opportunities, whatever - my responsibility is to make sure that I’m contributing to their personal and professional growth and journey. And then take all the credit when they are famous.

Have you ever had a mentor? If so, what was the most important thing he taught you?

I’ve been blessed with a few. The themes were all the same: be generous, be nice and there is always space on the awards credits for EVERYONE’S name. It also took me years to figure out what ‘work on the business, not IN the business’ meant….

What would be the most important piece of advice you’d give to a young creative?

Be generous, be nice and be open. Anyone who has a closed mind in the most exciting time EVER to be doing the kind of work we do should be somewhere else.

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