Colenso BBDO's Levi Slavin: "Creatively, NZ is the most remarkable country I've ever worked in"

Levi Slavin (1).jpgLevi Slavin, CCO, Colenso BBDO is joining AdFest 2018 as jury president, Film Lotus and Radio Lotus, which runs from 21-24 March 2018. Here, Slavin tells AdFest how things are going now he's back living in Auckland.
Earlier this year, Levi Slavin left New York to return to Colenso BBDO in Auckland: "What cut the adventure short for us was the election of Trump," he admits.
Having left New Zealand in 2014 to take a global creative director role at Anomaly in New York, later joining BBDO New York as VP, group creative director, he's now about eight months into his third stint at Colenso - which he calls "the best agency on earth, in the best place on earth."

AdFest: You're from Perth originally, but when you re-joined Colenso you described it as "the best agency in the world, in the best place in the world". How does Auckland inspire you?
Creatively, New Zealand is the most remarkable country I've ever worked in. Beyond advertising, it always punches above its weight--sport, film, music, tech, animation, innovation--and kiwis seem to do it with less money, less people, and less fuss. It's very inspiring. You really get a sense that any idea is possible. And if we don't know how to make it, we'll find a way.
AdFest: Why did you decide to return to NZ this year after a few years in the US?
I genuinely love New York. What's not to like? It's intense, beautiful, and unstoppable. And I was fortunate enough to work on some of the best work of my career. What cut the adventure short for us was the election of Trump.
AdFest: Colenso is #1 Creative Agency in the World according to The Global Directory Big Won Rankings. How does a little agency on the other side of the world relentlessly produce such great work?
Fearlessness and positivity. And not focusing on your competition.
AdFest: I still think of Trumpet 'Undies' whenever I see a questionable use of swimwear. Can you remember how you came up with the idea for this campaign?
I wrote that ad when I was about 5-years-old. We were on holiday at Rottnest Island in Perth, it's a real beach community. I was standing in line at the local grocery store behind a man in his speedos. Nothing else. He paid for his groceries and walked out. Nobody reacted. It made no sense. Who knows where he kept his money.
AdFest: You're judging Radio at ADFEST. How did you persuade GE to produce a sci-fi podcast? What were the risks, or the biggest challenges?
That was loads of fun to make. At the time, This American Life and Serial were beginning to reach staggering numbers, so we knew there was an opportunity to do something big. Our biggest challenge was that very few brands had succeeded with the podcast format, so we knew our competition would be unbranded shows. Fortunately, we had an unbelievably interesting product to build our story around--a machine that genuinely heals with sound. The pitch was War of the Worlds meets Serial. We thought we had something, but I don't think anyone expected the results we got. It ended up being the number 1 podcast in the country for weeks--ironically beating This American Life and Serial.
AdFest: You're from Perth, and have lived in Auckland, London, New York... where is home?
Definitely Auckland now. I have been fortunate enough to work in some of the world's best agencies, in the world's most exciting cities, with some of the most talented people in the industry. But nothing beats sunshine.
AdFest: What made you accept the invitation to be part of ADFEST 2018?
It's an honour to be invited. ADFEST is a legendary show in the region and around the world.


Melvin said:

*fewer people

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