The Last Decade in Advertising: Graham Lang, Juniper Park\TBWA

by Dasha Ovsyannikova
Juniper Park\TBWA
Full Service
Toronto, Canada
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Graham Lang
Y&R Cape Town

Tell us a bit about yourself & your career trajectory over the past decade.

Over the course of the 2010s, my career in advertising brought me to three regions across the world – London - UK, South Africa, and Toronto - Canada.

I began the decade in London, running the Land Rover account globally for Y&R, before transferring to Y&R South Africa in a regional role as Chief Creative Officer. In late 2018, I joined the TBWA network in my current role as CCO of Juniper Park\TBWA in Toronto.

I have been extremely lucky to have worked with some great agencies and creative minds the world over. Immersing myself in these different cultures has been a wonderful experience, and it has had a real impact on my approach towards creativity and leadership.


What would you say was the biggest change in your role over the last few years?

The changes brought on by hyper-personalization, and how to toggle all the platforms while not losing sight of mass communications, has had tremendous influence on the way we develop creative work. The tensity between reach and targeting has been taken time to understand but now I think we’re beginning to master it.


How would you briefly summarize the ad industry in the 2010s?

Like going through puberty. Confusing but exciting.


What advertising trends were most influential over the past decade? How did they impact your work?

I have been inspired by 3 main trends. Purpose driven work showed us a way to connect with people in a highly emotive way. We saw really bold and progressive moves from traditional brands like Dove, who did some trailblazing work via a purpose focused strategy. Innovation became a constant buzz word, but beneath the surface we started to see what could happen when you smash a really sharp idea with something innovative. Look no further than the famous BA billboard that used data to track flights in real-time. We also saw brands behaving in really Subversive ways. Hacking the establishment became a great way for fighter brands to punch through. For me, Burger King is the poster child for constantly championing subversive advertising.


Did you have favorites that didn’t have as much of an impact as you had hoped? Is there a trend you’re happy didn’t last?

While not directly related to the work, thank goodness creatives are no longer wearing skinny jeans. Also, the use of the word “dope” and “the shizz” to describe anything good has appeared to subside.


What’s your favorite campaign or brand activation from the decade?

Too hard to boil it down to 1 thing. BK has changed the way we make ads. Nike has constantly kept us on the edge of our seat and culture at the same time. Apple has relentlessly elevated craft in all their comms to such awe-inspiring heights it’s impossible to think of where they’ll go next.   

What moment/event/movement do you think shook the ad industry the most since 2010? What did you learn from it?

Time’s Up, as well as all the work being done around diversity and inclusion has been the most important movement for me. It finally drew a line in the sand that forced everyone to be on the right side or wrong side of the issue. It’s ridiculous that it took so long to become the force that it is now (and we need to keep throwing logs onto the fire), but we are so much better off as an industry and as human beings that it did.


As we enter the new decade, what is your prediction for the industry and for brand communications?

I think going forward it will be more difficult to separate brand and experience. Increasingly we’re seeing brand communications and experiences merge, therefore our idea of what brand communications is and how we classify it will fundamentally change. I’m truly excited by that notion.