Digital Interview Africa

#OneShow2017: Reflections with Ross Chowles

One of the biggest drawcards to this year's One Show Creative week was the Educators' summit workshop sessions. Our very own Ross Chowles presented one of these. I chatted to him post-Creative Week for his One Show reflections.
Ross Chowles.
Ross Chowles.

After 36 years in the ad game, 22 of those at The Jupiter Drawing Room, an agency he started with Joanne Thomas and Kevan Aspoas, Chowles is finally teaching.

Since last August, Chowles has been teaching the art of advertising to creative students at Michigan State University. “It’s a totally different world from the one I’ve come from. However, What I’m teaching them is about the real world”, he says…

Let’s start with the ‘work’ aspect – explain your role at the One Show’s Creative Week and Educators’ Workshop.

I attended this event as a One Club board member with education as my portfolio, and as a professor teaching advertising. I was the first speaker to an audience made up of educators from universities and portfolio schools across the US.

My presentation covered my journey from being a virgin teacher to my solution on how to teach university students – with all their challenges – and arm them for tomorrow’s advertising and design landscape. It was a daunting, yet thoroughly enjoyable process talking to seasoned professors.

List a few of the key trends that came up from the summits/workshop sessions and the current global state of creativity.

The state of creativity is in a good place, it may just not be on a billboard or in the hands of a classic advertising creative. The big issue is social media is making clients choose invisible work. New media types like VR mean we have to teach VR. A print ad is just not enough. Also, the pure 'art director' or 'copywriter' is dead – I’ve been saying this for years. The new creative is all disciplines with a leaning toward one. You need to understand a little code. You need to be able to shoot and edit something. And because the consumer can answer back, the shift must move from creating messaging to facilitating a conversation.

Moving on to the ‘fun’ factor, talk us through the unplanned aspects of the week – networking with industry colleagues, celebrating SA’s wins.

Xolisa Dyeshana did us proud in the One Club board meeting, keeping diversity top of mind and on the stage handing out the golds.

Watching George Lois's ego present the thinking behind his Esquire covers was entertaining and reaffirming what impact is all about, an hour well spent. I collected FoxP2's gold pencil and shouted the great South African celebratory word "Piele" to the audience. It's always a good feeling to know that SA is still in the top 10 countries when it comes to creative standards. FCB's radio spot was the only radio spot played on the evening.

I'm embarrassed to say that the best thing about being on the board is connecting with the world's best, be it Ted Royer from Droga 5, Nick Law from RGA or Susan Credle from FCB. When you discuss issues at that level, you do see a different perspective.

What was your favourite winning work and what make it stand out from the clutter?

For PSA: Donate Life America’s ‘The world’s biggest asshole’ (Even an asshole can do good) is a clear winner. Funny yet very connective and insightful. A great example of how to look at a well-trodden territory from a different angle.

For commercial: I have to say the Geico ‘Crushed’ pre-roll ads are compelling and smart.

Both these commercials come from The Martin Agency.

Lots to soak up and learn from. We’ll have more post-One Show reflections in the coming days. Visit our One Show special section for the latest updates!

About Leigh Andrews

Leigh Andrews AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is former Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality, and of course, gourmet food and drinks! She can be reached on Twitter at @Leigh_Andrews.

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