Cannes Lions

Creatives You Should Know: Tom Paine

Creative Director, Y&R New Zealand

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Tom Paine, creative director, Y&R New Zealand
Tom Paine, creative director, Y&R New Zealand Credit: Y&R New Zealand

Tom Paine propelled Y&R's New Zealand office into the creative awards firmament this year with the widely admired "McWhopper" campaign from Burger King.

Credit: Burger King/Y&R New Zealand

To mark UN Peace Day, the brand published an open letter to rival McDonald's inviting it to come together and create a hybrid "McWhopper." The idea -- which also included rallying people to make their own do-it-youself McWhoppers and share them online -- has so far won awards including six D&AD Yellow Pencils, a Grandy at the Andys and a One Show Gold Pencil. Y&R New Zealand also scooped D&AD Agency of the Year.

So how did a creative director from a local office on the other side of the world persuade a U.S. client to call on its global rival in a very public way?

McWhopper was a while in the making; the idea was born when D&AD created an open brief for Peace Day in 2011. Mr. Paine's thought was to unite two rival corporations; he says having "food on the brain 24/7" pushed him towards Burger King, and that year he joined Y&R, where the brand was a media client.

The campaign missed the D&AD submission deadline, and had several false starts, but eventually it won approval from the Burger King global marketing team.

"We knew it was a special idea so we had a 'sell at all costs' attitude," which compounded each time someone said "'Great idea, but nobody will buy it,'" said Mr. Paine. "Each time we got turned down we refined the idea accordingly, and the campaign incrementally evolved into what you see today."

He added: "Truthfully, I'm not sure any of us suspected it would become the phenomenon it did: nine months after launch, people are still sharing DIY McWhoppers online every day. It's dominated my life for several years, so it's pretty rewarding."

Mr. Paine's resume prior to Y&R includes spells at Ogilvy Auckland and Colenso BBDO. He's also a qualified ski instructor who once spent a season at Vail; moving back to New Zealand prompted him to swap the slopes for working on pitches. Other recent work he's proud of includes a Valentine's Day campaign for Land Rover in which the agency restored a dilapidated car sold on eBay and returned it to its owners.

So what next for the man who has taken the awards circuit by storm – is the world beyond New Zealand beckoning? Mr. Paine, who has a young son who turns two while he's in Cannes, says a long-term dream is to open an agency in New Zealand's outdoor sports capital Queenstown. For now he will only say: "My LinkedIn account has recently been inundated with emails from recruiters and agency talent makers, but I forgot my password."

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