Silburn joins Fallon as ECD North America from TBWA/London, where he acted as deputy creative director and where he created the hugely popular and multi-award-winning John Smith's "No Nonsense" campaign. While he is perhaps best known here for a certain John West salmon spot with an ornery ursine, Silburn has created several award-winning, genre-defining campaigns out of London over the past several years, at agencies including BBH, Lowe Howard Spink, and Leo Burnett prior to moving to TBWA in 2001.
Silburn is quick to call the new Fallon appointment "a dream job for me. I've always admired Fallon, from as far back as I've shown an interest in advertising," says Silburn. Fallon says Silburn was "the guy I wanted for the job from day one. Paul is the real deal. His work is amazing and speaks for itself."
Like many of those who seem like ad naturals, Silburn didn't originally gravitate toward a career in the business, or go through proper ad school channels. Though he had always been drawn to writing, his was the classic story of bumming around, doing random jobs before being introduced by an acquaintance to the possibility of applying his skills to advertising. Prior to joining BBH in 1994, Silburn worked his first significant ad job at Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow Johnson, on the Nike account.
At BBH, Silburn worked on Levi's and masterminded "the Lynx effect" an idea that started in London and made its way across the globe as the Unilever brand's core creative. "When the client came to BBH, a lot of people didn't want to work on it," recalls Silburn. "Especially at BBH where there were much sexier accounts to work on. Having done that first ad, people realized you could have some fun with it." Post BBH, Silburn moved to Lowe Howard Spink, where he worked with partner (and now Gorgeous director) Vince Squibb creating mini-epic Stella Artois spots like "Hero's Return" and "Last Orders," and creating award-winning work for Scalextric and Weetabix. He made the move to Leo Burnett/London in 2000, staying for less than a year-long enough to create "Bear"-before moving to startup Leith. "It taught me that chemistry is an important thing between partners," Silburn says in summary of the Leith experience, which lasted a year before he joined Trevor Beattie at TBWA.
He describes TBWA as a "great agency-it's a grown-up agency that acts like startup." Prior to departing the shop, Silburn worked on the latest round of Sony PS2 spots-a return to the animal kingdom, this time with human gamers carrying on like wild game on the African savanna. In all, the agency and client history have resulted in a commercials CV that few creatives can match. "Paul has a great sense of comedy-he knows what will appeal to people in a fresh way and pays great, great attention to detail, which means his work is always of high quality," says director Daniel Kleinman, Silburn's production partner on "Bear," John Smith's "No Nonsense" and the new PS2 spots. "He has a quick ear and eye for what works. Getting it right is his main agenda."
But of course, the Fallon job also comes pre-loaded with the expectation of big, beyond-spot thinking. In that sense, Silburn also has a solid pedigree, exhibiting a finely tuned sense of the pop culture co-optability, being responsible for one of the first viral blockbusters in John West's "Bear." Silburn's John Smith's work, similarly had resonance beyond the broadcast, as spot catchphrases like " 'Ave It!" were shouted in U.K. streets and stadiums.
While Silburn is mindful of the potential pitfalls associated with the prospect of joining a U.S. agency, he says Fallon is not just any U.S. agency. "Perhaps if I had been joining another agency there might have been more of a gulf, but there is a lot of common ground between me and Pat [Fallon]. And the offices are full of fantastically talented people."