Glossed in Translation

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Having procured a Titanium Cannes Lion last year for spearheading the global warming-themed "Earth Hour" project for WWF, Leo Burnett, Australia's national ECD Mark Collis is soon departing Oz to take on the role of group executive creative director of Ogilvy Japan. Assuming the role in mid-March, Collis replaces Aussie ex-pat Marcus Jackson, who moves on to Ogilvy Hong Kong. Tham Khai Meng, co-chairman and regional ECD, Ogilvy & Mather Asia Pacific, said of Collis, "I have enormous respect for Mark. He comes from the bluest of blue creative stock; he's a rainmaker, an agent for change, his 'Earth Hour' is a phenomenal success. Ogilvy Asia and Japan will benefit from Mark's inspiring leadership and distinguished talent."

Recently, Collis spoke with Creativity about his new role, his affinity for Japan and his life beyond work.

Why the move to Ogilvy Japan and what do you hope to accomplish?

My three years at Leo Burnett have been amazing and we've had an incredible run with the award shows and business. But I have been fascinated by the Japanese culture for many years. Tokyo is a totally new and different challenge. I'm driven by new challenges and the Ogilvy offer was exactly the kind of challenge I was after. I'm hoping to find a voice and a style for the work coming out of Japan that will help raise the creative profile of Ogilvy Japan. In the way that Thailand has found a unique style that's all theirs I want to do the same for Tokyo. Like any creative director in any good agency I want to do great work.

What are the challenges you foresee and/or what are weaknesses you hope to strengthen at Ogilvy?

The obvious challenge is getting to know and understand the Japanese way. There is a wealth of visual and literate history in Japan and one that I find incredibly stimulating. Ogilvy Asia is a brilliant network. They have and continue to shine in that part of the world. The challenge for the Tokyo office is to punch our weight creatively within the region.

What is the importance and impact of winning a Titanium Lion?

Winning the Titanium is possibly like winning an Oscar. It's deemed by most people to be the most important award in the world. (That, along with D&AD and the One Show.) It's a marvelous achievement and means so much to the momentum of an agency. When an agency is doing great work it impacts on all of the business. And when you win something like the Titanium it is a super charge. It certainly makes motivating people a hell of a lot easier.

What was the most challenging project of the last year for you?

The most challenging assignment last year was undoubtedly the Earth Hour Project for WWF. It's easy to say in hindsight (having won a Titanium), but had we known the size and amount of sheer man hours and commitment beforehand, we probably wouldn't have tried it. But since we had no idea what we were doing we just went for it.

What was the most rewarding?

The same thing for the same reason. Plus, it was possibly the first time in my career when I could be involved in making such a positive impact on what's happening to our planet. I think that the brands of the future will need to become custodians of social and environmental issues if we are to stay around for much longer. Governments are simply not in the game.

If you weren't in advertising, what would you be doing?

Painting. Making furniture. Architecture. Filming. Writing. Sleeping. Having lots of sex.

What's your idea of a perfect day?

I've been a miserable cynic most of my life and in the past few years have come to realize that what's going on on the outside has nothing to do with how good a day I'm having. So my perfect day is remembering that.
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