LIA’s Creative LIAisons alumni Steve Horn on how the program and Leo Burnett Thailand’s Sompat Trisadikun changed his way of thinking
Steve Horn is a writer living and working in Brooklyn. He’s created award-winning campaigns for brands like Beats by Dre, the NBA, and KitchenAid – to name a few. Horn attended Creative LIAisons in Las Vegas in 2018 and it opened him up to a way of thinking differently.
My week in Vegas for Creative LIAisons 2018 was unforgettable. I distinctly remember Sompat Trisadikun’s presentation on the weird and wonderful world of Thai advertising blowing my mind. The way he spoke about his team’s approach to unpacking briefs, going against every single grain, and making ridiculous things that still very much sell things was so refreshing. I’ve tried to take a little tiny bit of what he taught us into every briefing since. If the client wants you to talk about “torque”…try to use the word “torque” hundreds of times in 60-seconds and break a world record. Or don’t talk about “torque” at all.
Sompat’s talk opened me up to a way of thinking differently but reminded us all that it’s only “different” from our Western perspective in the States.
It was so enlightening to take our industry in with a new set of stupidly rosy glasses and get out of my own dumb habits of just doing what the client thinks they want. I think that’s a great example of how much of a global point-of-view that the LIAisons program offers.
It’s also a great peek behind the curtain of how international juries look at work. To this day, I think about how my work might be received by a jury and the context in which the creative is viewed, discussed, and picked apart. Specifically, this year in crafting case studies for a short film we made for Beats by Dre called You Love Me, we had to imagine how a piece of work based very firmly in an uniquely American, cultural insight might be understood or interpreted by a wider audience. While we hoped that the work would resonate the world over, it can be a very tough exercise making your points as crystal clear, irrefutable, and human as possible.
Beyond the fantastic lectures and the judging room portion, LIAisons is an opportunity to connect, collaborate, and bond over booze with incredibly talented people from all over – many of whom I still keep in touch with and continue to be inspired (from afar) by the work they’re putting out. That kind of networking and community building is invaluable for young creatives looking to hone their craft. It’s a very specific kind of mentoring that is (COVID-word warning) “essential”. Even the things we heard that we might have adamantly disagreed with can still go on to shape the way we’ll one day lead (or won’t). To have that much open space and time to exchange ideas and opinions is amazing for fresh, malleable advertising brains.
Above all, I think LIAisons makes you appreciate just how similar we all are as creatives. It’s humbling to know that we’re all fighting to make great work, we all have awareness that our “cool creative job” is really just a day job like any other, we all get jealous, we all doubt ourselves, we all equal-parts love and hate advertising, and we all appreciate an ice cold beer in the desert. When you can accept all that, there’s no room for ego or cynicism.