TBWA Worldwide has hired Ben Williams from R/GA to the role of global chief creative experience officer. Williams joins the TBWA collective to set the vision for TBWA’s global creative product, unlocking the power of creativity to push the boundaries of brand experience.
At R/GA Williams was responsible for driving the creative output for advertising, digital product, service and experience initiatives for some of the world’s leading brands. With a background in experience design, product development, and innovation in addition to advertising, Williams’ appointment is indicative of an expanded view of creativity that’s far reaching in its ambition and scale.
Williams is a highly respected and award-winning creative, with 25 years of experience in experience design, advertising and innovation. As Global Chief Experience Officer at R/GA, he has led the creative output for digital product, service and experience initiatives for brands like Nike, Google, American Express, Samsung and Equinox. There, he led teams of strategists, designers, and writers to deliver world-class experience strategy, concept development, and creative execution for clients, continually honing ways of working conducive to innovative work that sets a new standard.
Some of Williams’ most notable projects include the Nike+ FuelBand, the wearable that paved the way for the entire digital sport and fitness category; Nike+ Running, the app which gave a global community a new way to experience running; A/R Jordan, which leveraged augmented reality to reimagine the sneaker drop, putting Air Jordan sneakers back to the top of people’s minds and creating the first way for people to purchase directly within Snapchat; an evolution of Oprah’s Book Club, where he and a team created a platform to bridge the physical and digital for a more connected reading experience; and a reinvention of Converse.com that blurred the line between content and commerce.
“The industry has become preoccupied with capturing demand, separating brand and business, and creating experiences rooted in ‘best practice’ that are contributing to a sea of sameness. Disruption is more ambitious, unlocking opportunities for brands to develop transformative platforms that can influence every part of their company,” said Aussie expat Troy Ruhanen, CEO, TBWAWorldwide.
“One of the reasons why we’ve been named one of the world’s most innovative companies three years in a row is that we continually evolve our talent. And so when seeking our next global creative leader, we wanted to find someone who understood the power of Disruption and would see its potential in the context of our ever-expanding creative canvas, separating our clients from the conventions of their categories and placing them in a category of one.
“Ben’s ability to redefine categories, to innovate and create products that influence culture make him the right choice for our collective. His work sits at the nexus of advertising, experience design and innovation. He will set an inspiring vision, unifying the breadth of creative skills within the collective, as well as attracting talent who are eager to create the new and invent ways for people to experience brands.”
Williams will lead TBWA’s global creative core, a roundtable composed of CCOs from the collective’s top agencies, which also includes Chief Innovation Officer Luke Eid, Chief Strategy Officer Agathe Guerrier, Global Creative Chair John Hunt and others. He’ll engage with TBWA’s top global clients, some of which include adidas, Apple, McDonald’s, Nissan, PepsiCo and Philips.
He will begin in January 2022, initially based in New York, with a move to Los Angeles later in the year.
Earlier this year, TBWA evolved its trademarked Disruption methodology to multiply its impact, both upstream on clients’ businesses and downstream on all brand experiences in a strategic operating system upgrade called DisruptionX. Williams will partner with TBWA’s creative leaders around the world to set the vision for how Disruption is creatively expressed across every touchpoint of a brand, ranging from advertising to events, interactive commerce platforms to product design, physical stores to services, and everything in between, guided by a powerful brand platform that sets the stage for transformative growth. He’ll also explore and build experiences across the 25 emerging spaces identified within TBWA’s global innovation platform NEXT.
“The Disruption Company rang true to me as a creative. I believe creativity has the power to solve business and human challenges in today’s world—not just marketing or communication problems—and yet few recognize its full potential,” said Williams. “Throughout my career, I’ve worked to disrupt the expected, the status quo, and do that through design, technology, experience, commerce and advertising. To be able to do those things within a company that sees Disruption as the antidote to incrementalism is exciting. We share a vision for the future of creativity and the scale and measurable impact our work can have in the world. I can’t wait to get started.”
Prior to joining R/GA, Williams spent a number of years at both Publicis and AKQA. Before moving to the U.S. from Australia, Williams partnered with agencies large and small before founding his own design studio that represented brands such as Ford, Yellow Pages, Toyota, Kraft, Subaru, Quiksilver, and Sneaker Freaker magazine. He also spent 10 years leading the creative design and execution of digital platforms and experiences for the biggest touring music festival in the world — Big Day Out.