I graduated in psychology from Reading University in 1976.
I worked for a department store in my hometown, before coming to London to work as an in-house copywriter for a company that made school science equipment, and then for a small advertising and design agency.
In 1978, after creating a portfolio of ideas on the first D&AD Student Workshops, I was offered a job as a junior copywriter at Boase Massimi Pollitt together with one of my Art Directors, Tina Morgan. Working for Deputy Creative Director Dave Trott, under Executive Creative DirectorJohn Webster, we won Cannes Lions, D&AD Yellow Pencils and British TV Golds for our first commercials for Fire Prevention and Courage Best beer, and press work for bicycle retailer Halfords was featured in the D&AD annual and nominated at The Campaign Press Awards.
In 1980, we were hired by Collett Dickenson Pearce, where we got to work on the famous Heineken 'Refreshes the Parts' and surreal Benson & Hedges print campaigns. Just as our Heineken scripts had been approved for production, Managing Director Frank Lowe left with that account and half of the others to start a new agency. Our B&H poster was however selected for the D&AD annual.
In 1982, we joined Dave Trott again at his new agency, Gold Greenless Trott. We created several posters in a series for London Weekend Television, which won Gold at the Campaign Poster Awards and was selected for the D&AD annual, as was press work for Fisons gardening products and Thorn Lighting. Our commercial for Shakers Cocktails was nominated for two D&AD Yellow Pencils.
In 1984, I was hired by new Boase Massimi Pollit Creative Directors, Alan Tilby and Paul Leeves, together with Art Director, Peter Gatley. We worked on a high profile press and poster campaign to raise support for Ken Livingstone and the Labour-controlled Greater London Council, which Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher planned to abolish. The campaign won all the awards going that year: D&AD Black Pencil and four Yellow Pencils, and Campaign Press and Poster Awards Golds. As a result, we were asked to work on a General Election campaign for Neil Kinnock and The Labour Party, going head to head with Saatchi & Saatchi, acting for the Conservative Party. We also started to oversee a small group of junior creatives, whose work was featured in D&AD and the local Radio Awards. I also worked with Art Director Joanna Wenley and photographer Herb Ritts on a press campaign for Clarks shoes which was featured in the D&AD annual. A film for Knorr Sauces, created with Art Director Bill Gallacher, also won another D&AD Yellow Pencil
In 1988, Bill and I were hired by Saatchi Executive Creative Director Paul Arden. We won press and poster Golds for British Airways and our press campaign for Teachers Recruitment was featured in the D&AD annual and nominated at the Campaign Press Awards. Art Director Matt Ryan and I then created an innovative cinema commercial for British Airways, which became the most awarded piece of Saatchi work ever at the time: we won New York One Show Best of Show (overall Grand Prix) and Gold, Cannes Gold, Brtitish TV Gold, and a D&AD Yellow Pencil. We were also nominated for a D&AD Yellow Pencil for a Castlemaine XXXX film. Our Creative Group won further Cannes Gold and Silver, and Campaign Press Gold for Amnesty and Random House Publishers. And together, we won the pitch for the biggest UK advertising launch at that time, The National Lottery, with the line 'It could be You' and a fully integrated campaign, centred around the iconic Hand of Fortune. This was a demanding account to work on, with executions in every channel and new ones required weekly, and consumed much of our time, as well as that of our creative group, for several years.
I moved up to a Creative Director role when the Saatchi brothers left in 1995, helping to steady the ship through this turbulent period. The creative department remained loyal, with only a couple of junior teams joining M&C. There were more Cannes Golds and Silvers and more D&AD Yellow Pencils for the NSPCC, The Gun Control Network and P&G Ariel Travelwash. And we were Agency of the Year at Cannes. I became Joint Executive Creative Director, together with Adam Kean, and we produced a notable General Election theme for Tony Blair and New Labour: Enough is Enough. Winning a re-pitch for Visa Europe, I created two big consecutive pan European, multi-channel campaigns with Art Director Ajab Singh, winning local and regional awards, and shortlisting at Cannes. I also worked on other pan regional campaigns for Hewlett Packard, Toyota and Sunny Delight. Working with Dave Droga, we won the pan European Sony business.
In 2003, I was promoted to the position of Regional Creative Director for EMEA, with a seat on the WW Creative Board and the EMEA management board. My CEO partners were at various times: Richard Hytner, Jim O’Mahony, Simon Francis and Robert Senior. My new role involved establishing a stronger creative community across fifty plus offices in thirty plus countries, and raising the creative bar. And at various times, it also involved, overseeing creative work on all pan-regional clients – Toyota, Lexus, Visa, Carlsberg, T-mobile and Guinness – and leading the big pitches. Our biggest pitch win was Novartis, which, having merged with GSK, has become one of the network’s biggest global clients.
Working closely with Roger Kennedy, who joined me as EMEA CD of Design, I established frequent meetings for the Creative Directors to share work and learn from inspirational speakers, as well as annual in-depth one-on-one creative reviews. I brought in experienced Creative Director-level Mentors to work closely with some of the Creative Directors of the smaller offices for several months at a time. I encouraged offices to share briefs, so that maximum effort could be applied on key opportunities. I created what later became known as the Novartis Ideas Laboratory for our big pharmaceutical client, an initiative to develop more adventurous work to inspire both agency and client teams alike, which delivered Gold and Silver at Cannes.
I also pioneered a multi-disciplinary, fast track ideation process called the Tribe, a three day workshop used on the bigger projects and pitches to produce lots of ideas very quickly. And I created an annual training workshop called Ideas Academy for junior creatives, incorporating various presentations, Tribe work sessions on a live brief and most important of all, drama school improvisation games and exercises to provide the teams with various tools and also create the requisite atmosphere of high energy, positivity, fearlessness and playfulness. There is more on this and the principles of what I am now calling Dynamic Creativity in the later section.
The net result of these initiatives was a uniquely fluid, connected and collaborative creative community across EMEA. The offices became more confident and ambitious, with many Golds and Silvers at the key international festivals, Golds and Grand Prix Awards at the regional festivals, and top three positions in their local markets.
In their most successful year, there were 12 Gold Lions at Cannes, the best performance of any Saatchi region ever.
Over the last couple of years, I also started to work beyond the EMEA region and beyond Saatchi – running a number of successful Tribes and training workshops in China, some with teams from Leo Burnett and Publicis too. I also began using our Ideas Academy format as an inspiration workshop for whole offices, to enage everyone at every level in every departemnt with the creative agenda.
Throughout my career, I have sat on most D&AD juries (Direct, as recently as 2017), the D&AD Executive Committee, the Cannes Press Jury, LIA Non Traditional jury, Dubai Lynx, the Clio Film jury and have been President at the East European Golden Drum, the Romanian Ad d’Or, the Baltic Golden Hammer and the Irish International Kinsale Sharks.
Having left Saatchi now, I now work as a consultant through my own company Brouhaha, focusing on ideation workshops and creative training, taking what I am now calling Dynamic Creavity wherever required.
I try to balance being flat out in the week by studying kickboxing at the weekend, but frequently find myself in the same position.
Contact me at email@example.com
Kate Stanners, Global CD, Saatchi & Saatchi.
Deborah Mills, Global Head of Strategy, P&G, Saatchi & Saatchi
Carol Miller Repetto
‘I had the luck to participate to dozens of Tribes led by John and the results were always outstanding, and more often than not ended up winning pitches, new business or solving difficult briefs and problems for our clients. John’s strong lead, clear vision, team building spirit, high creative standards and dedication are a rare, inspiring gift. He has an amazing energy and passion for top creative that is just contagious.’
Jorg Riommi, ECD Publicis Romania
John Pallant is the Creative Director that always brings out the best in his teams and by far the best Creative Director I have ever worked with, which is why that anyone who’s worked with John will always join him in his relentless pursuit of big ideas in a Tribe no matter where in the world it is, anytime he invites you.
John has made the Tribein to what it is simply because he is all about the work and the big ideas, and his ability to always motivate creatives to push themselves to do better work. And it goes without saying that you couldn’t do what John has done again and again if you weren't both such a respected, thoughtful creative leader as well as a great human being. Although we no longer work in the same network, if John would invite me I would be there (don’t tell my boss at IPG;)
Adam Kerj, Regional ECD, Nordics, McCann
‘John Pallant is indeed a master of the Tribe process. With over a decade of masterful experience managing Tribes all over the world, he’s key in selecting the best talents for specific, sometimes very challenging, projects. Always keeping the bar very high, in terms of work quality, team energy and positive vibes, an invaluable creative leader.’
Christopher Jones, CD, Leo Burnett, Milan
‘Doing a tribe is always exciting for our creatives. There is no better way to produce such a large amount of brilliant ideas. But having John on board creates a kind of 'quality time' for creative brains. It's not just the inspiration he brings to the teams, it's the way he's moderating a tribe. However the team setup was, there was never a creative competition about who had the best ideas. It was always collaboration where everyone builds on the ideas of their colleagues to get the best out of it. With a true and passionate 'one team - one dream' spirit. And this is the key to outstanding results. Every colleague who attended a tribe came back to the office with sparkles in his eyes. Everyone was more enthusiastic and more passionate to strive for outstanding ideas afterwards. Even on daily business briefs. ‘
Alexander Reiss, ECD Saatchi Dusseldorf.
‘The experience of the Tribe has been essential to create the “Saatchi spirit” in the creative department. Joining the tribe has become over the years a kind of promotion to the “Champion’s League” for every team involved.And John’s simple, direct and effective approach has taught so much to more than a generation of creatives in searching, growing and taking care of a good idea. In a country like Italy, often on the fringes of international creativity, the Tribe has had very positive effects on the spirit of the department. Not to mention the efficiency of three days of tribe in producing an incredible amount of material, which makes also accounts and planners thrilled by the method.’
Agostino Toscana, ECD Saatchi Italy