Magazine article ADWEEK

Patrick O'Neill: On the Spot. (Creative)

Magazine article ADWEEK

Patrick O'Neill: On the Spot. (Creative)

Article excerpt

Patrick O'Neill can talk about almost anything. During a nearly two-hour conversation, the TBWA\Chiat\Day group creative director touches on Excedrin headaches, former boss Donny Deutsch and Christina Aguilera. An art director, O'Neill, 38, joined the New York agency in 2000. His best-known work includes the 1994 Ikea spot "Dining Room" and last year's dancing Joe Boxer spot for Kmart. "I'm a scattered person," says O'Neill. "And I'm chaotic, which is fine, because I'm a creative."


Q: How did you get into advertising?

A: This is going to sound really cheesy. My first fully formed sentence was, 'I've got an Excedrin headache." I was probably 2. It's a classic story of my family. I even did the hand movements on the tension temples.

Where did you go to school?

I was a premed major at Washington State University for two years. I was doing well with grades in chemistry and statistics, but I wasn't happy. There were people up all night with it, loving it. What kept me up all night? MTV. Then my family moved back to Southern California, and I discovered Art Center. My grandmother went there--she was a Disney animator. So there's this creative style that was always part of my upbringing.

What have you learned from Lee Clow?

His wisdom, his consistency and his resilience in a business that's constantly changing is ultimately very reassuring. And his ability to recognize really powerful, big simple ideas all the time.

What do you think is the secret to Donny Deutsch's success?

You say his name and there's always a reaction. That is success. I've never seen anyone so instinctive. He knows how to read the situation, he's really smart, and he sees things coming. He's unique, charismatic, with a life of his own.

You and Dallas Itzen were co-creative chiefs for about a year and a half. Why do you think that didn't work out?

We knew going into it that it was going to be the biggest challenge of our careers. All the other changes in the office also have an effect on the success of any creative here. The expectation of the office being a global leader--were we really ready to take that on? Probably not. I'll admit it.

What do you think will be the key to John Hunt being successful in New York?

John Hunt knows better than anyone how to make something work in a difficult environment. South Africa is not the easiest market, given all that goes on there to distract people from advertising. Because he has had so much success as a global leader, I can see him having impact in New York.

What advice do you have for a creative entering the business today? …

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