Mark Tutssel On The Spot

Leo Burnett Worldwide deputy chief creative officer Mark Tutssel, 46, describes his mandate as Clio Awards TV and cinema jury chair as no less than finding advertising “that really pointed in a new direction for the industry.” The Wales native and die-hard Liverpool fan, who joined Leo Burnett London in 1986 as an art director, rose to ecd, and moved to the Chicago office in 2002, strives to raise the creative bar for his office as well. There, he has overseen creative for clients including Kellogg’s, General Motors, Nintendo and Procter & Gamble.

Q: Why did you decide to participate in the Clios this year?

A: I was asked to be the chairman of the jury and obviously that’s a great honor, to be asked to chair one of the best shows in the world. I mean the Clios are back with a vengeance. … I think they’ve done a fantastic job recalibrating themselves for the future. They focus on creativity and innovation and freshness. The content and contact awards is a first for the industry. I think they were one of the first shows to acknowledge the industry is changing and moving forward.

You were a jury member in 2003. How is being a jury chair different?

Ultimately, the winners have to be a collective opinion. But when you get down to a shortlist … that’s the important time to debate. That’s when the chairman comes into play; he has to become conductor of the orchestra and orchestrate the whole jury, pointing them in the right direction.

How did the debate compare with your past experiences?

Without disclosing the winners, the ultimate winner was very little debated. I think there were one or two pieces that were so superior to everything else … and set a new standard in advertising.

Who has influenced you the most creatively?

In terms of my career through the years, the one person who influenced me the most was [former Leo Burnett Worldwide chief creative officer] Michael Conrad. Michael taught me the people skills you need. He has this incredible ability to charge you, focus you and inspire you to do your best.

What’s the last ad that made you think “I wish I’d done that”?

It has to be Honda “Grrr.” It’s inevitable people are going to say that. But I think it’s the one piece of work that really does stand out. Interestingly, it was written by my old copywriter Richard Russell, out of Wieden + Kennedy in London.

What’s the smartest business decision you’ve ever made?

Moving to America. I spent a long time in London. Running the London office was inspirational, satisfying and rewarding. But to be honest, I feel that if I never came to America, I don’t think I ever would have worked in advertising, because you have to work in America to truly work in advertising. It is far more difficult than in London, in terms of getting creative work out there. But it’s been inspirational in terms of understanding … business growth and smart business thinking combined with high creativity.

Who’s one person you’re dying to work with?

I’d love to work with Richard Branson. When the world zigs, he zags. He’s courageous, inspiring, and everything he does he does through a fresh lens. He’s not always right, he doesn’t always succeed. … I love that inner belief he has that he can create the best in the class and a thing that really does appeal to the public and what people want.

Three words you’d use to describe yourself?

A doting father. My son, Lewis, 14, is my pride and joy, and he’s my best friend.

Three words other people would use to describe you?

Passionate, passionate, passionate.

What’s your biggest fear in life?

I’ve promised myself something: The day I wake up on a cold Monday morning and say to myself, “I’m going to work,” is the day I won’t go to work, because this isn’t work to me. It’s one of the best careers in the world.

What’s your greatest accomplishment so far?

Winning the Cannes Grand Prix in 1997 for Mercedes was obviously a great personal moment for me, and the effect that had on the agency was seismic. Leo Burnett in London became known as a creative agency. … The following year we won a few more Lions, then in 2001, we became the most creative agency in London.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Lack of integrity. I hate people with no integrity. And I think it’s one of the diseases of advertising. The people who have the upmost integrity and the most charming, decent human beings are usually the people with the most talent. Never let politics get in way of great work, I think if advertising has an Achilles’ heel, it’s politics. It’s debilitating, for agencies and people, I just wish we could cut it out completely.

What was the last music you bought?

I was given the new Coldplay album. Coldplay are friends of the family, and I’m really excited for the new album.

What’s the most important thing you learned from your parents?

To respect people. My father always said to me, treat people as you’d like to be treated yourself. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s an important lesson in life. Value people regardless of their title. Respect people for who they are.