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Podcast: Using Reddit & Culture Signals to create great creative campaigns

Connor Murdock
Author
Creative Ops

On this episode of the Basil Creative Ops Podcast, we sit down and chat with Patrick Lupinski, creative director & photographer based in NYC.

We chat through his journey to becoming a creative director with tips on:

  • Removing roadblocks in the creative process
  • Building rich creative briefs by tuning into culture signals and data from real humans

See Full Transcription below:

Connor: Hey everyone, it's the Basil Creative Ops podcast. I'm your host, Connor Murdock, and today I'm chatting with Patrick Lupinski, creative director and photographer based in New York City.

Patrick: When I was a kid, I used to always play around in Photoshop.I used to make GeoCities websites when I was in seventh grade. So I always had a love for building visual assets and worlds and that sort of thing. My parents are immigrants and growing up as an immigrant, there were only a couple paths, right? Doctor, lawyer, the traditional careers that they really wanted me to get into.

So I actually started off with the intention of going to school for political science, because I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. And I realized quickly that was not the path that I wanted to go on.

Connor: In college, things started to click for Patrick when he took a required class on the ins and outs of delivering great presentations.

Patrick: My professor at the time -- he recognized that I was really good at creating the graphics board and the design, and I put a lot of thought into the storytelling aspect of it and really minimizing the amount of words that were on a page compared to some of my other classmates. You know, they, it was a lot of bullet points on their slides and that sort of thing. And I think he realized that I was really good at telling the story visually and really put a lot of thought into it.

So he recommended that I actually look into a new program called "advertising art" at the time. At the end of the day, I just realized that's kind of where I belonged. I mean, I didn't even realize you can make money off of design.

So I had no idea advertising was even, even a thing, even though I saw it and I engaged with it on a daily basis like everybody else does. So I enrolled in that and I minored in American fine art as well, because I've always just loved art. The rest is kind of history.

I got my first internship at this small advertising agency in Montclair, New Jersey and worked with them. It was a small studio of six, seven people. And I was able to go on my first shoots as an intern, which was an awesome experience.

But yeah, I mean, since then I've been, I've been in the industry for about like 20 years now. Yeah.

Connor: So given all of your time in the industry, what are some good traits that you've learned as a creative director along the way?

Patrick: You have to have a clear vision, not only for the brand, but also your team. But you also want to be able to find ways to inspire both your team and the client, but also just getting out of the way, right. And really removing those barriers for your team to essentially bring that vision to life. You learn the ins and outs of the industry, you find all these roadblocks.

The way that I view my position now is how do I remove those roadblocks from everybody else that works with me and including the clients as well. So yeah, what are the motivations and ways that you help to identify those roadblocks for your team? I've always loved finding new innovative ways to communicate with our audience, right. But I think it's really important to kind of live, breathe, and eat culture, watching movies, going to museums, reading the news, like absorbing it, like even in healthcare, what I love doing is reading Reddit threads for some of the conditions that I work on, finding those like little insights that you may not find in a brief, but you may find in a thread that's so honest, right--- And so inspiring and real, because these are the people that are actually going through some of the (3:08) situations and conditions that you're creating campaigns for to hopefully connect with them on. Just reading those signals is super important. Once you actually get those really human, honest insights, the creative is just so much better.

And I think it also is so much more inspiring for everybody that works on the team or on the brand or the project itself.

Connor: Patrick mentioned how these superhuman insights applied to a specific project that he's worked on around men's mental health issues.

Patrick: There are so many things that are happening in our culture right now around masculinity, fragility, the fact that men don't have as many friends as women do, right, like all these things that are really, really deep and rich, that you mostly wouldn't see in a traditional brief, because I feel like most briefs just kind of like skate the surface, digging really, really deeply into that and partnering with your strategy team, I think is really important, because it really does honor those superhuman insights, that that's what actually inspires people.

And I think like that's part of the roadblocks that you can actually remove is with a really amazing brief that's like rich in those insights, you're removing those barriers, right, you're actually leading people to much better ideas that resonate with whoever you're trying to advertise to. I think the risk of not tapping into those rich insights is that you just create something that's very tone deaf, and doesn't speak to anybody. I mean, I actually think most advertising sucks.

There are a lot of moments where you watch something, you're just kind of like, wow, you can clearly see that they were trying to satisfy way too many people versus actually just finding that niche. When you try to appease too many people, you end up appeasing nobody. When insights are super shallow, that's when you just get really shallow creative.

Connor: So for a while, right, you worked on campaigns and advertising specifically for social. Do you still enjoy working on that side of things?

Patrick: I actually don't think social is as fun as it used to be at all. I actually, unfortunately, I think it's taken the wrong turn. Social was really fun, and we tried finding ways to get our audiences to play with our brands without realizing they were actually playing with advertising, right? My teams have always really dug into the engagement comments, right? And it's similar to like the conversation that I would, you know, around like just sleuthing Reddit and other communities online. You just have to be in there. So what I love doing is actually creating a full loop communication circle where like you create the content or the advertising, you put it out on social, you put it out into the world, and then you go back to it, and you find out how people are actually reacting to it.

I know it's all like, it's all optimizing and iterating and whatnot, but I just find that a lot of creatives don't actually research their engagement of the stuff that they create, and I think that's where you actually find out how much of an impact you actually have.

Connor: So lastly, before I let you go, I just wanted to mention your awesome work as a photographer. You are a creative director by day, obviously, and you do photography on the side.

Patrick: Yeah, I actually think it's really important for anybody in the creative field to have their own outlet that's not work-related. I think the reason why I personally went into it is that I wanted to have something that I could pour my energy into and be inspired by, and I think developing your own voice is really, really important, not only as an outlet, but also it's helped inspire my own work in my day-to-day and my job.

Connor Murdock
CEO/founder of Basil. 10+ years working in the creative industry as a professional video editor, motion designer, & creative director
Creative Ops
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