2 Minutes With ... Daniel Bonner and Bas Korsten, Global CCOs at Wunderman Thompson
Daniel Bonner and Bas Korsten are global chief creative officers at Wunderman Thompson. Together they are responsible for bringing ambitious clients a competitive advantage through innovation inspired by creativity, data and technology.
Prior to Wunderman Thompson, Daniel served briefly as Wunderman's global chief creative officer, bringing with him a résumé that included guiding his previous agency—Razorfish—to a 300 percent increase in excellence and innovation awards. Prior to this, Daniel worked for 15 years as a creative leader and chief creative officer of AKQA. When not working, Daniel can be found wearing lycra and cycling around the south of England—sometimes with his wife and two sons.
Before his current role, Bas was a creative partner at J. Walter Thompson's Amsterdam office as well as JWT's Global Futures Council lead. He originally graduated as a logistics engineer but moved swiftly into advertising as a junior copywriter. Two years later he became creative director and board member of DDB Amsterdam, before leaving with his creative partner to start their own agency, Selmore. After setting up an experimental agency called Nothing in 2008, Bas joined JWT in 2011. Bas loves watching his four kids play sports and keeps hoping one of them will follow in his brother's footsteps and play for Tottenham Hotspur. But Liverpool would be OK, too.
We spent two minutes with Daniel and Bas to learn more about their backgrounds, their creative inspirations, and recent work they've admired.
Daniel and Bas, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
- Daniel: Grew up in Teesside, the northeast of England. I live now in Hampshire, in the south of England.
- Bas: I grew up in Nijmegen, in the south of the Netherlands. I now live in Aerdenhout, close to the beach in the northwest of the Netherlands.
How you first realized you were creative.
- Daniel: I appeared to be able to draw better than most of my 9-year-old contemporaries.
- Bas: I started writing lyrics when I was about 14. Not music, lyrics.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
- Daniel: I've never been one to idolize anyone, but I did have a soft spot for Rudy VanderLans and Zuzana Licko, the pioneers of Emigre, a digital type foundry and quarterly magazine.
- Bas: My younger brother, who played as a winger for Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur. Magical left foot.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
- Daniel: I heard Erik Spiekermann talk at an Icograda Design forum. He took a stand … against Helvetica. I loved that. I actually love Helvetica, too, but this moment taught me to always have a point of view, even if it isn't the most popular.
- Bas: My Dutch teacher in high school, who was also a professor at the university, told me I should study Dutch because he really liked my writing. But my dad, who was a university professor (18th century English literature) himself, convinced me to go into logistics, since there was a future in that profession. So now I am this logistics engineer, who can casually use words like "warehousing" and "just in time"-management, but still prefers writing.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
- Daniel: One? Wow. I'll start with the first collaboration and unique blend of music and design that truly moved me—music outfit Underworld and the Tomato design studio. They unleashed an energy in design I hadn't previously considered.
- Bas: Anita Baker.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
- Daniel: A little late to the game—20 years on—but I'm currently reading Boo Hoo, the book that tells the story of the biggest dot-com catastrophic fail and the truth behind the Boo.com demise. It was the late '90s and at the time I was working in that dot-com/design/innovation industry just across Soho, London, close to where Boo was headquartered. The book is an astonishing journey of leadership and strength, when at the time the world just assumed Boo and its demise was a product of weakness and greed. Inspiring.
- Bas: Grit, a book by Angela Duckworth, about the power of passion and perseverance.
Your favorite fictional character.
- Daniel: An unlikely candidate perhaps, but as a budding designer type, the one character that burst into my conscious was the caricatured Catalan sheepdog Cobi, the official mascot of the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Unveiled to the world in 1987, I was fortunate to meet his creator Javier Mariscal in 1991 and understand not only the tumultuous creative journey prior to his "birth," but the power and importance of inclusivity in design.
- Bas: Bananaman. Stupid, but well-meaning and super-strong superhero, Bananaman gets his strength from eating bananas. Before he eats a banana, Bananaman is a young boy called Eric who is keen to keep his alter ego a secret. Understandably.
Someone or something worth following in social media.
- Daniel: If anyone here is into mountain biking's pioneering era in terms of design and rapid technology development circa the early '90s, then I have some brilliant recommendations. Otherwise, I'm sure the algorithms of the finest social media platforms are doing their best to service your needs and desires beyond anything I could come up with.
- Bas: Daryl Hall has this web series called "Live from Daryl's House." It's Daryl Hall, making music and having dinner with friends and streaming it. What's not to love?
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
- Daniel: I will never travel for business as much as I had become accustomed to. This is probably a good thing on so many levels, both personally and professionally.
- Bas: I have been in awe of the creativity and resilience unleashed by this pandemic. We are an interesting species.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.
- Daniel: Nike's Run London. The platform began as the world's first 10K park run. For Nike, it went on to feature in major cities all over the world and became a key annual campaign in the U.K. that "ran" for over a decade, relying on a theme of innovation, and powered by social media to attract runners who never considered themselves, well, runners! It was an incredible program that earned the team countless awards, sleepless nights and in 2002 (rather unconventionally) was the distraction and timely motivation I needed to help me come to terms with the untimely death of my father. Weird but true.
- Bas: "The Next Rembrandt" for ING Bank. Just because it really sparked something in people's minds. To this day, every month I get requests for interviews, follow-up projects and TV shows from all around the world. But as much as I love talking about how A.I. is going to impact creativity in the future, I prefer looking at new, emerging technologies to see how we can use them to create difference for our clients. But more on that soon.
A recent project you're proud of.
- Daniel: Degree Inclusive. What can be seen as a relatively small innovation in design and experience could change the lives of millions of people all over the world. What makes me even more proud is that our teams had the courage to not allow the idea, ambition and dream die … even after two years of knocking on doors of potential partners.
- Bas: Of course, I also have to mention Degree Inclusive for Unilever. Wunderman Thompson's first Grand Prix. And in Innovation, no less. Because it set in motion something that was bigger than the project itself. It has unlocked so many new inclusive design projects. Within Unilever and outside. And that was exactly what we hoped for. Inclusive design should be the norm.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
- Daniel: From 2016, Bas's "The Next Rembrandt" for ING. (See creative above, under Bas's favorite creative project.)
- Bas: The Fox regional sports campaign from Cliff Freeman & Partners. Loved the line, "Sports news from the only region you care about. Yours."
Someone else's work you admired lately.
- Daniel: Burger King's Stevenage. Spot on. God damn it.
- Bas: I like the Balenciaga film with the Simpsons. I remember seeing it for the first time and thinking, "unprecedented levels of self-deprecation for a French brand." But then I read that Balenciaga was founded by a Spanish dude, which made sense. Great comment from someone on social: "Did I just watch a 10-minute ad?"
Your main strength as a creative person.
- Daniel: Optimism.
- Bas: Relentlessness.
Your biggest weakness.
- Daniel: Optimism.
- Bas: I'm not good at getting very excited about the idea of doing yoga or meditation.
One thing that always makes you happy.
- Daniel: I'm pretty competitive, so winning makes me smile. These days though, it's not always the personal victories that matter the most. Helping our teams win, guiding colleagues and clients to get their first BIG win or liberating those who never normally get the chance to win is actually a bigger buzz.
- Bas: Ideas. They're like little presents. Every day I get to unwrap at least a few. It's like having 365 birthdays a year.
One thing that always makes you sad.
- Daniel: Those in it purely for themselves (whatever "it" is).
- Bas: Seeing one of my kids sad.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
- Daniel: I'd like to think I could be good enough at something to be able to then teach it to others.
- Bas: A songwriting football player with a surprisingly deep knowledge of logistics.