2 Minutes With ... Jonathan Webb, Creative Director at 21Grams

On Novartis' 'Slow the Burn' and what drew him to advertising after art school

Jonathan Webb is a creative director based in the U.K., currently working for 21GRAMS New York. A man of few words, he's passionate about work that makes people feel as much as think, and wants to raise the bar for health.

We spent two minutes with Jonathan to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations, and recent work he's admired.

Jonathan, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in the southeast of England. A very picturesque village, filled with farms and great walks. One of my earliest memories was my parents entering hostage negotiations with our pet dog, who managed to take an unsuspecting peacock captive. I now live less than an hour away.

How you first got interested in health.

After I finished art school, I applied for all agencies—consumer and health. I'd take anything. I landed a group interview for an internship at a health agency. I was underprepared; I had even lied for the phone interview that I knew all the Adobe programs like the back of my hand. I'd never used any. So when ECD Shaheed Peera asked me "why health?" I didn't have a good answer prepared. But I had an honest one. "I just like making things," I had said. He hired me.

One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on.

This campaign to raise awareness about primary immune deficiency diseases. Most brands in health are trying to sell something or make you aware of a condition so they can sell you something later. This brand just wanted to help kids feel safe, knowledgeable and empowered by the rare immune condition they had. I loved every minute of it.

A recent project you're proud of.

"Slow the Burn" for Novartis. It's extremely difficult to sell in and create this type of work in health for a huge pharma company. I'm proud we did, and proud of how it turned out.

One thing about how health is evolving that you're excited about.

As an industry, we're bridging the gap in quality of work between health and consumer advertising more than ever. It's a slow evolution but it's ramping up. There's a night and day difference between now and a decade ago.

Someone else's work, in health or beyond, that you admired lately.

"Super. Human." by Factory Studios for Channel 4 to promote the Paralympics. Becoming an Olympian is hard. Overcoming a disability to become one is harder. A fantastic addition to the ongoing superhuman campaign. Love it.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

Andor on Disney+. Yes, it's Star Wars but it's a superbly written and executed story on the human condition about the tightening clutch of dictatorship strengthening a desire for freedom. Plus I'll watch anything with Andy Serkis.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

@Oritoor. I have their prints on my wall at home and will be buying more in the future. Love their work, check it out for yourself. 

Your favorite fictional character.

Scar from the Lion King is the perfect cinematic villain. I will die on this hill.

Someone worth following in social media.

I have 3 answers:

Your main strength as a marketer/creative.

My disregard for the rules.

Your biggest weakness.

My disregard for the rules.

One thing that always makes you happy.

Food without a doubt. Eating and to a lesser extent cooking.

One thing that always makes you sad.

Stories about rescued animals.

Something people would find surprising about you.

I went to law school. I dropped out in my second year to go to art school. I didn't tell my parents for six months. It took them a few years to come round to the idea that it wasn't the end of the world.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in health.

I'd be working in consumer advertising. Failing that I'd be happy painting and making art if I could earn a living from it.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a contributor for Muse by Clio. She's also a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication, and Information.

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