2 Minutes With ... Rob Omodiagbe, ECD at Just Global

On DeBeers, 'Nothing Beats a Londoner,' and standing out in B2B tech

Rob Omodiagbe is an on-the-tools executive creative director and works with the smart people at Just Global. He has one or two consumer clients, but much of his day is spent making B2B advertising for the tech industry. Sometimes, the things he makes don't look like B2B advertising and those are good days.

Rob started his career at the London office of design company The Chase. He moved into advertising in New York and was an ACD and CD at BBH and JWT (now Wunderman Thompson). His first gallery show sold out on opening night, mostly because he set the prices too low.

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

Rob, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I'm a Londoner but haven't lived there for 20 years. Right now, Sydney, Australia, is home.

What you wanted to be when you grew up.

When I was 13, a high school teacher asked me to imagine my life in 10 years' time. I muttered something about working in a bank—guessing that if you worked with money, you had some, too. At 16, I was studying maths, physics and economics. I slept through two weeks of economics lessons, then dropped it for art.

How you realized you were creative.

I always had art stuck on school walls.

A person you idolized creatively growing up.

Prince. I've always dug screaming guitars. Stilettos, too.

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

I came across a book called Forget All the Rules You Ever Learned About Graphic Design, Including the Ones in this Book. It was my introduction to ideas. I name-dropped the author, Bob Gill, at my art school interview. Turns out my interviewer had studied with him. I'm convinced that was the only reason I was accepted.

A visual artist you admire.

So many. Kehinde Wiley, Nick Cave and Bill Viola. Patrick Caulfield and I bonded over our love for Karmann Ghias before we discovered that neither of us could drive.

A band or musician you love.

Today it's Kendrick Lamar and old Elvis Costello.

Your favorite fictional character.

Sydney is in lockdown and I'm in rewatch mode. Right now, it's the BBC series Luther. So, the eponymous Luther.

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

I like The Rewatchables and The Bugle, too. But there are episodes of Have You Heard George's Podcast? by George the Poet that are genius.

Someone worth following on Instagram.

Though my family and most of my friends are in the U.K. and North America, I don't do a lot of liking or DM-ing. To those affected by this, I apologize. Again.

How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.

I'm not a healthcare worker. I don't perform a role that was ignored and poorly paid until it suddenly became "essential" and poorly paid. I don't have to drive an Uber to make my rent. I live in a part of the world that's a long way from everywhere and view any "change" I've been subject to as relatively minor. If pushed, I'd say I'm bugged by the ease with which people have replaced conversations with email or Slack. I miss the spark of sitting in a room with someone smarter than me. Especially when the room has beer taps.

Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on.

My first boss in advertising stressed the importance of creating work that moved people. He has an Emmy and made great spots for Nike. Yet in interviews, he often cites DeBeers' "Unbreakable Kiss" campaign that we did together as a favorite. It'd be rude to disagree.

DeBeers | Unbreakable Kiss
A recent project you're proud of.

Generally, budgets are much lower in B2B tech. We've had B2C award recognition with smaller clients, but making progressively more differentiating work for our bigger ones is equally rewarding. Fuji Xerox is an example of that. They recently became Fujifilm Business Innovation Australia. The change in company name and purpose coincided with a pandemic that accelerated the digital transformation of businesses everywhere. We're positioning them as a guide to help businesses realize the promise of change.

FUJIFILM Business Innovation Australia | Change
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

"Subservient Chicken" for Burger King by Crispin Porter + Bogusky. An obvious pick for online/offline, "live action" breakout work.

Burger King | Subservient Chicken Case Study
Someone else's work that you admired lately.

Nike's "Nothing Beats a Londoner" by Wieden + Kennedy. I love everything about this. It captures a mood and attitude brilliantly, plus the writing and casting are great.

Nike | Nothing Beats a Londoner
A main strength of yours as a creative person.

I'm pretty good at finding insights.

Your biggest weakness.

I run a very small team, which means I do a lot of writing. I'm not a writer, so I need more time and usually end up thinking, "Hmm, that should be better."

One thing that always makes you happy.

Chelsea winning.

One thing that always makes you sad.

I get angry more than sad—a sign of the times, perhaps.

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

I used to paint, so maybe that ... and making my rent by driving an Uber. (I was made in England—self-deprecation comes standard.)

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.

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