2 Minutes With ... James Gregson, Senior Creative Leader at Lego
James began his career in brand strategy, working at a series of marketing and communication agencies in and around NYC. He created programs for brands such as New Balance, Atari and Mercedes-Benz. Currently, he is a senior creative leader within The Lego Group's internal agency, leading a team responsible for advertising and brand content.
James was born in London and spent his childhood in the U.K. and New Jersey. He holds a B.A. in fine arts from Syracuse University, with a minor in painting. James is currently struggling with the reality of being a father to a spirited 5-year old girl and 3-year-old identical twin boys. He is a huge fan of all things Arsenal FC, sneakers, movies and food (more specifically pizza).
We spent two minutes with James to learn more about his background, creative inspirations and some recent work he's admired.
James, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I grew up between England and the U.S. Was born in England, moved to New Jersey when I was 3, and then back to England–London specifically—around 10 years old. Then I moved back to the U.S. for college and never left.
How you first realized you were creative.
I guess it would have to be through my schooling. I was a horrible academic. My grades were terrible, and I had an after school tutor for as long as I can remember. The only classes that I excelled at, if you can even say that, were the tactile classes like art.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
Beyond the world of fine art which I was most subjected to early on, the first person I closely followed was the YouTuber Casey Neistat. In my mind he was one of the original creators and touched so many interesting areas of the professional world I was becoming a part of – from influencer marketing, to content strategy, to brand partnerships, to pure storytelling. He touched it all. And I still reference him to this day.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
Has to be Daft Punk. They were pioneers of the house music scene and had an absolute obsession with the creative process in both their music making and live performances. Their albums told a story and had a cohesive theme throughout. I think their creativity came from their willingness to take risks, experiment with new sounds and concepts, and constantly push the boundaries of what was possible in electronic music. If you haven't, I highly recommend the documentary on them called Unchained.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
I’ve been a longtime fan of the podcast, Freakenomics. The way they approach everyday topics from an economist's perspective, which often leads to some pretty surprising conclusions. I think it really challenges me to think critically about the world around me and provides a pretty fresh take on topics that might seem very mundane.
Your favorite fictional character.
Tough one!!! Not sure I have a good, thoughtful answer.
Someone or something worth following in social media.
Is it too trite to respond with: get off your phones? Get off social media. Touch some grass!
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
Two months before lockdown, my family of three became a family of five. So my new normal (the popular phrase) was very, very "new" indeed. Being forced to work from home like we all were, allowed me to create a bond with my identical twin boys (who are now three) that would not be possible without that surreal experience of Covid lockdowns.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.
Pretty simple answer! Leading the GTM campaign for The Lego Group x Queer Eye product launch. It's not every day you get to merge to passions of yours together. Plus turning the Fab 5 into Lego mini-figures was pretty amazing too!
A recent project you're proud of.
A recent global campaign that I have had the pleasure to creatively lead is the partnership between Lego and Disney, celebrating Disney's 100-year anniversary. It's a wildly exciting year-long program between two such storied brands. It's been so much fun to bring this to life. Stay tuned for much more on this in the coming weeks and months!
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
I will forever be fond of the "White out of Red" campaign from the Economist. The simplicity of contextually effective copy. The piercing Economist red. So, so effective.
Your main strength as a creative person.
I care … deeply about what I do and the impact that it has on the world.
Your biggest weakness.
I care … sometimes too much and constantly have to remind myself only so much is within my control.
One thing that always makes you happy.
When Arsenal wins. Huge football/soccer fan. And this has been a historic year after 18 years of heartache!
One thing that always makes you sad.
When dogs die in a movie. I will 1000-percent cry every time.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
I'd LOVE to go into interior design, both hospitality and residential.
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.