The Makeup of a True Creative

Xavier Beauregard, president and chief creative officer at ‎Les Gaulois agency, says that to be successful in advertising, you need to be inspiring, feel uninhibited, and remain innovative. In this candid Q&A, Xavier, who is a juror this year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, shares how he inspires his team and how he manages to use his own discomfort to push his creative boundaries.

Tell us about your background.

My creative vision was fed by a variety of agency models and structures. Experiencing the crossover between traditional and digital was of structural importance for me. I felt the need to constantly learn. Comfort is a creative person’s worst enemy.

How do you inspire creativity amongst your team?

The most important thing for a creative is to feel free when working on conceptual ideas. It’s crucial to focus on the effect that the idea will have on people, prior to even coming up with it, and constantly avoid falling for the conceptual clichés that have already proven their efficiency.   

How do you inspire yourself?

Observing those around you is essential, of course. You cannot come up with an idea that will touch its core public if it isn’t directly connected to it. Music is also an element that always plays a crucial role for me; it helps me to dive into and, more importantly, comprehend the whole creative territory.

Which characteristics make up a successful chief creative officer?

Having a clear vision on a project while always leaving a door open to the unknown.

What makes a campaign effective?

A campaign that succeeds in allowing the public to rediscover a brand or product. If the public perception changes or is altered in a significant way after having been exposed the idea, it’s often a success.

What’s the most creative campaign that you’ve crafted to date?

A spot for the Atlantic Group entitled “37 Days.” It was an activation for the European heating company and reminded viewers what heat does: provide life.

We tried hard to give life to a product that, by nature, has very little je ne sais quoi (Nothing is more annoying than buying a radiator). The madness behind this idea went viral right from launch.

Tell us about some of the most recent work that your team is most proud of.

UberEscape for Transavia. For one week, the French public was able to escape their daily lives and travel all over Europe with a single click on their mobile phone.

What areas of opportunity do you see, particularly in your local market?

Social media in France has some great days ahead of it.

How are you advancing the Together strategy?

The closeness of media and content really helps to better expose ideas. Nothing is more frustrating than presenting campaigns to a client without having the integrated production solution. We need to make our clients’ dreams a reality through execution.

What’s the biggest tech trend making an impact on the advertising industry?

Merging service with innovation makes our profession terribly exciting. It allows us to get closer to our clients and to participate in innovative approaches that impact their core business. The notion of partnership becomes complete.

What’s the best advice you have for a young professional in his or her 20s or 30s?

As soon as a creative person finds an idea, they must systematically try to forget that they came up with it and ask themselves the following question: Would I want to tell the world about this?