January 16

Interview: Sue Hind & Warren Brown, a dynamic creative duo

The importance of teamwork and how BMF’s creative founder and his Head of TV made the impossible, possible.

Advertising legend, Warren Brown, is one of the most awarded creatives in Australia. Sue Hind, his partner, has been his muse for over 20 years. She worked with Warren to make magic happen at BMF, producing way more than 500 TV commercials. Some of their work is still iconic today (see The Tongue Quest). Here are some words of wisdom from this inspiring creative duo.


What has made your collaboration as a Creative Director and a Producer so fruitful?

Warren – Sue has made me better at getting the best out of the people we collaborate with. I used to be too impatient and possibly blunt. It’s better to coax out a great result rather than forcing the process. ‘Strong ideas gently held’ allows others to contribute some unexpected magic.

Sue – One of the qualities I really appreciate when working with Warren is the respect he shows for the effort our production partners contribute. My general approach is to bring together the best team of highly skilled individuals I can, to clearly communicate the idea we wish to bring to life, and then to allow them the freedom to do a fantastic job. Warren has an extraordinary visual ability with moving images, knowing instinctively what will work in an edit, which means he doesn’t drive the team crazy asking for thousands of options which will never be used. He also has amazing empathy for the general public, and an uncanny knowledge of what will appeal to them.


How do you judge a good creative idea?

Warren – The best ideas are always met with a great deal of resistance. They need a champion, someone who won’t let go of the idea and will never give up until it sees the light of day.

Sue – A great idea needs to feel original, surprising, and usually sets off a little shiver of fear inside me as I wonder how on earth I am going to be able to make this happen.


What is the worst enemy of creativity?

Warren – Ideas are like babies, pure and defenceless. With too many ‘experts’ offering advice the idea can get lost in a sea of compromise and lose its original spark. All you end up with is something that is reduced to being safe and predictable. Just the same as babies who have the misfortune of having their spark and originality educated out of them.
You need to stay curious and give yourself the freedom, and time to do so. It only takes two minutes to have a great idea, as long as you are in the right frame of mind.

Sue – Yes I would agree that compromise is the enemy – trying to satisfy too many different wish-lists with the same solution. Also settling for something that is “good enough” when with a little extra effort you can achieve something outstanding.


What are the biggest challenge creative professionals have to face these days?

Warren – Creativity is now an essential part of our developing society, in the future I see it as being used more to create a better world for us to live in, rather than just creating more stuff. There’s too much stuff being created that we don’t need and it’s hurting our planet, and we only have one of those.

Sue – For a producer, the challenges are always balancing quality and speed against budget, especially in these days of clients expecting ‘instant, cheap content’.


What advice would you give to your young selves?

Warren – I’d tell myself to enjoy the world we live in more, avoid self centred dickheads and be happy in the knowledge that it’s ok not to have the answer to everything. I’d also tell myself to trust my instincts, as they will be a guide to a more interesting path in life.

Sue – Yes, I’d say surround yourself with people you respect, don’t take no for an answer, believe in yourself and always show your team that you have faith in them. When other people believe in you, you can make magic happen. And show gratitude, because you will get a lot more discretionary effort out of people if they strive to please you than if they fear you. (But I think my younger self already knew that bit!)


Also see

BMF – http://www.bmf.com.au/

Gutthink – https://www.gutthink.com/partners