'The best work is work your mates talk about down the pub' – Creative Q&A, 3 Monkeys Zeno's Stuart Yeardsley

PRWeek grills creative comms figures on how they got where they are, their career highlight, solving creative writer's block, and more. Today we speak to Stuart Yeardsley, executive creative director at 3 Monkeys Zeno.

'The best work is work your mates talk about down the pub' – Creative Q&A, 3 Monkeys Zeno's Stuart Yeardsley

How did you get where you are now?

Red Consultancy chief executive Mike Morgan once told me: “Compared to most people's jobs, PR jobs are brilliant.” He wasn’t wrong.

Tech legend Mike Copland gave me my first job at a small tech agency outside London. I then joined the Red Consultancy under Lesley Brend, David Fuller and Mike, where, like a lot of folks, you were "schooled" in strategy and creative.

In 2007, Mike asked me to go to San Francisco and sprinkle some creative dust in the agency’s fledgling West Coast office. Selling "creative" in Silicon Valley wasn’t like selling it to clients in London.

I moved back after two years, where I met three amazing (but formidable) women heading up this crazy little agency called 3 Monkeys.

I’ve enjoyed an amazing decade alongside brilliant leaders like Angie Moxham, Christine Jewell, Barby Siegel and now Jo Patterson. I’m now part of the global Zeno creative leadership team and lead the Chorus creative team in London.

What has been your creative career highlight?

I’d argue some of the best creative PR work matched ad work way before the PR industry started to formalise creative roles. People took more risks with crazy stuff – you don’t see enough risk-taking today.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some very clever people. From sticking a drunk driver in giant pint glass to putting a suspicious wrap of powdered fragrance on the front cover of a music title, convincing a bunch of people to gorge themselves on email spam, taking a hug-activated biscuit vending machine around the country, or convincing director Edgar Wright to let the public write his next blockbuster, there have been plenty of high points.

Working with the UN to help amazing young women across the world overcome societal barriers and have their voices heard was a particular highlight – it showed the power we have to make the world a little better.

...and lowlight?

I managed to take an entire pitch team to the wrong address for a Lenovo pitch in Paris. And a client of a global firm to a film edit in a shed at the bottom of a garden in High Wycombe.

What's your favourite campaign of the past three months (not one that you or your organisation were involved in), and why?

Creativity that takes risks by boldly going where no brand has been before, that defies belief and sticks two fingers at convention.

The best work is work that your mates talk about down the pub.

The Kiyan Prince work, which added murdered Queens Park Rangers Under-16s player Kiyan Prince to the full QPR squad in the video game FIFA 21, is a brilliant piece of original thinking and creative expression.

How do you solve creative writer's block?

Being creative isn’t an occupation, it’s a preoccupation. There’s a misconception that some people have this innate ability to pluck ideas out of thin air. It’s bullshit. It takes far more applied effort. Feed your mind with good stuff like a foodie feeds their stomach with only good stuff.

How should PR grow its creative prowess?

Let’s cut the inferiority complex. Ad agencies don't see the lanes we do. I think clients are more open than ever in terms of where the idea comes from. The best idea wins. COVID-19 has really moved this forward.

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