Creative Lives — How a background in journalism led Jeavon Smith to working in experience design at Amplify

Posted 14 October 2019 Interview by Indi Davies
Introduction by Anoushka Khandwala

Crafting brand experiences sits at the core of Jeavon Smith’s role at London-based studio and Lecture in Progress brand partner, Amplify. As an executive creative, Jeavon has worked with brands like Google, Nike, and even collaborated with Airbnb to create drinks with the Mona Lisa and dinner with Venus de Milo. Here, Jeavon traces his journey from studying broadcast journalism to crafting rich campaigns, while offering advice to creatives wanting to do similar work.

Jeavon Smith

Job Title

Executive Creative Director, Amplify (2017–present)

Place of Study

BA Broadcast Journalism, University of Leeds (2002–2005)

Previous Employment

Creative Director, VP, Jack Morton Worldwide (2013–2017)
Associate Creative Director, Jack Morton Worldwide (2012–2013)
Senior Experience Designer, Jack Morton Worldwide (2007–2012)

Website

Jeavon

Day-to-Day

How would you describe your role at Amplify?
As executive creative director I oversee the creative output of the agency. Building a collective of multi-disciplined creatives who can craft rich engaging campaigns and experiences. In short, my job is to cause great work to happen.

How did you land your current job?
There were a number of interview rounds in addition to responding to a live brief. The great thing about the process was that the final round featured a really wide representation of the agency which really helped (in both directions) to know that it would be a good fit. I had a body of work spanning 10 years and international experience of leading an agency’s creative offering, so I think I offered a good blend of work at scale combined with culturally connected thinking and craft.

“My job is to cause great work to happen.”

Do you have a favourite project from the past few months?
If I had to pick something then I’d say Airbnb ‘Night At’ Le Louvre. An experience that truly joins the dots between people, brands and culture, as we built a campaign around an experience that offered two lucky consumers the opportunity to stay in the museum – from drinks with the Mona Lisa to dinner with the Venus de Milo, to sleeping in the iconic glass pyramid.

It was an experience that was designed as a content engine, capable of travelling far beyond the walls of the museum. A simple idea, wonderfully designed and executed that generated significant results for our clients

Airbnb ‘Night At’ Le Louvre

What do you enjoy most about working at Amplify?
The people. Our agency is all about nurturing a great culture that underpins everything we do. There’s a collective ambition to create amazing work with our clients and to enjoy every part of bringing it to life.

What skills and tools are essential to your role?
The ability to shift focus at speed and zoom in on different pieces of work. It’s definitely a skill that you continually refine and it’s something I enjoy as you have to accelerate to the centre of creative thinking and ensure it’s simple, original and ultimately makes the audience feel something.

Our studio moves at a rapid rate so my job is to instil the energy and agility to rise to the creative standards that we set, as we aspire to continually experiment and tread new ground.

Airbnb ‘Night At’ Le Louvre

Airbnb ‘Night At’ Le Louvre

How I Got Here

How would you describe your journey to working in your current role?
I’ve been incredibly lucky in that I’ve worked at incredible agencies with incredible people. I actually got my break in a production role (which a lot of creatives might not choose to mention) but it gave me a grounding, understanding and appreciation for so much of the process that it continues to inform what I do today as a creative.

My work and thinking presented an opportunity to make the jump into a creative role and I grabbed it with both hands. In one sense it’s been quite a direct trajectory but looking back it’s filled with lots of hard work, being brave enough to rise to some crazy challenges and the ability to see and harness the bigger picture.

Has your degree been helpful to your work?
I did broadcast journalism at the University of Leeds. On paper perhaps not a traditional gateway to the creative role I now occupy, however it was all about distilling information into an engaging story. Whilst there’s more original craft in the thinking now, the fundamentals of a simple, big idea that’s unpacked with great storytelling that captivates an audience is a crucial component of any great work.

Google Curiosity Rooms

Google Curiosity Rooms

Google Curiosity Rooms

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Words of Wisdom

What recommendations would you give to a young creative wanting to do similar work?
Surround yourself with people that are better than you, and listen to everything they say and watch everything they do. I can chart the key influences on my career, they were all marvellously talented people who were better than me at so many things. Find them and learn everything you can from them.

Do you have any recommendations for resources you’ve found particularly helpful?
I think it’s about a broad appreciation of creativity – from art and design to architecture and what’s culturally shifting the dial. At Amplify we have a philosophy that the best work comes from blending different types of talent. So we celebrate the individual and the different sources of inspiration that shapes their thinking and work.

Posted 14 October 2019 Interview by Indi Davies
Introduction by Anoushka Khandwala
Introduction: Anoushka Khandwala
Collection: Creative Lives

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