Asia’s contemporary Don Draper is not a man in a sharp suit—you’re more likely to find him in a wet suit, surfing the waves of Bali. And his ads aren’t limited to the tools of the “Mad Men” era. John Merrifield, “creative at large” for TBWA Asia-Pacific, goes far beyond the billboard: Recent campaigns included suspending men from the top of a building to run along the side of a skyscraper.
TBWA\Asia-Pacific Singapore Creative At Large John Merrifield
The sheer number of consumer messages that “assault the public” has increased exponentially in the past few years, Mr. Merrifield says. “Right now we’re at a point where we in the advertising industry have to look at the negative impact of what we do as well as the positive.” He has won multiple times at the Cannes Lions International Creative Festival and picked up some Clio Awards—two of advertising’s leading prizes—and has also sat on the juries that pick the winners. He was named Asia Creative of the Year in 2004 and 2008 by Media Magazine. His parent firm, TBWA Worldwide, was named Agency of the Year by AdWeek Magazine in 2008.
This Friday, Mr. Merrifield will speak at Semi-Permanent, an international creative conference in Hong Kong. Born and raised in San Francisco, he has lived in Asia since 1980, when he first landed in Indonesia to surf. Hong Kong was his home from 1997 to 2000. “I get more culture shock when I go back to the States and Europe,” says Mr. Merrifield, 52, now based in Singapore and Bali. “Every time I land [in Asia] I just think, thank God I’m home.”
John Merrifield on Puma at Cannes 2010