Ideas for people who hate advertising

Pancho Cassis, the global CCO of ad agency David, is known for campaigns that surprise and subvert expectations. He talks to us about getting the best out of his teams and why he advocates for cautious growth

“Our starting point is that people hate advertising,” says Pancho Cassis, partner and global chief creative officer of the lauded international agency David. “We wake up every day to come to the agency to try to do something that most people will hate, so we need to break that.”

At David, that approach looks like Corona Sunbrew, a 0% alcohol beer shot with vitamin D, or the skateboards developed for Activision’s Scratch Board campaign to promote Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, which reveal prizes when the skateboard decks are scuffed – just like a scratch card. And then there’s the slew of projects for Burger King: the equal parts clever and ­divisive Moldy Whopper campaign; Meat?, a print campaign in which cuts of meat are in fact fleshy-looking vegetables; and Stevenage Challenge, a clever link-up between Stevenage FC, Burger King and FIFA that got everybody talking about the League Two side (and its shirt sponsors: Burger King) via the video game.

Advertising was baked into Cassis’ system from a young age, partly down to his father being an ad man himself who eventually became a de facto mentor to his son. “It was crazy because all my friends wanted to be rock stars and football players or whatever, and I wanted to be advertising, advertising, advertising,” he remembers. “But my dad was already seeing the shift in the business. He always told me, no, please do something else – this is going to hell! Clients are always paying less and less, fees are going down, no one cares about creativity!”