Laszlo Szloboda is an Associate Creative Director at FCB New York. He started his career at BBDO New York as part of the GE team, while also working on clients like Monster.com, Belvedere Vodka, Pedigree and Starbucks. He later joined FCB New York to work on the FDA’s Real Cost campaign that aims to curb teenage tobacco use and produced work that has been hugely successful and helped a never-before-seen decrease of teenage smoking. He also helped to land clients like LG and Burger King, with campaigns like LG B&Binge and Whopper Detour. His work has won a Grand Prix at the One Show, the Clios, the London International Awards and Cannes Lions, and has been ranked the #2 Most Awarded Creative director in the Cannes Lions 2019 Global Creativity Rankings.
Zack Seckler: How did you get started in advertising?
Laszlo Szloboda: After graduating Miami Ad School in the New York location, we had 30 days to find a job with my art director and decided to sneak our portfolios into agency bathrooms all over NY. We named it the Toilet Book and managed to get it into the restrooms of our top choice agencies. BBDO NY took the bait and hired us straight out of school.
What was your first big break?
My first commercial was a dream come true: We worked on a GE’s Brilliant Machines campaign and get the chance to shoot with the Delorean from Back to the Future. We also got to meet the writer of BTTF on the shoot, Bob Gale, which was a pretty intense experience for a first commercial.
What do you love about your profession?
That we get to be curious about a lot of things. Every time you get a new brief for a new product you get to dive into a whole new world of culture, human behavior, business, technology and even design.
What’s your typical work day like?
A regular day always depends on what phase the projects I’m working on are. When it’s more the concepting phase it’s is a waltz between sitting in a room to concept, sitting at my desk to answer emails or write scripts and decks, sitting in conference rooms to talk to clients and figuring out to optimal level of caffeine intake in between. When it’s production, the party starts and luckily there is no such thing as a typical day.
What’s your creative process when working on a new brief?
Do a lot of research. I’m a curious person so I tend to dive deep and sometimes you can find things that can be useful for a campaign. Like that the powerplant in NYC puts out more gigawatts of energy than it’s needed to power the Delorean. Sometimes you learn less useful stuff, but research is the best way to procrastinate.
After that’s done I move to the notebook with my partner and we shoot ideas at each other until something sticks. The process here is just to keep talking until good ideas emerge.
Do you have any hacks for jump-starting your creative process?
Not really. I feel like it’s like any other job. You don’t wait for inspiration, you get down to working and the ideas will come.
How do you know when an idea has real potential?
When it shuts down a brainstorm. There it is, we found it. No need to keep looking for ideas.
This feeling usually lasts for 5 minutes and then you get back to brainstorming, but it’s a good five minutes.
Who’s a person you’d love to work with?
Taika Waititi would be one of my dream directors to work with, but he’s kind of outgrown commercials at this point. Also Tilda Swinton would be amazing. Let’s say the two of them together.
What’s an idea you loved that never got sold through?
We wanted to turn an old amusement park ride into a coral reef. It would have been amazing if we were able to pull it off. It was a little too ambitious.
What resources do you use for creative inspiration?
I watch, read and listen to stuff. I am big fan of all forms of comedy, and very nerdy when it comes to music.
What squashes your creativity?
Working in a group is the best, but can also be the death of creativity. There is the famous saying that a camel is a horse designed by a committee, but I’ve been on projects where we were way past camel and felt like we are at the point of designing an octopus. And while there is nothing wrong with designing an octopus, if the objective was to win the Kentucky Derby, we will have some awkward meetings.
Most rewarding campaign you’ve worked on?
Working on anti-smoking for teenagers for the FDA was a really fun thing to do, and also not bad for the overall health of humanity. It was rewarding in many ways.
What do you love about working in advertising right now?
The people you get to meet. It’s an industry that pulls in a certain kind of thinker. I like to be around these thinkers, they tend to have really good ideas, and even better jokes.
Do you have a favorite story from a production?
Meeting Bob Gale is definitely up there, but also almost getting the cops called on us at our first location as we were filming the promo film for Whopper Detour was a memory I won’t forget for a while.
Best advice you’ve received?
To work for the right people. People who tend to produce good work will keep on doing good work. So find the people you wanna work for, not the agency. Any agency is made up of the people inside and is as good as their people.
What about advice for directors, photographers or other artists who want to work with you?
Keep doing great work, and if you already are, you’re probably on my list already.
A trend you see defining the future of advertising?
Making people want to watch your commercial as opposed to pushing it on them. People still watch tons of content, and they are even willing to watch ads–as long as they are good.
What are you working on now?
A new campaign for Burger King that’s super exciting. They are a fantastic client, that can’t be stated enough.
What’s next for you?