[The Bookmarks 2013]: Q&A with Bookmarks judge Laura Jordan Bambach

As one of the pack of elite Bookmarks Awards 2013 judges, visiting creative director and multi-award winner herself, Laura Jordan Bambach chatted to me about life in the digital 'verse.
Laura Jordan Bambach
BizcommunityHi Laura,

Laura Jordan Bambach: One of the things I read about you is that you were involved with the creation of the Diversity in Advertising film. We look forward to welcoming you to South Africa - the University of Diversity!

Thanks Terry! My good friend Faisal Ahmed directed the film - we are working together at the moment to run a series of industry briefs to tackle different challenges around diversity. Of course I also co-founded SheSays for that reason - there are so few women in creative/design/tech roles in our industry!

BizcommunityI haven't been stalking you, rather researching, but in every picture we see of you, your hair is different colour, how will people in South Africa recognise you when you arrive to judge the Bookmarks Awards next week?

Bambach: By the spring in my step (its my first time to SA and I'm very excited)! And by my pink hair. At least, it should still be pink.

BizcommunityYou're credited with a lot of very viral content. When your activation generates 100,000 downloads or 2 million views, do you think to yourself, I'm brilliant, or S'truth people are a bunch of sheep?

Bambach: No, I get as excited as a little kid. I am always full of wonder about people - what captures people's imaginations! Human beings are a lot more wonderful and eccentric than what we give ourselves credit for. And more up for new experiences too. Viral content often captures that - we allow ourselves to be open and carried away by pure childlike joy.

BizcommunityTalking of sheep where about in Australia do you come from, how often if ever do you get to go home, do you miss it, where do you currently live?

Bambach: I was born in Canberra, but grew up on the outskirts of Sydney, on a small hobby farm amongst flower and fruit farms. My parents have an amazing self-sufficient place with solar power, a sewer-to-clean-water system (which they use to water the land) and fruit and vegetables everywhere. I get home every other year - I'll be home for Christmas for the first time in 12 years this year actually! And I'm having New Years Eve at Uluru, which should be spectacular.

BizcommunityYou have so many impressive titles - D&AD President, New Media Age's Greatest Individual Contribution to the Industry Award and more. How did a "geekgirl" from the outback make it so big?

Bambach: At the time, there were so few websites and net artists - we started the year Netscape launched and created something that we knew women were crying out for, because we made it to satisfy ourselves. Rosie had a lot of connections with prominent code/tech/art women and the global cyberfemminist community and that meant that we were interviewing the same people as Mondo 2000 or Wired, with a women's focus. Our sense of humour and breadth of content helped as well - we were a lot less solemn and intellectual than other reads. More virtual vernacular than computer science.

BizcommunityYour bio says you cut your teeth on the cutting edge and other such tributes, is this sharpness due to any early training as a sheep shearer or does it explain your good hair?

Bambach: Ha! In fact I went to an agricultural high school and do know how to shear a sheep, preg-test a cow etc. All very useful stuff for a creative person. I loved it though - outdoors, learning plant and animal husbandry. And riding a tractor.

BizcommunityYour agency is called Dare and many of your personal and professional activations such as Cannt festival, www.cannt.org, etc seem quite irreverent. Do you think there is a enough of this in business to really leverage the new media or is there still a reluctance for clients to "dare" to risk their reputations in the social domain?

Bambach: I've actually just joined Dare's sister agency Mr President as Creative Partner (had to mention that in case anyone looked me up at Dare off the back of this).

BizcommunityThanks for bringing us up to date!

Bambach In terms of being daring though, the great clients know that proper two-way conversations with your audience are the foundation of great modern brands. For example on Barclays (who I've been working with at Dare) we created a platform called Your Bank where anyone can suggest things that the bank should be doing.

It has proved both massively popular, and also given us insights into our customers that really surprised us. And our marketing can now revolve around actually doing what people have asked and then talking about it. So we are actually changing and strengthening the core business as well as advertising. And we can change as customer needs change. I think that's clever rather than daring!

And although Cannt is irreverent, its actually set up with a real sense of purpose, to say thank you to all the people who make us creative directors look good on the Croisette at Cannes, but never get to go. It's just not fair anymore to only credit the CD or the "creative team". So I guess you could say that I am passionate about creating things of real purpose and value - and there's nothing as fun as being cheeky about it and sticking a middle finger at the status quo.

BizcommunityCan you tell our readers little bit about #agencyhorrorstories?

Bambach: Again, probably something irreverent with a strong sense of purpose! It was my first President's Lecture for D&AD. Four highly-awarded creatives spoke about the work that they completely messed up. Their biggest mistakes. I think it's important as a creative to be fearless in your work, and to see that even someone like Alexandra Taylor (who has over 200 D&AD accolades) has bad days (and gets better work out as a result) is life-affirming.

BizcommunityAustralia like South Africa is a niche - do you have any advice from one outbacker to another?

Bambach: The openness, honesty and sense of adventure that we Antipodeans share is a bigger asset on the world stage than you imagine. I think the relationship we have with the landscape and space also gives us a different approach, which is important to hang on to.

BizcommunityWhat is your personal favourite social medium of choice?

Bambach: I love Twitter - I often start my internet wandering there rather than Google. And I'm quite fond of Pinterest. My old creative partner Flo Heiss and I have a great board "F*@ked Up S&*t with Laura JB and Flo" (NSFW) which entertains us both. I love ThisIsMyJam too!
Nothing beats awesome food with friends though, or seeing bands, for real social joy.

BizcommunityWhat's currently inspiring you?

Bambach Jon Hopkins, The Savages, Pulled Apart By Horses, Daughters, Rhizomatiks work for Perfume, neurowear, paneer tikka, autumn leaves... There's a lot to be inspired by and it changes like a river.

BizcommunityThank you

Bambach: No worries Terry!
Get a daily news update via WhatsApp or sign up to our newsletters.

About Terry Levin

Brand TURN AROUND and BRAND POSITIONING specialists. Specialising in the CREATION of HERITAGE BRANDS to market leadership position. Adding more HEROES and ZEROS to brand value. Currently acting as Bizcommunity.com creative director at large. Email , follow @terrylevin on Twitter, view her photos on Instagram, connect on www.facebook.com/offtheshelfmarketing or LinkedIn.