James Nester | The Innovator 25 2016
James NesterThe Innovator 25:

James Nester

Executive Creative Director, UK & EMEA

Weber Shandwick


There are a lot of good talkers in our industry. Don’t just talk. Do it. Prove it."

Hailing from an award-winning digital and creative background (which includes the iconic Gnome Experiment campaign) joined Weber Shandwick in summer 2015 with a brief to raise creativity throughout the agency while further bolstering its digital and social credentials. Since then he transformed Weber the agency'ss creative output across the UK and EMEA, helping it win EMEA Digital Consultancy of the Year honours earlier this year, thanks to innovative work for the likes of ActionAid, Vauxhall and UNICEF. Nester's range of cross-disciplinary experience — including social media, publishing, direct marketing, TV advertising and film-making — mark him out as a unique industry presence, particularly when you factor in his views that public relations is perfectly positioned to be the most creative and innovative of all the communications disciplines.

How do you define innovation?

New! Improved!
Innovation is solving problems in original, elegant ways.

Most innovative PR/comms campaign you’ve seen in the last 12 months?

The Next Rembrandt has to be one of them. Data fused with magic.

What brands and/or agencies are most innovative when it comes to marketing/PR?

Brands and agencies that think beyond channels and disciplines. Because the best ideas should explode free of whichever channel you put them to become social and news currency. Ideas people seek out, identify with, participate in, share.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider ‘innovative.’

Realising you can chart the fluctuations in earth’s gravity with nothing more than a set of precision scales and a travelling gnome. This insight helped a campaign transcend marketing to become part of the national curriculum in several countries. (The Gnome Experiment).

In what area of marketing/PR do you see the most innovation?

Content & creative.

How would you describe the communications/PR industry’s level of innovation?

About the same as other marketing discipline.

Where do you see the greatest opportunity for marketing & PR to become more innovative?

Content & creative.

Who most influences how innovative a brand’s marketing/PR is?

Who is your mentor and why?
They’ve been some great people throughout my career. But it’s ideas that really inspire me, more than the people who have them.

How do you find inspiration?

Well defined business problem + time + obsession + luck.

Advice for people seeking to bring new ideas, ways of doing things to their organizations?

There are a lot of good talkers in our industry. Don’t just talk. Do it. Prove it.

In your opinion, what’s the most innovative place in the world?

We can probably learn from kindergartens, where everyone can play, experiment and push boundaries, without fear of failure. They get nice biscuits too.

What’s your favorite time of day and why?
Being welcomed home by my little boys. By far the best and most life-changing innovations I’ve ever co-created.