Leaders – Andrew Wilkie on challenging the status quo

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There isn't a perfect formula for being an effective leader. But if there were one, we'd believe head of creativity and engagement at touch Andrew Wilkie cracked it a long time ago.

A believer in humility, hunger for knowledge and constant self-improvement, Andrew has decades of experience in the creative industry and still does not feel like he deserves to be cocky, not even a tiny bit. His dreams for the future of marketing and his overall positivity are heartwarming in such a challenging time. Which is why we have absolutely no issues in believing him, when he says that "the best [of his professional life] is yet to come."

For this Getting to Know, we've had the chance to exchange views with an accomplished creative professional and an incredible storyteller. You can read more below.


How did you get to your current position?

I joined touch in March 2018, having spent the previous four years consulting on the value and necessity of disruptive thinking and the power of storytelling. Prior to that, I was at Saatchi for almost 20 years - a period of time that coincided with the creative influence of two of the creative industry’s best thinkers – Paul Arden and Dave Droga. 

It doesn’t really get better than that!

What was the biggest challenge?

Championing positive disruption and storytelling engagement into environments that are often happy enough with the status quo. 

As Architects of Engagement, our raison d’etre at touch is to not only master the logistics side of creating and running events, but to also deliver content completely aligned to the business/brand narrative and make sure it is as emotionally charged as possible. We know emotion drives action, that’s what we strive for. 

What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?

Born in Brighton, resulting in a passion for the seaside and the Albion. Educated in Newcastle, which gave me a love of northern grit and down to earth positivity. 

Afterall, passion and ‘never say die’ positivity are at the heart of all great creativity. I don’t really know of any truly brilliant campaigns that aren’t the result of forensic strategic analysis, brave creative leaps and an unwavering belief that it’s the right thing to do.

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

On a reunion tour with a small band from Newcastle that deserved more recognition than it ever received (at least in the minds of the band members!). 

What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

Be a receiver as well as a transmitter. Keep your eyes and mind open and in a ready state of curiosity.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to aspiring marketers looking to be successful?

Learn from the best. Hunt down and surround yourself with people better than you. Stay hungry and humble (am I being greedy with three?).

Tell us something about your professional life we don’t already know

The best is yet to come…

What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

At Saatchi I helped successfully launch Lexus, Sagatiba and Xfm. Then at touch, in 2019, being part of a team that conceived, created, and ran the ‘best event the oil and gas industry has ever seen’ was pretty great… That is a client quote, in case you think I’m being hypocritical after my comments around humility!

How do you recharge away from the office?

Music (on the edge), football (in the stands) and family (at the epicentre).

What’s your one big dream for the future of marketing?

In the short term we have to use our communication skills to engage and connect in periods of discombobulation. Now, more than ever, we need intelligent communication programmes for employers to engage their employees and for brands to engage their customers.

Going forward, marketeers, as expert communicators, have to pull together and protect what we do best.

Strategy and creativity are needed now more than ever, and you can’t commoditise either. The moment you do, you slip into bland conformity. Fine if you’re happy with instant, vanilla acceptance, but perilous if you want sustainable, long term competitive advantage.


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