The Ri5 profile:
Jonathan Lee, Pink Squid


Jonathan Lee is creative lead at Pink Squid, and has been involved in much of the agency’s recent award-winning work. A passionate wordsmith – with his own Wikipedia page, no less – he’s also a keen sports fan and participant, and could be in line for a forthcoming career phase as the new Milk Tray man…

How did you first get into the industry?

Like most people, without really attempting to. To try to romanticise it a little, when I was working for Poke I went to PizzaExpress for lunch one day. I had large meat covered thing. Probably. Anyway, I saw some quirky ‘careers in a can’ engagement piece, checked out who did and started following Pink Squid on Twitter. A month or two later they were looking for a copywriter. It wasn’t really the industry that appealed (or the pay cut), more the idea that there’d be seven of us taking on agencies of 100+.

What would you do if you didn’t do this?

Winning the Ashes, Rugby World Cup, Wimbledon and Olympic Gold medals in a couple of different disciplines, and whatever I could fit in on Fridays. I’d probably still do the ironing. I find it quite therapeutic.

Who are your favourite people from the industry?

Anyone who realises we can do far better than take a picture of a smiling employee and write ‘Be part of our winning team!’ over it.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?

“To cause an avalanche you can either shake the mountain, or choose the perfect spot to drop a snowflake.” Someone at King said that to me once. He was talking about their approach to innovation, but it stuck with me. Big ideas are cool, but small, precise and simple can be just as effective.

And what piece of advice would you give somebody starting out in the sector?

To creatives: Copy is a dying art. Every time you pick up the pen is an opportunity to craft a collector’s item. (I know that makes me sound like a pretentious twat, but that’s what happens when you have a two-hour commute to mull stuff over.)

What’s your favourite recruitment ad?

It’s not an ad, but I wish I had done Havas People’s ‘Make Donny Smile’. Lovely idea, great execution and very effective too.

And what’s your favourite non-recruitment ad?

Unsurprisingly I like words. Even better, sentences. But I like sentences that are crafted and not just written. So any of the Volkswagen ads by DDB back in the day.

What are you reading at the moment?

‘One Summer: America 1927’ by Bill Bryson. That and a book about agile scrum methodologies. I know which I prefer.

And what are you listening to?

The Beach Boys. Always The Beach Boys.

Which five guests would you invite to your ideal dinner party?

My wife would say ‘no one, because it would mean I have to talk to them.’ She thinks I’m a bit quiet you see. Everything’s relative. Anyway, Lawrence Dallaglio, Andrew Strauss, Audrey Hepburn, Her Majesty The Queen and my wife could talk amongst themselves while I eat the crisps and take my first ever selfie.

What are your top three films?

Remember the Titans and Breakfast at Tiffany’s are certs. We’ll say Rush for now, but we’ll make that interchangeable for future film release purposes.

Something or someone for Room 101?

Presumably Piers Morgan is already down there. As are Southeastern, slow walkers and diving footballers. So I’ll put in gossipers.

What items do you never leave home without?

Unless I’m off to work I actually try to leave as much at home as possible. I feel free without my phone.

What’s your biggest achievement – career or otherwise?

Just recently I’ve made it through to the second stage of the contest to be the new Milk Tray Man. The irony is, of course, that Pink Squid entered me without my knowledge - and now I’m going to have to leave them for a year to fulfil my chocolate-based obligations. Presumably my natural progression would then be to become 007. 

Who’s your biggest hero, and why?

No specific individual, but anyone who has been in the armed forces and fought for this country. We should never forget their sacrifice.

What's your ideal holiday?

My wife and I travelled around New Zealand on our honeymoon. I’d love to do that again one day. They do a great Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Three words to describe yourself?

British. Determined. Stoic.

Your best and worst habits?

No idea what my best would be. As for my worst, well I’ve been dressing my daughter as a boy for 18 months now so we’re probably at habit stage. Mind you, I did go through a phase when I dressed her like a set of traffic lights. So there’s been improvement.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I don’t mind a rom-com.

What single fact would surprise people the most about you?

Despite the fact that it was set up as a prank, 90% of the stuff on my Wikipedia page is true. Including the bit about meeting my future wife while spoofing former England cricket captain Andrew Strauss on Twitter.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

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The Ri5 profile: 
Jonathan Lee, Pink Squid