What I learned as a Young Lion: Alex Newman and Patrice Pollack, Canada

Name: Alex Newman and Patrice Pollack

Young Lions Gold Winners: Cyber, 2011

What they’re up to these days: Part of JWT’s senior team, based in Toronto

Words of wisdom: Your simplest idea is often the best

 

When Alex Newman and Patrice Pollack set off to compete in the Young Lions Competition, they thought it could be a fun way to challenge themselves and – who knows? – maybe win a trip to the French Riviera.

It was 2011, and the pair, Newman (the art director) and Pollack (the copywriter) entered a qualifying round in their native Canada. Much to their surprise, they won– and soon enough they were packing their bags for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where the heavyweights of the advertising world come to network, socialize and discover the next generation of talent.

They knew competing in the Young Lions cyber category would be an incredible experience. What they didn’t know was that it would set them on a whirlwind career path beyond their wildest dreams.

“We went into it a bit blind,” Newman said. “It was a shock, to be honest.”

Pollack agrees.

“It was a huge shock,” she said. “We never expected to win, so we didn’t put a huge amount of stress on ourselves.”

Unintentional as it was, in the end, their approach paid off, helping them to avoid that familiar and infamous blocker of creativity: stress.

“Our minds were never in that space,” Newman said. “I think that’s what helped us. If I have any advice for this year’s competitors it’s: Don’t try to win; try to make amazing work. Young Lions is like the advertising Olympics. The amount of pressure can be paralyzing. It can be blinding.”

Pollack echoes his sentiment.

“Your simplest idea is often the best,” she said.

As thrilling and shocking as winning was, though, it was what happened next that the pair truly were amazed to experience.

Alex Newman and Patrice Pollack receive their gold medals at the 2011 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images
Alex Newman and Patrice Pollack receive their gold medals at the 2011 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images

 

Upon receiving their medals, they were immediately courted by CEOs and sought after by recruiters from myriad ad agencies.

“On the patio of the Carlton [hotel], everyone wanted to talk to us,” Newman said. “Whereas back in Canada, no one knew who we were.”

Soon after, they were flying to New York City to meet with J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, one of the world’s leading agencies, known in the industry as JWT. And soon after that, they were packing their possessions into a U-Haul. The Big Apple would be their home for the next couple of years.

These days, the pair is based in Toronto, creating powerful campaigns for some of Canada’s biggest brands, producing the kind of work they’ve always dreamed of doing. They find themselves invigorated by an ever-evolving industry and the challenge of creating engaging content.

“It really was the experience of the Young Lions that led us to where we are,” Pollack said. “It was that one moment that changed our whole career path — and it has been quite a ride.”

Read this next: What I learned as a Young Lion: Sergey Yanovskiy, Russia

 

To mark the 20th anniversary of Getty Images, we are proud to celebrate creative freedom at Cannes Lions 2015 and sponsor the Young Lions for the 18th consecutive year. Check back for more interviews and insights from former winners and the world’s leading creative minds. #gettylions