Welcome to the Ideasicle Podcast where we’re continuing our mission to untangle the mysteries of the elusive idea.

Today we have advertising giant, Jon Steel. Learn why he gives his direct reports unlimited vacation (it’s not why you think), how a baseball game was the impetus behind one of the great Goodby campaigns of all time, and get his view as to what creativity really is, among many, many more topics (like why a dog licks his balls, which is helpful).

Click on Jon’s picture to play the podcast, or click here to subscribe via iTunes and never miss an episode.


  • To Jon, creative talent is about the process of reduction.
  • Creativity is about making connections in your life. No one has ideas at their desk.
  • Creative people tend to collect things, but also collect experiences. That’s why he gives his planners unlimited vacation.
  • You can’t inspire all creative people the same way – great example with word man, Jeff Goodby, and the visual man, Rich Silverstein.
  • Once again the topic of mundane, repetitive activities comes up as catalysts for creativity. Jon tells us why, and what he does to keep his own creative edge.
  • Great bit about how Jon thinks the communications business has changed (and hasn’t) as it relates to our creative approach. Hint: creativity has gotten lazy.
  • Big insight under the banner, “Why does a dog lick his balls?” You can listen in to see how Jon used that one to make a salient point about communications in the new world.


Jon is an advertising strategist and writer, whose job is to provide strategic and creative direction to WPP Group clients and agencies alike.

Prior to joining WPP, he trained as an account planner at London agency Boase Massimi Pollitt, before spending ten years as Vice-Chairman and Director of Account Planning at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco. His client experience includes brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, Hewlett-Packard, Unilever, Sony, Major League Baseball, Porsche and Budweiser.

Jon is the author of Truth, Lies & Advertising (1998) and Perfect Pitch (2006), both published by John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Now living in Western Australia, he works with George Patterson/Y&R as Chief Strategy Officer. In addition to this role, he is responsible for WPP’s Marketing Fellowship program, an elite recruitment and training scheme designed to attract top graduate talent from around the world to careers in marketing communications.