The Inside Track with Seb Royce.
In the latest instalment of our Inside Track series we’re talking to Genie client Seb Royce, the Executive Creative Director of Nuevo – the climate conscious agency on a mission to clean up the advertising and marketing industries.
Last year, Nuevo announced its investment from Steven Bartlett’s communication group, Flight Story, in a move intended to help the agency to scale, and to help more brands move towards ‘net-zero marketing.’
It’s no surprise that with ambitions like these, Nuevo has caught the attention not only of us here at Genie, but of the wider sector. We were delighted to have the chance to speak to Seb, who joined Nuevo as ECD at the end of last year. Having started out as a copywriter at Ogilvy, Seb Royce went on to build Glue into one of the most respected digital agencies in the UK, as well as acting as Creative Director and strategic marketing consultant for multiple start-ups.
We talked to Seb about his ambitions for Nuevo, the ways he and his team are pioneering genuine change and why climate consciousness should be the most important thing on every creative’s radar.
Where do you find inspiration?
I rarely find inspiration on a screen. It comes when my head is clear – which, for me, is generally in the morning, and when I’m outside. When there are no literal or metaphorical walls I can think more deeply. It’s often an unconscious process. It’s when all the information I’ve taken in starts coming together.
Tell us about a campaign you wish you’d conceived?
The campaigns that excite me are ones that have a positive impact. One that comes to mind is the Smog Free Tower, a physical 23-foot tower that sucks in polluted air and cleans it before releasing it again. Another one is the Groasis Waterboxx, a planting device that makes it possible and resource-efficient to grow crops in the desert possible and resource efficient.
I’m inspired by projects that aren’t just greenwashing but that involve practical things being done in the real world.
Who have you worked with that has most inspired your journey to date?
I’ve been lucky to work with some great people throughout my career. I started out in a super-competitive environment at Ogilvy. During that time some brilliant Creative Directors mentored me, including John Kelly, Nicola Gill and Sally Bargman. All of them taught me how vital it is to give younger people your time and encouragement to help instil the confidence they need.
They also taught me the importance of explaining why an idea isn’t right. When I was starting out not everyone could be bothered to do that, but it’s difficult to learn if you don’t understand why something isn’t quite right. That’s a lesson I’ve taken with me in the mentoring that I do now.
What piece of work have you made, that’s had the biggest impact?
The biggest impact I’ve seen in my career was when I was at Glue, and it was not something we did for a client, but for ourselves. When we started the agency no one knew who we were, so we created a multi-level fighter-style computer game called Heavy Hitters. The idea was you could choose the head of anyone from the ad industry and have them as your opponent. We had thousands of agency folk playing it, and the phone started ringing off the hook with new business.
What are your aspirations for the creative industry?
Firstly, for the creative industry to be more environmentally conscious than ever before. There’s nothing more important.
The second thing is don’t rely on AI. There’s so much potential there but honestly, I think as soon as creativity is no longer human then we’re all done for.
Thirdly, bring the joy. There’s so much negativity out there. If we’re going to ask for people’s attention, let’s at least make sure they’re entertained.
What are your ambitions for Nuevo?
We want to pioneer genuine change in the industry.
There are a few ways we’re doing this. We’ve got an app we’re about to launch that can track a campaign’s carbon footprint in real time over the course of a project, from the beginning of a brief to after it’s been delivered. We’re beta testing in April with a select group of clients. We’ve also got a learning programme called Nuevo 360 where we’re going to help all our clients understand more about sustainability.
What are the key ingredients you’re going to be looking for in the talent you hire?
In terms of creatives, I imagine our hiring strategy will be to keep a relatively small core team, and bring on additional people as and when we need them.
My criteria for hiring creatives hasn’t really changed in years. The first thing is for people to be full of ideas. You want people who are sitting on their hands because they’re bursting to tell you all the ideas they’ve got. I’m also looking for creatives who are collaborative, quick, and plugged into culture. They need to be curious about the world.
Your culture binge:
The Banshees of Inisherin; beautiful writing and amazing performances.
Box set you got hooked on
The quality of TV at the moment is off the scale good; both seasons of The White Lotus were unbelievable.
Podcast or radio show that taught you something new
I still love Steven Bartlet’s Diary of a CEO podcast. He always has great guests.
Show/exhibition/music that’s inspired you
I saw a fantastic exhibition called The New Black Vanguard at the Saatchi Gallery recently. It was a showcase of 15 black photographers and artists, all with a really interesting perspective on the world.