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On My Radar: Lucy Walker

27 February, 2024

What’s the most creative advertising idea you’ve seen recently?

Barbie. What a perfect way to bring Mattel’s Barbie doll to the top of the cultural conversation, with such a wildly enjoyable movie, which was as rad and as delightful and successful as it could be. It managed to instil love while being self-deprecatingly humorous and acknowledging all the cultural nuance. It was simultaneously the most fun and the most feminist piece, effortlessly mainstream and yet elevating and educating all of us along the way, and all while never not being brilliantly entertaining for a moment.

Barbie and Mattel really shine for being so bold and visionary and rad. I have a personal connection to the material, in a way, because my father was a toy executive (a VP at Hasbro) and for a time he had worked with the Sindy doll, which was the British Barbie of the 70s and 80s, and the doll that I loved playing with as a young girl. My father had four feminist daughters, and we spent a great deal of time wrestling with the complexity of the product’s influence on young girls and the whole of British society.

So, I have an extra feel for how tricky it is to navigate this material. My first job was directing Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues (I directed 20 episodes and have two Emmy nominations for that, which are among my proudest accomplishments) and that experience also helped me appreciate what a good job they did at making children’s material sing for adults. And, on the subject of my dear departed dad, his first career and first love was advertising, and he always inspired me with his love of creative advertising and marketing, which was his favourite aspect of the toy business.

What website(s) do you use most regularly?
Oh, I am all over the web, searching in whatever latest rabbit hole I am curious about… so, probably Google.

What’s the most recent piece of tech that you’ve bought?
I love AirTags for luggage. I travel frequently and I try not to check a bag, but if I do, I’ll place an AirTag in it, usually just for the reassurance and fun of tracking it around the same airport that I am in. But, twice recently, when luggage has been lost, it’s been invaluable.

What product could you not live without?
I guess I am an Apple girl, because my MacBook and my iPhone tie for this.

What’s the best film you’ve seen over the last year?
How to pick? Well… okay then… at risk of being awfully un-British, my own film Mountain Queen had a sneak peek at Toronto International Film Festival in September, and I am obviously biased, but… well.. that. Netflix acquired it, which is a dream come true, and they will release it next year and you can disagree with me then!

What film do you think everyone should have seen?
I’m not one to want a world in which we’ve all consumed exactly the same things. I hope everyone has seen a film that has sparked their awe and curiosity and love for the world and the beings in it. But I love our diverse media diets.

What’s your preferred social media platform?
Instagram is a real source of visual joy for me.

What’s your favourite TV show?
I love checking out a broad sample of what’s out there and thinking about what’s possible. Not just TV but movies, documentaries, podcasts, books, magazines, newspapers, radio… not to mention real life!

What’s your favourite podcast?
Oh, okay, if I have to pick one out, somehow I find health science type podcasts somehow very relaxing… HubermanLab et al. And for music, lately I’ve been enjoying Travis Holcombe’s Freaks Only, from KCRW.

What show/exhibition has most inspired you recently?
A few, but Hilma Af Klint and Piet Mondrian: Forms of LIfe, at the Tate Modern in London, was all that you could wish for: surprising, fascinating, and beautiful.

If you could only listen to one music artist from now on, who would it be?
Oh this is my idea of torture. Impossible!

If there was one thing you could change about the advertising industry, what would it be?
More diversity, and more female directors, and more fun and daring and fresh female and minority perspectives and voices.

Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know.
A friend of mine calls me ‘Mole’, like the Mexican sauce, because there are so many things at play and I love that. I’ve always been a Renaissance woman, so I also love mole.