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Agencies are used to trying to get consumers to change their minds about a product or service, but what about changing the way a nation thinks about its resources?

Giant Hydra was up to the task when Christina Brown, Partner and Creative Director of acclaimed Montreal based agency CloudRaker, tapped the HydraHeads for a very special project for one of their clients. Christina is no stranger to big names or unconventional ideas — her career has put her at the helm of such brands as Bell Canada, and CloudRaker’s innovative social media campaign for Tim Burton’s MOMA exhibit received international acclaim — but combining a big name and out-of-left-field thinking with a virtual team she’s never met in person? That’s something completely new!

We recently had a chance to speak with Christina and have her share her thoughts about working with the HydraHeads and how she’d use the system on her next project.


Giant Hydra: What were your initial thoughts when you first heard about Giant Hydra? What were you expecting, and how did it live up to those expectations?

Christina Brown: “ I heard about Giant Hydra very early on, and was really intrigued by the model. The idea that, as a Creative Director, you could crowdsource talent from around the globe was what excited me most. When it came to actually using Giant Hydra, I was a little concerned about the briefing process and the real value it would bring, given that the project we had was one that required so much background knowledge about the brand and the subject of the campaign. I was really taken aback by how much research the HydraHeads did on their own time and how quickly they grasped a complex brief.”

Giant Hydra: You took your time in selecting which HydraHeads you wanted for your team. What was it like to look at all of the Heads that applied to work with you, and what impressed you the most about the ones you picked?

Christina: “Giant Hydra was amazingly helpful when it came to recommending talent for this particular project. I knew I wanted a solid base of senior thinkers with a few fresh juniors in the mix. I also loved that we were able to have a strategist involved; he was able to anchor a lot of the thinking that the creatives were putting out there before I had to! What impressed me most about the HydraHeads overall was how damn hard they worked. They were extremely generous with their ideas, helped each other out and took feedback incredibly well. While I’ve never laid eyes on any of them, I really enjoyed collaborating with them. ”

Giant Hydra: You mention never actually meeting the HydraHeads. Creative directors are accustomed to working with their staff face-to-face. What was it like to instruct a team in a virtual world, where everyone is thousands of miles apart?

Christina: “I think that’s the part that takes a little getting used to. At the Seed stage, it’s heaven. You get all these great big ideas in which you can see potential and that’s the best part. It got a little tricky when we got down to execution. At that stage I would flip the HydraHeads’ Seeds over to my internal team and they would run with building the full campaigns. That said, this was a project that had very aggressive timelines and many brand standards to adhere to. On simpler briefs, I think it would be a non-issue.”

“I was really taken aback by how much research the HydraHeads did on their own time and how quickly they grasped a complex brief.”

Giant Hydra: The team you selected was very international, even though your brief was for a Canadian client with a very Canadian dilemma. Do you think these global perspectives brought something unique to the table, or is great creative and strategic thinking universal?

Christina: “Absolutely. In fact, in this case, we had been internally working so long at solving a really tricky problem that we were losing perspective. The ideas that came our way from HydraHeads from all corners of the earth proved that we were in fact moving in the exact right direction with our own thinking and that really was invaluable. I can truly say that the process really, really helped us.”

Giant Hydra: Now that you’ve had your hands on Giant Hydra, what would you do differently when using it on another project?

Christina: “It would depend on the project. For the bigger, more complex pieces I would leverage the Seed stage longer. For less complex challenges, I would push to execution faster. Even though I was told I communicated well with the HydraHeads, I think I would do more scheduled talks with them. All the same rules apply here that do with your own internal teams.”

Giant Hydra: Imagine a fellow CD calls you up and says “I’m thinking about trying Giant Hydra.” What would be your strongest selling point, based on your own experience?

Christina: “I would really recommend it. Whether you get ‘the idea’ or not, there is bound to be a little jewel you find in the process. I also think it is a tool you get better at using with time. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Want to know more about how Giant Hydra can help you on your agency’s next project? Contact us at

You know something is good when everybody wants to try it out. You know something is great when they come back again and again.

Such is the case with David Bonner, SVP, Executive Creative Director of Jacksonville, FL based St. John & Partners. An award winning creative director with years of experience at such places as BBDO and GJP in Toronto, JWT Chicago and Doe Anderson in Louisville, David came to Giant Hydra this past summer, eager to test the mettle of the HydraHeads with a project. It wasn’t long before David came back with a second, and then a third challenge for Giant Hydra. Of course our HydraHeads were up to the task.

With summer out of the way — at least for us northern hemisphere HydraHeads — we finally caught up with David to chat about his Giant Hydra experiences, including how he gets the most out the system and what his agency creative team thinks of it all.


Giant Hydra: How did you first hear about Giant Hydra?

David Bonner: “ A colleague heard about Giant Hydra at an industry conference. When I looked it up, I realized we had some connections back to Toronto.”

Giant Hydra: Let’s go back to your first project. How easy was it to pick that perfect first team of HydraHeads?

David: “ It was simple. I could see who had some experience working with Giant Hydra, and then a quick access to their portfolios allowed me to make a value judgment about what they’d bring to the party.”

Giant Hydra: In a bricks and mortar agency, you’re used to seeing your creatives face-to-face. How difficult was it to adjust to a virtual, globe-spanning team of HydraHeads?

David: “Lately, I’m usually travelling or popping in and out of meetings anyway – so it’s almost identical on most days. At least with Giant Hydra I can access the ideas whenever I have a moment. I don’t have to wait for a team to be available to tell me what’s pinned up on a wall back in the agency.”

“…with Giant Hydra I can access the ideas whenever I have a moment. I don’t have to wait for a team to be available to tell me what’s pinned up on a wall back in the agency.”

Giant Hydra: You’ve been heavily engaged in the process and progress of each Giant Hydra project your agency has done. Is it tricky for a creative director to stay on top of the action?

David: “Like most projects, if you let a project float, it can float away on you. Or you can give it a rudder and course direction. Good CDs know when to step in, and when to let a project steer itself.”

Giant Hydra: Do you find it better to keep a many Seeds open as possible when moving into the Ideas and Executions stages of a project, or do you get better results when you narrow down the options for the team?

David: “It really has been determined by the needs of the specific project, but generally speaking, I find the creative process to be most productive the more it iterates. It needs room and space to develop and evolve.”

Giant Hydra: Not only have you used Giant Hydra on a number of projects, but you’ve also had your own staff join in and work alongside the HydraHeads within the Giant Hydra interface. How have they taken to using Giant Hydra?

David: “They’ve loved it. It’s allowed them to work with some new people, hear new perspectives, and try something a little different. Even people who are very comfortable and confident in their working style have gotten a lot out of it. It’s a safe place to create.”

Giant Hydra: What has been the most surprising aspect of your Giant Hydra experience? How it the reality match up to your expectations?

David: “Our world has only sped up. The fact that I could access as much talent, as quickly, as economically as I did was all the proof I needed. We got a lot of great ideas quickly. Whether it was 20 years ago, or last week – it’s still about great ideas. Giant Hydra has helped us get there more quickly and more economically than I could’ve in the past.”

Giant Hydra: At the end of the day, who’s happiest with the results — the creative director, the client or the people in the finance department?

David: “The client doesn’t know where the ideas come from. Even I don’t sometime. It’s just an idea in a list. As a CD, Giant Hydra has become a tool that’s helped me deliver great work. For the accounting department, tying free agents to a specific project is something they can get their head around.”

Giant Hydra: What would you say to a fellow creative director or agency head who was unsure about giving Giant Hydra a try?

David: “I imagine it’s what sex, drugs and California were like in the 60’s – good, pure stuff, and nothing that’s going to be permanent. If it doesn’t work out, you just head back east.”

Want to know more about how Giant Hydra can help you on your agency’s next project? Contact us at

Gary Watson the award-winning Creative Director based in Toronto, Canada. Gary began his career in 1990 at Vickers & Benson and over the years has also worked at DDB, Ambrose Carr Linton Kelly, Publicis and Maclaren McCann. Today Gary is the Creative Director of Bos. His work has been awarded in global competitions like Cannes Lions, Clios, One Show and London International, as well as nationally in shows such as Ad & Design Club of Canada (ADCC), Marketing, Digital Marketing, The Bessies, Applied Arts and The Extras.

But more importantly, Gary is the next CD to become a Giant Hydra Believer.

Earlier this year, Gary presented the HydraHeads of Giant Hydra with an opportunity to help take one of Bos’ clients in a bold new direction. After the smoke cleared, we ended up with an impressive body of work… and high praises from Gary himself.


Giant Hydra: What made you decide to give Giant Hydra a try?

Gary Watson: “ My first reason for using Giant Hydra was pure curiosity. It seemed like an interesting model and I just happened to have a project that I thought could use an international perspective. Especially for the category I was working on which needs some major rules broken.”

Giant Hydra: What did you think of the HydraHeads that applied to your project? How easy or difficult was it to decide on a team?

Gary: “ I was pretty impressed with the resumes and portfolios of the HydraHeads that raised their hands for the project – and yes, I actually spent the time to check them out (ok, not all of them). Plus, I got some good guidance from Giant Hydra on people that they knew would be great contributors based on prior experiences. And they were right.”

Giant Hydra: As a creative director, you’re used to giving direction to a physical team in your office. What was it like to guide people in a virtual environment?

Gary: “You mean aside from not being able to physically abuse them? (laughs). Honestly, it wasn’t much different. Same rules apply. Be honest. Provide clear direction. And motivate them.”

“For the same price as hiring a couple of really senior local freelancers, I got access to 8 highly-engaged and talented HydraHeads. It’s a no-brainer really.”

Giant Hydra: You killed Seeds and Ideas much earlier in the process than other CDs who have used Giant Hydra. What were your reasons for this, and did you find that it helped the outcome?

Gary: “ Time was certainly a factor. I only had a week. But more than anything, I think that if you know something isn’t going to fly, it’s better to jump on it sooner than later to keep the HydraHeads channeled and focused on the stuff that really lights you up. I found that doing this enabled me to get more work done on stronger ideas and executions.”

Giant Hydra: What was the biggest surprise you found in using Giant Hydra?

Gary: “ I was pleasantly surprised by the volume and quality of the ideas being generated. And it was really interesting seeing the different perspectives based on the geographical locations and cultural influences of each HydraHead.”

Giant Hydra: Your project had a faster turnaround than some of our others, yet the HydraHeads stepped up to the challenge. When it was all said and done, how did you feel about their efforts?

Gary: “I think the best answer is that I presented concepts from the project to the client and they thought they were bang on and very refreshing.”

Giant Hydra: While we might be climbing out of a recession, agency budgets are still as tight as ever. Do you feel that Bos got bang for its well-watched buck with this Giant Hydra project?

Gary: “ Sure budgets are tight. But let me put it in simple mathematical terms. For the same price as hiring a couple of really senior local freelancers, I got access to 8 highly-engaged and talented HydraHeads. It’s a no-brainer really.”

Giant Hydra: How would you see using Giant Hydra again?

Gary: “Aside from just generating creative platforms and executions, I’d love to take an existing campaign and throw it out to the HydraHeads for some 360-degree thinking. So, any weird and wonderful digital, social and stunt-based ideas that can breathe new life into a campaign and reach people in a completely different way.”

Giant Hydra: What would you tell a fellow CD was on the fence about trying out Giant Hydra?

Gary: “Simply, give it a try. It’s a smart investment. And get engaged in the dialogue happening on your project. Participate. Direct. Shape. I know for a fact that the team working on your project appreciates the involvement.”

Want to know more about how Giant Hydra can help you on your agency’s next project? Contact us at

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