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Interview: Paul O'Neill, VP Creative, Guinness World Records

By Laura Thomas  //  Tue 10th February 2015
What was your first job? 
I was a chalet maid in a ski resort in the French Alps, one of the first men to do the job, some of the male guests were a bit disappointed when they turned up and got me. The job involved looking after a dozen people for the week; cooking them a four course meal each evening, making their beds, cleaning their toilets and baking them a different cake every afternoon (I washed my hands first...)

What made you want to pursue a career in this industry?
It was never a conscious thought - I do what I love doing and find companies that might be unhinged or brave enough to have me. Working at Guinness World Records allows me to spread my creative net wide and far across the industry, brands and companies. 

What is your favourite media resource?
YouTube or Google Image search - inspiration without the perspiration. 

What is your favourite media campaign to date?
Red Bull do a lot of Guinness World Records - we were there at the Felix Baumgartner free fall from space, which broke eight world records including the largest online audience for a live streamed ad with eight million people - you have to admire Red Bull for that. 

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Nelson Mandela - he refused to draw lines and have sides and got everyone on the same team in RSA, now there's someone who got over themselves and saw the bigger picture. 

What's your favourite restaurant?
Musso & Franks on Hollywood Boulevard sounds like a good answer but in reality it's KFC - mmmmm specially blended mix of 11 herbs and spices... 

What piece of technology could you not live without?
iPhone - it's a book, telephone, music player, radio, video player, provides email access, internet access, document viewing, word processing, navigation, games console, alarm clock, calculator, stopwatch, etc. etc. AND... it fits in my pocket, the Swiss army knife of technology. 

Have you ever broken / attempted to break any records?
As an employee of GWR, I am not allowed to hold records, but we do get to test records in the office with our record management team in order to set the correct guidelines (which is huge fun). Record breaking is also a bit addictive, I can get close to the world record for most clothes pegs removed from a line and held in one had, which is 40!

If you didn't work in this industry, what do you think you'd be doing?
Fifteen to life.

What's the biggest challenge you've faced in your current role?
When I joined Guinness World Records five years ago, we were still very much the classic 60 year old publishing company. Helping to shift the mind-set of the company was a challenge - since then we've seen our commercial arm in marketing and advertising activity increase 10 fold, our social media and TV numbers have sky-rocketed and we've had 5 million people attend our live events - it hasn't always been an easy journey, but it's been a worthwhile one. 

What do you think the future holds for Guinness World Records and using record breaking for brand exposure?
With story-telling and content marketing looking so important to brand exposure, GWR looks set fair to help tell their tales with all the credibility, authenticity and entertainments that we bring - as the brochure copy would say 'the future looks Officially Amazing'.

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