Tosh Hall: Cultural By Design

By Eleftheria Parpis on Dec 18, 2019

"Impeccable craft is a given — cultural impact is a win."

The ADC 99th Annual Awards is open for entries and searching for the very best in design and craft that the creative industry has to offer. The awards cover an amazing array of disciplines, with each led by a Jury Chair — a highly respected creative who will help guide the conversation towards selecting the work most worthy of a coveted ADC Cube.

Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring stories on the various Jury Chairs of the ADC 99th Annual Awards. We hope you'll be inspired, knowing that these individuals will be appraising your submissions.

Well-crafted, strategic design can not only change businesses, but it can also change the world. So says Tosh Hall, Global Chief Creative Officer of Jones Knowles Ritchie and ADC 99th Annual Awards Brand/Communication Design Jury Chair. "We are in a unique period in time where brand and communication design has more of an impact in the world."

As the Jury Chair of one of ADC's largest and most competitive disciplines, one of Tosh's goals will be to honor work that not only represents the best of the industry today but also moves culture. "Craft is almost table stakes. We have to have work that is representative of the best quality of craft in brand communications design, but what will differentiate the great from the good is what power design and communications can wield in the world," he explains. "Going beyond being well-executed and well-crafted, ideas can not only drive strategic business objectives but push the industry forward and create cultural impact — those are the ones that will deserve the most credit."

Particularly interesting to Tosh is how brands can use their reach to create social change and solve larger problems. "One of my missions in guiding this jury is to think about what communications brands and design can do in these spaces. Instead of just making beautiful things that talk to other designers, how can we make beautiful things that talk to mass culture and can solve issues through the lens of brands?" he explains. "Brands can take the mantle by doing great work that also makes a difference."

Jones Knowles Ritchie's recent work for Burger King out of the U.K. attempts to do just that. "The Meltdown", a sustainable initiative, launched this fall that addresses plastic waste by eliminating the toys that have long been included in children's meals, and asking children to bring in their old kid's meal toys — both from Burger King as well as their competitors — to be melted down for recycling. The recycled material will then be used to create playground equipment like slides and swings. "Burger King is known for its flame-broiling," Tosh explains. "It takes something that is happening in the world and tries to use the iconic equalities of BK to tell a new story." While currently only in the U.K., the hope is that the initiative will be implemented in other markets in the future and ultimately have a larger impact on the plastic environmental crises.

It's a lofty goal, but one that Tosh gladly applies his design and storytelling skills to achieve. Of course, not every creative solution can include an element of social purpose, some are about connecting brands to culture in other ways. The agency introduced a new brand identity for Dunkin' Donuts last year that emphasized its shortened "Dunkin'" name and this holiday season rolled out limited-edition merchandise featuring the moniker with an online pop-up store for the season. The products include Dunkin' branded sweaters, pajamas, fanny packs and wrapping paper, even an electric guitar.

"One of our missions for the Dunkin' work is turning one of America's most loved brands into something that connects more with culture and people," Tosh says. The effort succeeded in connecting with fans, with all of the items being quickly snapped up. "Unfortunately, I was told by the account team that everything is sold out. So there will be no Dunkin' joggers for Christmas for me," he chuckles.




Jones Knowles Ritchie / New York


Dunkin' Brands

Annual ID



2019 Design: Branding / Identity System

Tosh, like many in the design business, took a circuitous route to his career. He studied economics and journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and only discovered graphic design as a possible career when an aunt introduced him to Print magazine. "It all makes sense in retrospect," he says. Economics helped him understand business and macrotrends and journalism taught him storytelling. "It helped me figure out how to tell a story concisely, how to create a headline, how to write for column inches..." And tell stories to the masses.

Tosh began his professional life designing book covers in London and designing packaging for Revlon in New York. After a few years, he found his way to Landor Associates, where he first worked as a design director in New York and later in San Francisco as a creative director. Working at Landor, he says, "was like getting an MBA in branding and design." In 2013, he joined JKR and helped bring clients such as Budweiser, Dunkin' and Burger King to the roster. Now as Global CCO, he oversees the work of offices in London, New York, Singapore, and Shanghai.

Tosh didn't take the traditional portfolio-school path to gain entry into the industry, and his experiences have helped form his own hiring practices, recruiting talent from all walks of life to encourage diversity of thought at the table. "If you have a diverse background and a tenacious spirit you can come to the creative world and really make a big impact," he says.

The most important thing is "take your time," he says. Rather than constantly worry about tomorrow and how to take the next step in your career, focus on the work at hand and being the best at whatever role you are in at the time. "People are obsessed with the next," he says. "Be present and do the best work possible in that moment. It’s easy to say in retrospect, but the rest of it will take care of itself."

It's a lesson he learned later in his career. "Spending time just crafting is a rare luxury," he adds. "So, enjoy it."

The ADC 99th Annual Awards is accepting entries from now until January 31, 2020. 



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