VFTL. Episode 2: Chris Palmer, Part 1 – Advertising.


Simons-Palmer-press-clippings3-1024x748-01.jpgChris Palmer.
My 5th boss.
His 1st job was as John Hegarty’s writer.
He won 5 D&AD silvers in his first in his first year.
Set up and agency in his 4th year.
Become one the most in demand directors of the last 25 years.
Launched, arguably, London’s No 1 production company over over the last two decades; Gorgeous.
Also, Mark Denton says Chris can draw better than him.
Annoying isn’t it?
We had a great chat, hope you enjoy it.


BBH with John Hegarty.dr-whites-baby-bbh-chris-palmer-01

BBH with Mark Denton.ART_DIRECTION_Campaign_Bow_Ties_01ART_DIRECTION_Campaign_Bow_Ties_02

Asda %22Snowman%22-01Asda %22Stork%22-01Asda %22hicken%22-01ASDA_FishFingersASDA_Super_CowST_IVEL_SHAPE_KidsST_IVEL_SHAPE_PloughmanST_IVEL_SHAPE_FamilyST_IVEL_SHAPE_Fromage_FraisNEWS_ON_SUNDAY_ToiletpaperLEVIS_New_Patch



'Simons Palmer Start Up' - Campaign.pngLUNCHEON_VOUCHER_Skinny_PigLUNCHEON_VOUCHERS_FiverLUNCHEON_VOUCHERS_CrocodileLUNCHEON_VOUCHERS_Ketchup_BanditBOTTOMS_UP_Prostsante-bottoms-up-chris-palmer-mark-denton-spdcjuppyajumpa-bottoms-up-chris-palmer-mark-denton-spdcjBOTTOMS_UP_ChinChinBOTTOMS_UP_Salud


ART_DIRECTION_Slumberdown'Dog, Cat and Mouse' Slumberdown, SPDC&J-01.jpg'Teddy' Slumberdown, SPDC&J-01.jpg



BHF_CigaretteBHF_SpellingItBHF_ExerciseNike.Hell.1aNIKE 'Jordan', Mark DentonNIKE_PRESS_Giving_UpNIKE_PRESS_BabyNIKE_PRESS_Shape_You're_InNike.Photofit.1a_webNIKE 'It's Not The Winning' Mark DentonNIKE_BenettonNIKE_POSTERS_A_Want_The_BallNike.Cant.96.1a_webNike.Sampras.1a_webNIKE 'U Turn' Mark Denton

NIKE 'Traffic_Control' Mark DentonNIKE 'Algerian' Mark DentonNIKE 'Johnson' Mark DetonNIKE_POSTERS_A_Behind_Every_GreatNIKE_PRESS_Put_Foot_In_It




VFTL. Episode 1: Tom McElligott

After years of being amazed at what was on the net, I’m now increasingly surprised at what’s not.
Three years ago I was trawling for a particular ad of Tom’s, not only couldn’t I find it I could barely find any of his work.
Outraged, I gathered together as much of his work as I could lay my hands on and put out a post called ‘Hands Up Who’s Heard Of Tom McElligott’.
I was trying to be snarky and ironic, like you may write ‘Hands Up Who’s Heard Of John Lennon?’.

Two things happened:

1. An enormous amount of people checked it out, 65k.
Most had never heard of him, he was being shared and referred to on Twitter and Facebook a ‘really cool pre-internet guy’.

2. A few members of his department got in touch to point out that some of the ads featured were not under Tom’s watch, they were overseen by Pat Burnham.
Then Pat Burnham emailed me; I opened it cautiously.
‘Just wanted to get in touch to say thank you, I really enjoyed your blog post, best, Pat.’

It made me feel bad.
What can I do to make amends? Interview him, I’d never done it before but it seemed like a good thing to do.

I’ve now posted about 50 interviews.

So it feels appropriate that Tom is my first podcast interview. 
He hasn’t given an interview for 25 years and said he doesn’t plan on giving one on the next 25.
I Hope you enjoy listening to him as much as I did.
(VFTL? It stands for ‘Voices From The Loft’, it’s a podcast.)

Fallon McElligott, House ad-01-01.jpg

wavelogo-7-01PRE-FALLON McELLIGOTT:fishing-is-like-elmers-minnows-tom-mcelligottron-andersonmy-minnows-will-catch-elmers-minnows-tom-mcelligottron-andersonmy-minnows-are-elmers-minnows-tom-mcelligottron-andersongulp-omaha-tom-mcelligott-ron-anderson-bozell-01zzz-omaha-tom-mcelligott-ron-anderson-bozell-01gulp-omaha-tom-mcelligott-ron-anderson-bozell-01yum-omaha-tom-mcelligott-ron-anderson-bozell-01ho-hum-omaha-tom-mcelligott-ron-anderson-bozell-01'Do You Live' Omaha, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpgspoiler-alert-the-episcopal-church-tom-mcelligotthe-didnt-die-the-episcopal-church-tom-mcelligottron-andersonwhich-one-rose-the-episcopal-church-tom-mcelligott-bozell


LUNCH HOUR Ltd.pontillos-pizzeria-is-pontillos-tom-mcelligott-lunch-hour-ltdsims-explains-the-sims-tom-mcelligott-bozellit-may-be-sims-ltd-tom-mcelligott-bozell-01wendell-anderson-says-rudy-boschwitz-tom-mcelligott-ron-andersonbefore-you-try-ki-clayton-tom-mcelligott-lunch-hour-ltdgood-executive-material-ki-clayton-tom-mcelligott-lunch-hour-ltdmo-lebowitz-1-tom-mcelligott-ron-anderson-bozell-01'Mo Lebowitz 2' Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpg'Come See 40'  Clio, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpgwe-survived-our-mpls-magazine-tom-mcelligott-bozell-01our-food-critics-mpls-magazine-tom-mcelligott-bozell-01golf-cover-mpls-magazine-tom-mcelligott-bozell-01fridge-cover-mpls-magazine-tom-mcelligott-bozell-01'My Boss Cover' MPLS Magazine, Tom McElligott, Bozell-01.jpg


in-1941-you-waited-northwestern-bell-tom-mcelligott-ron-anderson-bozell-01'Unfortunately If You' Northwestern Bell, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpg'If Your Child' Northwestern Bell, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpg'It Takes Two*' Northwestern Bell, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpg

'It's Halftime At' Mini Mart, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpg'Standing In Line' Mini Mart, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpg'This Ad Is' Carousel, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpg'Up Until Now' Carousel, Tom McElligott, Ron Anderson, Bozell-01.jpg

FALLON McELLLIGOTT:Fallon McElligott, House ad-01Fallon McElligott, 7th South 'Nixon'-01Fallon McElligott, 7th South 'Medussa'-01Fallon McElligott 'Einstein'-01Fallon McElligott 'Coin'-01Fallon McElligott 'Bride Of Frankenstein' -01Fallon McElligott '£ Stooges'-01Fallon McElligott, Episcopalian 'Son of'-01Fallon McElligott, Episcopalian 'TV'-01Fallon McElligott, Episcopal 'Carson'-01Fallon McElligott, Episcopal, 'Taped'-01Fallon McElligott, Episcopalian 'Lions'-01Fallon McElligott, Episcopalian 'Bomb' -01Fallon McElligott, Episcopelian 'Cake'-01Fallon McElligott, Episcopelian, 'Strong Men'-01if-you-want-successful-farming-tom-mcelligott-fallon-mcelligott-01only-two-things-successful-farming-tom-mcelligott-fallon-mcelligott-01Come The End' Successful Farming, Tom McElligott, Fallon McElligott-01.jpgeven-the-pigs-successful-farming-tom-mcelligott-fallon-mcelligott-01Fallon McElligott, AMF 'add 2lbs'-01Fallon McElligott, AMF 'Handles'-01

There is more of Tom’s Fallon McElligott and post-Fallon McElligott at a previous post here: https://davedye.com/tag/tom-mcelligott/


Where did you grow up?
The sleepy town of Sawbridgeworth, it’s on the Hertfordshire and Essex border.

When did you take your first picture?
There was no eureka moment, I inherited my grandfather’s Silver Ilford Sportsman.

I do remember being intrigued by its beauty; a matt silver finish with shiny brown hinged leather case.
I wore it across my waist in my early teens, but had no idea what I was doing with it.
It felt sophisticated, technical, way beyond anything I’d ever come in to contact with at that age.
It was the act of making that I enjoyed, rather than ever believing that I was making anything important.
I liked the idea of editing a scene through the viewfinder.
Most of the time it wasn’t even loaded, film was too expensive.
It was in a time when a roll of film had to last you the whole summer.

What was your first job?
Express fruit & vegetable delivery man.
A white van man 
at 17, straight after passing my driving test.
Deliveries at extraordinarily dangerous speeds, I was compelled to drive as fast as I possibly could on every journey.
I went on to be a geologist, mainly because I wanted a job outside in the landscape.

How did you make the jump from white van man to photography bloke?
Was it a wise move? I tussle with this nightly, I might have had my own van by now.

One thing is for sure; we didn’t operate six month credit schemes before you got paid.
It wasn’t such a jump, photography was becoming an everyday activity.
The geology degree was a brilliant insight into the English landscape and how it was made.
I had aromantic vision of a career roaming the World recording and mapping extreme environments, physical and mental challenges.
I ended up in the gold fields of Western Australia, it was an experience, I was very fit then, surviving the elements as well as a very male dominated high testosterone environment.
But it wasn’t for me.

After a year full of the bullshit of travel I returned to the UK and started applying for jobs as an assistant.

Who did you assist?
Steve Rees gave me my first job, he was a good tutor and generous employer.
Then Bob Elsdale, he was the first photographer to own a Mac in London.
People would visit just to see it, they’d crowd around, scepticle if it would ever take off.
Both good people who showed me the ropes.

ls3 cats-bob-elsdale

(The work above is Bob’s, not 100% sure whether Giles assisted on this job.)

What was the first image someone paid you to produce?
Rubber Plants for a brochure,  a tropical plant rental company paid me 250 quid.
Ludicrous money at the time! I was on £100 a week as a full time assistant.
My first ad job was a series of nudes for a medical insurance company, commissioned by the Marshall brothers at Leagas Delaney.
Just before I startedI vomited with fear.
I had gone from table top still life to a full on big production over night.
I didn’t really know what advertising was, I h’d previously only worked in design.

Who were your photography heroes?
Henri Cartier Bresson; informative social documentary imagery with an exceptional graphic eye and sense of timing.

jump-henri-cartier-bressontrafalgar-square-henri-cartier-bressonAndrez Kertez, he found beauty in the mundane, presenting it in a very simple reductive way.
William Klein for his fearless, confrontational portraits, shot on a 35mm lens.
He clearly had built up a rapport with his subjects and tried to capture people from afar in voyeuristic way.
I also think the ease with which he experimented with other media shows an artistic man way ahead of his time.
cinema-william-kleinSebastao Salgado for his social documentary.
The body of work that explored international mining and heavy industry in the developing World is exceptional, highlighting working practices that hadn’t changed since the Industrial Revolution.miners-sebastao-salgadowater-sebastao-salgado
Jeff Wall.
One of my favourite images is a ‘Sudden Gust of Wind’.
T06951_10.jpgIt’s based on an Hokusai painting.
'The Great Wave At Kanagawa' Hokusai.jpgIt took months to construct, the airborne papers have all been placed in post production.
I don’t care how long it took, compositionally it’s brilliant.

Karl Blossfelt; a botanist with an artists eye.
He made photographs to catalogue plant specimens.
I’m really interested in the interaction of Art and Science.
The illustrator Haeckal is another example of a body of work born out of a fascination for science. 

I first became aware of your work via Big magazine, did Vince Frost get you going?
Yes. it was a big break.

You come across a handful of people in your working life that are true talents, Vince is one of those.
He is instinctive and trusts in good work, the work comes before the reputation.
We became very good friends and have worked a lot together ever since.
The images were raw, and when combined with letterpress typography made a very bold, confident magazine that everyone wanted to contribute to.
Do you prefer tight or open briefs?
It depends what it is.
Commercially I like to work on the best idea whoever has conceived it.
I’ll always give my view on a campaign, it’s up to the agency whether they listen.
I’m a wasted resource when used just as an art worker, but some jobs are like that.piccadilly-circus-london-underground-bmp

What’s the difference between shooting for an ad agency and a design company?
Advertising employs you for your technical ability or aesthetic, in the States they call you a ‘shooter’, which sums up the role.

All of your energy is focused on executing a collective vision, one an agency team has championed for a brand often weeks or months in advance.
You take on the commission with the commitment as if it were your own.
It’s all about the production of the shoot and building a team, the bulk of the thinking has been done for you.
It is a tried and tested model so who am I to criticise, but it but seems a little outdated.

Stronger ideas result from photographers being involved earlier in the process.
There are some talented photographers out there whose creative abilities are underutilised, I’ve noticed a generic quality to a lot of recent photographs, probably as a resulting from countless references found on Google images, I know it helps to sell an idea to a client, but it can limit the imagination of the creatives.
Advertising is fixated with being first, building a story around a technique, but being first today is old news tomorrow.
Designers are out of a different mould, the life span of the work tends to be longer.
Budgets are smaller but their i
deas are ambitious in a different way, the limitations encourage more thought and imagination.
It’s also a relief not to have to spend two days writing a treatment every job you do, to justify your creative credentials.  

The application of images is also more diverse.
I’ve worked on design projects from postage stamps through to huge interior installations.

‘Can you shoot me a face that works upside down as well?’
I can’t think of another photographer I’d ask to do that.
Or one who’d take on that ludicrous challenge

It’s one of the trickiest challenges you’ve ever given me.
But it was such a good idea, all the artists involved in that campaign produced wonderful work.

Your work is more like Art than any commercial photographer I can think of.
Wouldn’t you be far more famous in in that world if you were more pretentious?
Or spelled your name in a more exotic way? Gilles Revelli? Gilmondo Rev-El?
Probably, I think the public warm to an aloof, renegade facade.

You are what you are though.
If you play that role then you have got to sustain it.
I’m hoping that the latest projects will make an impression on the Art world, without having to take on a tempestuous, rockstar persona.
However, I’ve often thought about trying a pseudonym like Sebastian Conti; a new photographic presence in the fashion world.
Try it, but swap that ‘O’ for a ‘U’, it might give you a bit more attitude.
Giles Revell - Fish 2, Dave Dye
Do you think digital technology has helped photography?
Yes, undoubtedly when used intelligently and creatively.

It has allowed quicker workflow and more possibilities creatively.
The draw-back is that there’s this obsession with sharpness.
‘Hyper real’ is one of the most annoying terms attached to imagery at the moment.
I’m excited by imagery that takes away and refines .
Half of the images we value today in the galleries around the World are ‘soft’ by modern-day standards.
The speed that images can be made encourages sloppy practice, multiple versions are made to cover all eventualities, then cobbled together in post-production.
The expectation of how much can be achieved in a single day are being pushed so hard now that photographers are having to cut corners.
I’m excited by modern photography, but I am certain that when film was the dominant medium the whole team were sharper, because there was more at stake.
You had to be confident that when you walked off a shoot with just a few polaroids and half a dozen rolls of film that you’d executed the job.
You didn’t have the luxury of cross-referencing every frame.
Commercial imagery seems creatively very static at present.

The platforms on which we view the digital imagery has evolved beyond any of our expectations.
Unlike a lot of commercial photographers, you don’t have a ‘look’ or style?
At first glance I’d agree, but when you look at my work as whole there’s a common thread; the subject matter is revealed minimally, through the use of a line or a plane.
The Port ‘Ten Ten’ cover is a good example, revealing the watch elements through hard shadow and silhouette, the geometry of the plane defined by black.
It was a lesson to myself of making a composition where every corner of the frame needs to be considered, as well as balancing the proportions of black white and grey.
The great Bauhaus influences played a part in this composition.
Also, I’m interested in the content not the gloss.

Different ideas employ different processes, it means the images have a variety of looks rather than always using the camera optics route.
The common characteristic of the work is it’s stripped back with a definite intension.
The commercial world is obsessed with look and feel, it’s an irritating development over the last few years.
I’m always looking for discoveries and new ways of approaching themes.
Giles Revell - Heals Shaddow 1, Dave DyeYou’re always trying new things, lighting with an estate agents digital ruler, taking portraits with a photo finish camera.
It’s not enough just to point off the shelf lights at objects.'Gold Leaf' Giles Revell-01.jpg'Gold Leaf 2' Giles Revell-01.jpg
autumn-leaf-giles-revell-01leaf-2-giles-revell-01flower-giles-revell-01Giles Revell - Pink Squiggle, Dave Dye

Are these photographs or illustrations?
One is photography, the other motion capture.
They’re both about an image developing over time.
100 frames is a collaboration with Ben Koppel to create form from movement.
All the red images are made from the body movement of a dancer, the black version from the movement of a British gymnast training on his floor exercise routine.
The idea was developed for a 2012 Olympic Park proposal, the idea was to create life-size sculptures tracking body movements that would be fabricated in resin.

Giles Revell - Red Squirly Thing, Dave Dye'Blue Car Shape' Giles Revell-01.jpgGiles Revell - Red, Curly, Spiky Thing, Dave Dye
They were printed as 3d sculpture moquettes.
The big red shiny thing, studded with relief, was a commission I made with Matt Painter.
I was asked to make a sculpture of the Manchester United v Barcelona European Cup Final.
I’m not sure I’d choose the aesthetic of this now, but the idea was interesting at the time.
We were given all the data captured as the game unfolded to analyse.
These statistics are used by managers and trainers to assess the performance and tactics of the players,individually and as a team.
Every event, such as a pass, corner, header, shot or goal is logged on a time line, as well as spacially on the pitch.
I decided upon two evolving hoop shapes, representing each 90 minutes that grew over the course of the game.
Each stipple marks an event on the pitch, the largest peaks are the goals. car-bar-giles-revell'Green Car Shaft' Giles Revell-01.jpg
Experimenting is easier today, but I seem to see less of it?
Yes, it’s disappointing and surprising.
Especially in an era where there’s so many opportunities to collaborate using different source material, homogenised though digital formats.
Science / medicine / engineering use incredible methods the gather imagery.
CGI is used widely and is a very powerful tool, but tends to be used in a bland way, as a replication tool mimicking photography and film rather than expressing ideas within its own medium.
Commissioners seem uncomfortable to make imagery from the data and information available to them.
The Man Utd vs Barcelona data sculpture is a good example.
Replication seems dull and needless when there are ways of achieving the real thing through another viewpoint.
Which goes back to my point about style over content.

Giles Revell - Red Stripe 1, Dave DyeGiles Revell - Oil People 2, Dave DyeThey say copying is the highest form of flattery, you must feel great, you’re flattered on a regular basis? 
I used to feel that way in the early days.
Plagiarism is the one aspect of the business that’s made me think seriously about a different career.

There is a  lack of integrity in the business.
Ideas and methods of working are my professional identity and security.
I can spend months developing a project or idea, to then discover it’s been infused into the work flow of others can be demoralising.
Not to say financially bruising.
Agencies, magazines and photographers are all guilty, it’s a symptom of the speed with which we all have to deliver.
Images are now referenced rather than conceived.
Consequently, new projects need to be kept under wraps until a suitably scaled, appropriate project surfaces, or better still, released as an exhibition, which would mark the date and occasion to the work.
Without such launches images are copied wherever they are seen and the origin is lost or hijacked. It’d be very easy to slip into a rant at this point, it may sound like sour grapes, but I crave a  workplace surrounded by genuinely talented people.

What makes up a good picture?
I read an article a decade or so ago that crudely broke it down into four ingredients;

1.   Image needs to be flawlessly beautiful, regardless of message.

2.  Image should be shocking, controversial or taboo.

3.  Image should be either informative, telling us something we don’t know or show us something we thought we knew, but with a new perspective.

4. Image should have an extraordinary narrative or back story. 
In 20 years I‘ve come close on a couple of occasions where I’ve made something that I’m still happy to look at ten years later.
But it’s rare that you achieve more than one of these in any image, when you do, interesting work is made.

What image are you most proud of?
I guess my finest moments would be 
The Insect Techtonic Project, also known as the ‘Fabulous Beasts Show’.
It was the summer show at the Natural History Museum and is now in their and the V&A’s permanent collections. 
Giles Revell - Insect, Dave Dye'Bug 4' Giles Revell-01.jpgGiles Revell - Fish, Dave Dye
Giles Revell - Fly, Dave Dye

Also, the recent Battlefield Poppies stamp.
It was part of the Royal Mail  Ww1 Centenary series, it’s out now. 

What the hell are these stripes things?
It’s a bouquet that’s broken down into petals, then distributed over time.
Oh yeah!Giles Revell - Colour Bars, Dave DyeGiles Revell - Colour Bars 2, Dave Dye'Stripey 4' Giles Revell-01.jpg

How did you start your collaborations with Matt Willey?
We met when he was running the Frost London office, he was designing the magazine Zembla with Vince Frost and Dan Crowe.
Dan and Matt went on to set up Port magazine, followed a couple of years ago by Avaunt.
We used to The Kings Head in Clerkenwell regularly, a special pub, for our enthusiastic conversations about topics we wanted to explore, ‘At This Rate’ was the first project we did together, it came out of those conversations.breathe-giles-revellGiles Revell - Leaf 2060, Dave Dye

The idea was to produce a booklet and poster illustrating the rapid destruction of the rainforests.
It was a simple set of timings from every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every month, every year with corresponding area of loss in that time.
They are an alarming set of statistics; every year we lose an area three times the size of Sri Lanka. We produced and sold them to raise funds for the Rainforest Action Network Organisation.
Giles Revell - Leaf 2, Dave Dye
The Photofit project was was another that came from those King’s Head conversations, very rewarding.
It was about identity and how you see yourself, most of us observe ourselves everyday for at least two minutes.
We were curious about how people would make an image of themselves from memory, without using a mirror.Giles Revell - Photofit 4, Dave Dye
Making drawings of oneself alienates those that are not artistic, so we decided to democratise the process by using a police photofit kit.
These were used in the 1970s in criminal cases to build a picture of a suspect for posters and news papers.

Each kit is extremely tactile, made up of 100 or so printed strips of images of eye, mouth, nose, hair and face shapes to select from.
That finally came together as a photographic montage in a perspex frame. Giles Revell - Photofit 1, Dave Dye
A broad demographic were gathered with each participant taking around 45 mins to make their portrait, accompanied by an interview.
The results were fascinating.
The physiological comparison was immediate, yet some of the participants revealed a more emotional response than they’d revealed in their interview.
Some picked a more youthful version of themselves, when they were at their physical peak.
Some had suffered trauma and were dealing with their new lives, others had clearly spent a lot more than two minutes in front of the mirror every day, marking every mole or line with pin point accuracy.
Giles Revell - Photofit 2, Dave DyeI think t
he project was successful because we had designed a democratic framework for the participants to express their own vision of themselves, without any intervention or bias.
It was published in the Guardian, we also repeated the project in Canada for the Walrus magazine.
Giles Revell - Photofit 3, Dave Dye
Matt’s a great talent, he’s in America now, designing the New York Times Magazine.
Giles Revell - New York Times Cover, Dave Dyechanel-giles-revell-01avant-falling-man-giles-revell
What photographers do you admire today?
I don’t tend to follow photography closely.
Having said that, I was blown away by the William Klein show at the Tate last year.
Photography meeting design and film and social documentary.red-x-william-kleinyellow-william-kleinboy-with-gun-william-klein-1955
Also, Tim Hethrington, who lost his life in Libya in 2011.
He was an special man, regardless of the photographs that he took.

He left an incredible body work from conflict zones, not only the wars, but the aftermath, which few photographers would cover, most would move on to the next conflict.
A couple of years ago I watched an astonishing BBC4 documentary about his life and achievements, it reduced me to tears. mid-battle-tim-heatheringtonsoldier-at-war-tim-heatheringtonburning-tank-tim-heatheringtonI love your new Shots front cover, any retouching involved?
This image is part of a large body of work that is about breaking down form and concentrating on colour alone.
How it’s made isn’t important as long as it’s engaging.
Each block of colour is accurate, sample by hand and accurate to the original flower.
The leaves are similar in that they attempt to look at the 
palette of a specific Acer tree in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
The black and white  accompanying image of a Lily and Helibora were made with the opposite intension; to look at form alone.
flower-giles-revell-01flower-2-giles-revell-01Giles Revell - Flowers:Black, Dave Dye
Thanks Giles, by the way, love the new tests.
Thanks, the work is becoming more minimal over the years often, crossing over into graphics.
Giles Revell-07.jpgGiles Revell-03.jpgGiles Revell-02.jpgGiles Revell-01.jpg


David Holmes 'Radio Times.jpgWhere did you grow up?.
I was actually born in Chelsea, I was then was taken to live in Ealing West London.
But from 1940 for four years, thanks to Adolf Hitler and his bombs and rockets, I was sent rather disruptively all over the place.
Long Crendon, Denbighshire and Farnborough.
But mainly I lived in Ealing, Harrow and Rayners Lane until permanently settling in Ealing.
But now that I’m really grown up I also have a studio in Primrose Hill.

Did you do National Service?
I did , I found myself in The ROAC, The Royal Army Ordnance Corps, from 1952 for two years and stationed in Loton Park Sub Depot; that’s near Shrewsbury.

I was put in charge of the ration stores and driven around Shropshire collecting the base’s meat, veg. and cream cakes.
Not particularly exciting, I think the expression is/was a cushy number. Unlike other squaddies posted there who found themselves lugging chemical canisters about from one Nissen hut to another all day. Something to do with the Americans.
Even now I can’t find out what exactly went on at Loton Park.
I know I ate well.


Where did you go to Art College?
Ealing Technical College & School of Art, it’s now The University of West London.
Basically it was a foundation course, I was there for two years from 1947/8.

What were you hoping to be at this point?
I had no idea.
There was no guidance or even suggestions.
It was a general course; technical drawing, lettering, photography, still life drawing, wood work and so on.

So how did you end up in advertising?
After being interviewed by a disinterested print company and talking to The Daily Mirror having been introduced by my Dad, I aimlessly pounded the streets of London Town.
Strolling down Grosvenor Street I saw a brass sign: Colman Prentis & Varley Advertising.
I just walked in and eventually found myself in front of one Jack Beddington.
He took me on at £5 a week.


At the time, advertising was a bit of a crass business peopled by Martini drinking Army types wasn’t it?
Yes to a degree on the account handling side anyway but the creative staff had to be first and foremost artistic.
The writers were all well educated, well spoken and from Oxbridge. That tended to rub off.
The creatives tended to look upon the account men – they were all men at that time – as toffs who were little more than privileged gentry.
I remember Lord Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu of Beaulieu was an account man, a pleasant fellow, but he came a cropper with something to do with Boy Scouts at his castle.
I also met 
Sir Sacheverell Reresby Sitwell there, another account man at CPV .
Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu of Beaulieu?
Sir Sacheverell Reresby Sitwell?
They don’t sound like the type of kids I grew up with.What was your first role?
I worked in the library with Miss Davis, lettering magazine and newspaper titles.
In the bowels of the agency.
You couldn’t get lower than that.

CPV’s creative guru was Arpad Elfer.'Girls' D. H. Evans, Arpad Elfer, CPV.jpg'Penguins' D. H. Evans, Arpad Elfer, CPV.jpg'Rain' D. H. Evans, Arpad Elfer, CPV.jpg
What was like to work for?
I never actually worked with him.
I was just a junior at that time.
I was aware of his grouchy and somewhat belligerent nature.
In the lift, for example, he would make everyone go to the top, where he was going, even if they only wanted the 2nd floor.
That might be apocryphal but we all liked the idea.

Who was influencing your work at the time?
No one on my first stint there.
Even on my return from the army I had only the others in the CPV art department to look to.
I worked in Lyndsay Gutteridge’s group, who’d had worked for F H K Henrion.
f-h-k-henrionPeter Stillwell and Stan Coats also helped and were inspirational tome in different ways.
Stan was an aesthete and explained a lot about girls to me.

Was the great, notoriously grouchy Colin Millward there at the same time?
He was, but all I can remember was his good looking, baby face and his fresh and unusual creative work.
A quiet broody man I recall, admired by the other group heads and the senior writers.

Why leave for W.S. Crawfords?
It was the going belief that five years was enough time to spend in one place.
I’d heard of Crawfords and knew some of their work.
Like CPV it was a designee outfit, strong on visual solutions, Arty I suppose.
At the time I didn’t realise that Varley had previously worked at Crawfords and had left under a bit of a cloud.

What was the difference between the two agencies?
There wasn’t a great difference between the two agencies come to think of it, but there was one important similarity.
CPV had been dominated by Arpad Elfer, Crawfords had Ashley Havinden, tucked up in his garret.ashley-havinden
I never ever saw him around the studio floor.
He was busy drawing his Ashley script for the Jaeger business and working directly with a few clients.
There were good people there and the work being produced was visually “attractive”.
That’s where I met Michael Manton, later to start KMP and Nick Salaman, later to work at Holmes Knight Ritchie.
It wasn’t yet the great sixties, at that point we hadn’t been exposed to the brilliance being done by Madison Ave, that was all about new, bold, brilliant writing, creativity, fun, marvelous art direction and ideas.

Where next?
I left Crawfords for Mather & Crowther, mainly because Peter Stillwell now worked there, we were all still rather introverted.
Some good work was being done; The ‘Go to work on an egg’ campaign and the like.
It was a lively agency.
A lot of experimentation took place and I learnt a lot there from some heavyweight writers: Fay Weldon, Mary Gowing, Maurice Smelt and the pipe smoking Julian Orde.
John Webster and I first met there and became mates, whilst there we made some experimental 8mm movies, few people have ever seen.
Neither he nor I, or anyone for that matter, were aware of anything happening in the States we were having fun and testing our own abilities against each other.
Stanhope Shelton was the creative head.
None of us thought much of him, he was invariably negative and never as far as we could see, did anything good himself.

Little TV was being produced at the time so we didn’t get to see the American commercials starting to be produced, it was still the early 60’s.
I never met David Ogilvy, the time it was just ‘Mather’s.’

Back to Grosvenor Street?
Yes, CPV wanted me back.
At the same time I got offered a job by Colin Millward , who had recently joined CDP.

I chose CPV, partly because the job description was ‘art director’.
John Webster left too, he went off to Pritchard Wood.

This was my third time at CPV.
I was art group head this time. 
Arpad had gone.
Colin Millward had gone.
Ron Collins was there.
I first met the writers Tony Chapman and Jeremy ‘The Best Of The’ Best there.
Freddie Ball joined from Mather’s and he made me Head of At.

What accounts were you working on?The Gas Council.British Gas 'Make The Most*', David Holmes, Colman Prentis Varley-01British Gas 'Flame', David Holmes, KMP
Shell Petrol.
Central Office Of Information.
Army Officers Recruitment.
Macdonald’s Biscuits.
The Conservative Central Office, I did two campaigns for them, not that I’m particularly right-wing, but they helped win one election and lose the other.
All press, print and poster work, no telly.1960s-uk-the-conservative-party-poster-exrrrw
Why join start up Kingsley Manton Palmer?
It was the ‘five year rule’ again, time to move.
I didn’t see it at all as a risk, I knew Rosie Oxley from Mather’s who knew Brian Palmer and she suggested I go and see them.
It was the first English open plan agency, it looked fresh and new.
David Kingsley was unlike any agency owner I had ever met.
Intelligent, serious, 
friendly, charming, workmanlike and sensitive to creativity. 
I liked him at once.
Michael I knew from Crawfords, he was always polite, supportive and friendly to me, but could be extremely grouchy to others.
Brian was and is the epitome of all that is polite, well-meaning and steadfast.
Brian Palmer does not have the ability to become upset, let alone lose his temper.
He produced the first TV commercial in the UK at Y&R.David Holmes at KMP 3-01

They aren’t really known today, but KMP were pretty revolutionary in the sixties?
KMP were alive and kicking in London at the same time the Mad Men were showing everyone how it should be done in New York. (By this time, we knew what was happening in America.)
They hired some good people and gave them their head.
It was the sixties and they ran with it.
That’s were I met Roy Carruthers and gave Terry Gilliam his first illustrating job.
Mad marvelous times.

I love the White Horse campaign, so simple, so branded.
Brian Palmer wrote the line ‘You Can Take A White Horse Anywhere’, then got three art directors to visualise the line for posters and press.white-horse-perspective-room-mike-kidd-kmp-01White Horse 'Balloon', KMP-01
That was a nice job to do, just thinking of locations and choosing a photographer.
It was all about photography.
I mainly liked to work with Peter Webb who is still taking pictures.white-horse-outtake-2-peter-webb-david-holmes-kmp-01white-horse-outtake-white-cliffs-kmp-01White Horse 'Bar*', David Holmes, KMP-01

White Horse 'Late Night', KMP-01How was life in a swinging sixties start-up?
Kaftans? Marijuana? Wall to wall mini skirts?
They were the most wonderful years.
They were fun, experimental, optimistic, selfish, indulgent, irresponsibly wonderful and climatic years.
There was an atmosphere that made doing ads a joyous thing.
I can’t recall using the term ‘hard sell’ ever and yet what we did sold.
There was nothing hard about it.
The best of all was that our clients wanted to join in and play too.
It seemed that everything we presented to them was not only approved, but approved with glee.
Yes, there were very, very long lunches.
There are wonderful stories from this time, too many and some too sensitive to reveal here. Everything seemed to smell so lovely too for some reason.
‘Sex and Drugs and Rock an’ Roll’ yes, and love too.
Well, I never tried drugs and was more into Tamla Motown and Procol Harum.
It was 1967. A very special time.

I love your Salvation Army work, it could run untouched tomorrow.
I read that the idea of a charity going to grubby world of ad agencies to help raise money was a controversial idea at the time?Salvation Army 'Pound', David Holmes, KMP-01
It was David Kingsley who found the Sally Ann business.
They needed £3m.
They had already raised a million themselves, the Government said it would cough up a million if the Army could raise one more million.
That’s where KMP came in.
The Army were impressed with David K. and invited the agency to create a fund-raising campaign.
David K came up with the idea to sell Salvation Bonds for a pound.
Terence Griffin wrote ‘For God’s Sake Give Us A Pound’ .
The Army thought Terence’s line was a bit ungracious and heavy. It was changed to ‘For God’s Sake Care. Give Us a Pound’.
I lined up a group of photographers who worked for expenses only to cover the Sally Ann’s UK work.

That group was phenomenal; Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Duffy, Terence Donovan, Eve Arnold, etc.
Did anyone say no?
Once Donovan and Avedon had said yes, whoever else I phoned just said OK.
I even had photographers ringing saying “Why haven’t you asked me?”
Actually, Art Kane said no.
I sent him a layout, the one that Ray Rathborne ended up shooting, the dead child, he took ages to get back to me with an answer, then I finally got one: ‘Dave…It’s just not my day for dead kids’.Salvation Army 'Now Will You*', David Holmes, KMP-01Salvation Army 'Long Copy', David Holmes, KMP-01Salvation Army Creative Review,* David Holmes, KMP-01Salvation Army 'Blanket*', David Holmes, KMP-01Salvation Army 'Cardiff', David Holmes, KMP
The Terrence Donovan one is my favourite, nice simple shot?
It was the only frame of film that worked, for some reason Terence shot every thing else from above, it looked good but you couldn’t see that the young girl was pregnant.
I pleaded with him to take one side on, which he did, just the one, knocked it off really quickly.Salvation Army 'Pregnant Girl', David Holmes, KMPsomeone-caught-salvation-army-48-sheet-kmp-01

Salvation Army 'Raymond*', David Holmes, KMP-01Salvation Army 'Table*', David Holmes, KMP-01-01
What was Richard Avedon like to shoot with?
Quick, when we were shooting one of the ladies turned away from the camera, people were desperately trying to get her to turn to camera.
Avedon said, ‘leave her, it’s ok’, o
f course, that what makes the shot.
Salvation Army 'War Cry*', David Holmes, KMP-01Salvation Army 'War Cry 2*', David Holmes, KMP-01Salvation Army 'War Cry 3*', David Holmes, KMP-01More O'Ferrall 'Ad Of The Month - Salvation Army', David Holmes-01Using such terrible type must’ve been so unusual at the time?
I just wanted it to look as if The Salvation Army had ‘made’ the ads themselves.
Not a posh London agency.
I used a rubber printing outfit for the typography.
It was the first time that had been done, that’s what we seek, isn’t it?
At the end of the campaign we had raised their million.

Cushionair 'Bubbles', David Holmes, KMP-01Formica 'Messy*', David Holmes, KMP-01
Formica 'For Men', David Holmes, KMP-01Formica 'Good Loo*', David Holmes, KMP-01Formica 'Forgers*', David Holmes, KMP-01Formica '6 Ways*', David Holmes, KMP-01Formica 'Reprieve', KMP, David Holmes-01
Formica 'Germ*', David Holmes, KMP-01.JPGIllustration was thrown out in favour of squared up photographs in the sixties, to emulate the classic New York ads of the period, ‘drawings’ were too reminiscent of the previous decade’s ads, but you were commissioning lots?
I’ve always liked illustration in ads.
There are some brilliant illustrators out there.
So often an illustrator can give you more that you expect.
I think most art directors and editors these days are unaware of who is out there and available. There is a wealth of untapped talent not being used.
I think a lot of people are scared or are utterly clueless about how to use and work with illustrators. The greatest pity is that no one but no in fashion uses illustration which is more stylish and far more stylish. Look at the thirties Vogue covers.
Today it is ” Who shall we get to take the picture ?’

Formica 'Skin', David Holmes, HKR-01

Formica 'Shakespear', David Holmes, KMP
What’s your favourite piece of illustration you’ve commissioned??

I’ve commissioned so much but I think it has to be Jean-Michel Folon and Milton Glaser and their illustrations for the Polydor salute the BeeGees issue of Billboard magazine in 1978. These drawings are in my ‘David’s Book’ to be published in 2016.

Whose work did you admire at the time?
Milton Glaser and The Push Pin designers.milton-glaser-big-nudesJean Michel Folon of course.belgique_folon_oeuvre_toscane_36bafc8572c64f9f8690b5599ff8ad53Then nearer home there was Edward Ardizzone.
Jillian Richards,
Graham Scarfe,
James Lloyd,
Roy Carruthers.

Old Holborn 'Men', David Holmes, KMP-01

Old Holborn 'Join The Men', David Holmes, KMP**
1971 you join The Television Department. What’s that?

It was set up by Adrian Rowbotham ex head of TV at JWT, Tim Emanuel and Nick Salaman. They acted as the TV dept. to agencies that had no TV set-up like Saatchi at the time.
I joined to partner Nick Salaman.
They were increasingly getting press and print work with no one to do it and I wanted to be proprietorial, although I had been made a partner a
t the then KMP Partnership.
It just seemed as though it would, could, become big.
Adrian should write about it, it’s a good story full of memorable anecdotes.
That was were I first met Peter Shiach the owner of The Macallan in 1973 I think it was.

In 1975 you set up your own business, David Holmes & Partners. Why?
Again, sovereignty. I had the confidence to have a go.

Which clients did you work for during this period?
Various. I was asked to design an award for The London Television Advertising Awards. I gave them a gold silver and bronze arrow. It’s now called The Arrow Awards.
I worked for The Macallan Malt Whisky and various agency’s, JWT and Greys for example.
Oh yes, I did some more fund-raising for the Salvation Army.

How did that evolve into Holmes Knight Ritchie?
I was approached by a previous work colleague who said that Dick Knight was looking for a creative partner to join him at his fairly new agency.
I wasn’t sure it was for me, the office looked crap and one of the clients was Dyno-Rod.
Dick though was persistent and said he would give me 50% of the agency even though I could only bring in The Macallan, The Salvation Army and bits and pieces.
Dick Knight is the most persuasive man I have ever met.
I joined.
After a few months the agency name was changed to Holmes Knight Ritchie once Alistair joined from Greys.

In the seventies advertising seemed to look down on design, but HKR did both, possibly a 360 communication before the term was invented?
Design is important everywhere and on everything. Advertising design has been my job.

David Holmes - Advent-01David Holmes726-01David Holmes 'Dynorod - Ticket', Holmes Knight Ritchie-01Dynarod 'Pig', David Holmes, HKR-01Dynarod 'Liquid', David Holmes, HKR-01The Macallan was one of the early accounts my agency won, so holds a place in my heart, but they wouldn’t shut up about you, Nick Salaman and the campaign you created.The Macallan 'Crossword', David Holmes, HKR-01The Macalla 'Nectar', (blue), David Holmes, HKR-01.jpg
They were worried the illustration didn’t feel ‘whisky’ enough, so we did a brown version.
That was the one that ran.The Macallan, 'Nectar', David Holmes, HKR-01
The *Macallan 'The Complaint' HKR,-01-01 The Macallan 'Blind Tasting'-01 The Macallan 'It Sleeps Alone'-01 The Macallan 'Boffins'-01
It’s a longish story. In 1973 Peter Shiach the then chairman of Macallan came to see Nick Salaman and me at The Television Dept. in Wardour St.
He said he wanted a brochure to announce to the world that The Macallan was now ready, having stocked enough, to sell worldwide. They needed to appoint distributors. Hence the “brochure” to send to probables.
I gave them the artist’s portfolio style folder with loose pages. I sent Sara Midda to the distillery for a week and record everything as an artist’s journal. (The people who make whisky are artists in their way.) That worked, they got their distributors.
It was Sara’s first job from college at St. Martins. I don’t think we ever used photography for Macallan it would have burst the magical promise of the brand. They have stuck with me like glue ever since.
I’m still helping them today.

David Holmes & Peter Blake
How did you manage to persuade Peter Blake to work with you on The Macallan?

It was Allan Shiach the Macallan Chairman who had the idea of Peter making a label for a 60 year-old Macallan.
There was only enough whisky left in the cask for 10 bottles. I helped Peter finish the label graphics.The Macallan:Peter BlakeThe Macallan Ad Bottle:David Holmes
You hired and trained a young spoon whittler called Mark Reddy?
Not only a spoon whittler, a flint tapper and saxophonist.
He was already good but he got even better with us. He left once and returned because he loved our artistic sensitivity towards the ads we put together, he was protected and encouraged.
Mark and I think alike. I would trust him with anything.Glenmorangie '7. Tom Anderson' HKR:ReddyMark Reddy, Nikon 'Snap', HKR-01Mark Reddy, Grolsch 'George Hardie, HKR-01
You hired and trained a young cigar muncher called Neil French?
French, yes he was a great find for us.
He reckons he wasn’t much good before he joined us. That’s a lie. He was always good at what he was doing. He is a natural ideas machine. Quick. Decisive. Bold.
Too damn bold on one occasion while with us. Meticulous and Assured. Neil is a one man orchestra; better than that because he will write the score and the libretto too.
I didn’t actually train him I just hovered around while he gradually caught on, and caught up and took off.
Like unchaining a Bull Dog in one respect and releasing a caged bird in another. Neil was like having a Victoria Wood on the payroll.
If it wasn’t for Mr French I would never have spent a happy eighteen months in Singapore and still have connections there.

When I got into the business in 1985, HKR seemed like it didn’t follow the D&AD obsessed pack, it just did its own, idiosyncratic, stylish thing?
We could have put more work in but quite frankly we were too busy. We were really, really busy and I had got my stuff in so many books in the past anyway.The Macallan 'Lie', David Holmes-01Grolsch 'Bottle Opener',David Holmes-01Janneau 'Long Weekend',David Holmes, HKR-01Down's Syndrome 'Mongol', David Holmes-01Sophie’s Choice time: Who’s the most creative person you’ve ever worked with?
John, John Webster.
As far as TV is concerned that is, I don’t think he did much print although we both won a poster award together once.

It takes a lot of confidence as an art director, when needing an illustrator for your work to shun the world’s illustrators and choose…yourself.
Sometimes I can’t afford others. Just have to get out the paints and do it.
There are some jobs I would never attempt, I would put on my art directors hat and know exactly who I would use.
Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 13.25.46

You worked with the typographer Pete Woods?
Pete is special. Very special. He opened my eyes. I miss working with him but he went off to the States I think.

Barney Edwards, David Holmes:Direction Magazine

What did you see in the 12 year old Trevor Beattie to make him the youngest creative director in London?
We liked his risky ballsy nerve.
At HKR the creatives were given freedom. I very seldom interfered and certainly never played the interfering busybody.
Come to think of it now, I was a sort of Arpad or Ashley, tucked away doing my things and only being there if the creatives needed help or my opinion.
Trevor was ambitious and you have to encourage that.
He didn’t intimidate me, on the contrary I had had my turn and was happy to move along the bench and give him space.
It has gone full circle for me, like a wheel within a wheel. It’s what has to happen to all of us if we are artistic, we move along. Move round. Make room.
I’m not sure if it will happen exactly that way to young Beattie.Common Ground 'Tree',  Holmes, HKR-01
Off to Singapore and life as an ex-pat?
I wasn’t sure if it was the thing to do. Frenchy’s idea.
The plan was to step into his shoes for two weeks while he was on holiday. When I got there and phoned the agency – Bateys, they told me he had gone, left, resigned. It was sorted out.
They approved of me and I did two weeks.
Nice people.
I enjoyed it.
A complete change and it was always delightfully warm.
I was invited to stay for longer and after some umming and ahhing I did go and stayed for eighteen months working on The Singapore Tourist Promotion Board, Singapore Airlines and the relaunch of the refurbished Raffles Hotel which opened its doors again in 1991.
Mark Reddy-DDB Final Day-01Why switch to illustration?
You can’t linger in advertising at my age it would be unseemly. I was invited by Brian’s Central Illustration Agency to join their listing so I did. Once a dauber always a dauber and illustration is only a brush stroke away from painting which I did from an early age. Even now I get work in The RA Summer Show but I may not bother any more now that paintings are judged by computer. A bad process unless you have RA after your name which I do not.
My working life story is far too complex to detail here so I am putting a book together which will be published later this year. That’s 2016. It’s simply “David’s Book”.David Holmes516

What can you tell me about Brian Grimwood?poster-david-holmes-and-brian-grimwood.jpg

Oh you mean Bertie, my agent with the ‘thirty-for-Bertie’ arrangement.
Brian started The CIA, now managed by Benjamin Cox.
Yes we’ve been chums for ages.
We found ourselves in Singapore judging the Singapore Gong Show Advertising Awards in 1984 with Ron Mather, Jack Vaughan and Jeff Stark.
That was an adventure.
Since then we have been invited back to The Far East and beyond to give talks.
We have also been asked to design and draw Raffles Hotel posters and other material so we find ourselves back and forth to the hotel to work.
Brian has been so successful and sought after because he is so versatile. He can draw quickly, and have ideas quickly.
We did a stand up at a college once and blithely said to the assembled class we will solve your project here, now, on the blackboard. We did and Brian drew an illustration in seconds to illustrate it to an audience of stunned students. It was a good idea.
We seem to encourage each other. Brian has an excellent built in shit detector, excuse the language. In Singapore we are known as Cecil & Bertie when we are called to do stand-up presentations.

Who’s the best person you’ve ever hired?
Difficult to say, but I suppose the best person I never hired was 
John Hegarty.
He came in and showed me his work, but 
I had to turn him away, we didn’t need anyone.

Lastly, how did you come to start designing stamps?badminton_1468271i.jpg4-1002x1194.jpg
That was thanks to David Hillman.
He was approached by The Royal Mail to design the stamps and had commissioned me previously to draw one of the Olympic stamps back in 2012 so he knew I could cut the mustard I think.
The Royal Mail was asked the same question ‘why David Holmes ? They said ‘partly because of his advertising background and the disciplines involved’. It took two years to complete.
Several committees and quite a few alterations.
I could not have done it without Toby my son.
I drew all the figures an artwork as water-colour illustrations.
Toby as a digital artist moved things about from time to time to make them work to the small size.
The backgrounds in some cases are computerised to get the bright colour.
There were too many adjustments being made for me to redraw each time so Toby played an important part in the finished image.



David launches a book and exhibition next week.David Holmes Exhibition Front-01.jpg
5th – 9th December
La Galleria Pall Mall
5b Pall Mall
30 Royal Opera Arcade
London SW1Y 4UY
Tel 0207 930 8069

Nb. More Holmes…David Holmes, Design & Art Direction, 'Posters In The Dark'*
David Holmes 'The Gentleman Perfectionist', Campaign-01
David Holmes, 'Poster Gloom' , Campaign-01



Joe Sedelmaier.

Joe Sedelmaier & Crew*-01Of all the reels I’ve been shown over the years, I can think of only two that made such an impression I can still remember where I was shown them.
The first was in Director Nick Lewin’s office, that was Howard Zieff’s reel.
The second was in the boardroom of a small agency I used to work for called Edwards Martin Thornton, that was yours.
Howard Zieff was terrific.
When I was starting out he was already doing great work, it was some ritzy stuff, all about the execution of the idea.
He did a print ad for Utica Club beer, terrific ad!
Utica Beer '50 Years', Sid Myers, DDB NY-01

You were born on the same day as me, but a bit before, two days into the Chicago World’s Fair, what was Chicago like in those days?Chicago World's Fair 1933 2
May 31st?
Wow! That’s my birthday too.
You’re a Gemini like me.
Well you know we’re both two-faced?
It’s true, I was born at the start of the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, but I’m not a Chicagoan, I was born in Ohio.
Orville Ohio.
Sounds like something out of a Sinclair Lewis novel.
My father died when I was eight years old, heart attack.
My mother was a very strong woman, thank God.
I was very fortunate, she was very strong-willed, she said ‘Now you’re not going to go to a trade school, you’re going to get your degree’.
So I went to the Chicago Art Institute.
She was absolutely right but for all the wrong reasons, she said that’s the way you get a job, but when I got there it opened up a whole new world. You look back at these things that happen to you and think; “Boy, how lucky I was to have met those people.
If I’d had my own way, I’d have gone to that fucking trade school.”

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A cartoonist, doing comic strips like Chester Gould, this was the forties, a high time for comics.
In the thirties and forties he did some terrific work, but then, I don’t know whether he got bored or what? But all of a sudden Dick Tracey was going to the moon, it just went down hill from there.Chester Gould 'Dick Tracy' 2
Chester Gould 'Dick Tracy' 3I’m lucky I didn’t do it, I’d be stuck with one character.
What I loved about commercials was that each one was different.
I wasn’t stuck with one character, people would say “Didn’t you put actress Clara Peller under contract?” And I’d say “Absolutely not, if I did I’d have to use her and she may not be right.’”

Who were your early influences?
When I was fifteen years old I got a book ‘The New Yorker Magazine 25th Anniversary Annual’, all their stuff from the very beginning. Oh my God!The New Yorker 25th Anniversary Annual, 1950
I think I wore that book out, those cartoons were so great, all those characters were straight, underplayed.
You take from this,  you take from that, I was influenced by so many people, and so many things, I think that’s true of everybody, but then you make it your own.

How did you end up in an ad agency?
At art school you didn’t think about getting a job, you thought about being in some garret or whatever.
But in my final year I took an advertising course and started thinking about getting a job.
When I graduated I went to someone who placed Art Directors, or potential Art Directors, called Doug Smith.  Later that same day he called up to say he already had a job for me  in a studio.
About two weeks later he called again saying a guy from Y&R would like to talk to me.
I didn’t know what a Y&R was, it meant nothing to me, so I said ‘Thanks a lot, but I’ve already got a job’.
Talk about early stupidity.
Another week later, Doug calls again and says “This guy would really like to see you.”
So I went to see him.
Not because I was interested in that job, but I felt a responsibility to Doug who had done all the work.
Well, I got hired, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

What was Y&R Chicago like in 1956?
It was small, but my Creative Director Sam was from New York (I don’t think they knew what to do with him in New York).
He was a great guy.
In those days Art Directors worked in chalk, I hated chalk, but Sam let us work in pencil, Indian Ink, wash or whatever.
Once you did something you’d have to defend your work, ‘what are you trying to say?’, etc, I learnt so much.
But in the area of film, the producer had complete control.
They’d take my storyboard and go to the West Coast and use some schlock outfit, turn it into crap.
I wanted to be involved in the whole damned thing, and people would say, even back then, ‘you’re not a collaborator Joe’.
But I loved it because you had our day in court, you can see the whole thing through, when you got done you could say ‘Yeah, I did this’.

Sounds great, why leave?
Well, Clinton Frank did schlock work, but a new Creative Director had taken over, he called and said ‘come over, we could do some good stuff’.
It was true, I was able to do good stuff.
Joe Sedelmaier & Son 'Northern Trust
How were you learning at this time?
I used to go to these Advertising Age seminars and what these guys were saying was just fantastic, they’d talk about integrity, ethics, y’know, they’d sound like Bill Bernbach, who was the shining light back then, Doyle Dane’s stuff was fantastic, still is, still works.
But I found out these seminars were like church on a Sunday.
At the seminars all us Art Directors would be really excited, inspired and talking about what we’d heard.
Then we’d get back to work and they’d be saying ‘yeah, that stuff’s good to talk about, but let’s get back to reality’.
Everyone talked a good game but when it came down to doing something, it was like ‘Whoa…they’ll never buy this!’.
The trick was finding people on your level.
In the beginning it was difficult.

Another call, this time Leo Burnett?
They said ‘you gotta come over to Leo Burnett Joe’.
So I did.
Worst decision I ever made.
You were an art director and that was it.
I had this little cubicle, I mean when I was at Y&R I had an office with a window looking down Michigan Avenue, and I was just an assistant Art Director there.
Also, I really wanted to get into the films and commercials, I’d tell people and they’d say ‘you gotta go down and talk to the guy running commercials’.
I’d go down and talk the Head Producer and he’d say ‘We’re the ones doing all the creative work anyhow, if you wanna do TV it has to be through us’.
I kept being told ‘You know Joe, it’s not a revolution, it’s an evolution, and you gotta be part of the group, the team, it’s collaborative’ and all that bullshit.
That division of labour, or whatever you wanna call it, was bullshit.
Although in those days most art directors weren’t really interested in film, they wanted to do their print, which was fine, but I wanted to do film.

Do you remember the first time you encountered the creative revolution?
There was no creative revolution!
It was a small group of DDB off shoots, like Mary Wells, who did some interesting work.
No one else was doing that, mainly it was Ogilvy and Leo Burnett and all this boring stuff.
But I can remember seeing VW and the Ohrbachs ‘You don’t have to be Jewish’ ad; terrific!

So how long did you hit that wall at Leo Burnett’s?
Nine months.
Luckily I got a call from Bill Johnson, the Creative Director at JWT, they were cleaning the slate, getting rid of all these old people who’d been there forever, retiring them.
One of the best decisions I ever made.

Did JWT allow you to get more involved in film?
Much more.
I worked on Chung King, they’d been using comedian Stan Freberg to write their ads, he’d been making a name for himself doing funny ads.

They called him in and asked him what ideas he had for the coming year, well, Stan said he’d need paying before he told them his ideas.
The thing went back and forth until eventually the meeting ended and one of the guys said to Stan ‘Keep in touch’, or something.
After he’d gone the Creative Director said ‘how would you and Dave like to have a crack at those spots?’
So we worked on the egg roll brief, we thought what is an egg roll? So we had this idea about ‘How do you eat an Egg Roll?’, set in a cocktail party.
I did the print too, and at the time you didn’t shoot food against a black background, it was about 1964, so we did the presentation and the client liked all the work, they wanted to run the test film we’d made, but that wasn’t possible because of the Unions.
They said there’s just one problem; the food should never be against a black background.
He’d hardly got done with that sentence when the account guy said ‘Oh no, no, no, we can change that to any color you want’.
He looked like a complete asshole.
It’s these things you come up against.
I couldn’t re-shoot the spot myself, I had to shoot it in Chicago with this real schlock studio, they had some kind of deal with the agency.
But I got everything lined up the way I wanted.
I then talked to the cinematographer who’d put a credenza in the background that was lit, and I said ‘No, that drops off, we light the people, we’re not selling the credenza here’.
Nice guy, but his lighting was terrible.
We were shooting a cocktail party and I wanted to shoot someone talking to someone else off camera.
So I cropped it tight, to leave it to people’s imagination.
We got the film back, he’d shot it wide.
So it was obvious they were talking to no-one, he was talking to himself!
He said ‘I just wanted to cover it for you’, I thought Jesus Christ!
We went in and blew it up, it ended up ok, but the color was shit, real schlock guys.
I guess it was my first foray into film.Chun King 'Egg Rolls', Joe Sedelmaier, JWT copy
Joe Sedelmeier 'Chun King',Joe Sedelmeier

Did you do any good TV at JWT?
No, no, no, oh my God!
I mean, you pay your dues.
I remember I did a lot of the Jello commercials, Jello is a pretty boring product, so the original idea was to go across the country and find real people who would recommend certain things to put in Jello that would make it more interesting.
I thought what I couldn’t do with that! It could be very funny.
Well, it ended up that what they really wanted was real people who looked like they’d stepped out of the pages of Cosmopolitan magazine.
You’d end up with a commercial where the kids come home from school and say ‘Hey mom what’re we having for dinner?’ and the mom would say ‘We’re having Jello Brand Beef Mold’.
Then you’d have the end shot; everyone is sitting down, all dressed up, and the husband will say something like ‘Honey, you’re a GREAT cook.’, the Mom will then look at the camera, wink, then say ‘I have a little help’.
That’s terrible.
I did a few of those in the beginning, but you keep pushing.

How did you make the break to being a director?
One day the rep of a stills guy got in touch saying ‘We’ll sponsor you if you help this stills guy get into film’,
I said OK, but I never want to be on his set, they said fine.
But it didn’t work.
The stills photographer had no idea of motion.
I built this one set in his studio, like a witches den, it was a real mess, he came back, saw it and said he felt I didn’t fit in.
I didn’t.
Well, the rep, Marty, went with me, not the stills guy.
Marty was a good guy, an honest guy, but we disagreed fundamentally on one thing.  He was interested in all the top creative directors, but I didn’t care about them, I was interested in the grunts, the art directors and writers, those are the people I wanted to work with.
I knew that if I was an Art Director and the Creative Director came in and said ‘Hey Joe, I want you to use this guy’, I’d say ‘Go fuck yourself!’.
He just didn’t get that.
So I bought him out three years later.
I didn’t have a pot to piss in.
He was saying to people ‘I give it a year’.
But I found a manager, someone I loved, who took care of the money and I went on from there.
Things worked out.

Joe Sedelmaier & Son

TV ads in those days featured square-jawed men holding up products to the camera didn’t they? What were you shooting?
Well, not quite, it’s true most of them were like that, but then you had Doyle Dane.
They were doing terrific stuff back then.
The one guy in the business I looked up to then was Bill Bernbach, it was Bill Bernbach, Bill Bernbach, Bill Bernbach.
Not just because he was successful, but because he didn’t insult your intelligence.
That was before Doyle Dane became big.
There were other people, like David Ogilvy, but I never liked his work, it appealed to snobs, the ‘Man in the Hathaway Shirt’, and all that bullshit.
Hathaway 'Ivory', Ogilvy & Mather
Or Leo Burnett…with so called mid-western advertising, whatever that is? Down-home? It was very successful.
Kellog's 'Don't Forgetters', Leo Burnett
But I didn’t want to do that kind of thing.
So you move forward.
You win some, you lose a lot.

Which ad put you on the map?
Southern Airways.
The minute I saw the script I thought what I couldn’t do with that!  Fantastic.

Because he was just starting the agency, he had no-one there yet, so I went ahead and later he sent up.
Then an Art Director who’d just been hired was sent to have a look at the set.
He said ‘OH MY GOD! They’ll never buy this!’.
But by this time I was like ‘Screw it, were going with it’.
He was like a dark cloud all over that shoot, ‘They’ll never buy this’, ‘They’ll never buy that’.
Then the clients came in, two Southern guys, and Southern Airlines had never made a commercial before, this was their first one.
They said ‘Well let’s have a look at what we got?’.
We showed them.
They said ‘Looks fun, let’s go with it.’
But it could’ve gone the other way.
If that Art Director had had power we could never have done that spot.
After that I decided ‘No more serious commercials, we’re doing strictly comedy’.
So I put just comedy on the reel, it was difficult in the beginning, people say ’Sure everyone laughs but no-one will remember the name of the product’, well that’s bullshit.
These things are seen over and over, so you make them so that you can watch them over and over.
Nine tenths of the ads that are supposedly humourous have a joke at the end, but once you’ve heard the joke that’s it.
To me it’s the telling of the joke.
I could never tell a joke.
I had a friend who was great at telling jokes, I used to get him to tell me the same jokes over and over, because what was funny was his execution of the joke.

The proof of that is the film ‘The Aristocrats’?
Oh my God!
Oh yes!
It’s absolutely fantastic!
My wife and I went to an afternoon showing of that film, and we were sitting there and there were these people sitting in front of us saying ‘This is absurd, that’s really uncalled for, I mean if you can’t say something funny without resorting to that kind of language’.
Well, they became as funny as the film.
That film’s a classic.

So Joe, here’s my three funniest films; W. C. Fields ‘It’s A Gift’, Pre…
Oh I love it!
I love Fields.
‘It’s A Gift’ is brilliant!

It’s interesting, Fields always repeated himself, but he’d tweak things each time.
The perfect Fields film is ‘The Bank Dick’, also ‘The Man On The Flying Trapeze’.
I got ‘em all.
I mean, Fields was brilliant.
Chaplin is considered brilliant, and boy he was.
I’d put him at the top…what I should say is that there’s no-one above him.
I love Keaton, The Marx Brothers, but when I look at Chaplin he did more.
With Keaton there’s ‘The General’, which is brilliant, the same with ’Sherlock Jnr’, after that there were moments.
Same with The Marx Brothers, ‘Duck Soup’ is brilliant.

But with Chaplin, his Mutual comedies, well, I laughed my ass off at them, then I look at his films in the twenties, brilliant!
And of course the highlight is ‘City Lights’, but after that there are only moments.
‘Modern Times’ had it’s moments, ‘The Great Dictator’ had it’s moments too, but he never really understood sound, he also talked too much in the later films.
The best moment in the ‘Great Dictator’ is silent, the bit where he’s dancing with the globe, brilliant stuff, but it’s silent.

A lot of my stuff is silent, like the Independent Life ads, but with a very straight voiceover.
All my voiceovers were straight.

Ok, next would be Preston Sturges and ‘The Lady Eve…
Oh yes!
Isn’t it wonderful we can see those films?
I got all of Sturges’s films on Blu-Ray.
What’s interesting about Sturges is that his film ’Sullivan’s Travels’ is all about comedy, how important comedy is integral to our lives, but there wasn’t a funny thing in the film!
But ‘The Lady Eve’ is brilliant.

He had his little stable of actors and it was wonderful.
He also did a film with a silent comedian I left out earlier; Harold Lloyd, called ‘The Sin Of Harold Diddlebock’.
It’s about what happens to Lloyd’s character in ‘The Freshman’, (which is a brilliant film, really great).
But ‘Harold Diddlebock’ really isn’t that good.

He’d been great as the young go-getter in ‘The Freshman’.

But in ‘Diddlebock’ he was in his forties, late forties, that character just didn’t work, the character becomes pathetic.
The same with Buster Keaton, originally he worked for Joe Schenk, who was like a father to him, he left him alone and Keaton did some great work.

When Schenk left, Keaton was approached by Irving Thalberg from MGM, who said ‘You’ve gotta come over here we’ve got everything, all this great lighting equipment and everything’.
Keaton went.
All of a sudden he had to present a script on what he was going to do.
Well, the funny stuff Keaton did had nothing to do with a script.
He could fall off a rock and it’d be funny.
But it’s not funny if you write it down.
He didn’t do much after that.Joe Sedelaier091-01
But Chaplin always owned his own studio.
I learned from that.
When I became successful a lot of the big studios on the West Coast, Fox and MGM thought ‘Hey, there’s a lot of money to be made in commercials, this guys doing fine’, so they came to me to buy the studio.
I felt like I was ready to be raped.
The money was terrific and everything, but I never wanted to be an employee again.
You wouldn’t be talking to me today if it’d happened.
I got to where I got because I had control.
It doesn’t matter how talented you are, if you’re not in the right set up you won’t do a thing.

 Third would have to be a Woody Allen film, there’s so many, it’d be between ‘Annie Hall’, ‘The Puple Rose Of Cairo’, Manhattan’, ‘Love & Death’, ‘Hannah And Her Sisters’, ‘Play It Again Sam’ and ‘Midnight In Paris’.
He’s done some terrific work, there’s no doubt about it.

How about you Joe, what are your top three?
I can’t do that I’m afraid, there are too many.
I’ve been taking Sight & Sound Film Magazine since 1956, it was the first serious film magazine.
When I came to Chicago in 1955 there were no books out on film.
You gotta realize when I was a young man in my twenties the only way you saw classic films was through Film Societies, I belonged to a small one in Chicago, we got our films from the Museum of Modern Art, who were the first people to recognize film as a modern art.
We’d get these 16mm films and I’d take two record players and I’d score these films with my record collection, thirty-three and a third records.
I learnt a lot about music that way.
When you think today, young people have access to every film ever made, my God.
That’s fantastic.
But I’ll talk to some of the students in film class, I’ll say ‘Ever seen Chaplin?’ and this young guy studying film will say ‘Yeah, I thought Downey was ok’,
I never understand that, I mean you’ve got everything available today.

How did you direct?
All my characters play it straight.
In an audition someone would come in and say ‘How do you want me to play it; straight or for humour?’, and I’d think right away that they didn’t really understand, you play EVERYTHING straight.
Watch ‘Being There’.
Oh my God!
What a classic.
Peter Sellars always played everything straight, one of the funniest guys ever.
The sad thing was, Sellars never realized just how good he was.
My God, he was brilliant.

Did you welcome clients on shoots?
Well yeah, it has to start at the top, I used to like the clients being at the shoot, I didn’t like functionaries being there who didn’t have any power, who had to report back to someone, things change on shoots, you want someone who has the power to go with it.
When I think of John Kelly from Alaska Airlines, he was on every shoot, he was wonderful, he was there about seven years, then he was made President of Alaska Airlines and some other guy came in.
It was OK at first because the shadow of John was there, but a couple of years in it started to level off.
Seven years is a lifetime in this business……

You have a very idiosyncratic taste in music.
Did Larry David steal your iPod?
I’ve read interviews with David where he admitted that the music from ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ was taken from a bank ad.
I’ve watched bits of it, it’s funny, but I haven’t watched a lot of it.
Larry David for me always seemed like an old Woody Allen.
They made a film together…Oh my God! It was so bad, oh my God!
Music is so important in film but you never hear it talked about that much, you see a critique of a film and they never mention music.
Imagine ‘The Third Man’ without that music?
Or ‘Lawrence of Arabia’?

Joe Sedelmaier Following Bike
Joe Sedelmaier Fed Ex Stand In

‘He’s more like Jacques Tati than anyone I can think of, I can’t wait to see his feature films’ – Steven Spielberg.
I met him, he’s one of the few guys out there who’s not full of bullshit, he’s a very straight guy, a very good guy, I’m not what you’d call a big Steven Speilberg aficionado or whatever, but he’s a very honest guy.
Talking about films today, the guys I really like are the Coen Brothers, I love the Coen Brothers, They’ve stayed by themselves too, ‘The Serious Man’, Oh my God it was so beautifully done, there’s still great stuff being done……

Joe Sedelmaier, Esquire Cover, 1983
Why no feature films?
Once I’d done ‘Where’s The Beef’, and ‘Fast Talking Man’ and all that, the William Morris Agency got in touch.
They wined and dined me and they said ‘Joe, you gotta be making features!’
They sent me all these scripts; ‘Hey, this is a fun script, real fun’.
That’s not what I did, I wanted a synopsis of the story and I’d take it from there.
They never got that.

I remember first discovering how Directors worked in the States, just handing over a big pile of film, rather than an edit.
You didn’t work that way?
No, when I came over to London to do my first job it blew my mind, they wanted my input, the input of the director.
They’d be ‘Well you’re the Director, how do you want to do it?’, it was fantastic, guys like Tim Delaney, who was just a terrific guy to work with…oh my God.

‘Velly Nice’ and the manic fiddle player are great, I love the Wendy’s ‘Russian’ ad.

Well I was presented with this thing ‘at Wendy’s you have a choice’,
Well first of all casting, now I didn’t want this thing, a Russian fashion Show to feature a lot of guys who looked Anglo-Saxon, so I had the casting director go to the Polish Consulate.  I wanted that Slavic look, (A Woman commissar called Romania Anna Parker), so we got Poles, boy they looked like they’d lived, one was part of a Romanian Nightclub we had here.
So I got this big guy and dressed him up like a woman.
On the shoot we had this woman going back and forth on this catwalk wearing exactly the same thing, and we were doing the bit where it says ‘evening wear’, but then I thought ‘Hey, wait a minute, I’m gonna give her a flashlight’.
I hadn’t even thought of that before the shoot.
We shot it in a Country Club and I noticed on the ceiling were all these little stars, so I had someone get up there and paint them red.
So we really got the feeling.
It only played twice, everyone got upset because Gorbachev was coming over, so they felt he was being insulted or some bullshit.

‘Where’s the beef?’ really blew up….
Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef' 3Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef' 13Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef' 20Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef' 4Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef' 6Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef'  14Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef' 7Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef' 17Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef' 8Joe Sedelmaier 'Where's The Beef' 2

It’s great to see all your ads, even the very early ones, in such mint condition.
Thank God I kept the negatives on every ad I did.
I’d make a copy and give that one to the client or agency, I knew eventually they’d lose it.
These things get shifted from place to place when accounts move, they always get lost.
Thank God I kept them.

Good for you, most people I interview don’t have a thing, they chuck their work out.
You’ve shot thousands of ads, that film must take up a lot of space?
Sure, I’d love to give the negatives to a museum.
We have a museum here in Chicago, The Paley Museum, it’s a Radio and TV museum, it’s very well endowed, they have all my stuff in HD, so they don’t want the original negative, it’s impractical for them.
I’d love to know what to do with the original negative? I sometimes think ‘Oh my God, am I going to have to destroy it?

One of the benefits of keeping your film and getting it transferred to HD was that I discovered Youtube were wrong, there weren’t three penis’s on the front lawn in that Independent Life commercial.

So many people said that, they’d say typical Sedelmaier, in the end I’d say ‘Yeah, that’s exactly what they are’.
But it was totally innocent.

How did you find directing Brits?
First of all, they were mainly actors, but they were wonderful, very much into their profession.
Unlike L.A. they weren’t into being a star, they were great to work with.
There was one guy, who wasn’t an actor, and I noticed when I interviewed him that instead of saying yes, he’d go ‘Urmm’, like a grunt, I thought what I couldn’t do with that.
Those are the things you look for, you never find that on the page.

I guess I do this blog because I’m constantly amazed at how people aren’t aware of the work of amazing creative people like yourself or Tom McElligott for example.
I worked with Tom, he was absolutely great.
But towards the end we fell out over Clara Peller, the ‘Where’s The Beef?’ lady.
Before that ad she was in an ad I was doing for McElligott, about four little old ladies, bakers, and they were taking bread out of the oven saying ‘You test it first’, ‘No you test it first’, going back and forth, and then you cut to delicate little Clara who says in that deep, gravelly voice ‘I’LL TASTE IT!’.
It was sort of an ordinary idea, but she made it something special.
And what upset the hell out of me was that I found out that the agency took the commercial and dubbed a typical old lady voice over Clara.
It never even went to the client.
Well…that was the end of our relationship.
I never let them forget it.
You gotta have courage, you gotta go with these things, they stop ads being ordinary.

You’ve had endless imitators, but none seem to be able to do it acurately, why?
Most people thought, as John Moschitta, the fast talking man, said ‘You take a guy and use a wide-angle lens to make him look weird’.
I never used a wide-angle lens to distort the face.
I used it to bring in the background, because we didn’t have much time to establish the situation. When I went into a close up I used a long lens, but on a medium shot I used a wide lens.
For example, on the Independent Life ad where they’re selling insurance in the department store, I put a drunk in the background.
Now most people don’t even notice that.
But most commercials are watched over and over and over, so it’s not about the punch-line, it’s the journey to the punch-line.
Some people don’t want to face up to that,
When I look back at those people supposedly doing ‘Sedelmaier’, they weren’t doing Sedelmaier…by any means..
If someone came to me, and I wasn’t Sedelmaier, and said ‘We’d like you to do a Sedelmaier’, I’d tell them to go ‘Fuck off! Go get Sedelmaier’.
You’ve sold your soul already.

I wonder whether it’s to do with them only being able to see what you put out, not what you take in?
I read an interview with Bryan Ferry once, from the British group Roxy Music, he said he really regretted giving away all his idiosyncratic influences, because it allowed people to imitate him more accurately.
That’s absurd.
I don’t think you can give away influences, we’re all influenced, I’m influenced by a lot of people, but the point is it that eventually becomes you.
Or it doesn’t.
Besides, if you’re any good you’re gonna be an influence.
I’ll give you an example, take Trauffet, he loved Hitchcock, so he wanted to do a ‘Hitchcock’ film.
He made this film, ‘The Bride Wore Black’.
It wasn’t a ‘Hitchcock’ film, he couldn’t do it, he couldn’t keep himself out of it, it came out a Trauffet film.
What I’m saying is you can be influenced by people but that doesn’t mean you’re copying them, if you can be copied you’re not worth copying.

 So why couldn’t people copy you well.
They looked at the wrong things.
In all of my work there are no funny lines.
The humour doesn’t come from the page, it’s the people saying those things, the dialogue is often banal as hell, it sometimes wouldn’t even make sense on the page.
Those guys never understood that.
They’d find these freaky looking people, that’s not what I do, you wouldn’t give the people in my ads a second glance if you saw them walking the street.
I’d always make my own storyboard, just for me, but I knew if I just followed that storyboard something was wrong.
You’re waiting for things to happen, accidents, something.
When they happen you need the wherewithal and latitude to change things to make them work.
Also, I could never have done what I did if I didn’t have my own studio.
Usually when you become successful you hire other Directors.
Then you have to worry about whether you are keeping the other Directors busy.
I made sure I stayed small, all I wanted to do is do what I did and surround myself with good people who were comfortable in their jobs.

“Sedelmaier was able to do things with people that you’re not allowed to do today because it’s not politically correct. Sedelmaier is a flat-out genius. People try to do it now and get about 10 percent of Sedelmaier’s casting right.” – Joe Pytka

Obviously budding Sedelmaiers today can make films for nothing, but I worry that everything being so available means it has no value, it’s not precious, and therefore isn’t appreciated?
You’re right,
There was no such thing as a film school when I was younger, so for me to shoot short films at the weekend I had to save up to buy a Bollex, and eventually an Ariflex, and an Agra Tape Recorder, but that was expensive, now you can do great work and if it’s not ok you can erase it.
You can make mistakes, which is important.
I got my films transferred at Transferers, and the kids there complain about advertising today, they say ‘Oh, you lived in the golden age’, but every age is the golden age, the golden age is the age you live in.

Are you a Mad Men fan?
Jesus Christ!
People loved that.
There were a lot of alcoholic Art Directors, no doubt, but when I was in the business there was no drinking in the office, except for maybe up in the Chairman’s office.
First of all, the guy who plays the main character, Don Draper, he was terrible, he couldn’t sell me anything.
People believe what they want to believe.
Look at Donald Trump, if you were to write that character into a bit of fiction they’d say no, no, that’s way out, take him out, it’s just too crazy.

 I could imagine Trump appearing in one of your ads, as one of the weirdos, not weirdos, I mean one of the ‘everyday people who you wouldn’t give a second look at if you saw them on the street’?
Joe Sedelmaier In ActionDonald Trump 'Hair'
He’s a walking cliché.
Let him keep being Donald Trump, he puts his foot in his mouth every single day.
He keeps improving on his own shit.
How he got as far as he did scares the shit out of me.

Thanks for your time Joe.


Nb. More Joe…
Joe Sedelmaier, Esquire Cover, 1983Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 9.29.22 AMJoe Sedelmaier, Esquire article 1r, 1983
Joe Sedelmaier, Esquire article 2, 1983Joe Sedelmaier, Esquire article 3, 1983Sedelmaier, 'Ad Age 1976'

How joe makes his ads…

IN-CAMERA 7: Phil Marco.

It’s the vogue in photography at the moment, images that feel almost user-generated;
clashing colours, lens flare, areas out of focus, etc, etc.

It’s a kind of anti-style.
I think there are two reasons for its current popularity;

1: Trust.
In a world full of the kooky, unprofessional, fresh imagery you find on your various Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds, something very polished can feel like marketing.

And marketing, as most of us know, is trying to sell you something.
So ‘unprofessional’ can feel more honest.

2: Money.
It’s not so much the lack of it, it’s more the reluctance to pay ‘too much’.
Most clients can now take a pretty good picture for free, so why pay an expert a thousand times more? The picture won’t be a thousand times better.
So the gap between home-made and professional gets smaller.
People think ‘I’ll pay a hundred times more, but not a thousand’.
(NOTE FROM EDITOR: 1000 x ‘free’ is still ‘free’, as is 100 x ‘free’.)

The downside with this ‘naturalistic’ style is that often the images are very samey, cheap looking and unmemorable.
That’s a problem when you are trying to get a product noticed.
and make it more desirable than the competition.

It’s even more of a problem with products that aren’t rational purchases, like alcohol, fragrance and jewelry.
They’re bought as much on the ‘vibe’ of the brand as they are on the product themselves.
Seduction is more important than naturalism.

There are many words you could use to describe Phil Marco’s images,
‘naturalistic’ isn’t one of them.

Where were you born?
Chicago, raised in Brooklyn.
As a child I was always 
drawing and began to paint at a very early age.
Later I studied fine art at Pratt and The Art Students’ League.
But I have to back up a bit because it really all began with music.
My father was an opera singer, so almost from day one the air around me was filled with the sounds of my father vocalizing, playing Caruso records and practicing arias, accompanied by my Mother at the piano.
Dad was also a musician who taught me the rudiments of music and the piano, by age four I was playing Bach and Beethoven.
Music and sounds were to have a very dominant influence in my life.
The reason we left Chicago was in response to a phone call that Dad received from Herbert Witherspoon in New York.
Herbert Witherspoon-01.jpg
He said ‘Roberto; I’m going to have a place for you here at the Met’.
It was exciting news, an amazing opportunity for Dad, so we immediately began to plan and pack for a permanent move to New York.
En route to New York however Herbert Witherspoon passed away, it was an overwhelming tragic and unfortunate turn of events.

What is your first memory of being visually aware?
I was about five years old when we moved to Brooklyn.
We finally settled into an apartment in the west end of Bensonhurst, which was, to say the least, very unique.
The floor was level with an elevated subway line whose tracks were just about eight feet away from our third floor windows facing the street.
So whenever a train passed, the entire apartment and the furniture in it would shimmy and shake. At night I’d love to put out the room lights and listen intently to the syncopated sound of the approaching trains anxiously waiting for them to pass by the windows.
The light emanating from inside the cars was dream-like and surreal.
The cars were so close that you could very clearly see the expressions on the faces of the strap hangers saturated in this glow of warm yellow-green light.
It was like viewing the animation of a George Tooker painting.''Cafe' George Tooker.jpg

How did you get into the photography business?
I came across an ad for a photo assistant.
Now, I had a very light knowledge of photography, having used a camera only as a sketching pad to record ideas for future paintings.
I really didn’t have too much to offer in the way of experience but I had a lot of nerve, and confidence that I could to do anything that I needed to do, if I put my mind to it, so with that motivation I answered the ad.
I walked up the steps, which were dripping with water, and I came to a door gushing water from beneath, flooding the hall.
The photographer answered the door; he had been photographing people showering for a series of ads for Dial soap.
I told him that I knew very little about photography but I was willing to learn and do what ever was necessary.
I guess it was my directness and the fact that he was flooded and he needed somebody to help him at the time: He handed me a mop and said, ‘The job’s yours kid.’
So I started there part-time because the whole objective was to secure more time and funds to pursue painting.
The job paid $37.00 a week to start.
My job was to get there in the morning, wake up the photographer, walk the dog, and take care of some very basic studio needs.
In time I picked up on loading cameras, mixing chemicals, printing and what ever else he needed as we went along.
The photographer’s name was Lew Long, we still keep in touch and he’s as excited about photography today at 91 as he was then.
'Cat' Lew Long.jpg

Who else did you assist?
The first and only photographer I ever assisted of consequence was Lew.
He was a brilliant illustrator, with a wonderful attitude towards work and life.
He introduced me to the operation and loading of 35 and 2 1/4 cameras, the basics of printing, and darkroom 101.
Lew’s most salient gift to me however, was his adroit ability for dealing with people, clients, and talent.
Other than that, I really didn’t have a formal education in photography per se, to a great extent I learned through books, experimentation, and practice, which may account for why some of my approaches to the medium were fresh and unique.

What was your first paid photograph?
A B&W of a men’s wallet.
It was for Miller Advertising.

Phil Marco 'Corn', EsquirePhill Marco 'Fried Chicken', EsquirePhil Marco 'Cocktail', Esquire

As I became more involved in photography and was compelled to use it more on the job I realized that I was in awe of its ability to capture and convey ideas so rapidly and direct.
The skinny is that the excitement I began to feel about photography as a medium totally sublimated my need to paint and what initially had just been a means to an end, became an end unto itself, film became my canvas.

How did you start on your own?
A little studio on the outskirts of the Village became available, I made my move.
It was on Eleventh Street off University Place, just around the corner from the Cedar St. Bar where Jackson Pollack, Franz Kline and a number of other abstract expressionists would gather.
I later learned another of the former occupants of the studio was Robert Frank.

'The Americans' Cover, Robert Frank.pngThings were looking up.
I still painted occasionally, but it was becoming obvious that my interest in photography was taking over and growing stronger.
My first professional camera was an old 1000 F Hasselblad that I picked up in a pawn shop.
1000 F HasselbladUSA-advert.jpg
I began experimenting with color by flooding a small restaurant sink with temped water and immersed some stainless steel canisters I picked up down the Bowery, filled with various solutions of color chemistry.
The process was crude, but the results were very exciting, and genuinely inspired me to move on.
With no clients or layouts to follow, I just began to photograph simple images that inspired me. Similar to the way I approached painting.
My vision and concepts were strong, but my photographic technique left a lot to be desired.
So I continued to reference and apply the lighting and compositional skills I used in painting to photography.
I would take a simple circular form like an orange and photograph it in every conceivable light and point of view for days.Phil Marco 'Orange'Phil marco 'Potato'Phil Marco 'Papaya'
Most of my first subjects were from the grocery store, and friends, primarily because they were readily available, inexpensive, and without an hourly rate.
Concentrating on still lives however gave me the opportunity to learn how to apply light to a wide range of textures and shapes.
It also satiated my interests in science and mechanical problem solving.
As I became more proficient with my technique and began to learn how to create dramatic lighting for my concepts, the excitement I felt about photography as a medium of expression began to grow exponentially.
When I was in my early twenties I created a few dozen images that I was pleased with, and thought that it was time to go out and get clients.
'If I Grow Up' Muscular Dystrophy Association, Phil Marco.jpgPhil Marco - 'Nice Neat' Calvert

I read that when you used to tout your portfolio around agencies you would sometimes show art directors the transparencies in the loo, as they were so dark?
I came across a Milanese projector called a Farrania, which was totally self-contained in a thin black matte case.
It had a pull up arm with a lens that projected an image onto the inside cover of the case which served as a screen.
The 2  1/4 x 2  1/4 slides were then slid one at a time by hand into the gate. It also had a built-in
storage space for thirty slides. I opted to use this method of showing my work, because I couldn’t afford quality color prints, and I didn’t have any of the lush 8 x 10 transparencies that would eventually become my format of choice.
However the 2  1/4 format at the time served beautifully.
It offered quality reproduction, and a fast and economical way to capture and present visual ideas.
I read all the trade magazines and award books I could get my hands on, looking for Designers, Art Directors, and Ad Agencies whose work caught my eye, and could relate to.
So I compiled a short list, and began making phone calls. After numerous hang-ups and rejections, I finally began to get through.
Armed with twenty slides and the confidence I gained from the positive feedback I was receiving, I would do what ever was necessary to provide the best lighting conditions for the slide show,
Because if they weren’t shown in a fairly darkened room, it would be a total wash out, and any semblance of quality and color saturation would be lost.
At times I’m sure that it strained the patience of my curious, but confused audience.
I would think nothing of walking into a room, and after a brief and polite introduction quickly start running around the room closing doors and drawing blinds or drapes over windows to achieve the right light level for the show.
So if the conditions weren’t right, I just wouldn’t show them. However that was rarely the case, as I was always determined, (‘possessed’ is probably a better word), to find or create the right light level no matter what convolutions it would take.
After a number of successful showings, rumors began to abound about this young Italian kid who was going around the ad agencies with a little black box, and a bit of an attitude about not showing his work if the light in the room wasn’t just right.
The general consensus, however, was that the images were so fresh and exciting that it was well worth the initial minor annoyance.
''Ice Tongs' Coke, Phil Marco.jpg
Which agencies gave you a break?
I remember going to Doyle Dane Bernbach for the first time in the mid sixties having made an appointment with a young art director named Len Sirowitz.
The light in his room was terrible, and I was just about to pack it in, when I spotted a janitor’s closet across the hall that he reluctant climbed into with me.
After a few uneasy moments in the dark, when I began to show my slides, he was so excited about the work that he called in Bill Bernbach, who in turn called out the entire floor to line up outside the janitor’s closet.
As a result all of DDB opened up for me, Len and I also worked together on the award-winning campaign for the Better Vision Institute that became part of advertising history.
Better Vision Institute 'Needle' Len Sirowitz, DDBBetter Vision Institute 'Ears, Eyes' Len Sirowitz, DDBPhil Marco 'Grand Marnier - President'
Who were the photographers you admired most?
Well, Irving Penn, probably because of our shared sensibilities and passion for design and simplicity.Irving Penn'Red & Green Drinks'.jpgIrving Penn 'Contact'.jpg
Also impressive is the fact that he continued to evolve and produce his wonderful signature graphic images well into his 80s.
I regret that i never had the pleasure of meeting him.
Other influences were;
Edward Steichen.
'Sunflower' Edward Steichen.jpg'Pola Negri' Edward Steichen.jpgEdward Weston.'Cabbage Leaf' ' Edward Weston, 1931.jpg'Plant Field' Edward Weston.jpeg
Bill Brandt.
'NUDE-LONDON' Bill Brandt, 1952.jpg'Eye' Bill Brandt.jpg
Jan Saudek.'Toe' Jan Saudek.jpg'Cigarette' Jan Saudek.jpgRobert Frank.'Train' Robert Frank, 1984.jpg'New York City' Robert Frank, 1951.jpg
Sally Mann.'Family Picture' Sally Mann.jpg'Flower Necklace' Sally Mann*.jpg
What about artists, your lighting is very painterly?
My first and foremost influential heroes were the painters.
For lighting it would be Caravaggio.'Salome' Caravaggio.jpg'Meal' Caravaggio.jpg
Joseph Wright of Derby. 'Lighthouse' Joseph Wright of Darby.jpg'Bridge Through' Joseph Wright of Darby.jpg
Rembrandt.'Soldier' Rembrandt.jpg'An Old Man in Military Costume' Rembrandt.jpgVermeer.
'Lady Maidservant Holding Letter' ' Vermeer.jpg'Window Girl' Vermeer.jpg
For concept, it would be the Surrealists;
Magritte. 'Night:Day' Magritte.jpeg'Sunset' Magritte.jpg
Christian Vogt.'Pool' Christian Vogt.png'Beach' Christian Vogt.jpgDali.
In particular his Crucifixions.
'Crucifixion' Dali.jpg'Crucifixion 2' Dali.jpgAlso the abstracts;
Franz Kline.'2' Franz Kline.jpg'1' Franz Kline.png Robert Motherwell.'2' Robert Motherwell.jpg'1951' Robert Motherwell, .jpg
Ellsworth Kelly.'B&W' Ellsworth Kelly.jpg'Color Spectrum' Ellsworth Kelly.jpg
James Turrell.'Blue 1' James Turrell.jpg'Las Vegas' James Turrell.jpg
Who’s the best art director you ever worked with?
Again, as a Certified Anal Retentive I’m really at a loss to select the best.
There were just so many: Ralph Ammirati, Steve Frankfurt, Herb Lubalin, Lou Dorfsmen
Gene Federico, Bill Bernbach, Len Sirowitz, Herm Davis, Charlie Piccirillo, Ivan Chermayeff.
Phil Marco 'Lucien Piccard 'Block'Phil Marco 'Lucien Picard - Roll'Phil Marco 'Lucien Piccard - Hook'Phil Marco 'Lucien Piccard - Plate'Phil Marco 'Lucien Piccard - Ball'
Which English photographers do you like?
One of the English photographers I admired most was actually born in NYC, Lester Bookbinder, he moved to London in 1959.
Loved his work!
An amazing talent.Lester Bookbinder, Management Today 'Cog'**-01Lester Bookbinder, Bachelors Cigarettes - 'Barbers'-01
How do you brand these everyday objects with your stamp?
My approach to Lighting; Design; Print and Film.
My overriding goal, is to illuminate an object in such a way that it is rendered in its most beautiful and memorable form without calling attention to the lighting, composition, or props, so that nothing gets in the way of what it is you want to communicate. 
From the very beginning, my work has always been about the idea, the concept as the narrative. The function of lighting and technique are in a sense the subtext.
The type of light, the number of lights, and the quality of light that I use varies from project to project, depending on what aspect of the subject I want to emphasize or what emotion I’d like to evoke, but the key factor remains the same: Simplicity, the illusion of one light, one direction.Phil Marco 'Cake-Ingredients'

'Egg & Glove' Phil Marco.jpgPhil marco 'Rubber Bands'volkswagen-tablet-ddb-ny-phil-marcoWhen the brain selects a subject and positions it on the retina, its recognition is more immediate and impressive when the light that falls on that subject or scene is of a single source.
We feel most comfortable with this type of light simply because for millions of years, most of mans waking hours are lit by a single source of light, the Sun.
Simplicity is an elusive quality and definitions don’t come easily.
The word itself is a misnomer.
Phil Marco 'Babys Head'phil-marco-souffle-01Phil Marco 'Glass'In fact it’s a very complex process of editing the subject down to it’s essence, judiciously exercising restraints as to what to subtract and what to keep.
With the omission of all non-essentials, what we’re left with is a graphic statement that allows nothing to get in the way of the idea we wish to impart.
Phil Marco 'Cockroach'Phil Marco 'Pebble Nest'Phil Marco 'Leaf:Butterfly''Tommy' The Who, Phil Marco, Album Cover.jpgPhil Marco 'Stone Axe'idea-138-phil-marcophil-marco-graphis-cover-185-01phil-marco-petrolPhil Marco 'Kanon - Gimbels'Phil Marco 'Kanon - A Man Has'phil-marco-wine-wine-01Phil Marco 'Pin Cushion'Phil Marco 'Dummy'phil-marco-goldfish-glass-01Phil Marco 'Bread'Phil Marco 'Egg''Cock' Phil Marco.jpgWhy move into film?
It was gradual.
One day I thought of a great visual, and I said to myself, wow that’s a great idea!
But how do I get it to move?
I knew then that the transition was complete, and that my creative vision was now designing images in movement for maximum excitement and impact as opposed to stills.
It was also clear to me that if I wanted to achieve the expertise that I had attained in print, I had to temporarily set print aside and make a total commitment to film.
Then I made the second best move I ever made in my life, (the first being to marry her) Pat and I formed a film production company.
She’s truly an amazing person, bright, intuitive, a world-class producer, and my muse who keeps me grounded.
From the early eighties to the late nineties I was totally committed to film.
I directed hundreds of commercials, worked on features, won numerous awards, Clios & Cannes Lions.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Phil on a number of my films.
He’s a man of extraordinary talents. It seems his passion is to take an everyday object or event and show it in an entirely new and exciting way.” – Martin Scorsese.
Yeah, I formed a close working relationship with Marty, creating graphic visuals and special effects for his films including ‘The Color of Money’, ‘Casino’, ‘Kundun’, ‘Gangs of New York’,  ‘Aviator’ and some of the early title work of ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’.

You got back into to stills?
Yeah, mid 90’s.
A number of agencies encouraged me to shoot the print as well as direct the television commercials for their clients, to give them a campaign signature, total visual continuity.
This eventually led to the rekindling of my love affair with print.
The Van Cleef & Arpels work I did with my old friend Gennaro Andreozzi, was a lovely body of work.

Digital: has it been good or a bad thing for photography?
Sometimes I wonder if today’s young graphic warriors realize, or can fully appreciate, how fortunate they are to have at their fingertips – literally and figuratively, all the options and wonders of today’s computer and digital technology.
I remember having to wait hours, even days for type to be released from the typesetter, in order to layout a single line of copy.
Every time I hit the dissolve key on the Avid and the dissolve morphs into place before my eyes it blows me away, because it brings to mind a time when we had to wait a day or more for the simplest dissolve to return from the labs, and if you got it back right the first time, it was a gift.
Digital’s ability to allow us to instantly review and alter or recreate a new image is one of its greatest attributes.
It’s put the creative control of the image back into the hands of the Artist.
With technological changes taking place exponentially, one can only speculate on what lies ahead.
Maybe digital will interface with lasers, allowing holograms to develop into a more controllable
medium, or harnessing brain waves so that ideas can be imprinted directly onto hard copies of any material.
It’s also plausible that many of today’s mediums will dovetail into interactive virtual environments, or merge into totally new venues.

If you had to save one sheet of film from a house fire, what would it be?
Truth be told; if I had to save one sheet of film from a house fire trying to make a selection as a certified, anal retentive dyslexic, my ass would probably go down in flames.

What are you doing today?
My primary focus has been on my personal work, and enjoying total creative freedom to experiment and develop visual ideas.
I’m also enjoying the pleasure of watching our gifted son Peter’s rise as an extremely talented pop artist.
Currently, I’m very involved in shopping for “the” gallery to represent my fine art print work and installations; Publishing a few books; and completing a Doc. about the children of the Sioux Nation in South Dakota and their tragic struggle with despair, drugs and suicide.

'Dog Eat Dog' Peter Marco.jpg'Blueberry Jam' Peter Marco.jpg
Photography wise my primary focus has been on my personal work, and enjoying total creative freedom to experiment and develop visual ideas.

Finally, are you’re still shooting?
Sure, although my visuals have bridged five decades, I’m still a work in progress, continually searching and evolving.
'Vegan's View' Phil Marco.jpg
Who knows what venues lie ahead for film and and visual media?
But for me, one thing will always remain constant:  A great Idea, and the pursuit of a strong beautiful graphic, simply stated.

H before BB.

I joined the business in 1985.
The best agency seemed to be Bartle Bogle Hegarty.
Every year ever since they’ve been in the top five,
sometimes they’ve been in the top one.
Their success has been very well documented,
what did Sir John did before that hasn’t been.

Where were you brought up?
I was born in North London, although at that point Edgware wasn’t in London, it was in Middlesex, which doesn’t exist anymore.
My family was living in Collindale, but as the War was on, we were constantly being bombed out, so I lived in Golders Green, Finchley and Mill Hill.
But throughout my life I’ve gradually moved closer and closer to the centre.
I’ve never understood why people move out to the countryside as they get older; no stimulation, no people, you’ve now got all the time in the world and now have nothing to do?
I used to say my view of the countryside is that it’s full of farmers and fascists, or farmers and fox hunters, when I’m in polite company.

What was the first ad you remember seeing?
The very first ad I was aware of was for Guinness, I was about 8 years old, it was a poster, and I went back to my father and said ‘I’ve just seen a poster I don’t really understand it said “Down With Guinness”?’
He said ‘Ah, now that’s a little joke, it means drink it down, not down with Guinness’
I thought that’s quite clever.
Interesting it was a poster, I think it’s wonderful that Today posters are probably going to be one of the most powerful mediums with the change of technology and posters changing by the hour, you’ll see one for coffee driving in and the same site will be advertising a wine on the way home.

down-with-guinness-john-hegarty-01Interesting first ad, it’s quite challenging and probably difficult to sell to the client?
It was obviously bought by a very ballsy client.
I guess that kind of idea goes all the way through to ‘I’ve never read the Economist. Management Trainee, Age 42′.
It exuded confidence and that’s part of what advertising does for a brand, whatever one thinks of Apple, they ran a poster campaign about the camera that didn’t tell you how many pixels they use or that it has a Zeiss lens, they just say ‘Shot on an iPhone 6’.
You look at the picture and you go ‘Wow!’
It says everything.
A example of wonderful confidence, it shows they have such confidence in their product that they can state it their message very simply.
Great brand belief, it’s a good example of what advertising should be doing.

Why get into advertising?
I sort of went to art school at the age of 15, Saturday morning art school at Hornsey College of Art.
Hornsey Collegew of Art.jpg
It was a wonderful way of being exposed to creative career.
After a while I realised I wasn’t going to be a fantastic painter, but I met some lovely teachers, one of whom, Peter Green, said ‘You enjoy ideas John, you should study Graphic Design’.
He told me the place to do it was the London College of Printing.

Was that where you met John Gillard?
That’s right.
When I got there I discovered everyone wanted to be artists, it was all about what was the best shade of blue, I wanted to do ideas.
I just loved starting with a blank page, most of the designers simply wanted to know what words they needed to design.
There were a number of tutors there, but John was the one who talked ideas, he was the one who said that ideas were transformative.
He’d show us the work coming out of New York at the time, the great, classic Doyle Dane work at the time, this is around 1964.

Weird, I had a similar experience whilst at college.
One day the tutor said ‘We’re going to show you the work of… a bit of an oddball, he  doesn’t seem to care about typefaces and don’t get me started on his colour choices, his thing is’ she didn’t use air quotes, but she may as well have, ‘his thing is “ideas”‘.
It was Bob Gill.
Bob Gill 'Secretary'.jpgBob Gill 'U.N. Lunch'.jpg
I thought this work is amazing, funny, arresting, clever, far better the the overly worked, dull as ditch water bits of design we were usually shown.
Yeah, well his work spoke to you.

How did you switch from graphic design to advertising?
Advertising was frowned upon by the tutors running the graphic design course, they thought you’d sold your soul to the devil, despite the fact that they were training people to do pack design and stuff like that, so I had to work on advertising in my spare time.
One of the briefs they always gave the students was to redesign the Tax form, it was typography exercise really, so everyone would debate things like whether it should be sans serif because it was more modern or serif because it was more readable.
I decided the Tax form was just boring and people didn’t like it.
So I did a tax form with lots of cartoons; about money and finance, my logic was that you had to make it entertaining to carry people through it.
When I presented it they just didn’t know what to say, it was like ‘No, no, no, the purpose of the exercise was for you to redesign it’.
I’d explain that I had redesigned it, the reason to redesign it is to get people to use it, so I’d made it easier to use.
They didn’t want to know, my solution was just so off anything they wanted.
It was fascinating to me, it made me aware that these people were just talking to themselves.
Nobody gives a shit about whether it’s in Caslon, Garamond, Baskerville, sure, pick a nice typeface and make sure it’s easy to read, but there are a thousand of those, and it’s just a matter of opinion which one you go for, but what’s the idea?
Caslon isn’t an idea, it’s a typeface.
That for me was a wonderful example of where their thinking was wrong.
The question should what are we trying to do here? What’s the purpose? What are we trying to engage people with?
That’s what advertising did, and I loved it.

How did you get in?
Well, I was lucky.

I was going out with a very beautiful girl who was at the LCP for two days a week, the rest of the time she worked in the Daily Mirror Design Department.
One day I went around to see her at the Daily Mirror building in Holborn, while there I got talking to an American guy who did their posters, he was a writer, and we got chatting about me getting into advertising, he’d heard of Doyle Dane and PKL and that whole American scene.
Then he said ‘I’ve got about two years worth of old New Yorker Magazines, want them?’
I said ‘Not half’
I would literally go through page by page pulling out the great ads, and they were all there because anybody who was anybody put their ads in the New Yorker.
That was my education.
I’d literally paper the wall in all this great work, wonderful ads like ‘If they run out of Lowenbrau serve them Champagne’,  just brilliant lines and I’s stare at them and think why is that great?
Lowenbrau 'Champagne'.png

That in itself was a brilliant education.

It’s like if you were studying architecture you’d go back and look at the great work of Frank Lloyd Wright and others, and ask yourself what they were trying to achieve there?

Why do you think people don’t study advertising history like that?
We’ve always been a business obsessed with tomorrow, but it’s one of the sadnesses of our industry, creative people coming into it have no understanding of what’s gone before.
No other creative industry would operate under those circumstances.
If you studied architecture you’d absolutely know who Mies Van Der Rohe was, who Richard Rogers is, who Phillip Johnson was.
Or cinema, what makes Quentin Tarrantino, whether you like him or not, is his amazing knowledge what’s gone before him.
It’s shocking.
I can remember coming into the business and digging out all the books, The Hundred Best Ads and so on, and we’d read them from cover to cover, we were aware of what was going on and what had been going on, even though we were coming in wanting to change things for the better, we knew what had been done.
We understood where good things had been done and we’d kind of use them as a guide going forward.

So you’ve done this home course in advertising, via a hundred or so copies of the New Yorker, you then get a job at Benton & Bowles?
Yes, I got two job offers, one from Y&R for about £2,000 year, which in 1965 was a lot of money, and got an offer from Benton & Bowles for about twelve quid a week or something,
And I asked a friend who’d been ahead of me at the LCP and had since got into the industry, called Doug Maxwell, and he told me that I should take the Benton & Bowles job, as they’d just hired this very, very good art director from New York called Dan Cromer, who’d won all these gold awards at the New York Art Directors Club, and stuff like that.
He said he might change it.
So of course I get there, within two weeks of being there, the Creative head; Jack Stanley comes into my area and says ‘I’ve found a young writer for you to work with’
‘Oh ok, who’s that?’
‘His name’s Charles Saatchi.’
I thought ‘Oh no, Italian, therefore he lives at home with his mum and can’t spell. Just my luck.’
Well of course he wasn’t Italian, but he did live at home with his mum and he wasn’t very good at spelling.
At the time anyone who could vaguely string a sentence together and felt like they were pointing to the future were snapped up.
Being an art director was a definite disadvantage, you had to learn a lot about techniques and processes, all the craft aspects; if you were shooting for 65 screen, if it was four colour, today nobody gives a shit about all that, but then it took far longer to be considered an art director.
We worked together for about six or seven months, then he went off to work at Collett’s with Ross Cramer, a very good, much more senior art director. He was about 30, Charlie and I were 22 or 3.

Was he any good, this Charlie Saatchi character?
He was really terrific, he had that understanding of how do we make that proposition really work?
He had a very single minded focus you need to create great work.
Very good writer.
But he had a vision of where he wanted to take the business, he was a man in a hurry, even then.
We always had a bet who was going to get to five grand a year salary first, he beat me on that.
We worked together for six or seven months, we did some very nice work, none of it ever got published though, we just weren’t taken seriously.
So that decision to go Benton & Bowles worked out, so I went there, the lesson was don’t go for the money, go for the opportunity.

But you leave?
Ultimately Benton & Bowles wasn’t a good agency.
But it was good to start there, I always felt very sorry for people who started at BBH, because they thought ‘well this is what advertising is like, people really want to buy your ideas, you’re encouraged, you’re given opportunities’.
Eventually they’ll go elsewhere and get a big shock.

I was there for about eighteen months and then got fired…
Fired? Why?
I was a pain in the arse, I kept telling them what I thought.

Back then the creative department wasn’t the most important department in the agency, it was just one of many departments, we were just considered a bunch of longhairs, people would come and brief us on what the client wanted and we’d have to argue our case.
So there was a real schism in the agency between the Creative department and the rest, Dan Cromer turned out to be a nice guy, but sadly, for me, he wasn’t strong enough to overcome that, he didn’t have the authority, he had the talent and skills, but not the authority, back then it was run by the account people.
The big debate at the time was ‘Hard Sell’ versus ‘Soft sell’, people like us were coming along saying you have to entertain people to get them to engage, which was soft sell, the hard sell view was you have to beat them over the head with repetition.
This raged until on to the mid-seventies, until Collett’s started producing all those wonderful ads like Hovis, Heineken and stuff like that.
I remember I used to have this wonderful auntie in Harpenden, she was really middle England, thought the Daily Mail was a terrific newspaper, she asked me ‘John, do you do those Hovis ads? They’re really good’.
I thought that’s it, they’ve done it, they’ve got my auntie in Harpenden.

It changed the debate on creativity, clients would go ‘wait a minute, this so-called creative stuff is really working.
Increasingly, because hard sell was based on repetition, and the cost of airtime was going up, clients couldn’t afford to run 20 spots a night.
So you had to have something different.
That’s why in my view there have only been two great advertising agencies, and that’s Doyle Dane Bernbach, because they invented modern advertising and Collett Dickenson Pearce here in London, because they took creativity to the people, they didn’t operate on the fringes, they were centre break News At Ten, Bang!
That ended the hard sell/soft sell debate, all of a sudden all these big agencies like Thompson’s suddenly thought we better start taking this creativity stuff a bit more seriously.
Today nobody uses the phrase ‘hard sell’.

So you’re fired from Benton & Bowles,
It was quite difficult, as I said before, when you’re an art director you had to do an apprenticeship, you had to be around a long time to be considered an art director, four or five years, so it was the wrong time for me to be fired, it was too early.
Anyway this offer came up, funnily enough through Ross Cramer, who said they were looking for someone to work on the the Israeli Airline El Al, so Ross said to the guy ‘You should talk to John Hegarty, he’s a terrific art director’
They called me up and I got the job.
It was a little agency on the corner of Soho Square and Greek Street, and they had two accounts; Russian precision watches, Sekonda and El Al.'We Make' Sekonda', John Hegarty, John Collings-01.jpgSekonda 'Russian Watch', John Hegarty', John Collings-01.jpg
They realised the crap that they were doing didn’t work and they needed someone to do some great work on it, and so I was hired to do it, so I was able to begin to do the kind of work I wanted to create.
Ross Crammer*-01.jpg

The first writer I worked with was a freelance guy called Dennis Hackett, who went on to be the editor of Nova, lovely guy, he wasn’t really an advertising guy, but he got it.
The very first ad we did was to run in the Jewish Chronicle, it was about El Al’s service, and Dennis wrote a headline that said ‘If you fly El Al it serves you right’.'If You Fly' El Al, John Hegarty, John Collings.jpg
It was almost like that ‘Down with Guinness’ thought,
and it was the first piece of work I got into D&AD.
And I realised if you do good work, daring work, you could make a difference.
That also taught me that, despite what Collett’s were doing, sometimes you attack from the edges, you do little ads, the client may think ‘Oh, that’s rather good, I quite like that’, then they let you do the bigger ads.
After a while we were running a national campaign in the Observer, the Sunday Times and places like that for flying to Israel.
They’d been running ads done by Fletcher Forbes Gill, like ‘What’s long tall and slim and is always in the sun?’ and it was next to a photograph of a girl standing on a beach.
They were ok, but they hadn’t really made an impact.
Obviously, I knew what Doyle Dane had done in the states, so I said ‘You’ve got to sell the Bible’, that’s what makes the difference, I could go to Spain and get some sun, sunshine isn’t exclusive to Israel’.'You've Read A' El Al, John Hegarty, John Collings-01.jpgSo we did a campaign using the Bible, and biblical stories that was very successful.
we had to do ads about sunshine but we did a picture of Noah holding his hand out with the line ‘Yes, it has been known to rain in Israel’.'Yes, It has been known', El Al, John Hegarty, John Collings*-01.jpgEl Al 'Founder', John Hegarty, John Collings-01'Travelling's A Whole' El Al, John Hegarty, John Collings-01.jpg'The First Beach' El Al, John Hegarty, John Collings.jpg-01.jpg
It was a great lesson in how you differentiate one brand from another.
El Al 'Back Home', John Hegarty, John Collings-01

How did you get this bad agency to do good work, at the age of 23?
They didn’t really know the difference.
They had a good account man there called Richard Cope, a young turk, so Richard was our ally.
What I realized was that sometimes smaller agencies have the benefit of speed, at Benton & Bowles everything took forever, it was so structured.
At a small agency you learn a lot more because you are on the front line, sometimes we didn’t have a department that did that, so you’d do it yourself.
So I learned a lot more about the business, I was also meeting clients, which was unusual at the time, account men did that, you didn’t take creatives, they might swear, but at such a small agency you are the agency, so you just did it.

I hear you wanted to bring in a new team; Charles Saatchi and Ross Cramer from Collett Dickenson Pearce?
That’s right, the agency had aspirations to embrace this exploding creative revolution, Collett’s was really starting to get momentum, Doyle Dane had opened in London, so there was a sort of vibe out there that this was going to be important, so Richard Cope had persuaded the management that for them to succeed they had to change, so there was an opportunity for John Collings.

Richard said to me we need another team, more senior than me, so I asked Ross and Charles whether they’d like to come and talk to the agency, they are trying to grow they agency?’
To cut a long story short, they joined…
Ross and Charles left the best agency in the Country to join John Collings?

Within about two or three months they realized this wasn’t going to work, that the management of the company didn’t want to put in the investment, they said ‘Come on, let’s all set up a creative consultancy’.
So we all left and set up Cramer Saatchi.

Initially Cramer Saatchi was working to agencies, like a freelance resource?
That was the primary source of income for us, agencies would call us up and say we have a problem with such and such an account and we need you to work on it.

Was that just the three of you?
No, at John Collings I was working with a lovely guy called Lindsey Dale, who decided he didn’t want to leave with us, so I hired a writer called Mike Coughlan.
Mike stayed for a year and a bit.

Then you hired my old boss; Chris Martin?
So there were four of us, two teams.
Then we hired Jeremy Sinclair and an art director called Bill Atherton. Then there were six.
Life was pretty simple, financially we knew we had to do a campaign every two weeks and sell it, for the agency to make money.
We were doing some direct work, like Island Records.

Did you work with Chris Blackwell? (Island Records Founder.)
I dealt with him once.
Island didn’t really want to work with a big agency, but realized they had to market their product, in all these new magazines that were starting up, like Time Out, 
so they came in to us for a meeting, with myself, Charlie and Ross.
They said ‘There’s one thing you have to understand guys; we don’t believe in hype’.
We all said ‘Absolutely, we don’t believe in it either, it doesn’t work here’.
Once they’d left, one of us turned to the other two and said ‘What’s hype?’, ‘I don’t know, I thought you knew’.
From then on but then on we’d deal with the producers of each album, they were like the clients.'A Funny Name' Island, John Hegarty, Saatchi & Saatchi-01.jpgaqualung-jethro-tull-john-hegarty-saatchi-saatchi'Electric Stoem' White Noise, John Hegarty, Saatchi & Saatchi.jpg'At Last, The' Island, John Hegarty, Saatchi & Saatchi.jpg
They were great to work with.

One of our ideas was instead of Island telling you what they felt about their album, to get reviewers to review the album, and we’d print whatever they said, good or bad it was.'Why Island Is' Island, John Hegarty, Saatch & Saatchi-01.jpgI remember a meeting with the producer Guy Stevens, a very renowned producer, he came in and said I’m starting this new band, we need to talk about how we market them, I said what are they called, ‘Mott The Hoople’ he said, ‘Trouble is they haven’t got a good singer, I’ve got two possibles, but I can’t decide who to go for…one of them is a bit odd, he won’t take his sunglasses off’.
‘Sounds interesting, why don’t you go with him?’  I said.
That was Mick Hunter.

What was life as a consultancy like?
Great, it was a real hothouse.
But eventually Charlie realised that if you didn’t own the relationship with the client you were just the hired help.
Charlie decided he wanted to have an agency, Ross decided he didn’t, he wanted to direct.
Charlie asked if I’d go with him and become a partner at the agency, he told me he was going to bring his brother with him, who was working for Haymarket magazines, in charge of business development.
I asked Charlie why Maurice; ‘He’s even younger than us, is it viable?’
He said ‘I can trust him’ and I got that.
So in 1970 Cramer Saatchi became Saatchi & Saatchi.

What was the first client, H.E.A?
It’s always been a bone of contention, because at Cramer Saatchi that was the other client, and we did some wonderful work for, the ‘Pregnant Man’ was one of them, so Charlie took it to Saatchi & Saatchi, but that account was bought in by Ross, and I think he always felt there should’ve been a bit more of an admission that he was part of this.
But that early work, the anti smoking, etc, always gets mis-credited to Saatchi & Saatchi, whereas it was Cramer Saatchi.

So your ad ‘This is what happens when a fly lands on your food’ is possibly the first ad I can remember seeing, at my doctors, my ‘Down with Guinness’, maybe because it was so unusually disgusting?
'This Is What' H.E.C. , John Hegarty, Saatchi & Saatchi.jpg
What was great about that was that whole centre section came straight out of a pamphlet, taken wholesale, it was a very technical description, we just top and tailed it.
It’s a great example of doing your research, reading up on your subject.

I always loved that ad, because in David Ogilvy’s second book he uses that ad as an example of what you shouldn’t do; reverse out white type out of black.
A lawyer friend of mine at the time said you realise you could sue him for a lot of money for that, it’s defamation of character, and the reason you can sue is that it’s not written from an independent point of view, he was writing on behalf of Ogilvy & Mather.
I thought no, I can’t be arsed, I was rather pleased to be honest that I’d done something that David Ogilvy disapproved of.

The other H.E.C ad that doesn’t get a mention, but got a D&AD gold, the car crash ad, Is that a real road crash?
'Over Easter' H.E.C, John Hegarty, TBWA-01.jpg
Yes, we got the picture straight from the evening Standard.In those days they would publish the road death figures after every national holiday, so we ran than just after the Easter holidays to get people to understand just how many people were dying from smoking.
Charlie said I don’t want to run ads that say ‘smoking kills’, because people think yeah, but it’ll never happen to me, or they’ll have a relative who’s 92 and smoked every day of their lives, I want to run ads that say this will happen to you,, every single cigarette you smoke is doing this to you.
That was the real skill of that campaign, that thinking lead Charlie and Ross to write ads like ‘You can’t scrub your lungs clean’ and ‘No wonder Smokers cough’.
Also, remember at that point we couldn’t say ‘Smoking gives you cancer’, there wasn’t sufficient proof at that time, the cigarette companies would come after you.

I remember once giving a speech in Germany in the late eighties, and I made some comment about the illogicality of peoples choices, that they are emotional not logical.
I used the example of cigarettes and said ‘Why would anyone smoke? It kills you, it even says so on the pack’.
I came off stage and some guy came up to me and said ‘could I have a word? I’m from Phillip Morris and I just want you to know I could sue you for what you just said.’
I told him to ‘fuck off, sue me’.
But that’s how vicious those people can be.

Jeremy Sinclair -  4 stages-01The whole campaign was unusually forceful for the time?
Yes, I guess we were just applying the principles of brand advertising to cause advertising, people hadn’t really approached it in a professional way before.
There was a lovely lady who Ross got to know who Flora something, she got it, she thought yes the Government should be more effective, it should be professional, not continue in this amateurish way.
And it was very ground-breaking work.
But then the sad thing with Saatchi’s, the cynical thing, was when they ditched that and went and worked with Silk Cut.
Shame really lads.
H E A 'Smoking', John Hegarty, Saatchi'How To Catch' H.E.C, John Hegarty, Cramer Saatchi.JPG'V.D. Doesn't Always' H.E.C, John Hegarty, Saatchi & Saatchi-01.jpg'Children Will Try' H.E.C, John Hegarty, Cramer Saatchi.jpg'Now Wash Your' H.E.C, John Hegarty, Saatchi & Saatch-01.jpg
So you became Deputy Creative Director?
Yes, Charlie was always very nonchalant about titles, but yes he gave me that title, but I was a partner, a shareholder, which was more relevant to me than titles.
But in the end, Charlie ran it, there were no board meetings or anything like that.1973 March 2 John Hegarty

Obviously, as an agency not into hype, in 1972 a story is printed in the Sunday Times saying the creative Department has been insured for £1m?Saatchi & Saatchi Creative Dept:Sunday TimesThat was Charlie, a brilliant publicist.
We didn’t have any news at the time and creativity was starting to be more and more coveted, so Charlie and thought how do we get people to believe we had the most creative creative department?
He got an old mate to write up a policy and we had a story.
Jeremy Sinclair -  Ronald Biggs-01Why leave?

Charles was starting to make decisions I wasn’t comfortable with, very close to the edge legally, taking on business where there was no opportunity to do good creative work, but he didn’t seem to mind, growth was the new obsession.
Then the TBWA thing came up.
I think Dawson Yeoman had turned it down, a lovely writer from DDB.
I was about third or fourth.
Again, I got recommended by Ross Cramer…and Alan Parker.

Did you know Bartle and Bogle, or were you thrown together?
No. Martin Denny had been hired by TBWA as their guy in London, as Chairman, and he put us all together.
It shouldn’t have worked really, but some how we worked it through.
John was the biggest hero really, he was at Cadbury’s in the Midlands, doing very well, he was very well thought of, he would definitely have ended up running Cadbury’s.

What business did you have when you opened?
We were above the Saxone shoe shop off Hanover Square.
It was very tough in the beginning, trying to sell the idea of a European network to marketing directors who were more interested in what was happening in Chelmsford.

What changed?
Well, we got Ovaltine, then J&J, then Lego.
Well I guess with the Ovaltinees, the plan was always to tap into that pre-war nostalgia.