VFTL. Episode 7: Tony Davidson. (Part 1.)

Tony Pink Spot-01.jpg
Sometimes, it’s difficult writing about people you know.
On the one hand, you don’t want to offend them with a flip remark, like ‘there’s no filter between his brain and mouth’, or ‘he’s a certified, 100% nut-job.’
On the other, and probably worse, you don’t want to get all gooey with guff like ‘driven by the work not the politics’ or ‘incredibly consistent
* since day one’.
So I won’t bother, I’ll just let you listen and make you’re own minds up.
(*Except for ‘Captain Chaos’.)


STUDENT.Tony Davidson . Football AssociationTony Davidson . British Fish and ChipsTony Davidson . Kitchen DevilTony Davidson early ad-01Tony Davidson . Kitchen Devil Cheese 2Tony Davidson . Kitchen Devil CheeseTony Davidson . Black and Decker 2Tony Davidson . Black and Decker

BMP.'Walkman' Sony, Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth, BMP-01

War On Want - 'Creosote', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDBWar On Want - 'Faces', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDBWar On Want - 'Swarm', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDBWar On Want - 'Chair', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDBWar On Want - 'Baby', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDBWar On Want - '1972', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDB

'Last Year' Derbyshire County Council, Tony Davidson, BMP.jpg'After 6 Months' Derbyshire County Council, Tony Davidson, BMP.jpg

‘I’m still bummed that the Eurotunnel ad never happened. So simple. Webster bloody loved it. Would still work today!’

Marco Polo,4, Dave Wakefield: Tony Davidson: BMP:DDB,Marco Polo, 3, Dave Wakefield: Tony Davidson: BMP:DDB,Marco Polo, 2, Dave Wakefield: Tony Davidson: BMP:DDB,Marco Polo, 1, Dave Wakefield: Tony Davidson: BMP:DDB,'Features' VW, Tony Davidson, BMP*-01'Even' VW, Tony Davidson, BMP-01

2. 'Tr-Poster' Volkswagen, Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth, BMP-013. 'Tr-Poster' Volkswagen, Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth, BMP-011. 'Tr-Poster' Volkswagen, Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth, BMP-01

'Moving' Alliance & Leicester, Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth, BMP-01

‘Another thing that I’m responsible for, along with Nick Gill, is naming that Lurpak butter-man., Dave Trott’s place created him, but whilst at BMP we named him ‘Douglas’ and gave him a trombone.
It’s ironic that years later I’d be helping create the current Lurpak work, which has also been very successful for them…even if folks do still recall Douglas!’
'Gotcha A' Shied, Tony Davidson, BMP.jpg'Gotcha B' Shied, Tony Davidson, BMP.jpg

1. 'Trevor' Scholl, Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth, BMP-012. 'Trevor' Scholl, Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth, BMP-013. 'Trevor' Scholl, Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth, BMP-014. 'Trevor' Scholl, Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth, BMP-015. 'Trevor' Scholl, Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth, BMP-016. 'Trevor' Scholl, Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth, BMP-017. 'Trevor' Scholl, Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth, BMP-018. 'Trevor' Scholl, Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth, BMP-019. 'Trevor' Scholl, Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth, BMP-0110. 'Trevor' Scholl, Tony Davidson, Kim Papworth, BMP-01

LEAGAS DELANEY.'NICE Adidas, Tony Davidson, Leagas Delaney*'Luck' Adidas, Tony Davidson, Leagas Delaney.jpg'Bar*bed Wire' Adidas, Tony Davidson, Leagas Delaney.jpg'Luck' Adidas, Tony Davidson, Leagas Delaney*.jpgDesailly '50$50 ball'

'Need Direction' The Guardian, Tony Davidson.jpg'Underpaid?' The Guardian, Tony Davidson.jpg'Ready For' The Guardian, Tony Davidson.jpg'Time To Move' The Guardian, Tony Davidson.jpg

'Fish' Tanner Krolle, Tony Davidson & Kim Papworth, Leagas Delaney'Film' Tanner Krolle, Tony Davidson & Kim Papworth, Leagas Delaney'Shell' Tanner Krolle, Tony Davidson & Kim Papworth, Leagas Delaney

BBH.'Wall' Levi's, Tony Davidson, BBH.jpg'Bike' Levi's, Tony Davidson, BBH.jpg'Car' Levi's, Tony Davidson, BBH.jpg'Cars' Levi's, Tony Davidson, BBH.jpg

'Flat Eric', Levi's, Tony Davidson, BBH, HEAT

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 15.10.30.pngScreen Shot 2017-06-12 at 15.11.17.png‘The Mail on Sunday just wanted to use stock footage like everyone else.
We said ‘It’s The Queen Mother’s 100th birthday! You shouldn’t they be doing something special!’, and we presented this idea.
They said they couldn’t afford to make it.
Kim and I decided to direct it ourselves, his brother built the set and Partizan negotiated a great deal on a small studio for us.
We made the film, then sent VHS copies, (back in the day), without any branding, to all the other newspapers and TV channels, saying that it was a gift from a Royalist that cost £90,000 to make.
We knew that there would be live TV with loads of time waiting for the Queen Mother to appear.
The channels played the film during that waiting time and were guessing who’d donated it.
We released the branded film to the public with The Mail on Sunday later that day, after 6pm, knowing that by that time the other newspapers would’ve gone to print assuming this film that had been donated by a member of the public.
It worked a treat.
Free media in all our competitors media!
Meanwhile we sent a gold sprayed VHS copy to the Queen Mum, who sent us a nice letter back thanking us. 
Job done.’



It’s REALLY special’.
I’ve worked on a lot of luxury brands over the years, and essentially that’s the brief you get.
You have to make buying the product feel like gaining access to a very exclusive club.
With nothing tangible to say you have to conjure up a personality from thin air.
It’s tough, you have to be very creative.
‘It’s not what you say it’s the way you say it’ as Bill Bernbach put it.
Doyle Dane Bernbach did it a number of times, one that is often over looked is the Chivas Regal campaign.
Lots of products had loudly asserted they were the best, Chivas didn’t do that, it playfully toyed with the notion that you already knew they were the most premium.
At the time they weren’t seen as premium and they weren’t category leader, but the ads were so damn confident and cocky that you had to assume they were.
Here’s how it all started; Bill Bernbach, in what we’ve come to call a chemistry meeting, told potential client and Chivas Regal owner Sam Bronfman ‘I think I ought to tell you that I’ll never know as much about your business as you do.
How can I? You built it, you breathe it, you dream it.
But you have to understand I’m in a different business to you, even though it involves your product. And I know my business better than you?’
‘‘You mean together we can do a great job? OK, you’ve got the account’’ Bronfman replied.
With a clear demarcation of who did what, DDB turned Chivas Regal into a a brand that was seen as premium and became category leader.
I found this account of how those early ads were written.

If I had to pick two locations where I had the most fun in advertising, they would be, One, the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and Two, Charlie Pic’s office at 437 Madison Avenue. Charlie and I worked on the Chivas Regal account together.
I would lie on his couch and he would sit at his board drawing. He was a great
The way it worked was, I’d either throw out a line or he’d go pin a cartoon to his wall of cork.
If we 
both liked it, it stayed up overnight. If we didn’t like it the next day, into the trash can.
There was zero 
time pressure.
Once a year, we’d take the survivors, fully rendered as full colour photo comps, first up
to Bernbach for his blessing, and then straight over to the Seagram Building at 375 Park.
Home of 
Edgar Bronfman, or ‘‘Ed-God’’ as we called him.
We’d go to the Board Room and pin all the comps up around the room.
By that time we had 20 or 30 
that we both really liked.
A stream of clients would then enter and walk around like it was a show at a 
hip Art gallery. And in fact, it sort of was. We didn’t hang one in the show we didn’t want to see on the back cover of TIME or LIFE.
We’d listen politely to all their comments, generally agreeing with them 
because it didn’t really matter.
We were all awaiting the arrival of Ed-God.
After a half hour or so, he 
would descend from on high. Lots of bowing and scraping in the board room. Charlie and I cool as two cubes on ice.
We knew the drill.
Ed-God would slowly stroll around the show, hands behind his 
back, pausing before some of them for a second look.
Then he’d say, ‘‘Okay, here’s what we’re going 
to do’’, and he’d walk around once more, this time with the head marketing guy in his wake.
He’d say, ‘‘
This one, this one, that one…definitely that one, I love that one. Oh, and this one and this one…etc.’’ Until he’d picked twelve that he liked/loved.
He’d look at Chuck and I and say, ‘‘Thank you very much, 
And that was that.
We head back over to 437 and put 11 ads, plus one Christmas ad, into 
That was it.
We had a whole new year to think of more.
There is no better way to earn a 
living than that, and no better way to have fun either.

– Ted Bell, Copywriter, Assistant to Mr. Piccirillo, Doyle Dane Bernbach.

IT’S SPECIAL:00. 'What Idiot'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg
0. 'Put A Bottle' Chivas Regal, DDB NY*-01.jpg0. 'Would You Still Buy' Chivas Regal, DDB NY-01.jpg1. 'For People Who*' Chivas Regal, DDB NY-01.jpg2. 'Does Chivas Embarass' Chivas Regal, DDB NY-01.jpg2. 'Where To Place', DDB NY (Esquire).png3. 'Should You'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg3. 'Should You'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY**.jpg4. 'Sometimes it's more elegant',  Chivas Regal, DDB NY* (Esquire).png4. 'If Anybody'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png6. 'For Six Years'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png7. 'Cut Out' Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png8. 'Chivas May Seem Beyond',   Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png
11. 'Just A Reminder' Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire).png10. 'What IdiotAgain' Chivas Regal, DDB NY*-01.jpg12. 'Be Careful' Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png13. 'If This Is'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png

0. 'Don't Bother'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg0. 'Flying Is'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg1. 'Come, come*',  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png2. 'Why Do'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg3. Chivas Regal 'It's Not Just', DDB NY (Esquire)-01.jpg4. 'If You'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png5. 'Ouch'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg6. 'If You're Going To' Chivas Regal, DDB NY*-01.jpg7. 'If You Think' Chivas Regal , DDB NY.png

00. 'There Are No'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg0. 'Is Chivas Regal' Chivas Regal, DDB NY*-01.jpg1. 'Isn't That'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg4. 'Believe It Or Not',  Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire).png2. 'Are You Giving.' Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg6. 'What Other' Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png8. 'Did You Know' Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire).png7. 'Coins' Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png

SO SPECIAL PEOPLECOVET IT:00. 'Let's Make It Chivas' Chivas Regal, DDB NY-010. 'The Most Carefully Poured' Chivas Regal, DDB NY Esquire1. 'No Other' Chivas Regal, DDB NY2. 'Ever Notice' Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire)3. 'It's Hard To Keep' Chivas Regal, DDB NY4. 'A True Story*' Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire)6. 'One Of The Nice' Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire)5. 'The Following Events' Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire)9. 'Naturally' Chivas Regal, DDB NY10. 'Why Not' Chivas Regal, DDB NY11. 'Circle The Bottle' Chivas Regal , DDB NY (Esquire)12. 'Are You A' Chivas Regal, DDB NY*-0113. 'Oh No!' Chivas Regal, DDB NY

SPECIAL ENOUGH FOR FOR THAT SPECIAL PERSON IN YOUR LIFE; DAD:0. 'If You're Not' Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpeg1. 'It's Not'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg3. 'You can never'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg2. 'If Your Father..',   Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg4. 'Give Dad an Expensive Belt'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY*.png5. 'We Ran This Ad'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png7. 'Long After', Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png6. 'You Can Never' Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png9. 'Sunday, June'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png8. 'If There Were A Son's Day' Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire).png11. 'Daddy' Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png10. 'Father's Day' Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png12. 'He Taught'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg14. 'For All Those'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg13. 'Give Him Something'   Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg17. 'Less Work For'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg
Chivas Regal 'Ties' DDB NY

IT’S SPECIAL, PEOPLE DON’T WASTE IT:1. 'And He Calls Himself' Chivas Regal, DDB NY*-01.jpg0. An Appeal' Chivas Regal DDB.jpg2. 'Where Do You Hide' Chivas Regal, DDB NY-01.jpg3. 'When Serving'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire).png5. 'If It Seems A Little Bit',   Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire).png7. 'If You Serve The Host' Chivas Regal, DDB NY*-01.jpg6. 'It Doesn't Age' Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png9. 'Carefully Poured' Chivas Regal , Esquire.png8. 'Does Your Gen',  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png

FOR WHEN YOUR FRIENDS DEMAND SOMETHING SPECIAL:0. 'Have You Noticed'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png1. 'Are Your Friends' Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire).png0. 'Your Friends Less Of You' Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire).png2. 'Ever Get'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg1. 'Look At It This Way'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire).png5. 'We Should Behave'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire).png6. 'If One Of Your Guests',   Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire).png9. 'To The Host'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg8. 'This Bottle Is Empty'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire).png11. 'This Is No Time',   Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire).png10. 'Give A Bottle'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png12. 'Next Time'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg

IT’S BIGGER THAN IT’S CATEGORY, IT’S SPECIAL:00. 'The Chivas Regal*'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire).png0. 'The Chivas Guide To'   Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg4. 'Worth It's Weight'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png2. 'Guess What' Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png6. Chivas Regal 'Anxious bar guy', DDB NY.png
8. 'Not All Things'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png11. 'Chivas Please'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg12. 'Why Settle'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png10. $85,000', Chivas Regal, DDB NY .jpg

YOU’RE SPECIAL, YOU DESERVE SOMETHING EQUALLY SPECIAL:0. 'If You're Serving'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png0000. 'What's The Occasion?'   Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg00. 'Since You Have'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg000. 'You Get A Kick' Chivas Regal, DDB NY*-01.jpg2. 'What's The Occassion?' Chivas Regal, DDB NY*-01.jpg1. 'The Chivas Quiz'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png
4. 'Of Course You' Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png5. 'Your Cost Of Living'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png6. 'If One Of Your Guests' Chivas Regal, DDB NY (Esquire).png8. 'No Other Scotch' Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png9. 'Drinking Less?' Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png12. 'It's better'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg10. 'Can You Think Of',  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png

SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR THAT SPECIAL TIME OF YEAR:1. 'Start Your Own' Chivas Regal, DDB NY*-01.jpg0. 'Go Ahead'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY*.png
4. 'If Not Now' Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png2. 'Our Sympathy*'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png3. 'Should You Give*'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.jpg5. 'What People Gave'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png

6. 'Long After'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png7. 'Why Wait'  Chivas Regal, DDB NY.png8. 'What More', DDB NY (Esquire).png




Kingsley Manton & (Brian) Palmer.

Brian Palmer:Pink DotSometimes the people who innovate are forgotten in favour of those who refine their ideas.
Whatsisname, the inventor of the mouse that Steve Jobs ‘refined’, is a prime example.
Few people today know the name Kingsley Manton & Palmer, let alone that of its creative partner Brian Palmer.
Yet Brian wrote the first ad to run on U.K television.
He set up the first agency the U.K. after World War Two.
His agency was the first to work open plan, first to list on the stock exchange and the first U.K. agency to open in the U.S.
Their work is from another world, as evocative of the Swinging Sixties as a pair of purple velvet flared trousers, an E-Type Jag or a tie dyed t-shirt.
Regent Petrol campaign feels like it’s come straight from the Austin Powers art department.

Where was your first advertising job?
I started my advertising career at an agency called C. F. Higham, it was one of the big English agencies at the time, in Curzon Street, Mayfair, possibly the biggest in the thirties.
It was run by one of the first advertising Knights; Sir Charles Higham, he got his Knighthood for promoting Empire Trade.Empire Marketing PosterBuy Empire Tea

What did you do?
I was an intern really, a runner, I started on £4 a week, aged 20.
I sort of learned the trade there.
And then I got a job as a junior copywriter at an American agency;  Young & Rubicam, which was pretty small back then, but really going places.
They were based at the top end of Regent Street, 285, which they thought was a lucky, because their office on Madison Avenue in New York was also 285.

Why were they ‘really going places’?
Well, they were part of the whole wave of American companies moving into Europe after the war.
Companies like Proctor & Gamble, Heinz had always been here, but had been in hibernation during the war.
We had General Foods, which was then very big, a huge company, now part of Pepsi Co, we had Unilever… Oh, and Mars, all of which were FMGC, do people use that phrase any more?
Sometimes Brian, the millennials not so much.
Ok, well FMGC companies who were keen to ride the recovery of Europe really, so it was a very exciting place to be.

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 12.04.34

When do you remember the idea of television advertising being a possibility in Britain?
About a year before it happened, we knew commercial television was going to come to this country, but there was a hell of a lot opposition to it.
John Wilmot, the then Labour MP for Deptford, (he later became Lord Wilmot), told the House of Commons that the “nightly poison of advertising, which boosts the sale of goods to the working class, is against the national interest.”
He was Labour!
Thank goodness he and other politicians like him failed in their quest to stop television advertising coming to Britain, they could not have been more wrong about its effects.
Instead of corrupting the population, it became the engine of Britain’s economic growth and prosperity in the 1960s.

So did you want to work on tv advertising?
Yes, I bet my career on it.
I asked my boss, Alan Kirby, if I could specialise and learn about television.
He said ‘Brian I think you’re mad, it’ll never be a major medium.’
Fortunately he was wrong.

Why didn’t you listen to your boss?
Do you really want to know? I was at a lunch at the Dorchester, being hosted by some American network, I think NBC, well the head of the network gave a speech about Commercial Television.
I was completely inspired!
He said that when you can show people how things work in their houses, it will be the greatest selling medium ever seen, furthermore, it has the possibility to bring politicians to you instead of having to go to their meetings.
Remember, this is 1953.

Predicting that whole Kennedy-Nixon-Sweatathon? (The vote changing tv appearance that swung the election.)
It wasn’t long after that.

And he went on to say we will all have slaves through commercials television, all our households will have slaves, made of steel and iron to do the washing and washing up.
Nobody had washing machines or dishwashers at that time, the establishment of fridges was very low, about 15%.

I came out fired up, ready to go, I thought I’d like a piece of that.

So how did you learn about it?
Young & Rubicam took the view that it was easier to teach people who understood advertising about film techniques than it was to hire film technicians and teach them about advertising.
Most of the other agencies did it the other way around, they hired people from the film industry, it didn’t work.

That’s interesting, it’s exactly what happened with digital.
Once the internet turned up most agencies hired technicians, people who understood how to make digital things out of pixels and got rid of people who understood communication.

Psychology, empathy, distilling thoughts, understanding the power of language, simply communicating with human beings, all these skills were relegated to being luxuries, not fundamentals.
Consequently, advertising fell off a cliff, it’s still strugling to recover.
True, well that’s what happened…so I was made Head of Television at Young & Rubicam.
It ultimately became the largest part of their business and fortunately enough for me I was able to move up and become a Creative Director, one of three at Y&R.

I’m presuming that ‘Head of Television’ then wouldn’t have been like ‘Head of Television’ now?
No, once it became obvious that tv was going to be the majority of the agency business I had the producers and creatives under my wing.

Shortly after you write the first tv ad ever to run in Britain?
Yes, I was the copywriter, I worked along-side the art director Dennis Auton, who had the ice block concept.

It so happened that the commercial I wrote was drawn out of a hat, so by chance it was actually the first one to appear. 

Gibbs S R 'Iceblock story board', Y&R

Drawn out of a hat?
Well, the very first night the commercial aired it wasn’t called Commercial Television, you couldn’t buy the first slot, you could buy the first break for a premium, which many of our clients did.
Because we were Young & Rubicam, an American agency, we believed in television, so we persuaded our clients to do it, clients like Unilever, Proctor & Gamble and Heinz to embrace the new medium and take space right at the beginning.
British agencies didn’t believe in it.

Ice was a risk?
We used a real block of ice for the long shots, the lights they used in those days were very hot indeed, it caused the ice to melt, also, the ice block steamed up completely, so you couldn’t see the tube of toothpaste inside, which was the whole point, so we used a plastic cube for the close-ups.
We didn’t really know what we were doing, to some extent we were learning on the job and so were the technicians.

8.12 pm, September 22nd, 1955, exciting?

Oh yes, it was an exciting thing at the time.
I was one of the very few people in England with a television set, I’d not long been married and I had a little flat in Notting Hill Gate, a few friends and colleagues gathered to watch the first night of commercial television.
Imagine my surprise when suddenly there was this starburst on the screen and it was my ad, none of us had any inkling that the first ad would turn out to be ours.
We knew the first product to be shown had been chosen by lot, but we didn’t know which one had won.
It was great! I was thrilled to bits, completely amazed and a bit frightened; would it be all right?
But it was a bit of a small earthquake in Chile that nobody heard, it was available only in London and the South East, and then only to people who had their sets specially modified.
So few people actually had televisions, there were only about a hundred thousand in the country.
At that time there was a question about whether ITV would even survive.
All the smart money, the big investors, got out and it was only left to the showbiz guys like Bernstein of Granada and that very famous agent…Lew Grade.
They kept their nerve and then suddenly picked up, somehow it got through to the mass of people and sort of reached critical mass, it suddenly took off.
If somebody in the street had a television aerial back then, people would go to their house, see ‘Dr. Finlay’ or ‘Coronation Street’ and I say ‘Ooh, I like that’.

This may seem like a daft question, but if there weren’t any TV commercials in this country, had you ever seen one before you wrote one?
Yes, there were lots of cinema commercials, I’d done those.
But nobody understood television, because the English style of television was different from the American system, which had sponsored programmes, the advertising was much more integrated, woven into the programme.
We had to develop spot advertising, which of course led to a few years later to Britain producing all those amazing film directors.

Ridley Scott, Alan Parker, Adrian Lynne, Hugh Hudson…
Yes, it was amazing!
Because they had the discipline of telling a story in 30 seconds.

So you’ve produced the first ad in a new medium.
You’re building a whole new department with no road map.
Sounds exciting?
It was, it was wonderful, and bigger budgets every year, because the economy was expanding.
We launched Fairy Liquid, Maxwell House coffee; America’s favourite coffee, it’s vanished now.

You had one of the best jobs in the country, why leave?
Perhaps I peaked too young?
You get to the point where you sort of have, wouldn’t say a midlife crisis, but you get a bit itchy; ‘What else could or should I be doing?’
I knew I was never going to head the agency, I wasn’t American.
I didn’t want to join the international circuit, I had young children.

If you’re in your early thirties and you’ve got one of the best jobs in the country, you think you know how to do it, you think you know the advertising business and you think you know what’s wrong and how to put it right.

So how did you set up?
There was a group at the IPA that was a club for individuals, originally called the 44 Club, they’d have had meetings, discussion groups, lectures for individual’s rather than agencies.
At the time the IPA was trying to reach out to individuals, not corporate members.

The 44 Club, 44 members I assume?
No, it was at number 44 Berkley Square.
Well, I became the Chairman of the group.
The previous Chairmen was a chap called Michael Manton, before him it was a chap called David Kingsley.
That’s how I met my partners, David was at Benton & Bowles, where he was a very hot-shot Account Director.

Michael Manton was the creative chief of Crawford’s, which was then a very creative agency.
We would moan about the business, we we’d talk about our ideas, about one another, what was right and wrong about advertising and where it should be going.
One day we had lunch together at the White Tower and said why ‘we don’t do something about it?’Brian Palmer & Kingsley & Manton, (KMP)There were less start-ups then?
There were no start-ups.
It was probably the first new agency started since the war.
(CDP wasn’t a new agency, Dickenson and Pearce broke away from Colman Prentiss & Varley to buy into an existing agency called Collett.)
In those days the whole agency business was surrounded with restrictions and protections, in order to get commission from the media you had to be recognised.
To be recognised you had to have guarantees of financial status and professional competency.
Because obviously those days the agencies were responsible for paying the newspapers and handling the clients’ money, if the agency didn’t pay it would be the agency that got sued, not the client. The agency in turn then would have to sue the client in return for taking that responsibility.
For that, they got their 15% from the media.
But you had to be recognised.

Now three guys in a room can say they’re an agency, presumably you needed a large chunk of change to start an agency back then?
Not cash, but you certainly needed to have bank guarantees.
We had trouble doing that.
First we talked to the lovely Bank of Scotland, which was then in Burlington Street.
It’s where that famous clothing shop is, which has guys dancing on the doors and looks like a nightclub?

Abercrombie & Fitch? That was your bank?
Abercrombie & Fitch
Yes, that’s the one, the lovely Scots Bank Manager absolutely grilled us, then said no.
We had an offer of backing from Colonel Varley from CPV, he was very much in sympathy with what we wanted to do, he said ‘I’ll guarantee you on salaries for six months in return for a stake in the agency’.

His offer gave us confidence, but we never needed his offer in the end.

Were you bullish or nervous starting up?
Incredibly nervous.

We took some temporary offices in Piccadilly, hired desk space before it started. Michael said to me ‘Brian we don’t seem to have any typewriters?’ I said ‘I’m not the bloody office manager’ we all burst into laughter, there was no office manager, just three guys, we went out and bought some typewriters.

What was your mission?
We made a kind of manifesto of what we wanted to do and why we wanted to do it.
It was basically that majority of advertising agencies got fat and dumb.
The people clients were seeing weren’t the people actually doing the work, we said you’ll see us and the people who do the work.
When it gets too big for us to do that we’ll hire people who are as good as us.
In any case, however big get we’ll have a flat structure, not a pyramid structure.
That’s what we believed at the time.
We’d publicise it a lot, with Ad Weekly and so on. I don’t think Campaign existed back then?Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 21.56.47You could use that manifesto tomorrow.
It’s the same issues, especially the issue that the people who pitch are never seen again.
So was it forceful and spirited?
Yes, it was full of adrenaline.

I’ve set up an agency without any business, a few of weeks in you think ‘what the hell I have done?’ It’s like jumping off a cliff and hoping there’s someone below to catch you.
Exactly, well you know what it feels like.
These things never go as planned, our first account was the last thing we would have ever thought of, a mail order account; Peter Saunders, who made twin sets and pearls for the middle-classes.
We didn’t even have an art director at that time, so I got in touch with an art director I used to work with at Y&R, a very good one, Rosie Oxley, who did ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’, she secretly did freelance with writer Phoebe Hitchens.
We got Norman Parkinson to do the photography, we always aimed high.

Heinz 'Beans', Poster, Y&R, Rosie Oxlade

Ok, so you have your twin set and pearls account, whats next in?
I think the next one, the big one, was from British Nylon spinners, we were given their carpets and sheets.

We thought the commission system was going to break down, so initially we worked on a fee, then switched to commission, that’s when we knew we were financially secure.
That enabled us to take on proper offices in Thorn House.
Bri Nylon Carpets 'Dog', KMP-01Kosset 'Wall To Wall', KMP-01

KMP 'Thorn House', -01You get a brand new, shiny wall-free building?
Yes, open-plan.
Again, it was openness, a flat structure.
The t partners worked around one desk, so that we knew what was going on, like a Victorian banking system.

KMP 'Numbers Racket'-01Was that seen as radical?
Very radical…completely radical, in fact a lot of people didn’t like it at all, people probably still don’t like working that way.
We had conference rooms and interview rooms, but basically it was one big room.

The offices must have given the impression of a cool and successful company, did it help business?
Yes, it did help, and where had doors we kept them shut so that people couldn’t see there was nothing behind them.Air India 'Save The Tiger', KMP-01
What was the next big step-change?
I can’t remember exactly how, but we got a couple of huge accounts; Regent Petrol and Cunard, which was then, in 1965, British and huge, they said to us if you can open an office in New York within six months you can have our American account.
So we became the first English agency to open in New York.

Another first?
Yes, I think that’s correct?

How on earth did you do that pre-internet, mobile phone or even fax machine?
Yes, there were a lot of mistakes I can tell you.
But we suddenly, within a year or so, we got hot, so we could get presentations, interviews and so on.

So what got you hot?
It can’t have been your twin set and pearls account?
Or even your nylon carpet account?
I’m not sure, maybe the philosophy; ‘there’s another way’.
Maybe that top people were now more available?
Maybe the fact that we were of similar age to Marketing Directors?
It was kind of the spirit of the age, there was a lot of meritocracy, people who’d been to grammar schools were now coming to the top. 
David Kingsley had done just that.

Pullin's Photographic 'Life', KMP.I guess each new generation of Marketing Director wants their own generation of agency.
But it’s odd, when I look at the photographs of you guys, the founders of this revolutionary, hot, rule-breaking sixties agency, you don’t look very…swinging? No kaftans, beads, long hair or sandals?KMP 'Address', -01
Well, let me tell you a story about that.
When we opened in New York we sent our best Creative guys; Mike Kidd and Terrence Griffin, it was the sixties of course and people like Hockney were just starting to become big in New York, and they wore jeans and open necked shirts, which was revolutionary at the time.
They had a chance to pitch for Lipton Tea so they went to their offices in White Plains.
When they got there all the secretaries started to come out of their offices, to look at these exotic creatures.

We didn’t get the business, the Marketing Director told us ‘Next time, take the clients to the zoo, don’t take the zoo to the clients.’
In America, the advertising business was even more Brooks Brothers than here.

Also, as partners we were young, so we didn’t want to frighten the animals, we were mostly talking to were ‘white shirts’.Cunard QE2 'Long Weekend', KMP-01Cunard 'This Winter', KMP-01Cunard 'Nails Filed', KMP-01Cunard QE2 'Easter', KMP-01Cunard 'Moving', KMP-01Cunard 'Christmas', KMP-01How did the New York agency do?
They mainly had the Cunard account and had also won some other business.
In those days, if you started a foreign subsidiary you were not supposed to subsidise it financially, you could only subsidise it by doing work for it, so London carried out consultancy work for the New York office, which helped to pay for it.
But when we went public in 1969 that was deemed by our auditors, and the Stock Exchange, to be a bit dodgy, so we merged the agency with another agency in New York.
That was the end of that, one forgets just how many restrictions there used to be around money, taxes and all sorts of things, it’s why company cars were so important, because the tax was so high.

Which ads were inspiring you at the time?
It would be the one for Volkswagen where it’s a terrible snowy day, and, suddenly, out of the snow, you hear a car starting up and it emerges as a Volkswagen.
The line is: “Do you ever think how the man who drives the snow-plough gets to the snow-plough?”

Regent Petrol.
Difficult to view with 2016 sensibilities.
But fifty years ago this was a very famous, much loved campaign that helped put KMP and Regent Petrol on the map.
Shot by the great Duffy.
It was a fully integrated campaign.
For example, a promotional package was sent to each Regent filling station which included:
a) A vinyl LP record entitled “The Lively One ’67”.
The album liner notes also gave suggestions for garage managers to help run their new promotion campaign including ‘Dress your attendants in Caroline kit’, Play the “Lively One” record’, ‘Use water pistol window washers’ and ‘Have holsters round pumps to hold nozzles’.

b) ‘Sensational’ new posters in various sizes.
c) A shiny new pump bezel.
d) A ‘fabulous’ life-size cut-out of the Regent Girl.
e) ‘Bullet hole’ stickers and T-shirts.
It must’ve been very different at the time?
Yes, well that’s how we got the business, we were the first to dramatise our presentations, Peter Marsh overtook us, when the Regent people came into our office everyone was wearing a Regent t-shirt, they were very new at the time, so because we’d gone to all that trouble they didn’t forget our presentation, we won the business.
But yes, we did more than just advertising, up until very recently the Country Life packaging was the still the one David Holmes designed for us.Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 11.27.15.png
From the pitch in the sixties, we pitched along with the line ‘Brings you closer to a cow’…
‘Brings you closer to a cow’?
Yes, and when we pitched for that one we had a real cow outside our offices.
It didn’t go down very well with the client, the Milk Marketing Board.
Jet Petrol, 'Hotting Up', KMP, Brian DuffyJet Petrol, 'Quit Stalling', KMP, Ray Rathbone-01

Jet Petrol, 'Come In', KMP, Ray Rathbone-01Jet Petrol, 'This Gun', KMP, Ray RathboneJet Petrol, 'Have Gun', KMP, Ray Rathbone-01Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 1.47.08 PMTo give some context to how fresh the White Horse campaign was in 1966, here’s an ad from their previous campaign.White Horse 'Pre-KMP', 1965-01Did you pitch with the line ‘You can take a White Horse anywhere’?
I think we probably did, I was certainly very much involved in that campaign, along with Mike Kidd and David Holmes as art directors.
That line ran for years.
White Horse 'House Party', KMP-01White Horse 'Fishing', KMP-01White Horse 'New Home', KMP-01White Horse 'Wedding', KMP-01White Horse 'Band', KMP-01
Both Regent and White Horse seem to have an unusually simple, playful vibe for the period?
Yes, I think I may have had something to do with that, but there’s always arguments about who created what, Len Heath and I still argue about who wrote that line.
I’ve always believed, ever since working on Gibbs SR, that when working in multi media you need a strong, visual click.
So that you can say the Regent ads = Girl with revolver, the White Horse ads = A White Horse in unusual situations, Gibbs SR = Ice block.
It’s a kind of mnemonic, I’ve always believed that creates very memorable advertising.
White Horse 'Boardroom', KMP-01**White Horse 'Aldeburgh', KMP-01White Horse 'Balloon', KMP-01White Horse 'Late Night', KMP-01White Horse 'Bath', KMP-01White Horse 'Stage'White Horse Whisky - Floor:David Holmes, KMPWhite Horse 'Pantomime', KMP-01White Horse 'Panto', KMPWhite Horse 'Chess', KMP-01White Horse 'Perspective Room', Mike Kidd, *KMP-01Were you making many commercials at the time?
We were, the one I remember most is the one we did for the transition from Regent Petrol over to Texaco Petrol.
In real life, with no computer manipulation, we actually unveiled a new petrol station by having a helicopter lift a giant sheet from it.air-india-we-taught-you-kmp-01
Air India 'Moscow', KMP-01air-india-it-takes-a-lot-kmp-01'Rajput Windows And' Air India, KMP-01.jpg'No Telephones, No' Air India, KMP-01.jpg'No Hurry, No Fuss' Air India, KMP-01.jpg
I love the Salvation Army campaign, particularly the art direction; unusual but so appropriate, the type is as ill-treated as the people in the ads.
Well that’s pure David, (Holmes).Salvation Army 'Pound', David Holmes, KMP-01
There was a lot of controversy when were given the business, an ad agency getting paid by a charity! We just asked to be paid cost, although we ended up subsidising it tremendously.
It was the brain-child of David Kingsley, he believed very much in the Salvation Army and their work, he also believed that if you asked for a specific amount, £1, which was quite a lot of money in those days, you were far more likely to get it.
Originally the line was ‘For God’s sake give us a pound’, David presented them the line and rightly, in retrospect, they said ‘it sounds like begging, couldn’t we say ‘For God’s sake care’?’.
As they were arguing there was a clap of thunder outside, David said ‘Well, if you are going to bring in re-enforcements I’m giving in.’

salvation army - liverpool'someone-caught-salvation-army-48-sheet-kmp-01More O'Ferrall 'Ad Of The Month - Salvation Army', David Holmes-01Salvation Army 'Pregnant Girl', David Holmes, KMPSalvation Army 'Raymond*', David Holmes, KMP-01Salvation Army 'Blanket*', David Holmes, KMP-01
Salvation Army 'Now Will You*', David Holmes, KMP-01Salvation Army, 'Liverpool', David Holmes, KMP-01
What were you like as a creative Director?
I think I was probably seen as a soft touch.
I always found the best way to handle creative egos was to listen more than you talked,
I’m no good at the ‘THIS IS SHIT! DO IT AGAIN’ approach.

You partner David Kingsley was very involved with the Labour Party, which lead to KMP working the election campaign.
The ‘Yesterday’s Men’ poster is often cited as swinging the 1970 election campaign against the Conservatives?
It was one of the first ‘knocking’ posters, considered ‘not cricket’ at the time.
Labour 'Yesterdays Men', KMP-01Maxwell 'Wilson', David Holmes*, KMPMaxwell How To*', David Holmes, KMP-01kmp-01What did you look for when hiring Creatives?
Never hire a pair of hands, always hire a head.
I looked for inventiveness, a certain kind of style and also for people who were nice to work with, we were a team, I tend to think that many people are better than they are given credit, I would be more like an Arsene Wenger than a Ferguson.
I must say we had a wonderful time, we didn’t know what we didn’t know, if you are going off in unchartered territory you don’t know what not to do, so you just go ahead and do it, it either worked or it didn’t and if it didn’t we dropped it and moved on.
Also, I tried to run it, well, my bit of it, like Young & Rubicam, they were very good at handing down responsibility, in a way that was unheard of in the agency world.
For example; in the fifties, when everybody had expense acccounts, people were measured by the size of their expense account, they said nobody has an expense account, everybody can spend whatever’s necessary in the service of the client, all you have to do is justify it when you get back.
It made you feel wonderful as a junior copywriter or whatever.
The other thing was they said was if a client ever tries to ask for a bribe or behaves dishonourably, then you have the right to walk straight out of the meeting.
Now nobody ever did of course, but it made you feel good.
Young & Rubicam always used to remember everyone’s birthday, which we also did, we’d also give a personalised glass with your initial on it.
I guess I was in charge of the Department of Nice Gestures.
Formica 'Skin', David Holmes, HKR-01Formica 'Reprieve', KMP, David Holmes-01David Holmes, Formica 'Germs'-01Formica 'Forgers', KMP-David Holmes-01Formica 'Good Loo*', David Holmes, KMP-01Formica '6 Ways*', David Holmes, KMP-01
In 1969 you go Public, was that another first?
I think we were just ahead of Collett Dickerson Pearce?
We wanted to build a group of individual agencies as brands, using common services, like accountancy and media.
That’s how we spawned so many independent media companies.
I’m not sure it was a good idea, we were better advertising people than we were businessmen.'The Boyfriend', KMP, Phillip Castle*.png'Kashmir' India, KMP, John Claridge*

India 'Which Woman', KMP-01India 'Help Us', KMP-01'A Great Temple' India, KMP-01India 'The King', KMP-01India 'Sun', KMP-01'On The Road To' India, KMP-01India 'Bridge', KMP-01'In Two Hours' India, KMP-01Which agencies did you admire at this time?
We admired CDP’s work very much, although we were in direct competition with them.
The agency people admired at that time was Thompson’s, although their people didn’t tend to transplant very well, I don’t know why, they had such a strong Oxbridge culture, lead by Jeremy Bullmore and Stephen King, that the whole was stronger than the individual people.
Not very many of them did well when they left.
But they were the ones to beat, then Saatchi came along.

Someone once said Saatchi had the KMP play-book by their bedside when they started.Old Holborn 'Men', David Holmes, KMP-01Old Holborn 'Join The Men', David Holmes, KMP*
Why stop?
Well, in 1973 we had a huge bankruptcy on hour hands, Brentford Nylons.
They owed us several million pounds, which meant we owed several million pounds for the media we’d bought on their behalf.
It was a huge amount of money then.

It’s not chump change now, weren’t you insured?
Not sufficiently, they weren’t either, so we were liable for the media costs, we had to pay millions.
What happened was, I wouldn’t go into court and swear to this, but as I recall, Guinness were expanding their portfolio into service businesses, they’d bought a chain of newsagents and also bought a chain of advertising agencies, some of which we’d bought from them in exchange for our shares, so they became our largest shareholder, eventually took us over, in 1977.
The group disappeared into Guinness, eventually they changed course, divested themselves from the services and became Diageo.
KMP continued as an agency, went through several different owners and ended up being swallowed by Saatchi’s.

So you leave, take a couple of directorships, one at Dorlands, one at Young’s Brewery, and are then asked to run DDB?
That’s right, I said I wasn’t interested, that I was perfectly happy doing what I was doing, then someone asked would I have lunch with Bill Bernbach.
Again, I said I’m not interested and I don’t have time, ‘we’ll fly you over on Concorde, you can have lunch with Bill at The Four Seasons and we’ll fly you back on Concorde the same day?’.

An offer you couldn’t refuse?
How could you?
Bill was very persuasive, charming, calm, avuncular, took me back to the offices, showed me around and then offered me the job.
He was lovely, he’s one of those Americans who’ve made it so can pretend to be really nice.

How was it?
I was Chairman and Chief Executive of London for three very unhappy years, 1980-83.
Having not worked for Americans since Y&R, I’d forgotten how just how soul-destroying it can be.
It was fraught with politics, I did the job they’d hired me to do, which was put it back on a profitable basis, then got straight out.Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 12.04.43
Amazing, thanks for your time Brian, see you in The Flask.
My pleasure, I’m more a Red Lion & Sun man, actually.

Madison Avenue Magazine 'KMP*', 1967-01Madison Avenue Magazine 'KMP', July 1967-01Madison Avenue Magazine 'KMP', 2, July 1967-01Madison Avenue Magazine 'KMP', July 1967, 3-01KMP913

VFTL: Episode 6: Gerry Graf.

Gerry Graf:Pink Bubble
The best ads appear effortless.
As if created accidentally, the result of a chance corridor meeting by people letting off steam on their way to different, grown-up,  serious meetings, probably ones involving charts, numbers and mashed-up new words they get the gist of but aren’t 100% confident of their meaning.
The truth is that it’s hard to create work like that, it’s like catching lightning in a bottle.
A few creatives have been in the right place at the right time to grab a bolt, barely any catch it on demand.
Gerry has been doing it on a regular basis for the last twenty years.
Just as impressive; he’s a gooner.
We had a great chat, hope you enjoy it.


'Airplane Banner' Red Stripe, Gerry Graf, BBDO:NY.jpg


GOODBY SILVERSTEIN & PARTNERS.'If Your Broker's' E-Trade, Gerry Graf, Goodby Silverstien-01.jpg'Someone's Going' E-Trade, Gerry Graf, Goodby Silverstien-01.jpg'The Tooth Fairy' E-Trade, Gerry Graf, Goodby Silverstien-01.jpg'The Seepstakes Van' E-Trade, Gerry Graf, Goodby Silverstien-01.jpg



'Hungerectomy' Snickers, Gerry Graf, TBWA:NY.jpg'Nougatocity' Snickers, Gerry Graf, TBWA:NY..jpg'Substantialiscious' Snickers, Gerry Graf, TBWA:NY..jpg








Gerry working.barton-f-graf-kiddie-pool-ep.jpg
Gerry eating.26-gerry-graf-founder-and-chief-creative-officer-of-barton-f-graf-9000.jpgGerry chillin’.

VFTL. Episode 5: Mike’s Dad. (AKA Dave Waters).

Dave Waters Pink Circle-01.jpg

Starting out as a creative is tough.
Most days are divided into two parts, first you squeeze out as many ideas as you possibly can, second you try not to give up when your creative director tells you they are all crap. Occasionally you may get a ‘nice’, that will keep you going until maybe two months later when you may get a ‘cool’, even an ‘ok’ buoy the spirits.
Encouragement is crucial.
The first person of any note to say ‘nice’ about one of my ads was Dave Waters, although it wasn’t ‘nice’ it was ‘ ‘kin brill‘. it was written underneath an ad for the Starlight Foundation he’d cut out from Campaign and sent to his old partner Jan Van Mesdag, (who was my boss at the legendary Cromer Titterton).
It was very encouraging, Dave was one of the stars from the best agency of the time GGT.
GGT was not only the best creative agency at the time, it was known to have the toughest regime, weekends there were like Mondays anywhere else,

Also, if you didn’t deliver creatively, either your salary was cut or you were fired.
Dave thrived in this environment.
Dave Trott, the ‘T’ on GGT, called Dave his Roy Keane, saying he was hungrier than anyone, ‘the juniors would do trade ads and if they did well they could steal the bigger tv briefs the seniors were working on and have a crack.
Dave was one of our most senior creatives, he’d do all the big ads and then steal the trade briefs from the juniors, he wanted to do everything.’
Had a great chat with Dave, hope you enjoy it.


(Dave’s wedding invite.)IMG_1635.JPGpatille-hills-balsam-dave-watersITV PRESS ADSITV ARIELSITV SCREENS

LWT 2 ' Royal Variety'LWT 'Russ Abbott:Holes'.jpgLWT 'The Professionals'-01.jpga-tennis-star-lwt-dave-waters-ggtLWT 1 'A New Detective Series'this-army-lwt-dave-waters-ggt

'It's All Fresher' Morrisons, GGT.jpgMorrison's 'More Reasons' Bag, Dave Waters, GGT.jpg

mickey-cadburys-creme-eggs-ggt'Vera' Cadbury's Creme Eggs, GGT.jpg'Sid' Cadbury's Creme Eggs, GGT.jpg'Percy' Cadbury's Creme Eggs, GGT.jpg'Rambo' Cadbury's Creme Eggs, GGT.jpg

Dave W (above) v Dave T (below).

DFGW launch.jpg'Summer Festivals' NME, Dave Waters, DFGW.png'Scan' NME, Dave Waters, DFGW.jpg'Fresh' NME, Dave Waters, DFGW.jpg'That's How Many' Fire Brigade, Dave Waters, DFGW-01.jpg

'Manual' Daewoo, Dave Waters, DFGW.jpg

This gives me a great excuse to shine a light on Dave’s various stamps and bits of paraphernalia that turn up when you receive one of his letters or packages.Dave Waters - 3 x stamps-01IMG_0065
Dave Waters - EnvelopeScreen Shot 2017-05-11 at 17.43.29.pngScreen Shot 2017-05-11 at 17.45.37.pngDave Waters - Round Stamp-01Dave Waters - 3-01Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 17.45.03.pngScreen Shot 2017-05-11 at 17.44.23.pngScreen Shot 2017-05-11 at 17.45.19.pngScreen Shot 2017-05-11 at 17.43.57.png

An article about Dave and Dave Cook, from his Roy Keane period.Dave Waters & Dave Cook 1-01Dave Waters & Dave Cook 2Press - Dave Trott-01.jpg

VFTL. No4: Bob ‘The Ad Contrarian’ Hoffman

I was just about to write ‘the business I joined 30 years ago is unrecognisable today’.
But then it occurred to me; that’s bullshit.
Take today, either side of writing this I’m working on a global brief.
The brand has an existing line that needs to be given new meaning, its felt to be a little too heavy, and possibly a bit esoteric in certain markets.
We need to make it lighter, more upbeat and positive.
Also, it’d be handy if we could use some kind of visual link to the product, as it’s going to run in a wide range of countries.
Overall, they just need to feel cooler and more relevant to a younger audience.
That was happening thirty years ago.

Sure, the thoughts may end up in some new locations and appear in slightly different shapes and sizes, but the process isn’t that different.
There is one big difference though,  the creative bods were way more cynical back then, for example, every element of a brief would be challenged:
‘Is that REALLY true?’
‘It may be true but people won’t believe it!’.

‘Why should anyone believe that?’
‘Is there really nothing better to say?’
‘That’s two messages, pick one’.

‘Why would that make me buy it?’
‘Posters are the wrong place for that message’
‘That’s way to complicated for TV!’
‘Who would be arsed to read about that?’

‘They haven’t got much money, let’s spend it all on tv… or posters?’

Then digital turned up.
It was a challenge for the creatives of my generation, not understanding the channels or tech but understanding why you weren’t allowed to question it.
Why weren’t we allowed to take that same cynical approach that we’d taken to all information we’d be given, whether propositions or posters, creatives adopted the stance of super cynical member of the public.
We couldn’t do that with digital, 
if you took that position with anything that involved a single pixel you risked being seen as a ‘dinosaur’.
So people adapted, they avoided appearing cynical by using phrases like ‘there’s never been a better time to be in the business’ or ‘I’ve never felt more alive than when I’m being briefed on social media’ or ‘You want to brief me on a digital banner? I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven’.
Questions started being replaced by buzz words, the aim was to get as many into a conversation before it collapsed due to their volume.
It created a kind of MaCarthyite environment where most were too afraid to call it as they saw it.
Bob Hoffman was one of the few who called it as he saw it.
He launched his ‘The Ad Contrarian’ blog back in 2007, t
he biggest compliment I could give him is to say that title no longer makes sense.
We had a great chat, hope you enjoy it.

wavelogo-8-01p.s. If you haven’t visited Bob’s blog, quick!…http://adcontrarian.blogspot.co.uk/

MEN OF LETTERS: Dave Wakefield.

I’ve been sitting on this interview for a while now.
To be precise, it was done at the same time as the Kit Kat poster we did together; ‘Washout’.
That was created for the festival season, so what’s that? S
ix months ago?
I haven’t posted it because Dave has been ill, very ill.
I’ve been waiting to tell I’m posting it, it seems impolite not to.
So I’ve been waiting.
I checked on Dave today, unfortunately, he’s had another set back.

It occurred to me that putting it out this post can only lead to a lot of people thinking good things about Dave, and without sounding like some old hippy; sending out some good vibes can only help, they certainly won’t harm.
So here it is…

Where did you grow up?
I was born in Beckenham Kent, before it became part of the Greater London sprawl.
Hard on the outskirt of Penge where I developed a strong working-class sensibility.

David Bowie Curly
You’re hanging out with a young David Bowie and becoming part of the Beckenham music scene? What made you opt out for pushing letters around?
I was very serious about typography and music at that time – I guess typography won, I’m pleased to say.

How did you get into advertising?
Like many students who had shown an aptitude in art at school, it was inevitable that a career would be sought in that direction.
I had taken an art course in my final year, which on reflection now, did show a strong preference for drawn lettering.
I had considered cartography for a career, but my leaning was in commercial art (as it was called at the time) and I’d heard that to be in an advertising agency was the fulfilment of a commercial artist.
I was to find out just how difficult it was to progress, from the bottom, to the position I aspired to, without a qualification.

What was your first paid job?
I answered an ad in the Evening Standard in 1963 for a messenger in an advertising agency – Ripley Preston in Cheapside – £4.10s per week.
It was here that I acquired an inspirational book ‘Printing Design & Layout’ by Vincent Steer, which became the touchstone for my later developed style of producing finished drawn specifications.
I’d already bought the third edition of the ‘Encyclopaedia of Typefaces’ with a school book token. The die was cast, but the reality was still in tramping the streets of London.

What does the word Gorringes mean?
The design office of a large department store in Victoria. It was my first opportunity to break into typography without any formal qualification.
Brian Grimwood was already there, designing and illustrating, and as we were already musically joined at the hip it seemed the ideal position in which to combine our passions.
It wasn’t to last long – I was fired on Christmas Eve – last in first out, in a cost-cutting exercise – not a lot’s changed over the years.
The room shared with Brian can be seen behind the first-floor window on the end of the  right-hand side before the building follows the aspect of the side street.
We were eager to produce good work but at the same time heavily into music and our band – I can distinctly remember anxiously awaiting the first recording from Cream – their single ‘Wrapping Paper’ which I’d ordered from the music department, it took weeks of delay before it was finally released.

United Kingdom Advertising Co Ltd?
UK was part of the National Advertising Corporation which also had connections with Ripley Preston, so I managed to get back into the business without too much difficulty.
I used it to plan my next move into serious typography.

Then to R F White, the lemonade maker?
Not quite the lemonade maker, but one of the oldest advertising agencies to have ever existed.
I was lucky to secure a position as a typographer in White’s outside studio Art Centre, just off Fleet Street, which handled recruitment advertising.
It was a baptism of fire – all the work was copy driven and produced from metal typesetting.
Fitting all sorts of type into fresh creative solutions, in every conceivable media size – each one trying to be better and more effective than the last.
I was not only trying to master the technical requirements but I was expected to show some creative flair at the same time.

Which typographers did you admire when you first became one?
That’s an interesting question.
Later in my career I became more focussed in who fired my adulation – Tschichold for one.

But from the very start it was American designers who excited me the most, and Robert Brownjohn in particular – I not only visited the cinema to see a film but for the added reward from one of Brownjohn’s Midland Bank commercials.

They struck a chord. I was in awe. I subscribed to the American magazine ‘Art Direction’ and found my early influences in Herb Lubalin,
Aaron Burns,
and Gene Federico.

Naturally, Lubalin’s gradual exposure gained a huge momentum, exploding into a commercial success story within a couple of decades.
It’s only later, after reading Adrian Shaughnessy’s superb book on Lubalin, that I’ve come to realise just how close those influences resonate in my work, influences, to paraphrase Shaughnessy, ‘… expressing an idea, telling a story, amplifying the meaning of a word or a phrase, (and) to elicit an emotional response from the viewer …’.

You ran your own company for a while?
Yes, Mushroom, an advertising service studio in 1973.
It brought together some of the elite personalities from competitor companies like Face and AdMakeup; forming a new collective which captured interest and support from leading art directors and writers at the time.
We offered creative typography, finely-crafted artwork, and introduced many successful typefaces, some of which can still be found today.
Which ones?
Worcester, an old Monotype face, withdrawn by them almost as fast as it was introduced, I’ll never know why? It was our most successful face and it continued through to the digital era.
Before Monotype updated their business, we were supplying some of the best of their founts on headline, and cut variations to the standard weights of Ehrhardt, Baskerville, and Horley – this was 1973, and way in front at the time.
It was impossible even to get the regular cuts through the commercial suppliers, so we put them on. Faces like Grotesque 215 and 216, Sabon, Joanna, and Imprint.
Of course, this all seems rather unexceptional, now that digitisation gives us everything, and more.

But it’s surprising to think how undeveloped the market was some forty or so years ago.

Who else worked with you at Mushroom?
Mushroom was formed by Brian Hall, Alan Barlow, and myself from AdMakeup, and Mick White from Face.
Some of the art directors and writers who supported us in the early days would’ve been Derrick Hass, Alan Brignull, Robin Wight, David Holmes, Alan Midgley, Chris Wilkins, Peter Ward, John Brimacombe, Delwyn Mallet, Chris Hudson, Terry Comer, and others.

We did a lot of promotional material, an A1 poster, a ‘Mushroom’ scarf, machine knitted and  unusual at that early time, ‘Mushroom’ badges too, I remember handing them out from a basket on our table at a D&AD dinner, 1973 I think?

Dave Wakefield 'Mushroom'

Why close Mushroom?
We’d become fairly successful in our first building in Tottenham Court Road which prompted some expansion. Little did we know that the ‘3-day week’ was just around the corner.
In fact, we’d hardly got settled in our new building in St Martin’s Lane when it all kicked off. We were running clandestine generators on the roof on our off days, but inspections were commonplace and it made things very difficult.
Coupled with the fact that our ‘Mr 51%’ partner had joined the fairies and couldn’t be found until he’d swapped his ‘e-type’ for a hospital bed. It finally gave us the reasons to wind things up.
So much for running a business. 

What next?
The antidote – freelance.  In a particularly difficult time.
My champion was a certain John Brimacombe who ran his own successful company, J B Packaging in Maddox Street.
I felt like the artist with a sponsor – he got me to handle the whole typographic aspect of design for Fisons Agrochemical packaging. Some 86 hand-rendered type layouts which I put on the Diatype system and progressed to mechanical artwork.
He paid me upfront a substantial fee to support my new start.
A benevolent action surely unheard of today?
Work piled in – minute typographic design solutions for programme headers in the Radio Times – weekly problems to solve, like town names to highlight where the Radio One Roadshow visited each day of the week . And then, the same problem through Easter. And so on.
I’d moved in to my friend Brian Grimwood’s studio space
Brian Grimwood 'Radio Times' Cover
with illustrator Lynda Gray
Lynda Gray, 'Staring Woman'
in the old soon-to-be-refurbished Covent Garden; then promptly moved into the just-refurbished room that Brian’s CIA still uses today.
They were prolific days, happy and extremely busy – working through the night and weekends on many occasions.
It was during this time that I’d built up a relationship with some major agencies – Saatchi being one.
With Alan Midgley’s dedicated support, and much annoyance to the in-house typographers, I tackled some heavy British Leyland work  for the Triumph Dolomite and Ital models.
Producing completely hand-rendered layouts with the freedom to make my own creative judgements. It was a relatively bold process but it supplied a finished product that could be instantly judged before setting and artwork had even begun.
The level of expectancy to see completely finished traces on commissioned jobs ran high and kept me constantly busy.
Triumph - '19,000,000', Dave Wakefield, Saatchi-01Triumph - '120mph', Dave Wakefield, Saatchi-01
Is that saying the Dolomite goes 120mph? Illegal surely?
That’s correct. One of several ads flaunting its speed capability.

What was Saatchi’s like to an outsider bang in the middle of the seventies?
There was an obvious sense of extreme competition on the creative floor.
Arrogance, perhaps. But with an envious recognition when instinct says ‘that’ll get in the book’.
It’s what drove the power at the time.
There were extremes. I remember one instance, when Midgley threatened to throw a suit out of the window.
And times of utmost silliness – Mike Shafron roller-skating round the building all day in sunglasses. Midgley asking for, and wearing, everybody’s coat, when the heating broke down.
I just observed that world amid the serious responsibility I was called in for.  HEA 'Run', Dave Wakefield:Saatci01

Every advance in technology leads to people being desperate to use it quickly, to make themselves look modern and cool.
I presume that’s what happened with all this squashed together type in the seventies?
The squashing together was the style of the day. Some squashed it together very badly, but we thought we squashed it together with a great deal of craft?
It was the direct result of two major factors.
One. The unbridled freedom of the new technology –
photosetting. Where type could be set with minus spacing, overlapped, distorted, and so on – releasing (on reflection, sacred) constrictions of the built-in visual boundaries inherent in metal type founding.
And two. Everyone’s super hero, Herb Lubalin. The absolute master of tailored typography – what he didn’t overlap wasn’t worth overlapping.
It can’t be stated more succinctly, that the influences imparted on us at that time did result in a whole mess of work, some of which can
 be seen in these immediate examples.
The saddest outcome to me is the way in which these influences shaped the type design standard that followed.
Specifically, the stubbornness to perpetuate the absurd notion that the market wouldn’t accept any new typeface unless it was drawn to a particular ratio of reduced proportion (the x-height drawn ever more closer to the cap-height).
The ITC has a lot to answer for. Today, new type is released on a daily basis which, despite its overall appeal, doesn’t deviate from that entrenched standard driven in the beginning by market forces, but sadly has now become the accepted norm.
Very o
ccasionally, a new face of rare beauty unveils itself which proudly resists this bastardisation but stands perilously naked in the new world.

What was your first award?
D&AD first credited the typographer to a piece of work in 1977.
A breakthrough at the time.Jeremy Sinclair -  hhh-01
I remember being a part in the award-winning ad for Hayfield Superblend wool which received a silver in 1978, along with four ‘in book’ contributions.Hayfield 'Red Tube', Dave Wakefield, Saatchi's-01

Why the hell do these Typhoo ads look so good; The deep red? The wavy lines? The lack of fiddley small print and logos in the corners?
I guess it’s just the simplicity of the execution. The brand was so strong that even separating the elements did no harm at all.
We now live in a world where everything is over branded; colours are almost mandatory, and dare anyone use the corporate stamp in any way other than how the design manual says it should.
The black type appeared straight on the roughs.
I drew up the lettering on curves to mimic the namestyle and commissioned Dave Lodwick to cut the finished type and namestyle elements in ulano film.
Illustrator would’ve been a blessing then.Typhoo - 'Oo' 48 sheet, Dave Wakefield, Saatchi-01Typhoo 'Oo', 6 Sheet, Dave Wakefield, Saatchi-01
IBM - 'Golfball', Dave Wakefield, Saatchi-01This IBM ad shows the extremes of Lubalin-influenced tailoring to the headline – overlapped slab serifs, touching ascender/descender relationships, and cropped characters (lowercase p and t), all done by hand – which extended to completely cutting closer every character in the original monospaced golf ball setting of the text.
Today, we’d show the honesty of the product regardless of its ugliness.
Always rather liked that split headline in its negative/positive positioning – visually draws the reader to the white and pays off with an answer in the later-seen black.

Why switch to agency life at Boase Massimi Pollitt?
I’d survived the fall of Mushroom through national industrial action and an irresponsible partner who’d held all the power.
Now, freelance was progressively spiralling out of control,  forcing the formation of a new company with staff, just to cope with the production.
It reminded me of Dr Feelgood’s Wilko Johnson, who said, ‘I slept for 2 days in the 70s’.
With mechanical artwork, photographic requirements, and retouching needed, again it seemed that everything was essential in maintaining control of the highest standards. 90% of our work was now coming from one agency as the first very serious recession began to bite.
For a second time, outside influences were at work.
Saatchi wanted discounts, held up payment (for six months at a time), and squeezed the life out of us until it wasn’t worth carrying on.

After the very day I left, I walked into BMP with a vow never to be involved in running another business again.          

Who interviewed you?
John Webster. He was in control of the creative department, and my remit through David Batterbee, the MD who saw me afterwards, was to be the new Head of Typography and Manager of FGDS, their in-house studio.

FGDS: Fucking Good Design Studio?
Yes, the name penned, I think, by Ed Church during his tour of duty previous to mine. It became slightly awkward when clients asked what the letters stood for.

Can you remember the first ad you put together at BMP?
The first few months were troublesome. I’d inherited a difficult culture with a two-man studio who were clearly there for a cushy ride.
One work shy with a drink problem, the other accommodating but some years behind in terms of the standard I was used to.
I was immediately thrown into a pitch situation for Paper-Mate, some 12 boards wanted overnight, with marker visuals coming at me non-stop.
I made a decision to style them with Times Semi-Bold headlines constructed with overdrawn lines as 
if they were wristed with a pen. The text drawn in a script. All in blue. It was hand-rendered typography again, but as visuals this time.
I worked over a light box at break-neck speed  from the afternoon until around 10.00 the following morning when the boards were hastily made up. It was my first encounter with Chris Powell who was presenting the work.
And my first win for the agency.

You struck up a good partnership with Paul Leeves, what was he like to work with?
As the months progressed I realised that press was not achieving the status it had previously enjoyed through the likes of Dave Christiensen, Gordon Smith, and others, who had all left before I’d got there. It was like treading treacle, trying to rebuild that standard alongside the successful, and more favoured TV culture championed by Webster.
There was now a definite need to redress the balance.
A need for a talented senior creative to make the change, who not only believed in press, but who also had the clout to effect that change.
I remember the apprehension when Paul first walked in to the studio – straight faced, with a loud interjection ‘who’s the typographer around here?’.
I knew he was going to be hard to impress, but something also told me that perhaps we were now on the verge of that change.
It was one of the busiest, most fertile, periods of my career.
He knew how to get the best from people. Mainly through fear. But I never really experienced that fear once we’d found common ground through working together on countless pitches and on the need to produce the best looking press work possible.
There could be up to 2 pitches and several styling exercises in a single week.
It was relentless and full on. So full on, that at one point of sheer exhaustion he sent me and my family on a fortnight’s fully-paid holiday to Kefalonia.
It was there that I received his telegram (and champagne) that Hellmann’s had received a silver for ‘best typography’.
He finally reached his peak after five years of facing difficult clients and a difficult management structure, but his achievement, partnered with Alan Tilby, was possibly one of the finest in the agency’s chequered history.

Le Creuset 'Ouefs', Dave Wakefield, Adrian Flowers-01

War On Want - 'Swarm', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDBWar On Want - 'Chair', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDBWar On Want - 'Faces', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDBWar On Want - 'Baby', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDBWar On Want - 'Creosote', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDBWar On Want - '1972', Dave Wakefield, Tony Davidson, BMP:DDB

Here’s a step by step guide to creating the Hellmann’s look.

1. The art director’s roughs, (Paul Leeves.)Hellmann's. Paul Leeves Layout 2Hellmann's Paul Leeves Layout

2. Dave chooses a font.
Hellmann's Alphabet

3. Dave carefully traces out how he wants the text to be set.
Hellmann's, Dave Wakefield Trace

4. The setting comes back.Hellmann's Galley Settting

5. Dave traces out how the ad.
He uses a grant projector, (Google it kids), to trace everything out; text, photos, proportions, etc.Hellmann's Type Trace:Dave Wakefield:BMP:DDB5T.82-01

6. The finished article.Hellmann's 'Tecknology', Dave Wakefield:BMP:DDB*

7. Style set, it can be rolled out across the campaign.Hellmann's 'Paris', Dave Wakefiels: BMP:DDBHellmann's - 'Oat', Dave Wakefield, BMPHellman's 'GasStove', Dave Wakefield', BMP-01Hellmann's 'Hoo, Hoo', Dave Wakefield, BMP:DDB

The Knorr ads are amongst the best looking ads ever, yet didn’t win a sausage?
But they did win a weenie – a Pegasus award for typography.
You’re right though, it’s difficult to understand why they weren’t ever considered eligible for mention during the major awards at the time.
I can only suspect political intervention here.
The disciplines that came together were explosive, but on judgement day turned out a dud.Knorr 'Just The Cube'-01Knorr 'Smother Nature' -01Knorr 'Ox'-01

Clarks Dessert Boots 'Sofa', Dave Wakefield:BMPClarks Dessert Boots 'JCB', Dave Wakefield:BMPClarks Dessert Boots 'Boat', Dave Wakefield:BMP

The Guardian, 'Trunk', Dave Wakefield, BMPThe Guardian 'Frank Budgen', Dave Wakefield, BMP-01The Guardian 'Short List', Dave Wakefield, BMP-01Aberlour. 'Angel', Dave Wakefield:Mak Reddy: DDB:BMPAberlour - Kick, Dave Wakefield, Mark Reddy:BMP:DDB.png
Aberlour - Hogshead, Dave Wakefield, Mark Reddy:BMP:DDB.png

Aberlour - Environmental, Dave Wakefield, Mark Reddy:BMP:DDB.png
Aberlour - Yob, Dave Wakefield, Mark Reddy:BMP:DDB.png
Aberlour - House, Dave Wakefield, Mark Reddy:BMP:DDB.png
Aberlour - Campus, Dave Wakefield, Mark Reddy:BMP:DDB.png

Paul Belford phoned me last year to ask if I had copies of the Marc O’Polo ads from 25 years ago for his Creative Review column. I hadn’t seen them at the time, but I can see why they made an impression on him.
Why does the type keep changing shape?
It was to echo the shapes in each of the plants we shot.Marco Polo, 1, Dave Wakefield: Tony Davidson: BMP:DDB,Marco Polo, 3, Dave Wakefield: Tony Davidson: BMP:DDB,Marco Polo, 2, Dave Wakefield: Tony Davidson: BMP:DDB,Marco Polo,4, Dave Wakefield: Tony Davidson: BMP:DDB,

Why did you resist Macs for such a long time?
This has root in the previous question on the difference of disciplines.
I’ll explain. Technology has now completely transformed our industry and its working methods.
In my career I had embraced all the earlier technological changes, from the constraints of metal through to the freedoms of photosetting’s relatively short life.
I was probably one of the very first typographers to work with the Diatronic system when it was introduced. A clear understanding of its capability but not an operator of the machine.
It superseded the Diatype machine, and I remember then feeling slightly compromised by the inferiority of this successor.
But all these changes occurred in the hands of the specialist typesetter, who got the very best product from a highly-trained workforce.
Within my own working environments I built teams of specialists picked from some of the best in the industry – typographers and artworkers – who knew their craft and who were expected to maintain the highest standard.
There was considerable resistance from agency typographers during the early introduction of the Mac and it was some time before it could produce the quality and level of expectation provided by the outside typesetter.
I somewhat misread the direction it was taking.
Regardless of the failings in its earlier output, the notion of in-house typesetting as an immediate profit centre for the agency came at the very time that accountability became entangled with creative freedoms.
The freedom and luxury to buy outside (overnight) typesetting was now no longer an option. Requiring the typographer to create and produce the complete job that previously had been handled by two separate specialists.
It was stealing a great deal of time better spent (to me) on the creative thinking I was then expected to deliver.

HEA:AIDS 'How Far?', Dave Wakefield:BMP
Clarks, 'Little Ones', Dave Wakefield:Pete Gatley: BMP:DDB.jpgClarks, 'One Step', Dave Wakefield:Pete Gatley: BMP:DDBClarks, 'Bones', Dave Wakefield:Pete Gatley: BMP:DDB.jpgClarks 'Advent', Dave Wakefield:Pete Gatley, BMP:DDB1

Do you think computers have helped or hindered typography?
The computer is a tool. It is in the hands of the operator. Whether or not that operator is qualified will determine the professionalism of its output.
Because the computer is in the hands of everyone there is far more ill-conceived typography than ever before.

Which ad has given you most pleasure?
A lot of work has given me a buzz over the years. I guess the more involved I get producing a solution to reinforce an idea, on brief, is central to my satisfaction.
The English Heritage campaign gave me a great challenge and immense pleasure.
I seem to equate satisfaction with the sheer weight of hours put in.
Great choice!When You build a castle_English HeritageHadrians Wall is much more pleasant_English Heritage

When we did the English Heritage ads Mark Reddy saw one of those ads and phoned me to find out if you’d done the type.
I asked him why he thought it was you, he replied ‘the letter spacing.’
How can someone spot your work by the space between the letters?
Well, we’re not just talking about anyone spotting micro-typographic niceties here.
Mark fully understands what it is that gives a piece of work individuality.
Of course, the spacing could be the giveaway, but more than likely there were several reasons in making that assumption.Whilst Winston Churchill was involved_English Heritage

At BMP, you were more of an art director than a typographer weren’t you?
I’ve always been a typographer who analyses content and uses that content in finding the appropriate solution. It is a responsible reaction.
At BMP, historically a TV agency, press art direction fell low in priority.
Art directors would rely on my input to get their press work on an equal with the best of their TV.
A fair proportion admitted that press was their weaker skill and left me to take a lead.

Do you prefer Art Directors to give you a tight or open brief?
I would say it didn’t matter. As long as the brief felt right I could perform either by originating or embellishing. It’s more about getting the best and appropriate result.

Why go through the hell of hot metal setting when you could knock it out on a Mac in seconds?
It’s not about ease of operation. The choice should be a question of suitability.
But today, it’s all down to cost and a loss of understanding of any difference between either. And it will probably continue that way until the option is no longer an option at all.
It was part of my concern when the Mac was introduced – the loss of any considered choice through cost and profit implications, target figures, and industry requirement.
We were more concerned once, with the look and feel of our work through the choice of different mediums, but now, the accepted industry standard is worked in an environment that isn’t particularly interested in delivering any difference at all.

You’re probably the only typographer I’ve ever worked with who I could give a verbal brief then print the results, like American Airlines? AA Angles 01 LRAA Angles 05 LRAA Angles 04 LRAA Angles 02 LRAA Angles 06 LRAA Angles 03 LR
AA personifies the brief that arrives time on time again – beautiful photography, a line, some peripherals, and no clear direction of how it is to be put together.
My approach is with the same guarded commitment each time.
Respect the photography, integrate the type without suffocation, and above all strengthen the core idea.
At the eleventh hour a small plane had to be included on each execution, which hauntingly
preceded 911.
The Mac was the obvious, and only choice this time round.
Hang on…I just said you’re the only typographer in the world I’d trust with this brief, and you say ‘yeah, it’s the sort of crap brief I’d get all the time? 
I was trying to say that that specific open brief formula – main shot/headline/logo – is not unique and is probably the most difficult one to answer and to serve with something different and pertinent both at the same time.
It was a commonplace situation.
The verbal brief is usually ‘here’s the bits, do something with them’.

At AMV/BBDO with me, you changed the setting on the Economist posters?
For most creative teams, to work on the Economist posters at AMV was perhaps their reason to be there.
I’d always thought that if they fell under my responsibility as a typographer, I would update that appalling and tired 70s inter-character spacing in their special Baskerville – a difficult typeface to kern correctly – which years back was known as ‘close-not-touching’ where every character sat very close to its neighbour regardless of the overall visual appearance of the word unit.
Serifs had never been seen so intimately close (well, not since the 70s).
I undertook the task by setting up a kerning table of character pairs within the software of the Mac.
I can recall the aggravation it caused in the studio where they weren’t used to such disruption.
By the time I’d left, the type was looking the best I’d ever seen it.
My successor either wanted to put his marker down or preferred the way it looked before? Anyway, there was a brief airing of posters wearing a more classically spaced Baskerville. The Economist, Colour 48, %22Wednesday%22-01The Economist, Colour 48, %22Ultra Violet%22-01Economist Colour Blocks

RSPCARAA, %22Wet Paint%22-01LOOT 'Woolies' -01LOOT 'Hate'-01LOOT 'Underpants'-01LOOT 'Picasso-01LOOT 'New Shoes'-01
Fentiman's - 'Press', Dave Wakefield-01Fentiman's - 'Murkier', Dave Wakefield-01Fentiman's - 'De-Tox', Dave Wakefield-01Fentiman's - 'De-Tox', Dave Wakefield-01-01

How do you pick a font?
There are as many typefaces as there are reasons for choosing them.
Question everything before making the choice.
What am I saying?
How am I saying it?
What am I saying it about?
Will I be saying different things?
What do I represent?
Are there any historical affiliations?
And so on.
The practical issues of size, reproduction, need for colour, readability, etc.
Then draw on a reservoir of knowledge on what is available and how it performs to what is required.

A font isn’t a font, is it? (Ie; the way you space it, the size, colour etc can make it feel very different.)
A font is a font.
All the rest is typography.
Admittedly, the nuances in typography can enhance a particular typeface.
Weaken or strengthen it, render it more readable, or make it say something.

What’s the difference between;
1. An artworker,
2. A typographer
3. A designer?
(They seem to have got a bit jumbled up at the moment.)
Before digital, not so long ago, there were specialists.
A specialist designer, a specialist typographer, a specialist typesetter, and a specialist artworker.
Each one trained in their specialism. Trained in many cases to be the best. Continually learning and perfecting their skill.

In the case of the graphic designer, he/she would embrace the other skills to a greater or lesser extent, but not necessarily to perform or to excel in all disciplines.
The origination, thought process, and the directing of others to complete a piece of work, was the criteria of a practising designer.
The typographer was the specialist in handling the choice, detail, and placement of typesetting within a piece of design.
The outsourced typesetting house produced the setting and supplied it back to the typographer as reproduction proofs or photographic prints for pasted artwork origination. And the artworker was the specialist mechanic who constructed the final physical piece fit for print.
They were separate disciplines worked in isolation and brought together for the completed job.
It is because the computer has incorporated all the disciplines into one operating arena, worked in the main by one operator, not necessarily an expert in each discipline, that has eradicated the specialist position.
The designer has highjacked the typographer’s contribution and in many cases has not attained an ability to do so.
Only the artworker has maintained a position in some areas, but merely through expedience and perhaps laziness on the part of the higher-rated designer.

What is it?
Why is it worth doing?
Why have people stopped doing it?
Kerning is a digital misnomer.
Derived from ‘kern’ which means the part of a metal type projecting beyond the body or shank, as the curled head of f and tail of j.
A projection that would enable it to fit closer by overhanging into the space above or below the following character.
Kerning in digital parlance means the lateral movement of space between letters, better described as lateral spatial adjustment.
As skills of any craft are learnt and acted upon to produce an end result of the highest quality, so the correct spatial adjustment of letters into the formation of readable words is a learnt skill, which requires a discerning eye and some degree of costed time.
But as technology improves, fonts and spacing presets also improve, allowing for a relatively even and better basic set, which for the standard operated today now seem (to the lesser discerning) adequate enough to disregard kerning as a manual skill altogether.

Typographic Vision Ad, Dave Wakefield-01

What’s the difference between a typeface and a font?
A typeface is a drawn alphabet of sympathetically-styled letterforms.
It takes that name from the printing ‘face’ of a cast-metal ‘type’.
A fount – the correct spelling (from ‘fund’) – represents the complete collection of characters making up a particular typeface.
The misnomer ‘font’ is the optionally spelt, now commonplace substitution, for typeface.

What’s your top five fonts?
I’m not sure my selection could be reduced to an exact number.
To me, there is merit and mileage in a great deal of typefaces, from the metal cuts of
Akzidenz-Grotesk Medium 58 (Standard Medium),
Grotesque No 6,
Gill Sans (Regular),unnamed
and Romanee,
(my particular favourites), to filmset Neuzeit Buch S Bold (not the Grotesk) an obsession of mine at the time, to the newer digital manifestations from Fred Smeijers, namely Quadraat Regular and Renard, to Matthew Carter’s Miller.

Which ads do you wish you’d done?
None really.
My wish list strays firmly into reasoned typographic design.
It doesn’t get much purer than Lubalin’s ‘Mother & Child’ creation..
Herb Lubalin - Mother & Child
And more beautifully enigmatic than Karel Martens’ standard telephone cards for PTT Telecom.
Thanks for your time Dave, great to catch up.

'Washout' KitKat, Dave Dye, Dave Wakefield, JWT.jpg
Nb. I found a couple of bits of ephemera that show just how good Dave is.

1: A rough of a letterhead/ identity I was doing for my new agency.Dave Wakefield-DHM-01

I pinged it to Dave to see if he had any advice.
He was busy, but sent back this.
Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 3.00.35 PM
After Dave’s suggestions, we had this.
Compare the figures  and ‘@’ sign from the alternative fonts Dave suggested, not only do they look better, they blend right in.Dye Holloway Murray Business card scan.jpg

2: Dave’s feedback on a poster we were about to produce for The History of Advertising Trust.Dave Wakefield letter-01

Further Wakefield reading…
Creativity (Cover), - 'Dave Wakefield.2-01Creativity (Pages 1 7 2), Dave Wakefield-01Creativity (Page 3) - Dave Wakefield-01Creativity (Pages 4 & 5), Dave Wakefield








VFTL. Episode 3: Peter Souter.

Peter Souter:Showaddywaddy.jpgMy 7th boss.
Former hitch-hiker,
Frankenstien re-animator,
David Abbott replacement,
D&AD President,
ITV sitcom creator,
Radio 4 drama writer and
cousin of Showaddywaddy
lead singer Dave Bartram.

wavelogo 7-01.jpg

DELANEY FLETCHER DELANEY.'Some Women Are' Cancer, Peter Souter, DFD*.jpg

WOOLAMS MOIRA GASKIN O’MALLEY.'Escape' Eurax, Peter Souter, WMG)-01.jpg'Scratch' Eurax, Peter Souter, WMGO-01.jpg'Boy' Tri-Ac, Peter Souter, WMGO-01.jpg'Girl' Tri-Ac, Peter Souter, WMGO-01.jpg'Twins' Tri-Ac, Peter Souter, WMGO-01.jpg


ABBOTT MEAD VICKERS.Peter Souter:Paul Brazier.jpg
'This Whippet' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV*.jpg'During The Recession' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV-01.jpg'Bill' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV-01.jpg'Before They're' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV**.jpg'Injection:Radio' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV.jpg

'Industrial Secrets' The Economist, Peter Souter, AMV*.jpg

'Envelope 2' D&AD, Peter Souter, AMV-01.jpg'Dead' D&AD, Peter Souter, AMV-01.jpg

'This Ad Has' Queen Elizabeth's, Peter Souter, AMV*-01.jpg'Radio' RSPCA, Peter Souter, AMV-01.jpgPetr Souter:AMV:BBDO.jpg

'Jordan' The Economist, AMV:BBDO.jpg'Ever Go Blank' The Economist, AMV:BBDO.jpg

'Lolly' Guinness, AMV:BBDO.jpg'Iceberg' Guinness, AMV:BBDO.jpg'Fan' Guinness, AMV:BBDO.jpg




WRITER.'Goldfish Girl' Peter Souter.jpg'Hello:Goodbye 2' Peter Souter.jpg'Married. Single. Other 2' Peter Souter.jpg'Married. Single. Other 3' Peter Souter.jpg'Married. Single. Other' Peter Souter.jpg

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