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.

You did good creative work on each, did that help?
Not at first, often the first work you do on an account isn’t great, it could be because you don’t have time or you continue old thinking.
With Lego for example we began by doing trade ads, to the toy industry.
We decided that we shouldn’t necessarily do the traditional trade ads type ads; ‘Make money with Lego’, we thought let’s do proper ads, consumer type ads that push the benefit of Lego.
So we did ads like the ‘From little acorns grow big oak trees’.'From Little Acorns' Lego, John Hegarty, TBWA-01.jpg
'Keep Feeding Their' Lego, John Hegarty, TBWA-01.jpg'In The Toy' Lego, John Hegarty, TBWA-01.jpgT
hey were very well regarded, they’d win awards at D&AD and Campaign Press, and get noticed, nobody ever said they were just trade ads, they’d say they were good ads.
They set the the tone of the consumer ads as the business grew.
But it wasn’t easy, the clients at Lego fought the against the playfulness of this kind of advertising, they wanted a more functional ‘Use it and learn’ type approach.
The way we ended up persuading the clients to go with us was to record and show them an episode of the kids show ‘Tiswas’.
They were horrified!
It was chaos, people running on and off screen, pie-ing each other, but it made our point.

You could draw a straight line from those early trade ads to the ‘Kipper’ ad, which won the Grand Prix at Cannes many years later.

Johnson Jnr?
Well the challenge was that we were given research that said every time they ran an ad with a baby in every woman engaged, the problem was that they couldn’t remember who it was for.
So we had to figure out a way of making our ads branded, which is why we came up with Johnson Jnr, with the marvelous Richard Briars doing the voiceover.
Of course there were a whole bunch of concerns about a talking baby, a man voicing a baby, etc, but it just worked.

You did some great stuff on Newsweek, I particularly love the ‘History of the World’ ad.
They were a terrific client.
Always coming to us saying we have space we need to fill in their magazine, it lead to the Guy Gladwell ad.
One of the few things I was speechless about when the painting was presented to me, in a gallery in Chiltern Street.
I bought the painting for £500.the-history-ofhow-is-china-newsweek-john-hegarty-tbwa-01'Should The World' Newsweek, John Hegarty, TBWA-01.jpg'How Is China' Newsweek, John Hegarty, TBWA*.jpg
'Has The EEC' Newsweek, John Hegarty, TBWA-01.jpg'What You'd Need' Newsweek, John Hegarty, TBWA-01.jpg'Does Your Newspaper'How Is China' Newsweek, John Hegarty, TBWA-01.jpgJohnnie Walker, Black Label 'Eclipse'-01'One Colour Always' Johnnie Walker Black, John Hegarty, TBWA-01.jpg'Black Is Always' Johnnie Walker Black, John Hegarty, TBWA-01.jpg'Nothing Defines Character' Johnnie Walker Black, John Hegarty, TBWA.jpg'A Little Black' Johnnie Walker Black, John Hegarty, TBWA-01.jpg'Make All Your' Johnnie Walker Black, John Hegarty, TBWA-01.jpgBarney Edwards, Johnnie Walker 'North Sea', TBWA, John Hegarty-01Barney Edwards, Johnnie Walker 'North Sea', TBWA, John Hegarty *-01'A Wee Gift' Johnnie Walker, Johnnie Hegarty, TBWA-01.jpg

How did you hire creatives?
I didn’t want superstars.
I didn’t want to deal with their egos and tantrums, I wanted to find people who I thought showed talent and give them a shot.
It was also partly due to circumstance, we didn’t have the kind of money Collett’s had.
Bank's, 'Simply', John Knight, TBWA-01Bank's, 'Humans', John Knight, TBWA-01Beefeater 'Alan Price'-01
Land Rover 'One Day Son...' TBWA-01Land Rover 'Creature', TBWA-01Land Rover 'Wonky Page' TBWA-01

Why leave?
We were getting frustrated with the way TBWA was run.
They sold in this idea of giving the partners 10% of the agency in a particular country, but 1% of the global network, we were told that the 1% was worth the big money.
It sounded good.
But we found that agencies would set up in Greece or Spain that would do terribly, but the partners in that country thought ‘we’’, it’s not ideal, but not to worry, it’s the global 1% that’s worth the money’.
So there was no incentive to make their country work.
We were doing great in the U.K. at that point, and tried to argue for a change in structure.
They declined.'Designed By A' Pifco, John Hegarty, TBWA-01.jpg
A few years later they did change it to what we’d suggested, but of course it was too late.the-news-is-now-john-hegarty-tbwa-01'The Range Rover' Range Rover, John Hegarrty, TBWA-01.jpg
Great practice?
Absolutely, we always used to say our company was in incubation at TBWA for the first 8 years.





According to psychologists, these are the keys to good communication.

Broadly speaking, we follow similar rules in our business too, nobody wants to create a brand personality that’s a bit vague, unfriendly and mean spirited.
To increase the chances of our messages being well received, rather than rejected, we torture test them.
You need to imagine you’re the most skeptical member of the public, then you question like there’s no tomorrow.
For example, let’s say we are working with a cheese company.
They’re very good at making cheese and are insisting we tell the World that they make the best cheese in it.
The questioning starts:

1. Is this message true?

This is more important to ask today than at any other point in history. Spin, half-truths and plain lies will be exposed and shared instantly.

2. Do we have evidence?
People won’t believe us just the person who has the most to gain from it being true, says it.

3. Is the evidence credible?
Being factually correct is different to being believed.

4. Will anyone care?
A certificate is produced from a World Cheese Authority, you would still have to ask whether people buy cheese based on world rankings?

5. Is it contemporary?
Is this new news or something that’s been found on some dusty old scroll? If it isn’t in the last few years it may have no relevance.

3. Is the evidence credible?

Being factually correct is different to being believed.

4. Will anyone give a shit?

Even if a certificate is produced from a World Cheese Authority, you would still have to ask the ‘Do people buy cheese based on world rankings?


5. Is this new news?

If this is something that’s been unearthed on some dusty old scroll in their basement it may have no relevance.

6. How do we handle it tonally?
It’s true that if we are too meek we won’t even register.
But ‘Best Cheese in The World!’?
We could come over like yet another bullshitting, over-claiming ad, the result being that people may find our cheese company arrogant and unlikeable.

7. How do we make it relevant to people’s lives?
What’s their cheese consumption?
What are their cheese issues?
Are they happy with their current cheese’s performance?
Etc, etc.

8. How do we make it cut through?

There’s general agreement that the best way to cut through is to distil down.

This process is a pain in the arse, but it stops you putting out fatuous messages that get rejected.
Donald Trump seems to have no truck with this kind of process.
He’s creating new rules.
He distilled the process down to one question ‘What do people of dream of?’
and one answer ‘I’ll say I’ll give it to themwithin an hour of taking office.’

‘Possible’, ‘credible’, ‘do-able’ and all the words that end in ‘ble’ don’t seem to get a look in.

He’s like a kid running for class representative, telling class mates what they want to hear ‘Coke machines in every class…Ice-creams at the end of every day…oh yeah, and the teachers will foot the bill, from their own pockets folks’.

But, people seem to be buying it.
As I write this, he is neck and neck with Hilary Clinton.
Pundits are saying that traits such as ‘expertise’, ‘intelligence’ and ‘knowledge’ are viewed by skeptically by the public, as if they’re some kind of trick pulled by the well-educated elite.
If that’s the case, it has enormous implications for mass communication.
Should the worst happen and we find ourselves referring to Trump as Mr President, we may need to learn from his success in communicating with the masses.
It may usher in a new way of communicating.
Are our vocabularies about to get smaller?
Will our product claims start getting bigger?
Is the word ‘braggadocious’ going to become a mandatory on creative briefs?
Watch this space.

Eg 1.donald-trump-2-01

Eg 2.
Donald Trump 3-01.jpg

Eg 3.
Donald Trump 1-01.jpg

Sidney Myers.

Sid Myers-01Hey Sid, where were you brought up?
The Bronx, about three miles south of where Len Sirowitz was brought up.
In those days you were left by yourself in the street.
We went out at 9 o’clock in the morning and except for lunch and dinner we were out and about fending for ourselves.
You learned a lot about how to handle yourself and also about relationships with other people. There were no organized activities so you made up the games and just kind of went along with it.
I guess that helped form the creative process; we manufactured our own scooters, our own wagons and even our own stickball bats.
We created our own games and if we got into trouble with the police we had to get out of it on our own.
You never wanted your mother or father finding out.

You attended the High School of Music and Art. Isn’t that the one in Fame? 
In the eighth grade in junior high school I got into some trouble and my art teacher kind of took pity on me and he told me about The High School of Music & Art.
He also said that if I took their test and passed, he’d take the incident off my record.
Well, I had no idea what a high school of music and art was, but I figured I’d give it a shot. I passed the test and the rest is history.

It changed my life. It was there that I learned about classical music, art history, politics.
Children of all different ethnic and social backgrounds came from all over New York City , so it really broadened my horizons.
Many famous Broadway producers, artists, television and movie stars came from that school.

The ‘Fame’ high school was called the high school of performing arts and years later they were combined and made into LaGuardia high school which exists now.

Where did you go next?
Cooper Union, five years at night, that too was on a scholarship.
The first year there was a foundation course consisting of architecture, typesetting, drawing, oil painting and two dimensional design.
Later I went on to graphic design and advertising design.

Who inspired you at the time?
Paul Rand was everybody’s design hero.
Paul Rand - Mencken
Paul Rand 'No Way Out' In Situ:Gerrard's Place
Paul Rand 'DOP'
Also I was inspired by everything that was coming out of CBS television.
William Golden
CBS radio ad
william-golden, CBS
William Golden 'Morning Show'
…And of course Push Pin Studios.
Push Pin 1956
Push Pin Exhibition
Push Pin 'End Bad Breath', Seymour Chwast, 1967

What was your first design job?
Ziff-Davis publications. I was in charge of designing posters for the sides of delivery trucks.
On the artwork for one of them, I signed my name in very, very, very tiny letters, not realizing that when It was blown up it would be about 10 inches tall once on the side of the truck.
I couldn’t wait till that week was over and the sign came down off the trucks.

You get a job at Vogue magazine, did you work under the great, deliriously happy looking, Alexander Liberman?
I was an assistant to Dick Loew and I learned a lot from him about type design, spatial relationships and photography.
Alexander Liberman was the head art director and when we showed him our year’s work for review he said one of the most important things that I’ve ever heard from anyone in the business.
He said ‘everything is very, very nice but I don’t see any mistakes’.
Wow! What a great thing to say to a young artist.Vogue 'Deep Freeze', Lester Bookbinder-01Vogue 'Pigeon', Lester Bookbinder, Dick Loew-01

Richard Avedon was on staff at Vogue at the time.
Did you shoot with him?

At Vogue I got to use many great photographer’s photos in the material I designed.
Such as Penn, Avedon, Horst.
I don’t think Avedon was on staff, but he was a favorite of Jessica Daves, the editor at the time.
ABC 'Churchill', Sid Myers:Len Myers, DDB NY

Why switch to advertising?
After about three years at Vogue I got a call from Murray Jacobs, the head Art Director at DDB Promotion. I’d worked with him at Vogue before Dick Loew.
I had no idea what DDB was about but I trusted Murray when he said it was a good move for my career.
Also my second child was born and I needed more money.
After about a year I was promoted to the National Department.

Coming from the high fallutin world of fashion, what did you make of DDB on day one?
It was culture shock…at Vogue everyone was dressed like they’re going to a cocktail party; suits, ties, hats, dresses, gloves.
At DDB it looked like a scene from West Side Story with jeans, turtle neck sweaters, boots, capes and all kinds of funky headgear.
One office, on the sunny side of the building, had a Cannabis plant growing in the window. Creativity was bursting out of every office.
One art director who came to be interviewed remarked “walking down this hallway is like seeing the 1927 NY Yankees batting order, George Lois…BAM, Len Sirowitz…BAM, Sid Myers…BAM, Bert Steinhauser…BAM.
I’m sure he would have mentioned Bob Gage, Bill Taubin and Helmut Krone but they were on the other side of the building.

Do you remember the first ad you got passed by Bill?
It was probably one for The Israel Government Tourist Office.
Luckily a new writer was also assigned to it, named Bob Levenson.

We were sent to Israel with the photographer Elliot Erwitt and came back with lots of beautiful photos.
One of the ads we did was called “High Tea on the Dead Sea”, showing a man floating in the sea reading a newspaper with a cup of tea balanced on his knee.

Whilst looking for that ad I found it’s been used in a few trendy art collages.
That man is you isn’t it Sid?
Yes that’s me.
Bob Levenson and I visited the Dead Sea,  we came up with this idea while there, because it wasn’t planned we had no model, so the photographer borrowed a cup and saucer from the restaurant and threw me into the Dead Sea.

Sid Myers Collage 1
Sid Myers Collage 2

I was also assigned to Eversweet Orange Juice, which was fresh orange juice in a container,  unheard of at the time, the copywriter was Paula Green. Paula Green
Newspapers were just introducing colour, we did an ad showing orange juice flowing out of a faucet to fill a pitcher, the headline was “You can’t get fresh orange juice out of a tap”,

which was the the way you made juice from concentrate.Eversweet Orange 'Numbers', Sid Myers, DDB NY-01Eversweet 'Orange', Sid Myers, DDB NY-01Eversweet 'Orange', Sid Myers-01

I love the Ohrbach’s Mens Shop ad.
It looks so punk now! I can’t imagine what it looked like to people on the New York Subway in the sixties?
In the late 60s and early 70s graffiti was rampant in New York City. It was all over the place. Subway cars, buses, sidewalks, the walls of buildings.
The poster was taking advantage of a current craze and it seemed an unusual and memorable way to announce the opening up of Orhbach’s mens shop.

Ohrbach's 'Mens', Sid Myers, DDB NY-01Ohrbach's 'Green', Sid Myers, DDB NY-01

I’m in the process of putting a book together on David Abbott,(with writer Richard Foster) and along the way I came across an anecdote regarding an El Al ad of yours.
David was sent from London to the New York office for a year to understand the DDB culture.
On his first day he reported in to his new group head, Bob Levenson, to introduce himself.

When he entered the office Bob was hanging a framed copy of ‘We’ve been in the travel business a long time’. David instantly put his hands over his eyes and started reciting the copy, word perfect.
“Nice first impression Mr Abbott” Bob commented.
Ever heard that?

I never met David Abbott though I would’ve liked to, I think I left before he got to DDB.El Al 'Long Time', Sid Myers, DDB NY-01
Why illustrate the ad yourself, why not get someone who could draw?
The drawing that I did for that ad was for the comp to show the client but everybody thought it  was so charming that they wanted me to use it.
I guess in retrospect it was a good idea because if I’d got somebody to do it professionally it might’ve overshadowed the message.
El Al 'My Son', Sid Myers, DDB NY-01Sid Myers 'My Son', Interview-01El Al 'Africa', Sid Myers, DDB NY-01El Al 'Stones', Sid Myers, DDB NY-01El Al 'Travel Agent', Sid Myers, DDB NY-01

You worked on The National Airline of Israel and the Israel Government Tourist Office. Were you also selling those Nazi cars at the same time?
No, I never worked on Volkswagen.
El Al 'Neighbourhood', Sid Myers, DDB NY-01El Al 'Stewardess', Sid Myers, DDB NY-01
The girl in the seat was the co-star of ‘Get Smart’. 
I did the ad with Bob Levenson, I laid it out before Bob had seen it, just to get an idea of the length of the copy. 
Bob came in and read it, then said ‘I can’t do better than that, let’s use it like that’.

Around 1960, Bill Taubin and David Reider come up with an idea for a beer campaign featuring talking steins.
DDB pitched it to various brewers, but found no takers.
Then a little known beer; Utica Club, comes in for a presentation.
Utica Club’s former vice-president of Advertising Frank Owens –They already had this idea of talking beer steins, and they were just presented in sketch form – they were not named at the time. But by the time we got there, the idea had been developed a little further.’
The generic steins now had nicknames and personalities.

One of the steins, “Schultz,” was a Bavarian tankard with a nose, two eyes and a Prussian helmet. Another stein, “Dooley,” was an earthenware lidded mug with a green shamrock painted on his front.
“Schultz was quite Teutonic and reactionary, and he feels that ‘beer iss not made de vay it used ta be,'” said Owens, “and Dooley was a mild, philosophical Irish type of mug, patterned after Barry Fitzgerald in Going My Way.”
Utica Cub bought it and Sid was put onto the account.Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 17.12.30

A year later Schultz & Dooley were famous and Utica Club were selling 50% more beer.

Picture 149
You got Robin William’s hero Jonathan Winters, the great improvisational comedian to voice the ads, how was that?
We’d start recording a 60 second commercial at about 9 in the morning and Winters would just go off at tangents, it was hard to keep him focussed, he’d talk about all kinds of stuff, the Marines, he was an ex-Marine, space travel, everything, all kind of weird crazy stuff.
We’d stagger out of the studio late at night, having recorded just one 60 second voiceover.

I don’t know whether you kept any Dooleys or Schultz’s Sid, but they’re worth a fortune on Ebay?
Yeah, I hear that’s right.

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 17.50.37Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 17.49.52Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 17.50.25

How did you come to be involved in the campaign to re-elect President Johnson in 1964?
When the account came in Bill Bernbach put Stanley Lee and I together as the creative team.
Stanley was a straight ahead, intelligent guy from the Midwest and I was a slightly off center, brawler from the Bronx.

It worked out pretty good.
It was a heady time. Here I was a 32 year old kid from the Bronx sitting in the Oval Office…in the president’s chair behind his desk.
I almost picked up the phone to the Kremlin but had second thoughts.
Anyway I don’t speak Russian.

Vote Johnson 'Problem-solver', Sid Myers, DDB NY-01

The ‘Daisy’ ad is widely considered to have changed the world.
It got Johnson re-elected with a landslide and changed the public’s views on the nuclear option.

That campaign, for good or bad has become the gold standard for attack advertising.
It’s amazing that the Daisy ad comes up every four years during election time, especially now that Trump is being compared to Goldwater in 1964.
At the moment almost every newscaster is showing one or more of the ads that we did in 1964, relating the situation with Goldwater back then to the situation we have now with Trump.

It’s amazing, the Daisy ad has created a whole media industry. A  fellow called Bill Gearhart has devoted a whole website to the making of the commercial, (google CONELRAD). Then there was also a book written about it by Bob Mann, called “Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds”.
Now someone is writing a play about the conception of the commercial, so you see, 55 years later it’s still alive and kicking.

It was on the cover of Time magazine,
Time Mag - Sid Myers
was a staple of cartoonists at the time,
Daisy Ad, LBJ Cartoon.
…and is still referenced in culture today.
'Daisy' ad, The Simpsons
The ad outraged the opposition, did you ever worry some Goldwater nut would track you down?
No. I was young…and dumb. I didn’t really think about. 

Your ads hammered him, then everyone else jumped in.
Barry Goldwater badge
Goldwater:Fact Mag:Lubalin
Did you ever feel guilty or sorry for Goldwater?
It was like a crusade at the time, don’t forget that only a few years before was the Bay of Pigs, nuclear annihilation was in the air, people were talking about it and thought it was a real possibility.
Goldwater was saying stuff like 
he wanted to lob an ‘A’ bomb in the men’s room at the Kremlin, or that he would give the Field Commanders in Vietnam the right to use tactical Nuclear weapons against the Viet Cong.
We were worried about what he might do…a bit like Trump today.

Which reminds me, I see that Hilary Clinton has been watching those old LBJ ads.
Here’s your 1964 original ‘Phone’ ad.

Here’s the 2016 remake; ‘PHONE 2. This time it’s personal’.

(Here’s Sid talking about the similarities to CNN: http://cnn.it/1U1EaJq
and below are the posters from the new play ‘Daisy’, about the creation and effects of the ad.)unnamed-2unnamed

The Rheingold Beer campaign was a big deal at the time?
That line, “We must be doing something right”, became an iconic line that was used for every local business for years to come.
Rheingold was a local beer in New York City was being undercut by a national brand.
We found out that the local neighborhood grocery stores were selling more Rheingold beer than anyother brand so we targeted  ethnic groups with  commercials that ran on the Met’s baseball games.
We would get a group of real people from different ethnic groups and film them having a party, shoot raw footage and then edit it , using the music of that the particular group.
Ron Rosenfeld came up with a great tagline: “In NYC where there are more Italians that in Salerno, more Italians drink Rheingold than any other beer, how come? We don’t know, but we must be doing something right.”

Rheingold, Sid Myers, DDB NYRheingold, Sid Myers, DDB NY 2
Rheingold, Sid Myers, DDB NY 3

Sid Myers-1
You’ve worked with some of the best photographers ever; 
Bert Stern, Wingate Paine, Lester Bookbinder, Howard Zeiff, never with Irving Penn or Richard Avedon, but the Melvin Sokolsky shot for The Continental Insurance Company is my favourite.
It took two days to shoot.
One day to build a set in a railroad yard, another day to shoot.
The most interesting thing is that Ali McGraw was Mel Sokolsky’s assistant and she arranged the whole thing.
It was done in one shot, no strip-ins, no retouching.The Continental Insurance Co 'Crash', Sid Myers, DDB NY.The Continental Insurance Company 'Superman', Sid Myers, DDB NY-01.jpgThe Continental Insurance Co. 'Dog', Sid Myers, DDB NY-01

You managed to get a super young George Carlin to appear in a Whirlpool ad?
He was just beginning to get known, of course he wouldn’t have done a commercial if he was the George Carlin we know now.

Sid Myers514-01Whirlpool 'Letter', Sid Myers:Evan Stark, DDN NYSid 'Evan-01sid_myers

Whirlpool 'Cartoon' Evan Stark:Sid Myers, DDB NY

I’ve read a lot about Helmut Krone, but I’ve never heard him described as ‘a barrel of laughs’?
Helmut Krone
Humour was a big part of my approach to advertising, but it seems that a tube of humour was not in Helmut’s paintbox.
As I said before, Helmut was my supervisor but he had as much interest in supervising me as my dog Cleo, which put a lot of pressure on me to come up with ads that would stand on their own without much supervision.
Both Helmut and Bob Gage were immensely talented. Helmut’s approach was more intellectual, while Bob Gage’s approach was more humanistic.
I hope I picked up a little bit of insight from both of them.Robert Gage

What about Doyle & Dane, what were they like?
Mac Dane was a very sweet gentle man who ran the business end of the agency and when he walked down to  the creative floor probably said to himself; “What are all these strange people with top hats and red capes doing in my agency?”
Ned Doyle
Ned Doyle was a wonderful Irishman who once told me when I was leaving to open up my own business, that you only have to be right 51% of the time in business to make a lot of money, but if you’re right only 49% of the time you’re going to lose your ass.
I remember the very first TV spot I did was a black and white commercial with the cast of the “Leave It To Beaver” show, to be filmed in Los Angeles.
I was so thrilled to be at the Beverly Hills Hotel in glamorous Los Angeles, that I took my wife to share this exciting experience.
This was a considerable expense for a young couple.
We were at a little table for two in the corner of the Polo Lounge sharing a Salad Nicoise for dinner when I felt a shadow cross the table.
I looked up and there was Ned Doyle. “Aren’t you the new kid on Polaroid?”
I sheepishly said “yes”.
“What’s that you’re eating?” he said. I
replied,” Salad Nicoise”.
“GET RID OF IT! What’s your favorite food?”
Still stunned, I said, “Steak”.
“ORDER IT!”. he barked.
He turned to my wife who by this time was halfway under the table “And your favorite?” “LLLLLobster,” she demurred.
“ORDER IT, your’e working for DDB now.!”
And with that he wheeled and headed straight for the bar.

Sid Myers 'Handshake',-01.jpg

I asked Len Sirowitz who, from of all the famous names at DDB, was most underrated.
Let me be clear, I don’t mean ‘not rated’. I meant in such a hugely talented department, who should be better known like Helmut, Bob and George.

Another person who also didn’t get enough recognition was Bert Steinhauser. He did some wonderful ads for Chivas Regal, Clairol and Heinz ketchup.
Bert was so enthusiastic someone described walking into his room was like walking into a room of flying colored feathers.
Chivas Regal, Bert Steinhauser, DDB NY
Heinz 'Actual', Bert Steinhauser, DDB NY

Ever consider starting your own shop?
Around 1966 Len Sirowitz, Bob Levenson, Ron Rosenfeld and I got together and talked about opening up an agency. We actually did some spec ads for Hertz and pitched the account but unfortunately, or fortunately, it went nowhere.

I also had some conversations with Phyllis Robinson about opening an agency but that also kind of petered out.
That’s unbelievable, didn’t DDB had Avis at the time? Bernbach surely would’ve had you executed if that had happened.
Bill Bernbach was not happy when any of his children left the nest.

You worked with so many Hall of Fame writers, who was best?
I worked with some of the best copywriters at DDB… Bob Levenson, Ron Rosenfeld, Evan Stark, Paula Green, David Ryder they all had different strengths. Some were great at  concepts,  some wrote great body copy, some were great headline writers.
So…the best was?DDB News_1968May-01
Why leave?
I left the agency in 1968 for two reasons. The first being I started directing my own commercials and really loved it and I was getting calls from production companies to join them. The other reason was I was a vice president and associate creative director and I didn’t have the temperament to get involved in the politics of the agency.
Also, when things get too comfortable, my senses start getting dulled.
I need a little bit of fear again from going into something that’s unknown.

You seem to have worked with every star under the sun; Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, George Burns, Joe Nameth, Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Rodney Dangerfield to name but a few. What did you learn? 
The bigger the star the easier they were to work with.
Frank Sinatra was interesting, he  was always known for giving directors a hard time, only doing one take.

I shot a Chrysler ad with him, he was a friend of Lee Iococa, it was a favour to Lee
Well, we shot all these beauty shots of the car, and finally the car ends up at a private airport.
Frank Sinatra is supposed to get out, to everyone’s surprise, wink at the camera and walk out of shot. That’s it, just one shot.
I decided I’d turn the tables, just do one take.
We did one take and I said ‘Great, let’s go to the next set up’.
He said ‘What?…was that ok?…was my tie straight?..you get the wink ok?’
He was terrific, he wouldn’t have been if I’d been pleading for more takes.

What did you look for when hiring?
I looked for creatives who looked at life 5° off centre, those were the ones who did memorable and original work.
I also look for some mistakes which means that there trying to do something original. Nobody’s allowed to make mistakes anymore.
I’ve seen some great outdoor poster advertisements.
Sid Myers746-01
What’s the best ad you’ve done so far?

At DDB it was the 1964 President Johnson political campaign, three or four of the spots I did 50 years ago are being shown today on national newscasts showing how relevant they are to this year’s election.

Are you a Mad Men fan?
It was fun to watch but was light years away from the work we were doing at DDB.
It was like they were on a different planet.

What was the last good ad you saw?
I can’t understand why there is such a dearth of good work being done today with all the new venues opened up like social media and the internet.
Hopefully a new Bernbach will come upon the scene and create a new BauHaus of advertising.

You’ve recently opened the oldest start up ever?
At the 50th reunion of the DDB 1960 Creatives I met Don Blauweiss and Chuck Schroeder and after a couple drinks we decided we still have the chops, so why  not start a new creative revolution?
So we formed Senior Creative People.Sid Myers, Senior Creatives
Thanks for your time Sid, good luck with the agency.


Nb. More Sid…
DDB News_1964December11-01DDB LBJ Spread-01DDB Cover 'Junk Man', Sid Myers

DDB News CoverDDB Cover Inside Spread-01



John O'D, D&AD Jury-01-01
John O’Driscoll, where were you brought up?
Before I answer that question are you sure about this interview?
I don’t give short answers and have a tendency to go on a bit!
Ask my family!
Yeah, I’ve heard that.
I was born and bred in a Surrey village called Hersham.
Birth place of Julie Andrews and Jimmy Pursey of Sham 69.

What was the first ad you remember?
It wasn’t until I was 13 that I remember seeing an advert that I actually read.
It was in a pile of magazines that my mum had bought home from her job as a cleaner in a posh house.
The magazine was destined for the grate to help get the fire going, but because it was American I thought it might contain pictures of film stars, so I flicked through this magazine called The New Yorker and discovered it was full of writing and cartoons.
I didn’t understand the humour.
There were a lot of ads for cars using sleek photos, always with a woman either in a bikini or an evening dress, or standing next to a bloke in hunting gear, standing either side of a Cadillac, Pontiac, or some other car.
I then came across a VW ad; a black and white picture of Beetle shot from the rear view, it had a chalk marks around the rear window.
The headline read ‘The Italian designer suggested one changed’
VW 'Italian Designer', DDB NY
Up until then I had thought that VW’s were ugly fuckers, and who’d want to own one?
But the fact and Italian designer suggested that all they had to do was make the back window bigger made me think “What do I know?”

Were you an art school kid?
Not even a consideration.
Even if I could’ve got into one I couldn’t have gone, I had to get a job as my dad wasn’t too well and unable to work.

So how did you end up in advertising?
I don’t really know, accident might be a good word for it.
My ambition was to be an international athlete and a sign-writer.

Athlete/sign-writer? Good mix.
Why a signwriter?

As a child I used to love watching those blokes up ladders painting shop names, being a bit of an attention seeker I thought that’s the job for me.
Also, I was encouraged by Mr Rowland, a benevolent art teacher at my school, he used to give me lettering assignments to compensate for my inability to draw.
Then a careers officer advised me that the advent of cut out letters in plastic and neon signs meant there wasn’t much call for sign-writers who went up ladders anymore.
The only local place that offered apprenticeships in sign-writing was BAC/VICKERS, they made 
aeroplanes like the Viscount and VC10.
It just so happened that they had a place available, I filled in an application form and got the job.
Two pound twelve and six a week. (£2.60).

What was life as signwriter like?
At BAC it wasn’t good.
There was sign-writing to be done, but most of the jobs done by my department involved spray painting the planes, inside and out.
Being an apprentice I spent most of the time preparing the surfaces for spraying, and as I was a skinny fuck in those days, I was sent up into the tail of the planes to dab the rivets because the other painters couldn’t reach.
Only occasionally would I get an opportunity to practice sign-writing.
Alf, a man in a beret who’s job was painting the name of the plane near the forward door of the aircraft, would let me paint a second coat on top of lettering he’s laid down, then he’d finish it off with a top coat.
It taught me how to hold a brush and mole stick.
The best part of the week was the day release course when I’d go to Guildford Art School for a painting and decorating course.
It was at the art school that I first realised that the factory life was not for me.

The college was full of them.
The only women one ever saw at the factory was pushing the tea trolley.

What happened next?
Wally Beavais.
 was a member of my athletic club and knew I was an apprentice sign-writer, one day he told me there was a similar job called a ‘lettering artist’, and that these ‘lettering artists’ worked in places called ‘studios’, usually in London.
It turned out that he was one before he dropped out to become a hippy.
I also saw the cover of THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, another magazine my mum bought home, the cover showed a man sitting at a drawing board lettering the word ‘POST’.
The Saturday Evening Post 'Lettering;', Norman Rockwell
The combination of ‘lettering artist’, ‘Studio’ and the Norman Rockwell illustration rewired my ambition to be a lettering artist and not a sign-writer.

So you got a job as a Lettering Artist?
Well, always the fantasist, I put together a little set up in the corner of my bedroom, replicating the Rockwell scene.
Fucking tragic.
I used to sit there with my sleeves rolled up in the freezing cold, pretending I was the bloke in the illustration, what a dope.
With the help of Wally, who’d showed me some samples of his work, I put together a little portfolio. One Saturday morning I took it along to the local Youth Employment Office and told a man smoking a pipe that I wanted to be a lettering artist.
He didn’t have a clue what it was, but said he’d make enquiries.
A week later he’d arranged an interview for me as a studio junior in a  package design company.
I took a sickie off from the factory, put on a jacket and tie and made my way to up to Tandy Halford and Mills in Dover Street, Mayfair.
A lovely man called Cyril Poore interviewed me.

Did you get the job?
I did, but as a pot-boy and messenger.
I had to get in half and hour before all the lettering artists to change the water in their water pots, then spend the rest of the day running messages around London.

Not much lettering then, did you mind?
You’ve got to be fucking joking, it was a fantastic place.
In the interview Mr Poore had taken me on a guided tour of the company and apart from the posh reception and lovely offices, the place was full of girls in mini skirts.
I was nearly in a dead faint half the time, but the clincher was the studio, it blew me away, it was full of people sitting at drawing boards silently lettering away.
It was a beautiful sight, the Norman Rockwell scene but for real, only ten times over.

The lettering artists at THM  were the best in town, one of them, Derek Benee, could tick in 6pt Universe caps that looked like it was type set.
He was so good he even did early test paintings for Pop artist Bridget Riley to see if her op-art ideas worked.
But no matter how much I tried, it was deemed by those who knew better that I didn’t have ‘it’, so I was sent into the finished art studio, given a white coat and got taught how to prepare finished art for printing. I was being trained to be a high quality paste-up artist.

You asked me not to forget to ask you about David Bowie, so, what’s all this about David Bowie John?
Thought you’d never ask.
One of the other finished artists in a white coats was a bloke called Brian Balcombe, he was in one of Bowie’s early bands, one day he asked me if I wanted to join his band mates in ‘The Society Of The Prevention of Cruelty To Long-Haired Men’, as I was sporting a decent mop at the time.
Then one lunch time this bloke with two different coloured eyes turned up at the office and was introduced by Brian to me as his mate Dave, we shook hands and had a little chat and he fucked off.
He never asked me to join though, apparently my hair wasn’t long enough.

Did you leave or were you pushed?
I was advised to move on by another finished artist, a lovely man called John Turton, who thought I had skills in other areas, like graphics.
So I was sent by THM to evening classes in graphic design at St Martins College, I’d bring my stuff in the next day and show the designers.
They weren’t unkind but weren’t very encouraging either.
But John Turton lined me up with an interview as a finished artist working for ex-THM designer called John McConnell.
Sadly the interview was cancelled as his wife had had a baby a bit earlier than expected.
But good old John Turton, God love him, was so determined for me to move on that he made me answer an ad in Ad Weekly, a kind of Campaign before Campaign.
It was for a paste-up artist in an advertising agency called John Collings and he thought I’d be better suited to agency life.

What did you know of John Collings?
Fuck all, in fact I didn’t even know what an advertising agency was, I just pretended I knew, John Turton was such a knowledgable and supportive bloke that I thought working in an ad agency must be okay, so I took a book full of my lettering work along and got offered a job.John O'Driscoll Book
John O'Driscoll Book2John O'Driscoll Book 3John O'Driscoll Book5John O'Driscoll Book6John O'Driscoll Book4
John O'Driscoll Book7
John Collings isn’t a big name with the teenagers today, what was it like?

It wasn’t a big name in those days either.
It was a small agency made up of two halves, one did the posh ads for accounts such as El Al and Sekonda watches, the other half did postal and direct response ads, for things like muscle-building contraptions and rubber knickers that claimed they helped you lose weight around your arse, the kind of ads that appeared in the back-end of the Daily Mirror and Daily Sketch on a Saturday.

I presume you weren’t in the posh bit?
No. I worked under a man called Ken Clifton, the agency’s only art director.
Ken could do anything needed for direct response advertising, he could draw and was a good lettering artist.
His starbursts were masterpieces.
Ken taught me how to do type mark-ups and if anything turned me on to typography. He was good fun and a nice bloke.

What were the poshos in the other bit doing?
The posh ads were written by a free lancer called Denis Hackett, whose day job was the editor of NOVA magazine, they were designed by Derek Birdsall the legendary graphic designer.
Derek had his own man in to do his art work, so I never got the opportunity to work on the so-called good stuff.
Still, I was happy enough working there as I had a good view out the window into Soho Square and as long as I could get away early to train at my athletic club, life was okay until I got ill.
I got glandular fever and was off work for two months.

When I came back it was all change.
The direct response client was in a bit of trouble financially and was spending less so that side of agency business was diminishing and that was the end for poor old Ken Clifton.
For a time I thought that it was for me too but there was a  ‘last in first out’ policy so others got the chop before I did and there was also a change afoot in the agency as all the proper ads were to be done in-house by a new art director bloke called John Hegarty.

Name rings a bell, what was this John bloke better than Ken?
The others in the paste-up studio were a little hostile about John, one of them even nicknamed him ‘The part time flour grader’ because was so pale.
But being a first class crawler I got on with him.
He was fantastic and very kind to me and before I say anymore, if I owe anyone big time, it’s Sir John Hegarty.
For the want of a better phrase, John showed me the way.
Not long after I got back from being ill, John invited me into his office for a chat about the future.
John had prefaced the meeting by saying that one of the management had said I was an ‘enthusiastic hard worker’ and that I should know what was going on in the company.
As I hadn’t been in John’s office it was a surprise to see the ads he had pinned to his wall, among them was the VW ad I first seen as a 13-year-old.
I told him I’d seen the ad before and he said he’d had that tear sheet for years, he’d kept it since art school, he went on to tell me that the VW ads were done by an American agency called DDB and that they were responsible for other great work.

This is the feel good story of the year, what else did he say?
The plans for the future of the agency, he told me that two friends from his days at Benton & Bowles were joining from CDP,  and together they were going to turn the place around.
His friends were Ross Cramer and Charles Saatchi.
At that moment I’d never heard of DDB or CDP, let alone hid mates Ross and Charlie, but John made it all sound so exciting that I wanted to be part of it, whatever ‘it’ was.
Global Watches, John O'Driscoll3
What were they like?

I only exchanged about a dozen words with Charlie in all the time, he was so reserved, but Ross was very funny and it was from him that I discovered that piss taking was an art form.
To me it seemed like Ross was the brains of the two because Charlie never said a word.
They did some great work together, but none of it ran.

What about that John bloke?
I found him very reassuring and he gave me hope.
When I declared that I had no drawing ability and asked whether that would be an obstacle to me being an art director, John said that the art of good advertising is not down to being an artist but having a good imagination.
At that very moment I grabbed that notion and have held on to it ever since.
The conversation also helped me to refocus my ambitions, as my girlfriend had just dumped me and The Head Coach on the Olympic Potential Course had advised me that I had no future as an international triple jumper; my legs were too short!
So over the next few weeks John enlightened me more about advertising, telling me about other great New York agencies like PKL, Wells Rich Greene and Delehanty Kurnit & Geller.
He bought to my attention names like Helmut Krone, Bob Gage, Bill Taubin, Len Sirowitz, Bert Steinhouser and George Lois.
He introduced me artists like of Seymour Chwast and Milton Glazer of the Push Pin studio and to maybe the greatest type designer ever, Herb Lubalin.
He also gave me his back copies of  an American magazine called Art Direction, the first  magazine I ever paid a subscription to, pure advertising porn, and as John had also made me his assistant I subscribed to another mag called Ad Assistant. I was that keen. 

What was the first ad you worked on?
The first I ad I put together was a four-inch double for Eugene.Eugenie, John O'DriscollIt was their anniversary and John said I could design and put it together.
It was nothing special but it was a first thing that was all mine.
Then John then gave me another anniversary ad to do, but this time to write.
It was for Sekonda, the Russian watch maker.
I wrote a headline 
which went something like ‘Congratulations from your top British agent.’ which at the time wasn’t too bad a thought as the cold war was still going on. Never ran though.
But most of the time was spent cutting and pasting up ads.Global Watches, John O'Driscoll1Global Watches, John O'Driscoll2.png

How did you get into DDB?
Well, it seems every time I was away from John Collings something changed.
I went on holiday for a fortnight and when I came back John told me he was leaving to join Ross and Charlie in a start-up; Cramer Saatchi.
I was crestfallen, but needn’t have been as John had arranged an interview for me with an old college friend of his called Doug Maxwell, Head of Art at DDB.
I got the job in the Bullpen, (American name for the paste-up studio), and at the same time Doug made me his assistant.

What was the DDB like?
The offices had just been done up and were very modern, for the time, and the girls were beautiful, and the men were tall dark and handsome, bar Malcolm Gluck, a gay writer at FCB used to say he got a hard-on every time he walked past the DDB building.

How was the Bullpen?
Like a town square; everything revolved around it, all the art directors offices looked out on to it.
There was such pride in the work that even the account men would come and watch the ads being put together. The job was fantastic.
There was no photosetting at that time so all the type was set in metal, headlines were cut up to make the spacing look right, body copy was cut up to get rid on unwanted gaps between letters. Copy was changed if it was felt that there was too much space in lines.
It was finicky but satisfying.
That’s how I learnt how to be an Art Director.
Got a picture of the studio team which includes the UK’s greatest art director Neil Godfrey.Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 5.48.48 PM
What accounts did you work on?
First things I put together were for a Lufthansa campaign that David Abbott had written, I always liked them but David told me latterly, even when they got in the D&AD annual that year, that he hated the art direction, done by an American AD who had just gone back to the States.
Lufthansa 'Flight', D-01  Lufthansa 'Great Myths'-01
Doug had been working with David Abbott on LWT which had just won the franchise for weekend TV, so I got to put some of them together.
LWT 'David Frost'-01  LWT -01
They were lovely ads and all got into the D&AD annual.

How did you claw your way out of the Bullpen?
Did you say crawl?…I think being a very enthusiastic secretary for the DDB football team might have been an advantage, it was mostly managed by the Creative Department and as I organised all the fixtures I got to spend a lot of time in their company.
It was a good team as it happens, we had an ex Spurs Junior called David Bryce was a winger. Our captain was Martyn Walsh, the one who doesn’t get enough credit for the ‘Labour isn’t working’ poster, Tony Brignull was our centre half and a dirty bastard and on occasion, David Abbott played in goal, David Brown, the writer of the famous Ridley Scott directed Hovis film where the lad pushes his bike up the hill to Dvojak, was a dead ringer for Georgie Best, not only in hair style but how he played. He was brilliant.
I was an effective right-winger because as a club sprinter I was clocking 11.01 for the hundred metres, which was very useful on those small pitches up at Hyde Park, all agency left backs were fat fucks so I pissed past them.
We did quiet well and even got to the Ad Agency Cup Final, only to be defeated by Royds.
My memories of the occasion are that the Isthmian league team Hendon’s pitch was too big for a bunch of blokes used to those postage stamps up at Regents Park, both teams were fucked by half time and that the medals were presented by the legendary cricketer and Arsenal winger Denis Compton.
Who was pissed.

How was David Abbott?
David was the Copy Chief when I arrived, but it wasn’t long after he was made Creative Director, as the previous one, John Withers, had just gone back to the U.S.
The great thing about David was that he gave everyone one a chance, so all the assistants were given the opportunity to have a go at doing an ad.

What was the first ad you created?
I was put together with a lovely writer called Mike Doyle, a plastic Paddy like myself, to do an ad for Lufthansa.
It was to appear in the Travel Trade Gazette feature a lady at the airline who specialised in organising flight arrangements. Not a spectacular brief, and in the end not a spectacular ad, but it was an opportunity.
So for the first time ever I sat in an office with someone, feet up on a desk, talked shite and did an ad.
It was the first real ad and I got to work with a real photographer and art directed it myself.
It was because of that ad that I was made a Junior Art Director, I moved out of the Bullpen and into an office. Well,half an office, it was a space with a desk, a phone and a half a wall around it, a cubicle.Lufthansa 'Lady', John O'Driscoll

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 2.39.05 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-10 at 2.39.46 PMWhat else did you work on?
The first dealer campaign for Volkswagen, I was put 
with an Australian writer called Terry Bunton.Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 2.39.46 PM
Two points: It’s the wrong font, it should be Futura and VW ads are supposed to be black on white, not white on black?

Dawson Yeoman and Arthur Taylor a campaign that was binned by Bill Bernbach.
Arthur came through the ranks at DDB New York, he was assistant the great Bert Steinhauser and had a fondness for bold looking art direction.
So his and Dawson’s ads bore no relation to the Helmut Krone look.
As you say, it was the reverse; giant headlines set in Standard Extra Boll with Rockwell medium copy. See, can still remember it!
Mr Bernbach did not like it.
This all happened a bit late for Terry and I, we’d already done the dealer ads in that look and they were out there in the showrooms.
I have a fond memory of the time as Peter Mead, the ‘M’ in AMV, was the account man on VW took Terry and myself out as a ‘Thank you’, to the famous 60’s Mario and Franco’s ‘Terrazza’, the equivalent of The Ivy these days.
The Terrazo
Another reason I remember well is because it’s was the first time I’d eaten spaghetti that hadn’t come out of a tin.
Volkswagen 'Half', John O'Driscoll, DDBScreen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.05.14 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.05.06 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.04.56 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.05.24 PMJohn O'D, VW 'Cruise'-012 Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.06.33 PMJohn O'D, VW 'Silly Questions'-01

Writer David Brown and I discovered that a designer at Rolls Royce drove a Beetle.
But he wouldn’t appear in our ad because he thought it might not go down to well with his bosses. 
Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.07.14 PM

What ads influenced you at the time?

All the ads were sent once a month from the New York office.
It was like Christmas, but every four weeks.
We’d all stand around the big cutting table as the studio manager Keith Craddock would unravel the ads from the tube.
I can remember to this day when the ‘Rat ad’ by Bert Steinhauser and Chuck Kollewe was unfurled. That was a moment!

Why leave for PKL?
Things changed, at first for the good as I’d climbed up the greasy pole to become a proper art director, given a proper office and proper accounts to work on like Atlas Copco, Bankers Trust, Northern Irish Tourist Board, Tern Shirts and VW.
Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.13.37 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.13.46 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.13.56 PM
Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.14.27 PM
I was lucky in those days with writers, I struck up a good working relationships with two in particular, Terry Bunton and David Brown.
David and I did a lot of ads for VW, but one of our first ads together would’ve been the first thing I got in the D&AD annual, for the Banker’s Trust, but the creative secretary cocked-up with the entry forms and it was credited to another art director.
Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 2.38.34 PMThis disappointment was followed when David Abbott, who’d become Managing Director as well as CD of the agency, dramatically left to set up French Gold Abbott.
To replace him DDB bought an agency called Gallagher Smail, their ethos wasn’t quite the same as the DDB I’d grown to love under David.
Gallagher Smail were originally a breakaway from Mather & Crowther, (later O&M), and were more like a JWT, Y&R or McCanns in spirit.
That said, in hindsight they had some good creatives and among them was your hero Paul Arden.

What was PKL like?
The agency I joined was actually BBDO, as they had not long bought PKL.
The future author of ‘A year in Provence’ Peter Mayle was the Creative Director.
The place was a hoot, I’ve never laughed so much in my life.
There was some great characters in residence, very funny people.
Legendary agency wit Rick Cook was there.
The creative department was nick named ‘Peter Mayle’s Toy Box.’
The Christmas ‘do’s’ were legendary.
They were called Tupperware Parties, everyone in town wanted an invitation, we were such inverted snobs we made sure that the ones who really wanted to come didn’t get one!

What about the work?
Like after all mergers, the work was patchy but going in the right direction with Tim Delaney and his art director Desmond Serjeant leading the way, they did some great work on Sony and exquisite work for the wine vituallers; Grant of St James.
I went to work with a writer called Madeleine Thornhill for a time but she left to become a picture framer so, I was put to work with a very young Paul Weiland.

Did you and Paul do anything good together?
We wrote and made one commercial for Adams Cheeses titled ‘pantomime Cow’ that was reviewed in Ad Weekly with just seven words: ‘This commercial is too awful for words.’ It was.

Your writer was a lanky chap called Tim, how was Mr Delaney?
Well you know what he’s like! I was put to work with Tim by Peter Mayle after Desmond Serjeant went off to work with David Abbott at FGA, because he said I wasn’t scared of the skinny fucker.Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.50.29 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.56.31 PMWe also worked on the Body Language Bra account. Maybe the best account I’ve ever worked on!
The client used to brief us by way of private fashion shows on a specially built cat walk.
Models of all shapes and sizes would parade up and down in bras and corsets.
Tim and I would sit there watching, holding our breaths and barely containing our trousers while the client, with a straight face, would discuss the finer points of how lift and separate bras worked. Schoolboy hysteria used to break out in the cab on the way back to the agency.
Not that the visits went to waste, we put together a campaign for an under bra for ladies who were not over bosomed.
Tim’s line on the ad below could still run now and not sound too shabby. One of the best ever copywriters in town, the grumpy fucker.

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.04.25 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.05.00 PM.pngWas he scary then?

Maybe to some he could be a little intimidating.
As you know our Brendan, (Tim’s second name), is very sure of his opinions, especially about ads and politics, and if you can believe it, even more so in early 70’s.
He was very quick to share with them with people whether they wanted to hear them or not.
In fact his nickname was the ‘Blushing Bully’ on account that he used to go red when he got really going.Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.29.26 PM

Did you two get on?
Oh yeah. I learnt a lot from Tim, he’s a very classy and erudite man considering he’s of the same bog Irish class as I am, we had a laugh most of the time, but on occasions he was a little critical about my layout skills, which apparently he did with all his art directors.
It got to me one day and I went into his office with the sole purpose of hanging him out the window by his skinny ankles, but before I could lay my hands on him I burst into tears.
Told him what I was going to do and he just laughed, but I have to say after that he was as good as gold. For a fortnight!

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.53.56 PM
Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.54.12 PMThe ad above was a stand-in which we ran while we waiting for John Gorham to finish his illustrations.
The one below was done after John finally got the illustrations to me.Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.54.21 PM
Mr Delaney was at his best on Sony, we did an ad that showed a family watching a giant flat screen TV , hanging over the fire place. Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.05.34 PM
In 1975.
That was his vision not the clients.
How far thinking was that?
I was even in the room when he thought of using John Cleese to write the award-winning Sony radio commercials.
We didn’t work together that long.
At the time there were management changes in the agency, Peter Mayle had left to go to BBDO New York to facilitate his exit from advertising, so he could write books.
Before he went he made Tim the creative director, which was great for him and the agency but in the long run, but was not a lot a fun for me as had to spend a lot of late nights in the office and working Saturdays, as during the day Tim was in meetings.

PKL morphs into BBDO and you get a new writer; John Kelley, did you click straight away?
Yes, something did click.
I’ve been very fortunate with nearly all the writers I’ve worked with as they all have been ego free. John was, and is, the most easy-going and uncomplicated man to be with.
He just got on with it.
There was never any competition to get to idea first, even though John usually did, but if I’d had a better one he’d cast any thoughts he had aside.
We’d got together when John’s art director, John Horton, had gone on a big BP shoot in Australia, leaving him without someone to work with, and as Tim was so busy being a CD we were put together to work on a pitch for Skol lager.
Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.07.44 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.28.20 PM

Which ad got you two noticed?
There wasn’t one.
How did you come to be at CDP then?
Because of John Kelley.
He and John Horton had done an animated campaign for Mace food stores, with talking prices.
It was wonderful.
Frank Lowe’s wife at the time had produced it at BBDO, and had obviously told him about the campaign, he loved it so asked John to join CDP,  John then asked me if I’d go with him.
I thought about for a millionth of a second and said yes. Got lucky there old boy!
That all said I still had to go through an interview process with the CDP’s Head of Art, the U.K.’s best ever art director, Neil Godfrey.
I must have past muster with him as he didn’t object to my appointment.

John O'D Barclaycard 'Sponge' 2Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.40.29 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.40.17 PM


Arguably, CDP had the best creative department in the country, were you intimidated?
Nervous more that intimated, because there was no hiding place at CDP.
You couldn’t blame your shortcomings on anybody.
Not the account men or women.
Not the planners, who were more friends than foes.
Most of important of all; not the clients, who’d placed their business with the agency for the same reason we worked there; they wanted to make good ads.
Even the media department good, run by the amazing Mike Yershon. He would haunt the floor of the creative department seeking out ads or commercials so he could show them off in the best possible way to the public.

One of your first ads at CDP, based on the cunning insight that when scientists left their laboratories for a dinner party they didn’t want to have to lug around their heavy ballpoint pens.
Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.30.00 PM

John O'D, Fiat 'Grrr.'-01

Tell me about the ever so slightly sexist Palio ad?Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 5.58.09 PM
We thought it was just a bit of fun at the time, but understandably it would be considered very un-PC today.

It upset a few people back then too, a postcard was soon circulating that showed the poster in situ with graffiti written on ‘If this was a man it would get it’s face slapped.’.
Quite right!

Why on earth did this win a silver at D&AD?
Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.45.04 PM
Terry Lovelock, ‘Mr Heineken refreshes the parts etc’, originally penned a headline that read  “I’m Lena, Fry me”, it was a spoof of the National Airline campaign.
National Airlines 'I'm Cheryl, Fly Me'
Problem was that the sausage wasn’t actually leaner, so the line was change to ‘Meaty’.
Now why did it win? I don’t know? Blame the D&AD poster jury at time.
Might’ve been because they got the gag and the shot, by Ed White,  is maybe the best picture of a sausage ever to have graced a poster site. 

AN ANECDOTE: I was a so-called expert witness in a court case where the widow of an up and coming photographer Peter Barbieri was suing the City of Westminster and the Gas Board for negligence.
One late evening Peter ran over the pot hole while on his motorbike causing him to be thrown over the handle bars with fatal consequences.
During my testimony I had to show my credentials and the D&AD annual with the Wall’s poster in it was used to confirm that I had some standing in the ad business.
The book was handed to the presiding judge who took a long look at the ad, shook his head and commented that the banger looked a “Mighty fine sausage”.
I’m pleased to report that eventually both Westminster council and the Gas Board admitted their guilt, the judge awarded substantial damages Mrs Barbieri.
Now that’s worth a silver don’t you think?

Presumably you presented your work to notorious creative curmudgeon Colin Millward?
No, as Colin had retired by the time we’d got there, John Salmon was the CD.
I didn’t think Colin was scary until he pulled me up sharp one evening, we were in New York for a Heineken voiceover session with Victor Borge.
He and Frank Lowe, (who always attended the Borge V/O sessions), were in town en-route to Arizona for the B&H ‘Swimming pool’ shoot.
We all went out for pre-dinner cocktails at a bar on the top of the Twin Towers in New York.
While sipping a gin martini I gave some flippant reply to Frank when he enquired about how the casting was going on another job, Colin very sternly reminded me that I should give a proper answer as I was paid enough to do so.
That was after spending the entire afternoon with him visiting art galleries.
Up and until then I thought him and I were best mates.
Apparently not.

You worked on the early Heineken stuff?
To keep the client onside so the business came along to the fledging Lowe Howard Spink, Frank briefed us to give the poster campaign a more continental feel in both concept and graphics, so Tony Kaye and I sat down to meet the challenge.
Thus the flags and no ‘Heineken refreshes the parts that other beers cannot reach.’
It’s safe to say that as soon as the client signed on the dotted line the flags were soon taken down and the ideas returned to that on home turf.Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.46.44 PMThis rough was shown to the Greek client, he went absolutely mad as those guards on ceremony were considered sacred.Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.47.13 PM

The photograph below was taken by the great photographer Elliott Erwitt as it was based on a picture he’d taken for the French Tourist board in the 60’s.
John O'D, Heineken 'French Loaf'-01
Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.45.27 PM

While at CDP, you and John Kelly competed with Paul Weiland & Dave Horry on who could have the most ads on air at any one time. Who won?
As far as John and I were concerned we just got on with our own work, not worrying what the others were doing.
Also David and Paul were old friends from the past so we took as much pride in their work as they did.
We all won our fair share of gongs and some did better than others.
For the record, Horry and Weiland would take first prize as they both have black pencils in their satchels.
John O'D & Weiland-01

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.51.53 PMBirds Eye 'Ali', John O'D, CDP-01

You had the brief to follow-up one of the best ads ever?
You mean the Benson and Hedges sequel film that no ones ever heard of?
Not quite a poisoned chalice but maybe a cup of cold tea.. but that said, on reflection it’s a good film and it’s journey to the screen is indicative on how brilliant the agency worked.
John Salmon asked us to have a go as other teams were struggling to come up with another film as good as ‘Swimming Pool”.
We were happy to have a go but thought we wouldn’t crack it either.
To be quite frank, the B&H campaign wasn’t our sort of thing, we always thought it was the domain of the arty farty teams in the agency.

It’s a great ad.
Thanks to an art director called Rob Morris.
Rob had put together a B&H poster that was to run in three parts.
First one showed a safe laying on the sea floor all chained up.
Second poster had it open, full of B&H gold boxes.
Third poster just showed the empty safe.
That thought stuck with us, so we worked out a script that showed scuba divers go down to a sunken ship and discovering a hold full of B&H packs.
All this was to take place in green-blue waters just off some coral reef somewhere exotic.
Our fantasy was be sitting on a beach somewhere while a crew shot the film then surfaced to show us the results on the video play back.
We’d nod ‘Yes’, the carry on sipping our Pina Coladas or whatever was on offer.
That script was put to one side so we could work on other ideas.
One was an homage to all the posters where we showed all the previous work, can’t remember the detail, but it was titled ‘Surreal St’.
Anyway we showed them to John Salmon, he took to the one with the pack in the sunken ship, but suggested that the film should look more industrial and take place in somewhere in the North Sea, more like a BBC2 documentary.
After a rewrite we showed it to the account director on B&H, John Spearmen, who suggested would it be a nicer idea if the film took place at night to look even more dramatic.

Why Hugh Hudson not Ridley Scott?
Good question.
You see in those days Ridley was considered by the agency as a bit of a glossy director, Hugh was considered more of a ‘film maker’, even though Ridley had just made a feature film; ‘The Duelist’.
When the commercial was due to be in pre-production Hugh was in post production with ‘Chariots of Fire’, and
 he didn’t want to leave London as the premiere of the film was coming up, so he suggested our ad was shot by the Tower of London with Tower Bridge in the back ground.

Hugh also suggested we made the pack 40 feet tall. See what happens when you get top quality people on the job, easy peasy.
By the way Hugh won the silver for best direction for the film so it couldn’t have been that bad.

You became an album designer for a while?
Only when working on EMI 20 ‘golden greats’ assignments.
The album design came with the brief.
Most likely the best work I ever done as an individual.
Buddy Holly, 20-golden-greats, John O'Driscoll:CDPDiana Ross & The Supremes, John O'Driscoll:CDP20goldengreatsManfred Mann, . John O'Driscoll:CDPMotown, John O'Driscoll:CDPVarious-The-Last-Dance-Motown-LP, John O'Driscoll:CDP
Is that all the covers you did for EMI?
I was asked to coordinate with Gerald Scarfe on The Pink’s ‘The Wall’ album sleeve.
No way.
I found Scarfe as a bloke a bit of a disappointment, despite his quite hard arsed satirical cartoons he seemed a bit wimpy and through out the process, he seemed to get bullied by Roger Walters, who I believe was, and still is, a bit of a twat.
I finally got dumped from the project after delivering the dummy of the album to the band’s manager one Saturday morning.
I then had to deal with the record company not wanting to pay the bills of all the suppliers I’d got involved in the project.
Have had an intense dislike of anything Pink Floyd ever since. Wankers.

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.51.38 PM

Then on to publishing?8456l
Only in a small time way.
Alfredo Marcantonio joined CDP.
I had known Marc as a client on VW when I worked at DDB. He’d always wanted to be a writer and eventually came to CDP to work with Rob Morris.
At a lunchtime Creative Circle awards ‘do’ he told me he had the idea for the book and asked me if I was interested in doing it with him.
A great experience.
As David Abbott was a co-author, Marc and I got to meet Bill Bernbach and shake his tiny little hand and have a chat.
By the way the book now in its 5th edition and available through our website http://www.greatvwads.com Buy now while stocks last!
I noticed you’ve got a sticker on the books saying ‘The ads that made the mad men Mad.’ Has the series helped book sales?
A bit.

What about the sausage book?
Yes, I’ve been working on ‘Max The Flying Sausage Dog’ with Richard Kelley and the celebrated children’s book Illustrator Arthur Robbins since 2006.
It’s been classic Kelley relationship. No egos just hard work and collaboration.
We started off naively by getting Arthur to do the illustrations and put a dummy together not realising that’s not how it’s done, as I found out after a meeting with an editor at one of the country’s leading publishers, he said “I find a story I like, and work closely with the author and when I think the text is right I choose a suitable illustrator, then I brief a designer to put a dummy together”
Thought that comment was a one-off but it was a mantra from publishers there after.
That said we did come close with one big one but the deal was so awful we decided we’d self publish.
That was two years ago and we are now on our third book and proving, that through social media, you can sell books.
And not to miss a selling opportunity readers, for those with young sprogs it available at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Max-The-Flying-Sausage-Dog/dp/099103645X
Buy now while stocks last!
You’d be surprised how young some of my followers are.
I’m sure if their mums buy them copies they’ll love Max The Flying Sausage Dog.
b9e10a80-bc2b-40dd-8e08-a64052990326  e0dfa1ea-8cd8-4bae-9095-d485001b82a8

What is your favourite piece of work from your days at CDP?
Well, apart from the EMI covers and the films that went with them, we also did a campaign launching the tabloid size of the Daily Express.
The paper had the rights to the auto biography of the eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes and wanted to use excerpts for the launch.
We wrote trailer type commercials, which at the time were considered ‘fresh’, wonderfully shot by Alan Parker.

We did a Heineken commercial called ‘Tennis’ based on the Pong game that was all the rage in pubs at the time.
There was also a Fiat commercial we made called ‘Train’ that I think is the best film John and I wrote together. Very nice story about a man, along with his family, is seeing his mum off home on a train and as it pulls out of the station its realised her suitcase is still on the platform, there then followed a chase across the Tuscan country side to catch up with the train at the next station. Beautifully cast and filmed by Michaeal Seresin.
So…everything you did then…that was your favourite?

CDP blows up and you leave to join Lowe Howard-Spink as a founding partner and Head of Art?
It didn’t blow up, a group of us set fire to it.
Frank Lowe was not in a good place at the agency because of bit of a problem with the taxman so he was no longer in charge and as he wanted to be his own boss so he and Geoff Howard-Spink set up their own place and invited John Kelley and I to join them as Creative Director and Head of Art.
Seemed like a good idea at the time.

This poster was most the most original poster idea both John and I did for Heineken.Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 5.49.05 PM
I commissioned Phil Jude to take the picture, he was one of Lester Bookbinder’s most trusted assistants and a great photographer in his own right.
Despite Phil’s warning that what I was asking for might look a little insipid, I insisted that he took the shot as I wanted, as I was worried the ‘i’ might be missed in the logo.
It wasn’t until the proof came in I discovered he was right, It was insipid.

I went to Frank and admitted that I’d fucked up, he just said go away and re-shoot it.
This time I let Phil do it his way.
Insipid it aint!Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 5.53.08 PM

Did you do any good work there?
Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.44.38 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.40.43 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.44.28 PM
If I am honest we didn’t do anything on the level when we were at CDP.
We did do quite a nice film for Fiat that got in the annual and a Bird’s Eye film that now seems to be the only commercial that John and I did together that the public of a certain age remember. When sometimes asked by the occasional oldie, who I haven’t met before,“So what would you have done anything I’ve seen on telly all those years ago?”,  I say the Heineken ‘Tennis’, Fiat ‘Train’ and the B&H film.
The response is usually blank, but when I start to sing the opening lines to the jingle we wrote for Birds Eye Steakhouse Grills, it was sung by a group of workmen in the back of a transit van in the ad “Will it be chips or jacket spuds, Salad or Frozen peas… Will it be mushrooms, fried onion rings. we’ll have to wait and see…Hope It’s chips, it’s chips, we hope it’s chips,it’s chips, we hope it’s chips,it’s chips” their faces light up!
The fuckers sometimes even join in with me and sing the chorus.
When I see it now it seems like a bit of fun, but­ at the time our chums thought it was naff, when visiting Soho eating establishments, so called friends would start singing silently under their breaths “Hope it’s chips, It’s chips. We hope it’s chips, it’s chips”.
It was John and I’s resignation script from Lowe and Howard-Spink, we presented it to Frank at the same time we resigned.
We were told after leaving that the ad was so successful that the client wanted more of the same from the agency, which Frank didn’t want to do as he hated the film.
The business moved on shortly after and I think we were never forgiven.

What was Frank like?
I can categorically state that in my humble opinion Frank Lowe was the best account man ever in British advertising.
As a director I’ve met a lot so-called good ones in pre-production meetings.
None of them in the same league.
If there was fear factor at CDP, getting an ad past Frank was more important than anything else, that included getting one approved by John Salmon, who again, in my opinion, was the best creative director of the lot too.
Frank didn’t have a creative thought in his head but he knew a good ad or script when he saw one and broke his arse selling it.
I could go on with his virtues as an adman but it would take all day.
He’s worthy of another blog post Dave, but with those who knew him better.

Why Abbott Mead Vickers?
To be quite honest I don’t think we suited the job of bosses.
We were a little disappointed we had to deal with contractual arrangements with Frank and Geoff, so it all felt a little flat for John and I, and this dissatisfaction must have got to David’s Abbott’s ears as he gave us a call.
So we jumped ship again.
Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 6.03.14 PM
Was the  AMV David different from the DDB David?
No, exactly the same. Same man, same suits, same haircut, same modus operandi and he still sang out of tune. I loved the place but not the job anymore.

Planners…they were in the works. ‘A planner in the works’
Makes me laugh!
What’s wrong with planners?

Whats right with them!
Only joking.
For some reason, albeit rather naively, I couldn’t deal with the level of interference of planning in the creative process at AMV.
It hadn’t been that important in all the previous agencies I’d worked in.
Up until then, John and I had worked on the basis of ‘Get the brief.’ ‘Do the ad.’ Get it approved by the client’ Make it’ and ‘Move on.’
Personally, I couldn’t deal with the planning or for that matter Joe public having a say in the work. This churlish and old-fashioned view led to me losing the old mojo for making ads.
Despite working with John Kelley, one of the best creative talents in the U.K, my heart wasn’t in it anymore, which coincided with Paul Weiland asking me to join him at his production company.
So off I went to be a director.
Thanks John, it’s been wordy, and a pleasure.


Nb. For those who want to O.D. on O’D: A bit more John.
His chair.

John O'D, Chair, Direction-01

His day.John O'Driscoll 'Day By Day' Direction-01

His big break.John O'D

His short film.


I bet there were few takers for the 1966 National Library Week brief amongst DDB New York’s creative department.
Because the previous year Charlie Piccirillo had produced the definitive ad.
It looks so simple and innocent.
But try ignoring it.
Or forgetting it.
It’s impossible.
It makes you think about books and libraries in a new way, without big dramatic photos or imaginative colourful drawings, using only
 the very product it’s promoting; the alphabet.
Whilst interviewing a couple of guys from that sixties creative department I stumbled upon this and couldn’t resist sharing it.

“One of my earliest assignments after being made an Art Director was a PSA ad for the Public Library.
Full page, NY Times. Wow.
How did this one get by my supervisor, Bill Taubin who seemed to glom all the plums?
Probably because he also assigned me a ton of small space ads for EL AL that would run in the Tel Aviv News, where the ads would be translated into Hebrew.
In any event it was a big opportunity for me and Monte Gherlter so we spent some long nights working on it.
We finally came up with the idea of using the alphabet as the visual.


I set the line in 12 pt type and placed it in the middle of a full page of white space.
Monte’s headline still holds the record of being the longest headline ever written in DDB history.
However, it was brilliant:
In your Public Library they have these arranged in ways that can make you cry, giggle, love, hate, wonder, ponder and understand.
I sent the copy out for type (remember that) and in the morning did a rough paste up.
I was so excited I decided to show the ad off to the art director next door, which just happened to be
Helmut Krone. He took a long look, then he said, or rather growled, “Boring”.

I was crushed. I spent the next 2 days and nights putting together a dozen new versions, using every imaginable alphabetical visual device from children’s blocks to a bowl of alphabet soup.
Then the trouble was, I couldn’t make up my mind. So I called Nancy and asked if I could come up and see Mr.Bernbach. To my surprise Nancy said he was coming down to see Bob Gage and would stop by my office on the way. Bill come to my office? I called all my Art Director buddies to come take a look.
When Bill came in I had all 10 versions pinned to my corkboard. He glanced around and looked as confused as I was. Then he said: “This is a really good idea Charlie, but boy did you screw it up”.

Why don’t you just put down the alphabet in small type across the page as the visual. It would be much more powerful.”
I said, Bill, that’s the way I started, but Helmut thought it was boring.
Bill shook his head, and as he walked out he said, “Charlie I’m going to see Bob Gage now, and the first thing I’m going to tell him is to give you a raise, then I’m going to tell him change your office”.
The Library ad won my first Gold Medal at the 1962 Art Directors Club Award Show.
It’s still my most treasured.National Library Week 'Alphabet', Piccarillo, DDB NY*

‘That funny looking king-size brand’ Pt 2: THE SURREAL YEARS’

B&H, 'Circuit Board 1', Nigel Rose-71
I used to walk past this poster every week for about a year .
I was fifteen an my Art teacher had got hold of a 48 sheet, or I should say 48 sheets, as it was life-size, twenty or thirty foot long, and papered the corridor leading to our classroom.
We were all bemused by it at first, but once the gold pack was discovered we thought  it was cool.
Who knew adverts could be so hip, sophisticated and playful?
It made a lasting impression.

1965: The Government banned cigarette companies from advertising on T.V.
Press and posters become crucial to Tobacco companies.

1971: The Government declares that cigarettes must carry a health warning, and that press and poster advertising must donate a strip at the bottom of their advertising to print the message ‘Every pack carries a Government Health Warning.’
In retrospect, that’s the least they could’ve done, but at the time it must’ve caused outrage in agencies with cigarette accounts; ‘You mean we need to take a piece of OUR pages and posters, space that WE’VE paid for, to say bad things about our product?’
So you’d have all the creative bods in an agency trying to say good things about their brand of tobacco in the top bit of the ad, and effectively, at the bottom it would say ‘Yeah, whatever, we think it’s RUBBISH. signed THE GOVERNMENT.

1976: The Government come up with some more rules for the Advertising industry: ‘If you’re advertising  Tobacco DON’T feature people using the product, in fact, DON’T feature people at all. DON’T say anything about the product, don’t even mention it, DON’T even write it’s name on the ad, DON’T even think about its name when you are creating these ads.
Come to think of it, the only words we want to see, and we want them in black on white, clearly legible, nice and big, saying “This product gives you lung cancer or can kill you”. Capiche?’

1977: Benson & Hedges agency, Collett Dickenson Pearce, are increasingly irritated by the number of companies aping their original Gold Box campaign.
It meant that B&H advertising was starting to get lost in the crowd.
The account guy on the business, John Ritchie, made a big call; ‘Forget all we’ve done! we need something completely new!’
It was a big ask; the ‘Gold Box’ campaign was famous, award-winning and had turned a niche product into the brand leader.
As if that wasn’t pressure enough, the new Government rules meant you couldn’t show or say anything about the product.
So not only have you got your hands tied behind your back, you have one leg tied too.

Alan Waldie 1981 1
Art Director Alan Waldie and Copywriter Mike Cozens were one of the teams given the task.
Waldie: “Days drifted into weeks and Ritchie, who was forever chasing me, said “What have you got?”
I said we’ve got something. It’s probably not quite ready. It’s a bit different. It’s dare I say, a bit advanced. I’ll need to explain it”
“You won’t need to explain” said Ritchie “Let’s have a look”.
Silence descended on the room as they gazed at some totally incomprehensible layouts of birdcages, mouse-holes, eggs, sardines.

No messages.
No words at all.
Unified only by a solitary gold pack.
A rival team had also created a campaign.
Unsure of which to go for, CDP M.D. Frank Lowe takes both to his mentor, former CDP Creative Director Colin Millward, for his view.
One will let you sleep at night, the other will make you famous’ was Millward’s verdict.
Sleep wasn’t a priority for Frank Lowe or CDP, so the ‘famous’ campaign was presented to the B&H Chairman Stuart Cameron and Marketing Director Peter Wilson.
They loved it, telling the agency to spare no expense in photographing the ads.
BH - Alan Waldie rough-01
When money was no object Brian Duffy was the guy, he was promptly called upon to turn Waldie’s drawings into photographs.

An ‘arty’ choice.
He wasn’t the consummate commercial photographer.
He was opinionated, experimental and very creative.
Brian Duffy was one of the trio of famous cockney snappers, (the others being David Bailey and Terrence Donovan), probably the least known, arguably the most talented.

Duffy went to work and had the sets built in his Primrose Hill studio.
Duffy: ‘I changed the colour and scale of everything, which looks pretty weird today.
I played with optical illusions, since I know enough about what lenses can do and plate cameras and changing perspective.
They’re real photographs and it’s quite complex to do things like that, which look like trick photography. They’re not phoned in from the coast, it’s all done in the camera.’

The first shot was ‘Mousetrap’, showing a pack replacing to lure to a presumably nicotine addicted mouse from its hole.
He tried five different lighting set-ups before settling on the final image.
It set the style for the campaign.

B&H Surreal 'Birdcage'-01
Duffy’s son and assistant Chris remembers that ‘Birdcage‘ was a very simple set unusually lit, ‘We lit it with an old Rank projector light and through it we projected an image of a bird that we had reversed out on a negative.’
B&H Surreal 'Eggs'-01B&H Surreal 'Gold Ring'-01B&H Surreal 'Christmas Plug'-01
David Montgomery was then called in to shoot these two.B&H Surreal 'Art Gallery'-01B&H Surreal 'Stonehenge'-01
Adrian Flowers shot the last of the first years campaign.
B&H Surreal 'Flying Ducks'-01
The shots still look amazing.
They looked even better when blown up and put on billboards.
They were like nothing people had seen.
If they ran tomorrow they would still be like nothing most people had seen.
Here’s an from of one at Victoria Station in 1978.B&H_Sardine_Can_poster_at_Victoria_Station_London
The campaign became so famous even the Government spoofed it.image012
The brief was then opened up to the whole creative department.
Here’s what Neil Godfrey and Tony Brignull made of it with photographer Jimmy Wormser.
B&H Surreal 'Pyramids'-01
(Shot for real.
The agency and photographer turned up in Egypt on Sunday.
Scouted the location on Monday morning; perfect.
Turned up Tuesday to shoot; too hazy.
Turned up Wednesday; too hazy.
Thursday; too hazy.
Friday; too hazy.
Saturday; too hazy.
Sunday; too hazy.
Monday; perfect.
It turned out the hazy effect was pollution from the local factories, only after a weekend of not pumping out crap was it shootable.)

B&H Surreal 'Hotel Door'-01
This one was shot on the top floor of the National Liberal Club, the payment was the luxurious fitted carpet used for the shot.
Because the young people were in and out of each others rooms all night, photographer Adrian Flowers used a ’20 – 30 minute exposure, so that they wouldn’t show up on the film’.
Again it took a week to get a result they were happy with.)
B&H Surreal 'Sant'a Gold Sack'-01
B&H 'Pen Nib'-01
B&H 'Jigsaw'-01B&H Rain -01
Two years in, the question was asked how would this new surreal B&H behave in film?
The answer, created by Waldie, and Mike Cozens was shot by Hugh Hudson.
It was also featured in the Guinness Book of Records every year until the mid-eighties as the most expensive commercial ever made. (Worth every penny.)

This was followed by another Hugh Hudson epic, this time created by Johns O’Driscoll and Kelley. Not as famous, equally mesmerizing.

B&H Surreal 'Wallpaper' CDP-01
B&H, 'Circuit Board 1', Nigel Rose-71
B&H 'Christmas Pyramids' -01

Max Forsythe, B&H 'Heat of the night', CDP-01
Barney Edwards, B&H 'Stage', CDP-01
B&H 'Magnet'-01
B&H 'Moth', Neil Godfrey, CDP-01
B&H, 'Ripped', CDP-01
Max Forsythe, B&H 'Chameleon', CDP-01
The photographer of this one; Max Forsythe recalled: “The finished shot looks very much like the original layout, but the struggle was how to light it. No conventional lighting seemed suitable.
After about 2 days of messing about I finally settled on sunlight coming through the studio window with a bit of BBQ grill to cast the shadows.

The Chameleon and the pack were both models, we did get a real one in the studio, but soon realised that it was not possible to work with it (it kept disappearing). They were about 5 times real size which made it possible to shoot on 10×8.”B&H 'Fossil' Poster-01bh_ants
B&H, 'Tubes' Nigel Rose757-01
B&H 'Bees' CDP
B&H 'Mosaic'-01
The writer of this one is unknown.Pict0109
In the eighties, art director Nigel Rose takes the reins.
B&H, 'Bent' Nigel Ros-01B&H, 'Plug' Nigel Rose-01B&H, 'Window' Nigel Rose-01B&H, 'Table Cloth' Nigel Rose751-01
Here are some of Nigel’s fantastic roughs for ideas that didn’t get bought.
B&H Rough, Nigel Rose733-01B&H Rough, Nigel Rose731-01B&H Rough, Nigel Rose735-01B&H, 'Cactus 11', Nigel Rose737-01B&H, 'Axe' Nigel Rose-01
B&H 'Iron Works' CDP-01
B&H Surreal 'Shavings'-01 B&H Surreal 'Snow Footprints'-01 B&H Surreal 'Shave'-01 B&H 'Hinge'-01Rolph Gobits. B& H advertisementB&H 'Encased In Glass' CDO-01B&H 'Banana', CDP, Rolph Gobits-01B&H 'Venus Fly Trap' CDP-01B&H 'Lures' CDP-01 B&H Goldfish (Graham-Ford)
 B&H 'Pine Needles' CDP-01B&H 'Bermuda' 1B&H 'Bermuda' 2image004      B&H, 'Mercury' Nigel Rose768-01
Looking at back at these posters I can’t help wondering why people aren’t producing posters like this at the moment.
Instead of trying to shout a dull message across the street, why not create something that intrigues, makes people lean in, then rewards them by creating a smile in the mind?

Kind of interactive.



B&H Zoom Article 1-01B&H Zoom Article 2B&H - Surealism Article' Creative Review August 1985-01

B&H Article - Zoom-01

PG tips Shoot 'Louis & monkey 2'

Encounters with Monkey.

Over the last couple of months I’ve had quite a bit of feedback from colleges; ‘Do more posts that go through the decision making process, we like them best’.
It’s flattering that the colleges are using my blog, but weird for me, because if I’ve got the choice of interviewing say…Dave Trott or talking about why I picked Futura over Baskerville or preferred the word kerfuffle more than brouhaha, I’d choose the former every time.
But I’m going to try and post a few more of the latter, showing the micro decisions made along the way.

I first saw the critter back in 1999, he was flogging subscriptions for ITV Digital.
Monkey, or ‘Monkeh’ as he’s known to his friends, disappeared shortly after along with ITV Digital. He made a brief appearance in The Office.
When the liquidators turned up at ITV Digital looking for stuff of any value, they came across Monkey, then came a dispute over who owned him – the liquidators or Mother, the agency that gave birth to him.
An agreement was reached that neither should own him, he should be adopted by Comic Relief and put to work pulling in donations.
Why would an ad agency would want the rights to a now defunct character from an advert?  who’s going to want a character previously associated with a company that went belly up?
Then, and I’m not sure whether by chance or design, the only company in the country with a monkey as a spokesman turns up with a problem ‘They can no longer use real monkeys in their ads’ its cruel.
What are the chances?
So monkey starts peddling tea, PG tips tea.

By the time I got to work with Monkey he’d shed 200lbs, or Al, as he was known.

The initial task was a handful of ads about the variants; Fruit, Gold and Green.
My first concern was how do we bring Monkey to life in static media?
He doesn’t look himself illustrated, and when photographed he often looks… well, like what he is; a stuffed sock puppet.

Exhibit A.
PG tips - Illustration:Bob Venables

Who could breathe life into this sock puppet?
What photographer would even take a puppet seriously?
Who would be sensitive to the character of a puppet?
What kind of photographer would be arsed to worry whether his little woolen mouth looked like it was an ironic smile not a naive smile?
Oh, and also make the images look cool, and graphic?
What kind of nutcase gives a shit about that kind of stuff?

I get mark Mark Denton on the phone.

After seeing the layouts Mark makes a great observation; ‘Make him small in the frame, that’s part of his charm in the tv ads.’
Like all the best observations, it’s bloody obvious once someone says it.
In retrospect Monkey looks more like a gorilla when filling the frame.
With Mark on board we start shooting.


PG tips Fruit Tea 'Carmen' 1st Rough-01-01

The questions were;

a) Is the Carmen Miranda visual a little too familiar?

b) Is there a more humorous pose for Monkey? As we are not dealing with a temperamental actor  we can shoot forever.

c) If we try something else, how do we handle all those packs?

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 11.02.29 AM

The pose was funnier, admittedly only 11% funnier, but funnier all the same.
We had a last minute headline switch.Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 11.01.03 AM

PG tips 'Posh' Scribble-01

Here were the questions;

a) Mark’s rough, as usual, was magnificent, full of life, frankly you could run the rough, but are there too many elements?
PG tips Gold 'Poshest' 2nd Rough-01

b) Where will the headline go and will it be light or dark enough to be read/seen?

c) How will it look posh without lots of props?

I managed to cut five words from the headline and made it sound posher by swapping ‘I’ to ‘one’.
PG tips Gold 'Poshest'

PG tips 'Green' rough-01

The big debate on this shot was whether we really needed to shoot it?
It kind of worked didn’t it?

So our questions were;

a)  Would a colour that contrasts with green make the green look more noticeable?

b)  Showing five means people won’t focus on any, could we show less?

c) Would he look better smaller in frame?


We reshot it.
It’s similar to the mock-up, just better.
PG tips Green Tea 'Green Monkey'


‘Al’, Monkey’s big boned chum has departed and a new campaign is needed.
In a world where Coffee is eating Teas lunch, how can we position PG tips and Monkey?
The planning department proposed positioning PG tips as honest, no nonsense and real alternative to coffee.
Planner/creative hybrid guy Chris Vernon a neat line the summed up the thought ‘Keep it tea’, meaning ‘Keep it real’, (only with ‘tea’ in it).
A lot of funny work had been done, but the sticking point seemed to be what was Monkey’s role?
Should the campaign be based on him hanging out with people who were’t keeping it tea?
Learning about what was or wasn’t ‘keeping it tea’?
Observing others that weren’t keeping it tea?
Etc, etc.

I thought the simplest way was to get Monkey to call out the pretentious, gimmicky and downright silly.
My first thought was to literally do just that; create spoof, pretentious content and have Monkey calling it out.
In tv he could walk on half way through the ad to call it to a halt or in print he could be standing opposite, reacting, generally being appalled.Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 10.45.47 AMScreen Shot 2016-03-29 at 10.46.01 AMScreen Shot 2016-03-29 at 10.46.16 AM

We shared them with the client.
A couple of questions emerge:

a) ‘The two parts are a bit complicated, could it be simpler?’ – Mark Waites.
It’s a fair point.

b) ‘Monkey is a bit passive, couldn’t he be a bit more involved?’ – Client.
Fair point.

c) ‘Couldn’t we do it without paying for ads for lots of other companies?’ – Mark Waites.
Again, fair point.

So, how do I get the pretentious bit and the response bit within the same half?
In a simple way?

With Monkey being funnier?

Well, Comedians do it.
They stand alone and call out the nonsense in the world.
Take Jerry Seinfeld, he’s always pointing out the silly or pretentious things we all do, like ‘why do Chemists have to be a foot and a half higher than the public?’

Let’s have Monkey pointing out stuff that isn’t keeping it real, like Jerry, only more English.

What can I poke fun at? Oh joy, I’m in Shoreditch, let’s have a look out of the window.

Young people with beards, (mainly men). PG tips 'FACT' rough-01

Sock-less hipsters.PG tips446-01

Pretentious phrases.
PG tips 'Normcorps' rough-01
PG tips 'Amazeballs' rough-01

What else is annoying?
Endlessly being told I simply HAVE to watch The Wire/Breaking Bad/Game Of Thrones/etc, etc.PG tips 'The Wire' rough-01

The whole palava around ordering a coffee.PG tips447-01PG tips448-01
Some were starting to work, but there were watch-outs.

1: Avoid being too judgemental.

2: Avoid being too Shoreditch.

3: Avoid being non-funny.

Words generally feel different in type than handwriting, more formal for one thing.
I thought it would be worth seeing how they felt tonally once mocked-up.
So how should they look and feel?

a) We have to use the PG font; Cheltenham.

b)  We should use the PG tips brand colors; green and red.

c)  We need to make them look simple; it’s an ad.

d)  We should avoid them looking too designed; it goes against the idea of ‘keeping it real.’

e) They should feel contemporary; with tea consumption falling every year and PG tips being nearly a hundred years old, it’s important to make the brand feel relevant to today.

FIRST ROUGH:Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 6.28.08 PM
Looks a bit rubbish.
And cheap.
Maybe if we minimize the colors by making Monkey black & white?
A tone on the background might make it feel less cheap, less like a mac run out.
Also, ‘keep it tea’ feels like it’s floating, maybe it should link to the logo?

SECOND ROUGH:PG tips 'My name on' roughBetter.

Right, what else isn’t ‘keeping it real’?
The fashion industry.
PG tips 'Airbrushing' roughPG tips 'Black is the' roughPG tips 'Clothes' rough

The tech obsessed.PG tips 'Get Yout Free' roughPG tips 'Instagram' rough

Those overly friendly ads.PG tips 'I'm Not' rough

Language.PG tips 'Real Time' roughPG tips 'Beer 'O'' rough

And beardy writer Craig Ainsley pops over with a neat dig at Shoreditch.PG tip-01

Fortunately it’s been designed by JKL, so it’s magnificent.
We have to switch our font to their new one; Neutraface.PG-01

Good result, Neutraface is  a better, more contemporary font.
Maybe Monkey should have ‘Keep It Tea’ on his t-shirt?
We would lose an element and link the line to Monkey.PG_PRINT_2015_V423
Looks a bit crap, plus it seems to make the line feel more bombastic, in a bad way.
Maybe we run the endline on from the headline and let the colors separate them?PG_PRINT_2015_V418 2
Better, more contemporary, simpler and slightly cooler.

(To run in January 2015.)PG_TIPS_KIT_LINES_FOR_DAVE_Page_04

Mark Waites chips in a line on his way to the loo.

Nick Hallberry & Dave Colman nail the inevitable ‘amazeballs’ execution.PG_PRINT_2015_V410

And one from planner/creative hybrid guy Chris Vernon.PG_PRINT_2015_V417

Placement team Raine & Lisa* pop over with a slightly left field script.
(Now known as ‘Permanent team Raine & Lisa’.)PG tips 'Kim', 1

Not sure  of it as a script, but love the static image of Monkey mimicking Kim Kardashian.
Let’s do it as a poster.
Find the exact Kim reference then mimic it.
PG tips 'Kim', 2
PG tips 'Kim', 3Oops, the brown is a bit weird.
Lose the brown.PG tips 'Kim', 4.
Box is a bit weird.
Lose the box.PG tips 'Kim', 5.
Looks a bit fiddly.
Simplify the type by putting it in a single line along the bottom of the poster.
Make Monkey black & white and fitness the arc of the tea.
Also, let’s put some little splashes in the tea cup, for 7% more humour.PG tips 'Kim', 6
Let’s push the mug onto the edge of Monkey’s bum, it’ll give us another 3% humour uplift.PG tips 'Kim', 7
It feels more comfortable to follow the arc of the tea from left to right, the way people read, also it means we end on the PG tips logo, so let’s switch it around.
And where’s the background tone?
Let’s angle the cup, as if it may fall off at any moment, (4% more humour) and try the tea in black & white too.PG tips 'Kim', 9PG tips 'Kim', 10
Black & White tea looks too weird.PG tips 'Kim', 8.

Maybe, because ‘Keep it tea’ is new we should lead on it, to launch the idea?  The observations could be smaller, secondary?PG tips 'Airbrushing' (Bold Futura)PG_PRINT_2015_V426PG_PRINT_2015_V434
Good theory, but the jokes get lost.
Back to where we were.

We shoot with Mark again.
(He brings in Fern Beresford for technical support.)
PG tips Shoot 'Sign'PG tips Shoot 'Board 2'
My son Louis gets to hang with Monkey.PG tips Shoot 'Louis & Monkey 3'
I get to hang with ‘Of-Course-You-Can’ Malcolm, who now operates Monkey.


At a bus stop.
Unfortunately I missed the last bit of the process due to leaving Mother.
Mark, Nick, Dave and planner/creative hybrid guy Chris pushed it over the finishing line without me. 

PG tips 'Instagram':Dave Dye:Mother

PG tips 'Six Pack' FINALPG tips 'Amazeballs' FINALPG tips 'Airbrushing' 48