ABBO.

In 2009, we pitched for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.
As the recession was just starting to bite and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles were generally dearer than non-Volkswagen commercial vehicles.
I thought we needed to find a writer who could write.
Someone who could put together a reasoned argument as to why businessmen should pay more for something they could buy for less.
It’s a tough brief.
I tried to think who’d fit it, but couldn’t think of anyone.
I’d recently picked this ad as my classic for the NNMA Annual.ddb_hires1
That’s the kind of writer we need someone like David Abbott.

Right, who can can I get who writes like that?
I’d ask mates if they knew any David Abbott types.
Zilch.
Then I realised, finding a David Abbott type is like finding a David Bowie type.
They’re not types, they’re individuals.
I thought the only way to move on was to get a “No” from David, then, having got that idea out of my head, I could think afresh.
‘‘I’m terribly rusty, I haven’t written an ad in years.’’
Me, cheekily; ‘‘It’s only thinking, I’m sure you’ll remember how to do it.’’
He tentatively agreed to meet and discuss it.
I got a cab around to his lair.
Moments before, I had taken delivery of the first, hot-off-the-press, copy of the Creative Circle Annual I’d designed with Mark Denton.
Inside was a big feature on David, (he’d been given the President’s Award).
Sod it, I’ll give him that copy, it’s a nice gesture.
I was ushered in to his very stylish apartment, all mahogany and faded first edition book spines, the smell of roasting coffee beans mingling with the wafting classical music.
Sophisticated like.
As I handed the Annual to him, I was aware it didn’t quite fit the surroundings.
Exhibit A:creative_circle_annual_carpet
He looked at it quizzically, like he was trying to figure out how it worked.
Like any creative, he flicked straight to his bit.
As the pages were flicking by, I had a horrific flashback; Two months before, when we had nearly completed the annual, Mark had an idea ‘Let’s have those little headers they have in comics, y’know ‘Billy Whizz he’s full of… jizz’… those little rhyming bits.
It was a good idea, but it meant writing about sixty meaningless rhymes in a couple of days.
We split the task, thirty each.
In my pile was the Presidents Award section, the recipient was David Abbott.
I didn’t think much of it at the time, it was just one of an endless pile I had to write.
I wrote about six and showed them to my mate opposite our office – Billy Mead, the famous Film Editor, he scanned down the list and burst out laughing at one that said ‘He’s Abbo, he’s original, but he’s no aboriginal’.
In it went.
Now, I’m sitting opposite him as his eyes hit the page, move up to read the legend ‘He’s Abbo, he’s original, but he’s no aboriginal’.Creative Circle/David Abbott DPS
It’s difficult to describe his expression, a kind of confused wince.
He closed the book ever so carefully placing it on the table slowly, as if it might contain an undetonated explosive device, “So what is this project of yours, tell me about it”.
We had a great chat and he agreed to give it a go.
He called three hours later: “Dave, I didn’t realise you’d designed that book, I’m so pleased now that I wasn’t rude about it”.
We cracked on.
He went from tentative to full on pretty quickly, pinging over updates and improvements regularly.
He was on top of every detail, improving and polishing all the time.
It was very impressive, he cared when he could’ve just dabbled.
This was my favourite of the ads we did:VW_Creative-37
Here’s a few of the others:
'Our DNA', Volkswagen CV, DHM, David Abbott-01.jpg'The Future Will', Volkswagen CV, DHM, David Abbott-01.jpg'Gambling', Volkswagen CV, DHM, David Abbott-01.jpg'Telling' Volkswagen CV, DHM, David Abbott*-01.jpgWhilst we were working with David, I’d been very careful to tell everyone at DHM to keep it quiet, I didn’t want it getting out because it may look like we had used him as some kind of P.R. or pitch stunt.
We were working with him for what he could do not who he was.
We pitched.
After reading out the first bit of copy, the senior client said “That’s well written”.
I smiled and read the next one.
“That’s well written too.”
I read the third and final piece of copy.
“Very well written, who wrote that?”
Who asks that?
Who cares, Kevin the copywriter upstairs, what difference does that make?
That’s just some of the things I didn’t say, I just smiled awkwardly thinking how do I answer that? The client took it as a sign that I was chuffed because I had written them and was being modest.
Senior Client; “You wrote them?”
I looked at my partners, one said tell him.
“It was a chap called David Abbott” I said.
Younger client; “David Abbott in the Parts Division?” (I kid you not.)
Senior Client; “THE David Abbott?”
The intermediary was looking at me incredulously, thinking “why is he making this up?”
Anyway, we pitched, they LOVED the work, said it was the best advertising they’d seen and the only work that captured the Volkswagen tone of voice.
Obviously they didn’t give us the business.
They gave it to Iris because they could do everything under one roof.
Here’s some of the other work from the presentation:'Cheaper on paper', Volkswagen CV, DHM-01.jpg'Durable van', Volkswagen CV, DHM-01'Movano', Volkswagen CV, DHM-01'Three Points', Volkswagen CV, DHM-01Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 15.57.44Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 15.56.00'Berlingoing', Volkswagen CV, 48 sheet, DHM-01'Unreliable Van', Volkswagen CV, DHM-01'Deliver big boxes', Volkswagen CV, DHM-01'Whatever your size, Jenkins', Volkswagen CV, DHM-01'Whatever your size, Martha's Muffins', Volkswagen CV, DHM-01'Whatever your size', Volkswagen CV, DHM-01

 

ADNAMS Pt 1: Pictures

“It’s Simon Loftus on the phone, he says he’s a chum of John Hegarty.”
It turned that he needed some advertising for his family’s brewery and had been given our phone number by John. (Fortunately, BBH had a conflict, Boddington’s, so couldn’t help him.)
Simon was the Chairman Adnams and a totally inspirational, lovely guy.
I had a cottage in Suffolk, so I knew of Adnams and although they were pretty small, I thought they were quite classy and upmarket, not all ‘spit and sawdust’ like a lot of brewers.
The agency trekked up to Southwold for the traditional pre-pitch brewery tour, to find the ‘silver bullet’, that special or unique part of the process that makes their beer ‘the one’. We were told about the unusual hops, the quirky layout of the building even the “special cat” that takes care of the mice, etc.
Minutiae.
Next time I’m in the beer aisle of Sainsbury’s there’s no chance I’m going see an Adnam’s bottle and think ‘Oh, that’s the one from the brewery with the quirky building layout’.
It was all so fiddly and small.
Behind the Brewery was the North Sea.
About 90ft behind the brewery.
“That’s got to be unusual, hasn’t it? Is their another brewery by the Sea?’
Planner; ‘Who knows? What’s that got to do with the beer, it doesn’t affect how it’s made or tastes’.
True, but if I was in Sainsbury’s looking at a whole stack of weirdly named beers, I might remember that was was from the Seaside? It would help me position it at least?
And…it’s distinctive, besides, what’s the alternative, ‘Kevin The Mouse Catching Cat?’.
Great, strategy agreed.
Media choice; they had about a million quid, if we put them on tv they wouldn’t appear very premium, they couldn’t afford a premium director or premium time lengths (long).
But, if they spent it on posters, they could be the most premium posters out there.
We set about creating some visual ideas for posters that linked beer and sea.
They started off a bit GGT-ish, sort of cartoony.Adnams 'Beach Huts' Dave RoughAdnams 'Fisherman' Dave RoughAdnams 'Bollard' Dave RoughThen went a bit more B&H-ish, surreal.Adnams 'Pebbles' Dave RoughAdnams 'Groynes' Dave RoughAdnams 'Pearl' Dave RoughAdnams 'Shells'  Dave RoughAdnams 'Sand Castle?' Dave RoughI liked them, but thought they didn’t exactly scream premium.
Maybe ‘coast’ would sound more upmarket than ‘Sea’, so ’From the brewery by the sea’ was replaced:
Adnams Endline

They needed to look sophisticated.
They needed to look classy, evocative of the sea and timeless, representing an idealistic Britain of the past but without going all retro.
Also, distinctive, so that it could be a style Adnams could own.
I took the old rail, seaside and Guinness posters from the thirties as a good style guide.
(To be precise, in the style of Frank Newbould. If you’re quite geeky, I’ve got a board on him: http://www.pinterest.com/davedye/frank-newbould/)OstrichlnerSkegness
Wood or lino cuts seemed to be the way to go, this meant a head to head – Christopher Wormell vs Andrew Davidson. Both amazing illustrators.
In the end I went for Wormell, he just seemed a bit more…coasty.
We got Chris to do some test drawings, to help the client understand that they were to be classy, not scrappy little cartoons like my drawings.Adnams 'Beach Huts' RoughAdnams 'Groynes' RoughAdnams 'Hat' Rough jpgAdnams 'Bollard' RoughAdnams 'Yachts' RoughAdnams 3Adnams 'Shells' RoughAdnams 1Adnams 'Umbrellas' Chris Wormell RoughAdnams 'Nets' Pencil Rough
They looked great, but a bit serious, maybe he could do a coloured drawing?
He did one, in pastels, and to the trained eye, it looked, well… shit.Pearl & shellsHe’ll have to ‘cut’ one for real, otherwise they might not get the premium feel.
He agreed to do a test for £500.
Wow! Amazing!Adnams 'Clams' 48
We pitched.
They loved it.
Twelve assorted Adnamites even clapped at the end.
Not because they thought it was good creatively, but because it felt like it accurately represented them.
In the past advertising had tried to make them something they weren’t – Jack The Lad beer boys, they’d been told ‘it’s advertising, that’s what you have to do if you want to appeal to the public’.
We won and set about making the work.
First job, illustrating the other nine 48 sheets.
The bottle caps worked brilliantly, effortless and iconic.Adnams 'Pebbles' 48Adnams 'Umbrellas' 48Adnams 'Footprints' 48The bottles were ok, a bit more addy and bit less stylish.
Adnams 'Beach Huts' 48Adnams 'Bollard' 48Adnams 'Groynes' 48.The pump clips were a bit naff, they seemed more contrived.Adnams 'Shells' 48Adnams 'Nets' 48Adnams 'Yachts' 48We then set about transforming everything they produced into our new style.
Trade ads.Screen shot 2013-11-27 at 16.35.02Adnams Trade ad shells.jpg'Gold' Trade Ad, Adnams 1.jpgA Drink Aware poster.

A Christmas ad and card.
Adnams 'Snowman' Christmas Card' Dave RoughAdnams 'Snowman' Dave Rough 2'Snowman' Adnams, Page-01.jpg
Pump clips.
Here’s my rough.
Adnams 'Wheat Ear' Rough, Dave
Here’s Jeff’s rough.
Adnams 'Wheat Ear' Rough, Chris Wormell.
Here’s the final illustration in pump clip.Adnams 'Barley Mow' Pump Clip
Another one
.Adnams 'Old Ale' Pump Clip

Beer mats.
Turning 48 sheet posters into square beer mats was a problem.

48 sheets are effectively two squares side by side.
I couldn’t crop any of the posters within a square.
I’d either crop out the main bit of the drawing or the bit relating to Adnams, the cap, bottle or pump clip.
They just didn’t work.
Then, like most problems, the problem is the solution – break them in two, front and back, and people could match them up like a little game.
Ok, it’s no FIFA 14, but it’s a little bit of engagement.
Adnams Pebbles' Beer mats back 4Adnams 'Pebbles' Beer mats front 4
Adnams 'Shells' Beer mats front 2Adnams 'Shells' Beer mats back 2Adnams Beach Huts' Beer mats front 3Adnams 'Beach Huts' Beer mats back 3

Then…nothing.
I think the feeling up at Adnam’s Towers was we’ve done our Marketing now, let’s review the situation next decade.
We advised them to invest in an ongoing dialogue, to build on the awareness and goodwill the campaign had built in the first year.
I tried to hustle up more ideas to build on the campaign.
From a creative point of view it was quite tough, because I’d think ‘Right, let’s think of things we could use from the coast, (NOT seaside), we’ve pebbles, boats, groynes, fishing nets, shells, beach huts, harbour bollard things, whatever the hell they’re called, anyway, What’s left?’
Nothing it would seem. I’d imagine wandering up and down the coast trying to think what I’d see – ‘Sea…Sky… Pebbles…can’t do that…grass…no good…more sky…seagulls… not bottle or cap shaped… er…sea again…’
But gradually you eek out a few thoughts, here are some from my notebook from the time.Adnams sketch 1Adnams sketch 2I picked out my favourites and presented them to Adnams.Adnams 'Crabs' Dave RoughAdnams 'Birds Nest' Dave RoughAdnams 'Bird Bottle' Dave RoughAdnams 'Bullrushes' Dave RoughAdnams 'Seaweed' Dave Rough
I’d found out that they were making more money per month selling our ads on tea towels, mugs and all manner of merchandise than they were paying us.
So my angle was ‘let’s at least get a small batch of illustrations together, which could be press ads, posters, t-shirts, tea towels, tea cosies or whatever. it’s content you can use’.
They agreed.
My favourite was this one, I liked that you had to discover the idea.
Adnams 'Lighthouse' Dave RoughThe rough looked good.Lighthouse
The first print looked…weird, more like a printing error than a sunset.Adnams 'Lighthouse' with sunset 2The second one looked great, but the sunset was so colourful and lively it distracted the eye from the idea, the shadow.Adnams 'Lighthouse Sunset 2' Chris WormellChris had a third pop at it, it was cool.Adnams 'Lighthouse' PageAdnams 'Crabs' PageAdnams 'Seaweed' PageAdnams 'Bird Eggs' PageAdnams 'Bird:Bottle' Page

We never ran this last one below.
I always thought it had the potential to be really strong, but the first print didn’t work at all, the sea was too choppy, and made the idea look contrived.
In retrospect a still sea with no waves would’ve worked. (Damn it! Ten years too late.)
Adnams 'Moon' Rejected Page

They ran a bit as press ads, but didn’t get used much.
Adnams then went into hibernation for a bit, until I worked with them again a few years later.

But that’s a whole different post; ‘ADNAMS Part 2: Words’, will follow…at some point.

Bouncebackability.

I just found this batch of rejects for The Economist.
I was surprised at how many shots we’d had at the brief.
I knew the work was getting past the Creative Director, because I was he.
It must’ve been the client.
I can’t remember who first coined that phrase ‘bouncebackability’, (I think it was a footballing Ian, Holloway or possibly Dowie), but it’s a crucial, if unglamorous skill every creative needs.
Your ideas are torched every single day.
As good as you get at debating, persuading and plain arguing, you’re still going to go again, again and again on the same brief.
You need to be positive every time.
Anyway, The Economist, it was a tough brief, after years of using advertising spaces to flatter the readers intelligence, we now needed to tell them ‘Great news – Colour pictures!’
It was difficult to think how this wasn’t a clash with the high brow image of our reader that had been carefully built up over the years.
We tried to be Economisty, but talk about colour.

1st GO.
Economist Scamp14Economist Scamp13Economist ScampREJECTED: Too like the regular Economist work’. (Spelling ‘hear’ wrong probably didn’t help.)

2nd GO.
Maybe we should do something more visual.
Economist Scamp8Economist Scamp11Economist Scamp9Economist Scamp12Economist Scamp8

REJECTED: ‘Not Economisty enough’.

3rd GO.
We got a bit sarcastic this time.Economist Scamp15Economist Scamp6Economist Scamp5Economist Scamp7

REJECTED: ‘Too sarcastic!’

4th GO.
Maybe we should do something more businessy, more office based.
We could write them from the point of view of the people on the receiving end of this technological breakthrough?Economist Scamp2Economist Scamp3Economist Scamp4REJECTED: ‘Bit chatty, not really our tone’.

5th GO.
More intelligent maybe? And technical sounding?Economist Colour Overlap5Economist Colour Overlap6Economist Colour Overlap4Economist Colour Overlap3Economist Colour Overlap2Economist Colour Overlap

Rejected; ‘Too clever-clever’.

6th GO.

‘Too clever-clever’? Really? Isn’t that a compliment from The Economist? Whatever, they still wouldn’t buy.
Maybe this time we aim for a ‘single clever’ campaign.Economist Colour Blocks3Economist Colour Blocks2Economist Colour Blocks

BOUGHT, RAN.

Although in retrospect, I think I prefer the ‘clever-clever’ campaign.

THINGS I HAVE GLEANED Pt 2; Don’t over think it.

Whilst at AMV/BBDO Sean and I got a brief to write an ad for the British Television Craft Awards.
The BTA Awards with the word ‘craft’ inserted are less desirable than the ones without that word.
But they’re awards none the less.
It got us thinking – what creatives would enter an awards scheme aimed at recognising everyone but the creatives who came up with the idea?BTA, Crap at ideas?.jpg
Initially it said ‘Shit at ideas?‘, but the word ‘shit‘ was felt to be too strong for those delicate types that read Campaign.
I liked the idea so I tried really hard to make it look great.
A simple bit of type seemed too… simple.
Then BINGO! – ‘What about if our idea about ideas being overly crafted was overly crafted itself? That’s clever.
Let’s over art direct our idea to the point of looking pretentious, making it look ironic and therefore hilarious, right?BTA Awards, 'Crap At Ideas?'.jpgWrong.
Making it look like a pretentious, overly art directed ad meant people didn’t look at it long enough to engage with what it said.
Obvious really.

Rough Vs Polished?

I used to work with a very smart writer called Alastair Wood.
One thing he said left a lasting impression on me – ‘None of my proofs are as good as the roughs’.
I realised it was a common complaint amongst writers.
Ideas, when first expressed have an energy, vitality and humanity, because people only write or draw the key elements.
There’s no fat.
The process of bringing ideas to life often kills them.
Firstly, because it’s easy to get seduced by hot photographers, passionate illustrators, belligerent designers etc.
Secondly, the concepts lose their individuality.
The charm and energy of the scribble often replaced by tired looking fonts and clichéd or over complicated imagery.
It’s to stay focused and simply service the idea.
Possibly because of Al, I like comparing the scribble, where the idea is was first expressed, to the finished ad, to see the journey an idea has been on.
If I’ve been thorough, I should know why I chose every mark on the page.
Here’s a before and after to illustrate what I mean.'A. Make Your Own B, (Rough)' Adidas, Trail, Leagas Delaney.jpg
It’s a rough put together by my old writer Sean Doyle.
It’s not very refined to say the least, but it’s dead clear, human and has a certain charm.
So, what to do?
Making a picture you wanted to inhabit seemed key.
But what style?
As the ad was about getting lost in nature, black and white seemed good, it felt more natural than colour.
Logically of course this makes no sense, but perhaps in a overly brightly coloured world of magazines it felt more neutral, which nearly spells natural.
Fine Art photographer Sally Gall was chosen to shoot the campaign, just edging out Joel Meyerowitz, who’s amazing, but I just felt she captured very evocative moods.
Again, as the idea was about getting back to nature, fonts could feel a bit formal, something handmade felt more appropriate.
Eventually, the font was some chopped up handwriting that I found in the studio, it belonged to top designer Graham Woods, (except the ‘A’, which was a font, then run through a photocopier a few times then flipped the wrong way around).
The logo looked a bit sharp and shiny, so we traced over it by hand. Badly.
It hasn’t dated much because it was never fashionable.'A. Make Your Own B' Adidas, Trail, Leagas Delaney*.jpg

nb. Here are the other two.

'Hurry' Adidas, Trail, Leagas Delaney.jpg'Free' Adidas, Trail, Leagas Delaney.jpg

THINGS I HAVE GLEANED 1. It IS possible for a client to be right.

Campbell Doyle Dye pitched for Christian Aid.
It’s an emotional subject matter, I got emotional.
Sean Doyle and I wrote lots of very angry ads, essentially trying force people to reach into their pockets and save a starving child’s life.
Christian Aid, RED, Page of Roughs - B, CDD-01Christian Aid, RED, Page of roughs - C, CDD-01

Christian Aid, RED, Page of Roughs - D, CDD-01Christian Aid, RED, Sheet of roughs - A, CDD-01Christian Aid, RED, Tube 1., CDDChristian Aid, RED, Envelope, CDD-01Christian Aid, RED, '3rd World - b', CDD-01Christian Aid, RED, '3rd World', CDD-01
We won the pitch.
We met our brand new client, Claire.
She said, rather sheepishly, ‘The ads… we like them, but they look so gloomy, and… well, we’re all quite positive around here and wondered whether they could look a bit more upbeat?’
It was our first meeting and the clients were very nice, so I bit my tongue and said I’d go away and explore.
I left thinking she was nuts, we were talking about dying children, what’s so upbeat about that?
I stared at the ads and tried to think about how we could solve the issue. Christian Aid, RED 'Only one life?'. CDD-01 Christian Aid, RED, 'The Money We Spent', CDD*-01 Christian Aid, RED, 'To help'. CDD-01 Christian Aid, RED, 'You are', CDD-01 Christian Aid, RED, 'Your Donation won't', CDD-01
The answer was obvious; we can’t.

We can’t make negative content look positive, we needed positive content.
A planner was sent to their Waterloo offices to dig around and interview people.
He came back with a big bunch of notes.
Buried amongst them was a quote ‘As you know, we only invest in things that multiply’.
It was from an old lady, who gave an example;  Christian Aid would send a male and female goat to Africa,  but not goats meat.
Wow! That seemed amazing, almost as if you could solve the problem over time.
You can’t get anymore positive than that.
The work wrote itself.
It was the most successful Christian Aid Week ever.
Although Claire couldn’t quite articulate it, her instinct was 100% right.Christian Aid, Multiply, 'Loaves'. CDD-01Christian Aid, 'Go Forth', CDD, RGB)-01Christian Aid, Multiply, 'Bees'. CDDChristian Aid, 'Chicken', CDD, RGB)-01Christian Aid, 'Noah, CDD, RGB)-01Christian Aid, 'Basically', CDD, (RGB)-01

A few articles

1. How I did the 2012 D&AD cover (Campaign – September 2012)

Cover Story – Dave D&AD spread

 2. Dave Hieatt: “What influenced you?”

DD CREATIVE CIRCLE ARTICLE.indd

3. Commissioning Photography (Photographer Magazine Vol 5, No.3)

  f2 spread 1f2 spread 2-3

4. Food Advertising (Lurzers Archive)

DD FOREWORD_LURZERS.indd

5. Great Illustration (Lurzers Archive)
Lurzers illustrator spreads

6. My Photographic Month (Image, The Association of Photographers Magazine ’08)

Image spread 1Image spread 2Image spread 3 Image spread 4

Campaign Feb2013 Campaign Sep2010 Campaign May2011 Campaign July2008 Campaign March2009 Campaign July2012Campaign Jan2013Campaign Article Feb 2012Campaign Article Oct 2009Campaign Article Apr 2012

Creativity spreads

Campaign Article001Metro-Behind the idea001