“It’s Simon Loftus on the phone, he says he’s a chum of John Hegarty.”
He said 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.)
It turned out Simon was the Chairman and an inspirational guy.
At the time 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.
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.
I 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:
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/)
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.
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.
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.
A Christmas ad and card…
(My drawing is the first one, the one with the yellow sky.)
And 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.
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 then gradually you eek out a few thoughts, here are some from my notebook from the time.
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’.
My favourite was this one, I liked that you had to discover the idea.
The rough looked good.
The first print looked…weird, more like a printing error than a sunset.
The second one looked great, but the sunset was so colourful and lively it distracted the eye from the idea, the shadow.
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.)
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.