MERRY DOWN: Year 1.

“We have a bit of an image problem with Merrydown, its main constituency appears to be students and street tramps.” Chris Carr, Merrydown Chairman.
These were the only Merrydown ads we could remember seeing. (Written by Chris Wilkins.)Merrydown 'Opera House' Chris Wilkins'-01.jpgMerrydown 'Ski Resort' Davis Wilkins-01.jpgMerrydown 'Bank' Chris Wilkins-01.jpgSix sheets and fly posters were booked, so posh, long copy ads like those were out.
The creative department came up with various routes, some good, some less so.
Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 20.20.35
Who’d have time to look at a picture, read the explanation below, then check out who it’s for below that, as they drive past our poster?
I felt we needed something simpler, more like graffiti than advertising.
Like the Milton Glaser ‘I love New York’ poster.i_heart_ny_logo
You couldn’t avoid taking in something that simple as you drove past.

I’d doodled something shortly after meeting the client, it wasn’t really an ad or idea, I’d simply split the brand name in two.
“Happy and sad in the same name, how weird?”
I quite liked it, but dismissed it as it didn’t seem to be an ad.
But, it was simple, like the Milton Glaser poster, and very branded.
I tried to think about how to give it meaning.
I remembered those Victorian illustrations of faces that worked both ways up.
Two faces posterPitch reference 2, (Merrydown Yr 1)-01.jpgOne way up could show a full glass of Merrydown and a smiling face; MERRY, the other way up could show an empty glass and a sad face; Down.
I mocked them up, picking very contrasting illustration styles to show breadth.
merrydown2.jpgmerrydown.jpgMerrydown were dire straits, so instead of over analysing the meaning, branding and whether they needed logos and photographic pack-shots, their reaction was ‘Yeah…fuck it…what have we got to lose?’.
Right! Illustrators…erm?
photoThere are thousands of great illustrators out there, I was finding it difficult to narrow it down to five.
Sod it, instead of getting five illustrators for a £1000 a pop, why not get ten for £500 each? It’s a good brief, I could give them complete freedom to compensate for the little fee, what the hell, they can only say no.

Michael Johnson, the cool, bespectacled designer stopped by to update me on the progress of our agency book he was designing.
He spotted the Merrydown idea on my wall, he liked it.
I asked him if he’d worked with any good illustrators lately, he said he’d have a think and get back to me.

Two days later he got back to me, instead of passing on illustrator’s names he passed over some rough sketches.
229_merryjul2002
I bought this one. (I say bought, we didn’t pay him a penny.)Michael Johnson, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 2I thought he looked a bit ill, like he’d had a bit too much to drink, could we make him look a bit healthier?Michael Johnson, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL.jpgMichael Johnson, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL

Martin Haake
faxed over a long stream of ideas, all good.
I loved the cowboy/Indian and cop/robber ideas, but worried their occupations may get in the way of the idea. (In retrospect, I was probably too sensible in my choice, some of the rejected ideas are just more fun.)Martin Haake, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 4Martin Haake, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 4.jpgMartin Haake, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 7.jpgMartin Haake, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 7.jpgMartin Haake, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 6.jpgMartin Haake, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 6.jpg
Martin Haake, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 13.jpgMartin Haake, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 13.jpgMartin Haake, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 10.jpgMartin Haake, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 10.jpgMartin Haake, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL.jpgMartin Haake, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL.jpg

I wanted to give someone a chance straight out of college, I chose Helen Wakefield,
I liked her idiosyncratic way of looking at the world, as you can see from her roughs.Helen Wakefield, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 1.jpg Helen Wakefield, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 1.jpgHelen Wakefield, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 2.jpgHelen Wakefield, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 4.jpgHelen Wakefield, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 3.jpgHelen Wakefield, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 3.jpgHelen Wakefield, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL.jpgHelen Wakefield, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL.jpg

Olaf Hayek sent in his scribble, it looked good.Olaf Hajek, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough.jpgOlaf Hajek, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough.jpgOlaf Hajek, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL*.jpgOlaf Hajek, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL*.jpg

Jeff Fisher sent this in, it didn’t look great, but Jeff is a class act, so I thought it’ll probably turn out well.Jeff Fisher, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough.jpg Jeff Fisher, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough.jpg
Jeff Fisher, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL*.jpgJeff Fisher, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL*.jpg

Brian Cronin, one of the cleverest illustrators in the world, sent in a final illustration, no rough.Brian Cronin, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL.jpg

The usually uber expensive Gary Baseman agreed to draw for lunch money.
Top illustrator, top bloke.Gary Baseman, Merrydown, Year 1, Note.jpgGary Baseman, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 1.jpgGary Baseman, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 1.jpgGary Baseman, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 2.jpgGary Baseman, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 2.jpg
Gary Baseman, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 4.jpgGary Baseman, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 4.jpgThey all looked great, but this one made me smile widest.Gary Baseman, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL*.jpgGary Baseman, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL*.jpg

Without thinking it through, I asked my mate and CDD in-house photographer, Giles Revell, if he’d shoot one.
What a ridiculous request, how was that going to work then?
But, Giles being Giles, said “Yeah…I’ll give it a go”.Giles Revell, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 1.jpgGiles Revell, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 1.jpgGiles Revell, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 2.jpgGiles Revell, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 2.jpgGiles Revell, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL.jpgGiles Revell, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL.jpg

A college tutor at the time, Mick Marston, did this one, which has a younger, funkier vibe.Mick Marston, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL.jpgMick Marston, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL.jpg

I’d always loved Sara Fanelli’s work, a stylish mixture of collage and inks.Sara Fanelli, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 1.jpgSara Fanelli, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 1.jpg
Too oniony.Sara Fanelli, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 3.jpgSara Fanelli, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 3.jpg
Less oniony, quite like the tiny hat.

Merrydown, Sara Fanelli, Rough. %22Down%22-01Sara Fanelli, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 2...jpgSara Fanelli, Merrydown, Year 1, Rough 2...jpg
Sara Fanelli, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL.jpgSara Fanelli, Merrydown, Year 1, FINAL.jpg  
I thought the illustrations could do well at the awards, they didn’t.
But the idea, that wasn’t really an idea, just a kind
 of Happy/Sad branding thingy, it did very well, winning D&AD silvers for Best Poster Campaign and Best Press Campaign.
So I guess the moral of the story is; don’t go looking for awards, go where the brief takes you. Awards may follow.

2 responses to MERRY DOWN: Year 1.

  1. john p woods says:

    The media was booked before the idea had been conceived? Good thing or bad thing in your opinion? Love the idea by the way.

    • dave dye says:

      Hey John – Bad. I don’t understand why media and creative aren’t closer together?
      How can someone think “I’ve got a hunch ads about this size will work, no idea what’s in them yet, but it’s a good shape for achieving our goal”

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