It’s tough for newbie creatives to get noticed.
If you aren’t in an agency that produces good work it’s hard to produce good work. If you don’t produce good work it’s hard to get a job in an agency that does.
One of the ways around this is to find a client that will accept good.
Up and coming copywriters Mike McKenna and Alastair Wood spotted one of these opportunities back in the late eighties.
The IPA Society held a lecture every month, and to let agencies know about it they sent out a sheet of paper with details typed onto it for their pinboards.
If a typographer, photographer and printer would donate their time they could produce a poster.
A poster that would be seen by every single agency in London.
The first one they did got into the D&AD Annual, a first for each of them.
Cut to a year later.
I was Alastair’s Art Director, and we got an opportunity to promote a talk about Desert Island Ads.
A difficult brief because it didn’t have a single focus or reference point.
Eventually we settled on an idea which involved me scribbling glasses and bow ties onto an old, cheesy film still.
The first people we got to show our shiny new proof to was Mark Reddy and Richard Grisdale, over at BMP.
It was going pretty well until they got it.
Mark: “Oh no! No…No…No…It’s such a cliché! Silly glasses and bow ties?”
We scuttled back out with our cliche.
(I’d like to point the jury to exhibit A Homepride- Mark and Richard around the time the incident took place.)
Shortly after we got another brief: Christine Barker’s Review of The Year.
Alastair was on holiday, so he suggested I work on it with his pal, Mike.
How do you sum up a whole year in a single image?
What unifies all agencies?
I got my mate with a camera, Malcolm, to shoot it for the £50 budget the IPA allocated.
We made the pencils ourselves and used the back of a layout pad as the background.
It got into D&AD.
After this successful dry run, Mike and I teamed up and got a job at Publicis.
In our first week we got an opportunity to produce a poster for a talk on ‘Advertising under a Labour government.’
Our Head Of Art at Publicis, Derrick Hass, insisted he draw Fred, the little flower grading dude, but wanted a name check on the poster.
The front page of Campaign two weeks later: HOMEPRIDE FURY AT NEW AGENCY PUBLICIS”
It had been brought to Homepride’s attention that their new agency had used their character without permission.
To make it worse, in a political context.
A secretary called to arrange for me and Mike to have tea with C.E.O. Michael Conroy.
Derrick: “Keep me out…you’re kids, you’ll be fine, but don’t involve me… I didn’t even want to draw the bloody thing!”
Mike: “Er…it’s got your name printed on it…you asked us to print your na…”
Derrick: “WHAT?… SHIT…SHIT…SHIT!”
Mr Conroy was fine, he simply asked us to explain what had happened.
In 1992, at the height of the recession, we got a brief to promote an The IPA Bowling Evening.
At the time, news of redundancies seemed to be coming in on weekly basis, so making the event topical seemed a good way to go.
Eventually, the lovely illustrator David Holmes agreed to draw the ad.
The £0 fee wasn’t the problem, he said he couldn’t beat my free and easy scribble, and we should just use that. Unfortunately I didn’t have the balls to use my own drawing, feeling I needed a ‘professional’ illustrator.
Solution: Show the Prime Minister bum out, socks on:
REJECTED: TOO CONTROVERSIAL.
(The drawing must’ve been a homage to John Lennon’s ‘Two Virgins’ cover.)
A talk by the then D&AD Chairman Edward Booth-Clibborn: How to win more at D&AD.
(Would love to know what he said?)
The previous year the D&AD Annual looked like this:
So we literally helped the character win more.
The next brief: Tony Brignull on the glory days of CDP.
By this point I was trying to make the layouts less basic, more creative.
I liked this one, it looked cool and honouring all the creatives who’d contributed to CDP’s success but picking out the speaker.
The line seemed good too, the clever thing was that he was an old boy as in the school terminology, and an old boy as in old, (Oh you got that, you’re ahead of me.)
We just needed Brignull’s sign off, excitedly we took our fancy layout down to Marylebone Road and waited and waited for him in the cafe part of the AMV reception.
Eventually he came down, weary, not full of the joys of spring.
Not much small talk: “You have a poster?”
We unfurl this A2 rough with a proud flourish.
“I hate it.”
He got up and walked away.
We looked at each other trying to figure out whether to follow him or slunk out onto Marylebone Road.
We opted for the slunk out.
Over the years lots of teams hustled IPA briefs, lots ended up in D&AD Annuals.