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

Hands Up Who’s Heard Of Art Kane?

Art Kane 'Taxi - father'He’s the one in the mirror, taking a picture of his taxi driver dad.
After spending time studying at, dodging bullets in WW2, then studying at Cooper Union again, he took jobs as a junior designer.
At 26 he was made art director at Seventeen magazine, at the time it made him the youngest art director of a major magazine in New York. 

Art Kane 'Seventeen ad 2'Art Kane 'Seventeen ad 1''Art Kane 'Seventeen ad 4'
A few years later he started studying photography after work at The New School, under the most admired magazine art director in the world;  Alexey Brodovitch.
He taught Kane and many others, including Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and Diane Arbus, to go in search of the unseen.
His doctrine was simple; ‘Astonish me!’.
He starts to gain awards and recognition at Seventeen.
One day a friend, the art director Robert Benton, tells him that Esquire magazine want to do a feature on Jazz, and asks whether Kane, still an art director at Seventeen, could brainstorm a few ideas for a picture.
Kane suggests an idea; ‘I want to bring together as many musicians as possible photograph them.  On 126th street in uptown Harlem.’
At that point Kane had never taken a professional photograph and didn’t own a single piece of photographic equipment. 
Esquire Editor Harold Hayes liked the idea, so notices were put up in all the jazz clubs, and at the local Musicians’ Union office, announcing the photo shoot and informing the Jazzers that it was scheduled for 10am. (August the 12th, 1958).
Possibly showing his lack of experience, he organizes the shoot for 10am August 12th 1958.
10am? A ridiculous time to shoot people whose lives revolved around late nights.
As one of them puts it in the documentary ‘Most of those guys didn’t know there were two 10 o’clocks in the same day’.

(Worth a watch if you’ve got the time, it’s great.)

Never the less, Charlie Mingus, Count Basie, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Gene Krupa, Art Blakey and fifty others turned up.
The novice Kane managed to keep them all in focus whilst pressing the shutter.
Art Kane 'Great Day 2'Art Kane 'Great Day In Harlem' Key
Not bad for his first commission; possibly the best Jazz photo ever?

He then switches to photography.
His early work showing his graphic eye and background.
Art Kane 'Fabian:Plaster'

Steve Frankfurt - Reynolds Cigarettes 'Skier'*

It’s worth noting that when Kane became a professional photographer ‘professional’ photographers used large format, plate cameras.
35mm cameras were looked down upon, considered amateur because 35mm film was felt to be too small for publication.  

Art Kane loved 35mm, he used it almost exclusively.
It was liberating.
Because the camera wasn’t big and cumbersome it allowed his eye to keep moving, keep seeking the new.

It allowed him to shoot from angles that would never be considered if shooting with a large format camera.
His early pictures feel like he must’ve spent most days on his back or knees.
It made his images feel fresh, intimate and energetic.
Weirdly, although you don’t need to put a black cloth over your head with a 35mm camera, he did, in the form of his jacket.
“I looked ridiculous with my jacket over my head, because nobody would cover up like that when shooting with a 35mm, but I just loved that sense of alienation, of being totally removed from the outside world, as if I had my own little theatre available to me.”

Here’s an example, presumably shot whilst laying on his side on a dewy putting green, capturing an Arnold Palmer putt.
Art Kane 'arnold-palmer-1963-photo-art-kane-1Art Kane 'Model Looking Down'Art Kane 'Mobsters'Art Kane 'Hand Reach Model'Art Kane 'Stones Down'

It resulted in less formal, more intimate images.TOWN 10 'Art Kane'-01TOWN 7-01Art Kane 'TOWN Cover'

Colin Millward, Harvey's - 'Horse', Art Kane, CDP-03Steve Frankfurt - Y&R 'Computers'*

His portraits show his art director background.
They aren’t reportage, they’re ideas.

“I want to communicate the invisible elements in a personality”.

Lenny Bruce.
Art Kane 'Lenny Bruce 3'Art Kane 'Little Boy'
Joe Louis.Art Kane 'Joe Louis 2'
Art Kane 'Keith Richards:Queen'
Art Kane 'Bob Dylan'
Ali McGraw.Art Kane 'Ali McGraw'
Art at Keith Moon’s drum kit.
Art Kane 'At Keith Moon's Drums'
Louis Armstrong.Art Kane 'Louis Armstron' 2Art Kane 'Louis Armstrong 4'Art Kane 'Charlie Parker'

Art Kane: Paper Dolls by Kane, Art

Art Kane: Paper Dolls by Kane, Art

Art Kane 'Man & Mag'

Art Kane 'The Jacksons' Life 1971Art Kane, 'Pool Dive'

His 1968 article for Life magazine ‘THE NEW ROCK’ was seminal.Art Kane 'The New Rock' CoverArt Kane 'Ice Spread':LifeArt Kane 'Janis Joplin Spread'Art Kane 'Zappa Spread:Life'Art Kane 'Cream Spread':LifeArt Kane 'The Doors:Life'Art Kane 'Country Joe'

In search of new ways to ‘astonish’, he comes up with the idea of making ‘film sandwiches’, as he he calls them.
Because we are all so familiar with Photoshop today the results look familiar.

But you have to imagine trying to do this back in the late sixties.
He would work with nothing more than a light box, scalpel and a magnifying glass.Art Kane 'London Sandwich'Art Kane 'Old Lady.:Wood Sandwich'Art Kane 'Venice Sandwich'Art Kane 'Boy:Gate Sandwich'Art Kane 'Old Woman & Accordian'Art Kane 'Moondog' 1963Art Kane 'What Do Women Think Of You?' Container Corporation of AmericaArt Kane 'Container Coprporation of America'Art Kane 'Venice:1969
Here’s his letterhead from the around this time, feeling groovily sixties.Art Kane Letterhead:Heb Lubalin

Towards the end of the sixties Kane, like many other Americans, gets a conscience.
Shooting more symbolic images:

a) Sit-Ins. This one at Alcatraz.
Art Kane 'Protest:Alcatraz Sit In'

b) Viet Nam veterans.Art Kane 'Viet Nam Vet'

c) Questioning peace.Art Kane 'Dead Peace'

d) Race.
Art Kane 'Boy & Flag' 2

e) Race again.Art Kane 'Black Man Tied'

f) And again.
Art Kane 'Dead Boy?'

g) The Viet Nam War.
Art Kane 'Black Hands:Letter'

h) Nuclear weapons.Art Kane 'Nuclear Power' -

h) The American judicial system.
Art Kane 'Reuban 4

i) America itself.


In the early seventies he moves studios and get his friend, Herb Lublin to knock a suitably seventies looking ad for the opening.
Art-Kane 'Studio'-1Art Kane '& Work 2'
Around ’74, he joins up with internationally renowned pornographer Bob Guccione, to become Corporate Design Director for Penthouse & Viva.
Viva was a new magazine; ‘The International Magazine For Women’,  basically an erotic magazine for women.
As well as taking care of the design, he also shots many of the ‘stories’.

Art Kane, Viva Cover '73Art Kane, Viva Cover 'Nudists - July '74Art Kane, Viva Cover 'Oct 1974'

Some, show signs of Brodovitch’s ‘astonish me’ mantra, like this.Art Kane, Viva 'Green Hair'
Art Kane, Viva 'Red Hair'
And I guess this.
Art Kane, Viva 'Hairstyles 1'Art Kane, Viva 'Hairstyles 2'Art Kane, Viva 'Hairstyles 3'
Most are more just soft porn, like this.
(NOTE TO EDITOR: There seem to be a lot of pictures of naked women in this ‘International Magazine For Women’?)Art Kane, Viva 'Flash'.jpgArt Kane, Viva 'Skirt'

Towards the end of his career Art seems to have shot lots of semi-clad women as well as some cool portraits.
ArtKane_Camera35_1978_100Art Kane, Book

Artist Robert Rauschenberg.Art Kane 'Robert Rauschenberg 1974'

Actor Tim Curry.Art Kane 'Tim Curry'

Whitney Houston.Art Kane 'Whitney Houston'Art Kane 'Changing Room'

Some of the last images of Art’s were those for Cacharel.
I’m not sure what all the men are running away from, but the images are very evocative.
Art Kane - Cacharel 'Balloon'Art Kane 'Helicopter Man'Art Kane - Cacharel 'Bridge'Art Kane - Cacharel 'Jump'

One of the last portraits of Art.
Art Kane 'new-york-city-1979-by-michael-somoroff
Unfortunately, in 1995, aged 69, Art Kane committed suicide by shooting himself.
Last year his son Jonathan put together a book of his father’s work; ‘Art Kane. The Eye of Photography’.
Check it out, he deserves to be remembered.
Art Kane 'Book' by Johnathan Kane

N.b. A Campaign Design & Art Direction article from 1982Art Kane - Direction Article - 1982 (a)Art Kane - Direction Article - 1982 (b)