D&AD&ME.

In 1961, notoriously hot-headed photographer Bob Brooks arrived in London. The advertising scene he stepped into was a very poor relation to the one he’d left in New York. His biggest grievance was it’s annual advertising awards “it was put on by a printer, whose clients were the major agencies, so the ads were often credited as being ‘designed on a group basis”. No names were mentioned, and nobody knew who designed anything.” Rather than except the situation, he gotRead more

YE OLDE ADVERTS.

Before we start, full disclosure: I’m not anti old ads. I quite like them. But weirdly, a surprising number of creatives leaders don’t. At least, they say they don’t in public, I’m sure in private they must have a cheeky flip through the odd One Show annual now and again? They put out phrases next to their profiles like ‘All about the new’, ‘Future facing creative’, ‘Forwards, not backwards’ ‘I never look back’.
 It sounds so cool. Frankly, it makes meRead more

WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING?

If you lived in Britain in between 1937 and 1958 there’s a reasonable chance you were spied on. It wasn’t called spying, it was called Mass Observation. Armies of clip-boarded volunteers quietly observed Britons, recording their behaviour in the most minute detail, unearthing invaluable insights on our society. Like this one, “the average time taken to drink half a pint of beer in pubs on a November Saturday night in Brighton in 1938 was 7.3 minutes.” (It also discovered thatRead more

PODCAST: Gary Goldsmith

Pick up any New York Art Directors Club Annual from the sixties and you can feel the heat coming off the pages. The Writers are using words previously confined to conversation, the Art Directors are trying to find new ways to present the information (‘Creating new pages’ as Helmut Krone put it.) Then, the seventies. A whole different story; the experimentation and energy appear to have dried up. True, there are still lots of good thoughts and lines, but inRead more

FOUND: BERNBACH STUFF.

I’ve no idea where this came from. I’ve had it for at least twenty or so years. Looking at that high-class screw holding it together and thick cell cover, it probably once belonged to a Creative Director. (Me and my friends didn’t have access to that kind of luxury at the time.) If you recognise it, get in touch and I’ll return it. It’s one of the best, most thorough interviews I’ve ever read with Uncle William. So thanks andRead more

PODCAST: David Kolbusz.

When you start out in your advertising career, Pentel in one hand, MacBook in  the other, you seem to be surrounded by good work. Awards books are choc-a-bloc with it. As you go on, year by year, you seem to see less and less. For example, the first D&AD Annual looked at probably had an 80/20 ratio of good to bad. 10 years later those percentages are likely to have flipped. As you move on you become less swayed byRead more

GREEN BOOKS: Ads 2.

I have a confession to make; not everything on this site is from the loft. Apologies to those of you who feel cheated. I feel such a fraud. The good news is that this post is 100% loft. Not mine, my old partner Mike McKenna’s. I started putting these green books together when Mike and I worked as a team at Publicis, back in the early 90’s. They were our internet. We’d split the cost of the pricey books fromRead more

PODCAST: Trevor Beattie.

‘Recorded any new podcasts lately?’ I get asked this a few times every week. The askees range from college attendees to retired adman. As I pick the people I interview, they seem as famous as The Beatles to me, but they’re often unknown to the askees. After offering up a name and watching a blank expression appear, I reach for a quick handle, something from culture that I think they’ll know. Occasionally it’s an ad fact; ‘Set Up Fallon beforeRead more

GUT.

Facts seem to have lost their resonance in may areas today, but in marketing, they’re still king of the castle. They call the shots. Whether it’s big data, qual, quant, O.T.S, ROI, A/B testing, name any marketing abbreviation, if numbers are involved they must be obeyed. These numbers get distilled into rules. It makes sense, who wouldn’t want to use previous learnings to improve future performance? But somehow, applying these learnings to creative work often feels uncomfortable, less like improvingRead more

Minneapolis, U.K.

I’ve spent over thirty years working within a few square miles of Soho Square. Historically, it’s where the majority of the client’s headquarters were situated. It’s also where country’s magazines, photographers, printers, film companies based, so it became where the bullseye for the country’s ad agencies. Leaf through a bunch of awards annuals and you’ll be hard pressed to find work from another city. Birmingham and Manchester pop up periodically, but not regularly. But in the eighties, one city turnedRead more

THE WALL.

It’s what you hit when you run a marathon. A sudden loss of energy followed by your body telling you ‘I’m done, it’s all over’. But keep putting one foot in front of the other and pretty soon you’re through to the other side, with renewed energy. I was teaching students at the SCA2 last Friday, and was reminded that as creatives we also face a walls, (not physical ones, obviously, they were torn down years ago to make roomRead more

MARK DENTON HAS A BOOK TO SELL!

A weird thought popped into my head on my way to record this interview. Weird, because I’ve been reading books on designers for thirty odd years and I’d never spotted it. Also weird, because it’s the opposite of the received wisdom. The thought was this ‘Good designers can work in many styles, great designers have a distinctive style’. As Art Directors and Designers we are taught to put their skills at the service of the brand. Let’s say you’re designing forRead more

Radio: Paul Burke interviews Nick Angell.

Back in the seventies there was a tv show called The Waltons. A depression era family mooched about Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains dealing with various social and moral issues. It was very wholesome. At the end, after some member of the family had realised the error of their ways, they’d cut to their familiar end device: A shot of their quaint wooden house at night. We’d hear a voice ‘Goodnight John Boy’, then gradually we’d hear all the other membersRead more

Hands Up Who’s Heard Of Frank Budgen?

We’re smack bang in the middle of the age of collaboration. Any press release for a creative hiring now contains that reassuring phrase ‘Known for being collaborative’. (To me it always reads ‘We’re pleased to announce we’ve finally found a creative who will listen to us’.) The feeling the team had creating the work is as scrutinised as what they created. But collaboration means different things to different people. For most of the team it conjures up enjoyable meetings onRead more

THE LOOKY-LIKEY AMALGAM.

I few months back I recorded a podcast with Richard Shotton, one of the brightest people in the business. Whilst preparing I read Richard’s book, The Choice Factory, it’s great, full of fascinating insights and observations on human behaviour and how we respond to marketing. Whilst taking in all this intelligent insight an interesting theory occurred to me; why don’t we just create ads that people like? Granted, it’s no theory of relativity, but it’s odd that it’s barely aRead more

Hands Up Who’s Heard Of GEOFFREY SEYMOUR?

ADVERTISING’S OSCAR WILDE. An appreciation of the work of Geoffrey Seymour. By Mike Everett. It is one of the great ironies of the advertising business that one of its most talented writers is better remembered for his salary than his work. When he joined Saatchi & Saatchi in 1982, Geoff Seymour was paid £100,000 a year, a sum of money that soon became known in advertising circles as a ‘Seymour’. It may have been as an eye-watering amount at theRead more

How to write good.

“What the public has been free to peruse in pieces since parts began running in 1979 is now selling en masse for $14.95.” That’s how the New York Times greeted the publication of the book ‘How to Use the Power of the Printed Word’. (Looking at that sentence they may have benefited from reading it.) The reason for that flowery comment was that the book was built around fifteen ads created by Ogilvy & Mather for the International Paper Company. Why wouldRead more

PUSHING WORDS AROUND. Pt 2.

‘I’m trying to do a deal with the guys at Piebury Corner.’ Former boss, mentor and mate, Mark Denton continues ‘If they supply pies for my book launch I’ll supply ads for free. Can you do me some free ads?’ Mark has lined up a photographer to shoot them for free ‘So we just need a few idea, hopefully with nice pie shots in.’ Piebury Corner? That’s right up there with Exmouth Market hairdressers Barber Streisand. Puns make me wince. Anyway,Read more

PUSHING WORDS AROUND. Pt 1.

Pictures are great. As everyone knows, they’re worth a 1000 words, but they offer so much more; emotion, drama, humour, shock, surprise, information, style, etc, etc. So what do you do if you can’t use one? If you’re an art director it’s especially tough, because your job is to make people engage against their will. So the temptation is to overcompensate with graphics. But it’s a risk, as Bill Bernbach warned ‘Merely to let your imagination run riot, to dream unrelatedRead more