‘That funny looking king-size brand’ Pt 2: THE SURREAL YEARS’

B&H, 'Circuit Board 1', Nigel Rose-71
I used to walk past this poster every week for about a year .
I was fifteen an my Art teacher had got hold of a 48 sheet, or I should say 48 sheets, as it was life-size, twenty or thirty foot long, and papered the corridor leading to our classroom.
We were all bemused by it at first, but once the gold pack was discovered we thought  it was cool.
Who knew adverts could be so hip, sophisticated and playful?
It made a lasting impression.

1965: The Government banned cigarette companies from advertising on T.V.
Press and posters become crucial to Tobacco companies.

1971: The Government declares that cigarettes must carry a health warning, and that press and poster advertising must donate a strip at the bottom of their advertising to print the message ‘Every pack carries a Government Health Warning.’
In retrospect, that’s the least they could’ve done, but at the time it must’ve caused outrage in agencies with cigarette accounts; ‘You mean we need to take a piece of OUR pages and posters, space that WE’VE paid for, to say bad things about our product?’
So you’d have all the creative bods in an agency trying to say good things about their brand of tobacco in the top bit of the ad, and effectively, at the bottom it would say ‘Yeah, whatever, we think it’s RUBBISH. signed THE GOVERNMENT.

1976: The Government come up with some more rules for the Advertising industry: ‘If you’re advertising  Tobacco DON’T feature people using the product, in fact, DON’T feature people at all. DON’T say anything about the product, don’t even mention it, DON’T even write it’s name on the ad, DON’T even think about its name when you are creating these ads.
Come to think of it, the only words we want to see, and we want them in black on white, clearly legible, nice and big, saying “This product gives you lung cancer or can kill you”. Capiche?’

1977: Benson & Hedges agency, Collett Dickenson Pearce, are increasingly irritated by the number of companies aping their original Gold Box campaign.
It meant that B&H advertising was starting to get lost in the crowd.
The account guy on the business, John Ritchie, made a big call; ‘Forget all we’ve done! we need something completely new!’
It was a big ask; the ‘Gold Box’ campaign was famous, award-winning and had turned a niche product into the brand leader.
As if that wasn’t pressure enough, the new Government rules meant you couldn’t show or say anything about the product.
So not only have you got your hands tied behind your back, you have one leg tied too.

Alan Waldie 1981 1
Art Director Alan Waldie and Copywriter Mike Cozens were one of the teams given the task.
Waldie: “Days drifted into weeks and Ritchie, who was forever chasing me, said “What have you got?”
I said we’ve got something. It’s probably not quite ready. It’s a bit different. It’s dare I say, a bit advanced. I’ll need to explain it”
“You won’t need to explain” said Ritchie “Let’s have a look”.
Silence descended on the room as they gazed at some totally incomprehensible layouts of birdcages, mouse-holes, eggs, sardines.

No messages.
No words at all.
Unified only by a solitary gold pack.
A rival team had also created a campaign.
Unsure of which to go for, CDP M.D. Frank Lowe takes both to his mentor, former CDP Creative Director Colin Millward, for his view.
One will let you sleep at night, the other will make you famous’ was Millward’s verdict.
Sleep wasn’t a priority for Frank Lowe or CDP, so the ‘famous’ campaign was presented to the B&H Chairman Stuart Cameron and Marketing Director Peter Wilson.
They loved it, telling the agency to spare no expense in photographing the ads.
BH - Alan Waldie rough-01
When money was no object Brian Duffy was the guy, he was promptly called upon to turn Waldie’s drawings into photographs.

Brian-Duffy
An ‘arty’ choice.
He wasn’t the consummate commercial photographer.
He was opinionated, experimental and very creative.
Brian Duffy was one of the trio of famous cockney snappers, (the others being David Bailey and Terrence Donovan), probably the least known, arguably the most talented.

Duffy went to work and had the sets built in his Primrose Hill studio.
Duffy: ‘I changed the colour and scale of everything, which looks pretty weird today.
I played with optical illusions, since I know enough about what lenses can do and plate cameras and changing perspective.
They’re real photographs and it’s quite complex to do things like that, which look like trick photography. They’re not phoned in from the coast, it’s all done in the camera.’

The first shot was ‘Mousetrap’, showing a pack replacing to lure to a presumably nicotine addicted mouse from its hole.
He tried five different lighting set-ups before settling on the final image.
It set the style for the campaign.

BH-Matchbox-Mousehole-1977-by-Brian-Buffy
BH-bird-cage
B&H Surreal 'Birdcage'-01
Duffy’s son and assistant Chris remembers that ‘Birdcage‘ was a very simple set unusually lit, ‘We lit it with an old Rank projector light and through it we projected an image of a bird that we had reversed out on a negative.’
B&H Surreal 'Eggs'-01B&H Surreal 'Gold Ring'-01B&H Surreal 'Christmas Plug'-01
David Montgomery was then called in to shoot these two.B&H Surreal 'Art Gallery'-01B&H Surreal 'Stonehenge'-01
Adrian Flowers shot the last of the first years campaign.
B&H Surreal 'Flying Ducks'-01
The shots still look amazing.
They looked even better when blown up and put on billboards.
They were like nothing people had seen.
If they ran tomorrow they would still be like nothing most people had seen.
Here’s an from of one at Victoria Station in 1978.B&H_Sardine_Can_poster_at_Victoria_Station_London
The campaign became so famous even the Government spoofed it.image012
The brief was then opened up to the whole creative department.
Here’s what Neil Godfrey and Tony Brignull made of it with photographer Jimmy Wormser.
B&H Surreal 'Pyramids'-01
(Shot for real.
The agency and photographer turned up in Egypt on Sunday.
Scouted the location on Monday morning; perfect.
Turned up Tuesday to shoot; too hazy.
Turned up Wednesday; too hazy.
Thursday; too hazy.
Friday; too hazy.
Saturday; too hazy.
Sunday; too hazy.
Monday; perfect.
It turned out the hazy effect was pollution from the local factories, only after a weekend of not pumping out crap was it shootable.)

B&H Surreal 'Hotel Door'-01
(
This one was shot on the top floor of the National Liberal Club, the payment was the luxurious fitted carpet used for the shot.
Because the young people were in and out of each others rooms all night, photographer Adrian Flowers used a ’20 – 30 minute exposure, so that they wouldn’t show up on the film’.
Again it took a week to get a result they were happy with.)
B&H Surreal 'Sant'a Gold Sack'-01
B&H 'Pen Nib'-01
B&H 'Jigsaw'-01B&H Rain -01
Two years in, the question was asked how would this new surreal B&H behave in film?
The answer, created by Waldie, and Mike Cozens was shot by Hugh Hudson.
It was also featured in the Guinness Book of Records every year until the mid-eighties as the most expensive commercial ever made. (Worth every penny.)

This was followed by another Hugh Hudson epic, this time created by Johns O’Driscoll and Kelley. Not as famous, equally mesmerizing.

B&H Surreal 'Wallpaper' CDP-01
B&H, 'Circuit Board 1', Nigel Rose-71
B&H 'Christmas Pyramids' -01

Max Forsythe, B&H 'Heat of the night', CDP-01
Barney Edwards, B&H 'Stage', CDP-01
escapalogist_jimmy-wormser
B&H 'Magnet'-01
B&H 'Moth', Neil Godfrey, CDP-01
B&H, 'Ripped', CDP-01
Max Forsythe, B&H 'Chameleon', CDP-01
The photographer of this one; Max Forsythe recalled: “The finished shot looks very much like the original layout, but the struggle was how to light it. No conventional lighting seemed suitable.
After about 2 days of messing about I finally settled on sunlight coming through the studio window with a bit of BBQ grill to cast the shadows.

The Chameleon and the pack were both models, we did get a real one in the studio, but soon realised that it was not possible to work with it (it kept disappearing). They were about 5 times real size which made it possible to shoot on 10×8.”B&H 'Fossil' Poster-01bh_ants
B&H, 'Tubes' Nigel Rose757-01
B&H 'Bees' CDP
B&H 'Mosaic'-01
image010
The writer of this one is unknown.Pict0109
In the eighties, art director Nigel Rose takes the reins.
B&H, 'Bent' Nigel Ros-01B&H, 'Plug' Nigel Rose-01B&H, 'Window' Nigel Rose-01B&H, 'Table Cloth' Nigel Rose751-01
Here are some of Nigel’s fantastic roughs for ideas that didn’t get bought.
B&H Rough, Nigel Rose733-01B&H Rough, Nigel Rose731-01B&H Rough, Nigel Rose735-01B&H, 'Cactus 11', Nigel Rose737-01B&H, 'Axe' Nigel Rose-01
B&H 'Iron Works' CDP-01
B&H Surreal 'Shavings'-01 B&H Surreal 'Snow Footprints'-01 B&H Surreal 'Shave'-01 B&H 'Hinge'-01Rolph Gobits. B& H advertisementB&H 'Encased In Glass' CDO-01B&H 'Banana', CDP, Rolph Gobits-01B&H 'Venus Fly Trap' CDP-01B&H 'Lures' CDP-01 B&H Goldfish (Graham-Ford)
 B&H 'Pine Needles' CDP-01B&H 'Bermuda' 1B&H 'Bermuda' 2image004      B&H, 'Mercury' Nigel Rose768-01
Looking at back at these posters I can’t help wondering why people aren’t producing posters like this at the moment.
Instead of trying to shout a dull message across the street, why not create something that intrigues, makes people lean in, then rewards them by creating a smile in the mind?

Kind of interactive.

 

B&H-01

B&H Zoom Article 1-01B&H Zoom Article 2B&H - Surealism Article' Creative Review August 1985-01

B&H Article - Zoom-01

MIKE COZENS INTERVIEW.

Mike Cozens2879-01DAVE: Where were you bought up?
MIKE: Farley Road, Catford, S.E.6. Mr Smiths was where the Richardson Gang had their 1966 Gangland slaying. My Mum worked there. Frankie Frazer used to escort her up the Road.
He famously said ‘I’ll take you home Lilly, you meet some dodgy characters around here’.
That’s where I was dragged up.

DAVE: Was advertising your first choice?
MIKE: Not exactly. I was invited to leave Haberdashers Askes at the age of sixteen.
Fortunately the only teacher who had any faith in me was the History master.
He asked me what my father did for a living.

“A Co-op butcher, but I don’t fancy putting my hand up a Turkey’s arse for a living” I replied.
He asked me 
what my other relatives did.

“My Uncle’s in the Print and had a bigger car than my Dad”, (my Dad drove a Reliant Robin, just like Del Boy’s.)
The History Master said his neighbour worked in an Advertising Agency, and he’d have a word, he said it’s close to the Print.
He then said “Mind you Cozens if all else fails you’re a big lad, how about the Police Force?”

I Thanked him,  but couldn’t see my self as a Copper.
To cut a long story short I sent off letters to J.Walter Thompson, London Press Exchange, and Colman Prentice & Varley and was offered a job in the postroom of each one.

DAVE: A post boy at Colman Prentiss Varley. A surprising amount of your generation’s great creatives started life in the post room.
MIKE: Yes, for the princely sum of £3 per week!

DAVE: How did you switch to creative?
MIKE: I was offered a job as a typographer. Out of ten other Typographers I was the general dogs-body, my nickname was“Bread”as I got the sandwiches every day.

DAVE:  At the time, CPV was probably one of the most creative agencies in the country, how did you get into the creative department?
MIKE: I was already in there albeit, as a lowly Typographer.
But I was keen and determined to make a name for myself.
I used to tinker with the body copy and the Copywriter never spotted it, imagine Tony Brignull or the late David Abbott not spotting that.

DAVE: What ads were getting you all hot and bothered at the time?
MIKE: One ad that stood out from CPV was for Yardley lipstick which had a holster, with lipsticks instead of bullets. Shot by the late great Terry Donovan.Yardley Lipstic ad 1964
And almost anything that came out of CDP. It was London’s answer to DDB New York. The work was first class. I can still recite the names Alan Parker, Charles Saatchi, Paul Windsor, Terry Lovelock,etc, etc.

DAVE: I’ve only ever seen Colin Millward’s name preceeded with the words like ‘dour’ or ‘genius’ next to it. What was he like?
MIKE: Working under Colin Millward was exactly that, unpredictable one day, unyielding the next. I don’t remember him shouting, he was actually a very quiet man.
Frank Lowe invited him on the Benson and Hedges shoot, which was going pear shaped because of the weather. The Arizona desert had never been that flooded.
Each evening we had a pow wow back at the hotel.
Also four of the Iguanas had died due to the cold weather.
The ones in the film were as John Cleese would say a ‘Deceased Iguana’.
Hugh Hudson never put a foot wrong, a joy to work with. I couldn’t imagine any other Director doing such a fine job.  

565px-Van_Girl-_Horse_and_Cart_Deliveries_For_the_London,_Midland_and_Scottish_Railway,_London,_England,_1943_D16829

DAVE: You then moved from C. J. Lytle to L.P.A.Mike Cozens, Kutchinsky '6.38'-01
MIKE: The print ad above was the very first ad of mine that got into the D&AD book. I was at LPA with a bunch of like minded Creatives, including Alan Midgley and Ron Mather.
DAVE: I found the ad above in a magazine from 197o, but it features in the 1973 D&AD Annual. Don’t know what happened there? Long judging process?

DAVE: How did Peter Mayle come to hire you at BBDO?
MIKE: I was working at the Lonsdale, Crowther Agency with that very fine Art Director John Foster when we both decided we’d had enough of mediocrity.
John was a mate of Des Sergeant, who was Head of Art at the new look BBDO.
This was the big one for both of us.
Peter Mayle was the Creative Director and a fitness fanatic.
I decided to join his 
Gym and not let him know I was an up and coming copywriter.
Fortunately Des was doing the interviewing, as Peter was 
on a shoot somewhere.
To cut a long story short, John and I got the job and fitted in perfectly.Mike Cozens, Dutch Bulbs 'Testimonial', BBDO, -01 Mike Cozens, Dutch Bulbs 'Nature', BBDO-01

DAVE: We’ve shared a boss; Tim Delaney, how was he for you?
MIKE: Probably the same as it was for you.
DAVE: Yeah, I enjoyed it too.Mike Cozens, Telex, Copy, D&AD, BBDO-01Mike Cozens, Morlands 'Women', BBDO-01Mike Cozens, Morlands 'Cheaper', BBDO-01

DAVE: BBDO seemed to have been a breeding ground for the more fancy Collett Dickenson Pearce?
MIKE: Peter Mayle left and created a big gap.
I voted for Ron Brown rather than Tim Delaney.
My days were 
numbered when Tim got the job.
Everyone at BBDO had their books and reels in Colletts.
Most of us got the jobs there.  

B&H Gold Box 'Streets', CDP-01

DAVE: You’re teamed up with a young rascal called Alan Waldie, how was that?
MIKE: Waldie, (no one uses his Christian name), is apparently not a well man.
I won`t go into the negative side, suffice to 
say that it wasn`t all Guns and Roses…
Waldie was like nobody I’ve ever worked with.

His reputation as a drinker was legendary.
I nicknamed him the Jeffrey Bernard of Adland.
The B&H campaign was what made our name. We also took over the Heineken campaign, and the Olympus camera campaign. I teamed up with Graham Watson who was in my group and together we went to TBWA.

Mike Cozens, Heineken 'Humpty', CDP-01
Mike Cozens:Heineken 'Hat' MikE Cozens:Heineken 'Bricks' Mike Cozens:Heineken 'Red Adair'

DAVE: What was the brief for the B&H campaign?
MIKE: “Do something that’s never been done before” 

DAVE: How did your roughs go down internally, did anyone understand them?
MIKE: I can’t draw. Waldie was a brilliant Artist, his roughs were superb.
This was 1978, when planning was in its infancy. BH - Alan Waldie rough-01
B&H Surreal 'Mousehole'-01B&H Surreal 'Birdcage'-01 B&H Surreal 'Eggs'-01 Mike Cozens B&H 'Ring', CDP-01B&H Surreal 'Art Gallery'-01B&H Surreal 'Christmas Plug'-01B&H Surreal 'Wallpaper' CDP-01 Mike Cozens, B&H - 'Pool', CDP 2DAVE: I’ve read that when the posters first went up people would just stop and stare. Presumably trying to work out what the hell they meant?
Dave Trott told me he was one of those people, he thought ‘They used to have all those puns about ‘gold’, now what are they telling me…Benson & Hedges are like cheese?
MIKE:
 True. You couldn`t fail to notice them.
B&H_Sardine_Can_poster_at_Victoria_Station_London
DAVE: Look at it in situ, it’s so powerful, why don’t people create posters like this anymore?
MIKE: We had an open canvas, a great client, and a strong creative team.
On our day Waldie and I were second to none. Sometimes 1+1 does add up to 3.


DAVE: The posters didn’t make much sense, so how did you translate that into film?

MIKE: Waldie and I independently came up with Hugh Hudson as the Director.
We’d never worked with him before but that was beneficial.
The three of us had many meetings and a few arguments mainly over the resolution shot at the end.

Hugh wanted to keep it abstract and obscure, I wanted to keep it simple.
We came up with Battersea Power Station which worked superbly.
The music was written by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. It was taken off their Consequences Album  

DAVE: Did you know how good the ad was when you wrote it?
MIKE: We knew we couldn`t have done any better.

DAVE: CDP was the best creative department of the day, fun or stressful?
MIKE: It was fun and stressful. But the BBH creative department was better.

DAVE: How did you find Frank Lowe?
MIKE: Who?
DAVE: Curly bloke, tall, cricket jumper?

MIKE: Oh him!

Olympus 'Image', CDP, Mike Cozens-01Mike Cozens, Olympus 'Mrs Bailey', CDP-01Mike Cozens, Clark's 'Straightlaced', CDP-01

DAVE: It couldn’t be going better, why leave?
MIKE: Graham Watson was in my group at CDP. I was in the CDP bar when he came over and asked if I was happy at CDP? I said not particularly why are you. Not particularly he replied.
He arranged a meeting with John Hegarty and John offered me the job.
On the first day of 1980, Graham and I pitched for the Knorr account. Which we won.
And on the second day we wrote “Kipper”.
Not bad for two days work.

DAVE: After creating one of the best three commercials of the decade, you make another one; ‘Kipper’ for Lego.
The absolute polar opposite of the B&H spot.
‘Iguana’ was filmic, arty and used an amazing music score and stunning locations. ‘Kipper’ was stop-frame, funny and used a voiceover and a simple tabletop in a studio
?

MIKE: I never wanted to write so called “Arty stuff”.
Looking at both “Iguana”and “Kipper” 
I know which one I prefer, Kipper by a long shot.
Its as funny today as it was when we first wrote it.

DAVE: At this time you must’ve considered opening Cozens, Thingy & Wotsit?
MIKE: I always felt more comfortable bouncing ideas about.Mike Cozens, Range Rover 'Odd Job', TBWAMike Cozens, Range Rover 'Snowball', TBWA-01Mike Cozens, Range Rover 'Double-Barelled', TBWA-01

DAVE: How did you come to be one of the five founding partners of BBH?
MIKE: Bartle, Bogle and Hegarty invited Graham and myself up to the Double O 7 bar, above the Hilton.
When we got up there Jerry Judge, and Martin Smith two great account men were also invited.Mike Cozens:Campaign 'Joins BBH'

DAVE: What were the first few months like?
MIKE: We had so many meetings in John’s House in Highgate that it was referred to as ‘the office’.

Mike Cozens :BBH Creative DeptBBH, 'House ad'-01
DAVE: The early Levi’s work seemed to really set it apart as an agency for classy products?
MIKE: There were two commercials that Graham and I wrote. ‘Rivets’and ‘Stitching’.
Both were intended to show how tough the jeans were.  

_30619_5_509adf2227531d912b164295f0500728

DAVE: In 1985, you leave BBH to direct?
MIKE: BIG BIG MISTAKE, Its cold out there.

DAVE: Paula Yates persuades you to chuck in directing? 
MIKE: True, once I heard she was directing commercials I thought I’d pack it in.
Too many directors out there and 
not enough good scripts.

DAVE: How did you end up back in your old seat at BBH opposite Graham Watson?
MIKE: John Hegarty rang me up and offered me my old job back with Graham.
I was very grateful.

Mike Cozens Phonebox shot
DAVE: In 1989 you become the envy of creatives everywhere when join Grey  for a ‘Triple Seymour’.
MIKE: A triple Seymour was £300,000.
DAVE: (For the kids out there a ‘Seymour’ was one hundred thousand pounds. That was the ceiling busting amount paid to lure CDP’s Geoff Seymour transfer from CDP to Saatchi & Saatchi. Also, in the 80’s, £300,000 was a lot of money.)

DAVE: At the time, Grey Advertising was probably the most appropriately named agency in the world?
MIKE: Yes it was an eye opener, but I think they are doing better work now.

DAVE: You got them doing some good stuff, particularly the Bernard Manning ads?
MIKE: Yeah, the first year went well.

 

Mike Cozens - Fairy Liquid 'Old'-01

Mike Cozens:Grey Photo

DAVE: I used to work with Derrick Hass, the most sensitive creative I’ve come across, how did you find turning down his ideas?
MIKE: The worst day of my Advertising life was having to fire Derrick Hass.

DAVE: We can’t end on that gloomy note.
So I’m going to end on a rumour I heard you, if true, there’s no better demonstration of just how different the life of a creative was in your day; Whilst at BBH you and Graham Watson bet another 
creative team that you could get bought lunch by suppliers every day for a year. True?
MIKE: The ‘Greedy Bastard’ lunch champions were not myself and Graham, but Paul Smith and Mike Everett at CDP. 
If they were short of a ‘Knife and Fork’, they would badger me for one.
All the suppliers were on their guard, especially when the big hand was on its’ way to one o’clock.
This was in the days when one of them nicked a huge wad of receipts from the Kebab and Hummus and sold them to the junior members of the creative department.
John Richie
 (Father of Guy) was one of two Directors who could sign the lunch off.

Sadly, Nigel Bogle saw things differently.
Ah those were the days.
Mike Cozens, Creative Review 'Levi's 'Marlin'.BBH-01

 

Mike Cozens:Graham Watson Interview.Direction

 

IN-CAMERA 2: Rolph Gobits

“To me, people are like lighthouses in a very big ocean, with wind and rain and waves trying to break them and make them go under.” – Rolph Gobits.
Rolph Gobits - Rolph

 

DAVE: Did you come from an arty family Rolph?
ROLPH: I did not come from an arty family at all.

DAVE: Do you remember being aware of photography whist growing up in Holland?
ROLPH: I was aware of photography at a very young age when growing up in Amsterdam.
I was about five or six years old when my father or mother took me to a friend who had a dark room. To me it was a miracle to see a plain piece of paper (that is what it looked to me) swimming in what appeared to be a dish with plain water and slowly but surely an image appeared from this blank piece of paper.
The first exhibition of photography I ever did go and see was Robert Capa in the 1950s.
12-3DAVE: When did you take your first picture?
ROLPH: I bought my first camera when I was about 13 years old. It was a 35 mm Yahica camera which could shoot at 1000th of a second, which seemed unbelievable to me.
The first pictures I photographed was of an airplane with had propellers, as jet passenger planes were not yet in service.
I was trying to freeze the rotating propellers at 1000 of a second as I wanted to test the seemingly amazing shutter speed.
Only much later I realised I could have photographed this airplane with the propellers stationary and would have got the same result on film.
It showed clearly my naïvety.

DAVE: What was your first job?
ROLPH: When I was fifteen years old I was working during the summer holidays in a bank six days a week sorting punch cards which were processed through a machine. This was the forerunner to computers.

DAVE: Which photographer did you assist?
ROLPH: I never assisted any photographer.
On completing my M A degree at the Royal College of Art , I got commissions immediately working on editorial magazines like NOVA, Cosmopolitan, Daily Telegraph and many others.
Rolph Gobits - Comedians 2 Rolph Gobits - Comedians 3 Rolph Gobits - Comedians 1
DAVE: What was the first picture you were paid for?
ROLPH: Immediately after completing the RCA I got commissioned to photograph for BIBA, which was just about to open its new store in Derry & Tom’s building in Kensington.Rolph Gobits - Great Dance RevivalRolph Gobits - Bibba-esqueRolph Gobits - White Top hatRolph Gobits - Mirror

DAVE: You seem to have made a conscious effort to switch from being a poppy, trendy fashion photographer to a more classical, serious photographer?
ROLPH: When I first left the RCA I took on almost any job which came my way.
I was so keen to get started having been a student, firstly for four years at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art, followed by two years at the RCA.
It was time giving up being a student and becoming a “professional”.
There also comes a time when you get bored with listening to stories of fashion models rabbiting on about their social lives.

DAVE: What was your first ad that turned out well?
ROLPH: If I remember correctly, the first advert which turned out well was for an agency called Fletcher, Shelton, Delaney.
It was a black and white advert with directors in a boardroom and a sheep.
The directors were all played by staff of the advertising agency.
The sheep was easier to work with than the “directors” who thought this was all a bit of fun.
I was really thrown in at the deep end and realised I was entering an industry like no other.
Preceding this I had only worked on editorial photography for two years.

Rolph Gobits - Daily Mail 'Green Belt', Paul Arden-01Paul Arden, Daily Mail 'Burglar'-01Paul Arden, Daily Mail 'Ex-Directory'-01Roplh Gobits, 'Best Buy', Direction magazine-01DAVE: Who were your early photography heroes?
ROLPH: Robert Capa,                                                              Irving Penn,
Capa-Matisse  57
Richard Avedon,                                                        Edward Steichen,Free Magazine Download. PDF Magazines Latest and Back Issues. Magazines for All   steichen_charles-chaplin-webEdward Curtis,                                                            Winston Link,Edward_S._Curtis,_Canyon_de_Chelly,_Navajo,_1904   linksteamzenith2
Man Ray,                                          Guy Bourdin,
image-4-web  43297-charles-jourdan-shoes-1976-photo-guy-bourdin-hprints-com-1
Sarah Moon,                                                             Paul Strand and many others.tumblr_mr2oxh4xwc1s5uquqo1_r1_1280  strand_fifth_avenue

DAVE: Your compositions aren’t very ‘advertising’. Ad photography tends to be graphic and in-your-face, your shots are calm, detailed and distant.
Take the Lloyd’s Bank ad, I love that the surroundings are dwarfing the two people talking. Not many art directors would do that or want that?
Rolph Gobits - Lloyds, Lowes-01
 ROLPH: Because my portfolio was very editorial any art director who wanted to work with me wanted very much the look of my editorial work.
It was the beginning of a new look which was taking place.
This occurred as several ex RCA students entered the advertising industry and all had a personal vision which was very different from the established advertising look.
Excelisor 'Birds' TBWA-01Rolph Gobits, Jean Muir, Direction Magazine-01 Rolph Gobits, Edward Bawden, Direction magazine-01Rolph Gobits - BMW 'Puple Cactus'*, WCRS-01
DAVE: It’s a bit ‘Sophie’s Choice’, but who’s the best art director you’ve worked with over the years?
ROLPH: This is incredibly difficult to answer as some gave me a free hand and other directors knew precisely what they wanted.
I enjoyed very much both disciplines.
I cannot say who is the best art director but some of the art directors that spring to mind are Paul Arden, Neil Godfrey, Fergus Fleming, Nigel Rose, Alan Waldie, and many more. There are just too many as I have worked in the industry for over thirty-five years. Paul Arden, Daily Mail, Paris' In-Situ-01 Paul Arden, Daily Mail 'Skiing'-01 Paul Arden, Daily Mail 'Vogue'-02PAXTON-cheese-shop
DAVE: Money aside, what do you prefer shooting – advertising or editorial?
ROLPH: I truly have no preference. In editorial you can do whatever you want while with advertising you have to bear in mind there is a “product” that needs to inform on many different levels.
Rolph Gobits, Lloyd's Bank 'Gin Bar', Lowe-01 Rolph Gobits, Pilkington 'Salmon', Saatchi-01 Rolph Gobits, Pilkington 'Tourists', Saatchi-01 DAVE: I think a lot of your shots have been badly handled by art directors.
Your pictures are classic, sometimes like paintings and need to be put in simple environments, but many of your shots have been put into layouts where the coloured backgrounds and fancy type don’t do justice to the delicacy of the images?
ROLPH: Many Peoples and opinions have to be considered to get the final “ look”.  The best conceived adverts are the ones where the art director knows what he wants and fights any other opinions people express.
You have to be a benevolent dictator.
It is that very quality that makes the best art directors the best art directors.
 
Rolph Gobits, Real Fire 'Forsythe', Deighton Mullen-01 Rolph Gobits, Audi 'Performs', BBH-01Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 11.46.04DAVE: I would imagine art directors gave you very open briefs?
ROLPH: Sometimes the open brief consisted of many discussions with the art director many weeks before the shoot.
We would sit down and talk about his ideas and my vision and collectively we would arrive at the ideal situation which would make the advert look like an open brief.
Compared to an art director who may have “battled” for months to get his idea through many discussions and arguments at the agency meetings, it is important for me to understand what is possible and what is definitely a no go with my idea of solving the “problem”.

DAVE: Most photographers who take portraits focus on the face.
Well, it is a portrait after all.
So if you are shooting the artist Jenny Saville, most
 would try and capture her expression, like this.Rolph Gobits - JENNY SAVILLE, (Face)pg-01
Some, the bolder ones, may pull back a little to also capture a bit of body language.

JENNY SAVILLE - New-01
And then there’s Rolph.
Rolph Gobits - JENNY SAVILLE
Few see the world like that.
It makes an art director’s job very easy, the picture does all the hard work.
Simply bung a bit of type in the corner and your spread looks amazing.
Rolf_Gobits-06
DAVE: Your choices are like other people’s mistakes.
Take the portrait above, few would be bold enough to have the face of the subject taking up only two percent of the total area, or below, few would  push the window to the side to show lots of blank wall.
Rolph Gobits - Window watcher
This bloke hasn’t been told where the camera is.
LM00055047850
There’s a big black thing in shot.LM00055049000ROLPH: Just a few words about the Jenny Saville image, because her paintings are very large I photographed her small intentionally. This was the whole idea of photographing her.
In almost all cases I cannot explain how I compose an image.
It is not about size of the person or product; it is about what feels right and gives the sort of emotion I get when I see the location or person.
It is about what feels right to me.
When I worked in the “editorial word” and had to photograph famous people who only gave me ten or fifteen minutes  maximum, I had to make quick decisions, it developed my skill to see a composition.
This was especially true during my work for Management Today magazine, working for Roland Schenk, as all the people I photographed were the creme de la creme of business people and felt very uncomfortable having a camera shoved up their noses.
This was the beginning of me showing more about their environment rather than their faces.
This way the captains of industry felt more relaxed and  comfortable.
For some reason most of these CEO’s expressed to me they preferred going to the dentist  than being photographed.
I presume they tell the dentist a preference to being photographed rather than visiting them.

DAVE: Do art directors find you easy going and flexible, or immovable, like a rock?
ROLPH; This question makes me laugh.
With bad art directors I was immovable as they were very indecisive of what they wanted and therefore relied on my input, whilst working with good art directors became a team effort and was very much open to exchange of ideas.

DAVE: Your work looks as though you were inspired by painters more than photographers?
ROLPH: I am inspired by painting as the artist has a clear understanding of what light can do and how light creates an atmosphere as well as texture and space. If I could paint ( which I can’t) my passion would increase by 1.
RG_Sir-_T-_CONRANLM00055009093LM00055042942 LM00055044975
DAVE: What’s the favourite ad you’ve done?
ROLPH: Impossible to answer as I am very proud of many advertisements I have worked on.
I am proud of a Benson & Hedges ad I worked on which took me 12 days and a 28 minute exposure and I am proud of an ad which took me 1 second and four hours to set up.Rolph Gobits. B& H advertisement
Also other factors should be considered with this statement; enjoyment, difficulty, stress, problem solving (no Photoshop or manipulation), teamwork, weather, etc, etc.SPAIN Rolph Gobits - DuskDAVE: What’s the favourite ad you haven’t done?
ROLPH: Anything by Guy Bourdin.

DAVE: What’s happening, are you doing a selfie with Putin?
ROLPH: He watched my masterclass and the students working with ballet dancers.
He just talked to me about an “Englishman” teaching at the only campus University in the whole of Russia, (with over 20,000 students and about half living in dormitories on an island with many thousands from all over the world).

Putin,Ivanets, Gobits
DAVE: CGI vs In-camera?
ROLPH: No contest; anything achieved completely in camera shows the craftmanship of the photographer.
Photography has become an illustration and can no longer be said to tell the “truth”.

DAVE: Digitisation has made photography easier, less expensive and allowed everyone to do it, but has it helped the images themselves?
ROLPH:
I am not against digitisation.
However it should only be used if a conventional method makes it impossible to get the desired result.
Nowadays it is just used because it is easier and time-consuming, but it makes you lazier. It is software that stops you thinking and using your brain.
The job of the photographer has been reduced as somebody else takes over part of his job he was responsible for himself.
If he makes a mistake the software will correct his stupidity.
The result is; he will be less involved with the process of taking the picture.

DAVE: When I get the results from a photographic shoot today it’s like it’s from Ikea – put tab a into slot b, just hundreds of pieces shot to get the lighting just so, but the end results aren’t better?
ROLPH: You are absolutely right about your statement.
I was told the following story by a colleague in our industry.
A well-known agency commissioned a “trendy” fashion photographer to take a car shot in the studio.
He had never taken a car picture in the studio.
The agency hired two assistants who had a great deal of experience doing studio car photography.
In order to save educating the fashion photographer and save time, each part of the car was photographed separately and then put together like a puzzle.
Why not use the expert in the first place rather than creating a patchwork of images that never looked complete.050111SIR Mech 16.75x10.indd sothebys4-rolphgobitsRolph Gobits - Leffe Rolph Gobits - Venice
DAVE: Which of your rivals did you respect most?
ROLPH: It was not rivals but more the sort of photography I admired but could never do myself such as Lester Bookbinder,Lester Bookbinder - Orange:Duck
Graham Ford,
BH-Goldfish-Graham-Ford-sprks
Francois Gillet.
Francious Gilet, Saatchi's-01

DAVE: I sense that you’re enjoying photography as much now as you ever have?
ROLF: I have always enjoyed photography and always worked on my own projects when I was not busy working on commercial projects.
However, I miss commercial work as I enjoy the challenge of solving a problem set by others . It pushes you to think beyond your own world and comfort zone.
It is very rewarding to overcome a problem in the context of being part of a team and meeting a deadline.
To make a comparison; If you are a skier, skiing by yourself you probably take the comfortable route downhill that does not challenge you too much but if you go downhill with somebody equally good you probably try to be more adventurous and try to push each other to the limit.
I enjoy this challenge of getting to the finishing line=end product.

l1050173_1-1 Rolph Gobits - Ballet Rolph Gobits - Cat & GlassesLM00055045140-1LM00055005043


DAVE: Which photographers do you admire today?
ROLPH: Salgado,                                                          Helmut Newton,
Sebastioa Salgado   Helmut-Newton
Tim Flack,                                                                                          Nadav Kandar, Tim Flach - Elephant Boy   nadav-kander-rebecca-hall-cover
Donald McCullin,                                                 William Eggleston,
Don McCullin, Belfast*-01   ©William Eggleston
Weegee,                                               Cindy Sherman,
weegee-photographs-murder-is-my-business-reception-hospital   cindy-sherman-at-moma-2-23-12-8
Diane Arbus and many others.
Diane Arbus

DAVE: What is Lensmodern?
ROLPH: Lensmodern is an internet online gallery and picture library selling prints and licensing images to the media industry.
Our aim was to create this company selling images of photographers who did not want to be with agencies like Getty and Corbis which are run by financial institutions.
Our organisation is run by photographers and for photographers.
Our aim is to occupy a niche market not covered by the corporations.
Presently we have over 40,000 images and have agents in many countries representing our many photographers.

DAVE: “To me, people are like lighthouses in a very big ocean , with wind and rain and waves trying to break them and make them go under”.
I love it, what does it mean?
ROLPH:
 The lighthouse represents a human being and the ocean and wind represents your life in this world. The ocean and wind are unpredictably like life itself; it changes all the time.
From birth to death your life is equally unpredictable and people through  circumstances try to overwhelm you with  ideas, rules, regulations and telling you what to do.
They try to break you down and become like everybody else.
But you must not become like everybody else and fight for your individuality that distinguishes you from everybody else.
Your strongly held beliefs and conviction must never be drowned by insipid substitutes.
LM00055030470 253fe2b2a13fc653871c5d6a4b9ee83cRolph Gobits - LARISA-SWIMMING- Rolph Gobits - Tree PalmRolph Gobits - Lightbulbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘That funny looking king-size brand’ Pt 1

In 1962, a bright, shiny new agency Collett Dickerson Pearce was offered a big account, the DuMaurier cigarette brand.

This good news was particularly timely, as many at the fledgling agency were starting to worry their jobs.

The agency turned the offer down.

Founder John Pearce told the potential client the brand was a ‘dead duck’, and he didn’t want his agency to work with ‘no-hope brands’ or brands that they didn’t truly believe would respond to advertising.

But being a decent sort of chap, Mr Pearce tried to help out the client trying to give him some business, by saying he’d take on that ‘funny looking king-size brand in gold foil packs’ that he’d recently seen in Old Bond Street shop.

The client was baffled, he said he agreed that the brand in question may have a future in the king-size sector, but that sector was small he couldn’t commit much budget to it.

‘Never mind the budget’ said Pearce ‘Give us the brand and we’ll make something of it.’

The early work looks unremarkable, but at the time cigarette ads came in two flavours;
a) Starring heroes; cowboys, naval officers and all manner old world status symbols.
b) Starring ‘cool young people snogging and smoking’, as early B&H copywriter Frank McCone put it.

Because king-size cigarettes carried a king-size price tag, Frank and Art Director Mike Savino tried to justify the price by referencing the distinctive gold foil pack.
They wrote a line ‘Pure Gold from Benson & Hedges’.

As the campaign developed they started treating the pack as if it were a valuable object, like jewellery or money.

As the campaign develops so too does the photography.
Some of the images still look amazing.
And by 1980, (still with CDP),  Benson & Hedges was the biggest selling cigarette in Britain.

1000x1000B&H Gold 'Purple Box' B&H Gold - 'Christmas'
B&H Gold 'Change'-01
B&H Gold - 'Rome Ticket'
B&H Gold Box 'Best Man' CDP-01
B&H Gold Box 'A Girl's', CDP-01B&H Gold Box 'Floor Boards 3' CDP-01
B&H 'Retiring'-01
B&H Gold - 'Script'-01
B&H Gold Box 'Gavel' CDP-01B&H Gold 'Penny Black'-01B&H Gold Box - 'Biba', Lester Bookbinder-01
B&H Gold Box 'Santa' CDP-01 B&H Gold Box 'Investment' CDP-01 B&H Gold Box, 'Safe', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box, 'Skiing'-01 B&H Gold Box 'Safe', CDP-01B&H Gold Box 'Gold Pennies' CDP-01
B&H Gold Box 'Book' CDP-01B&H Gold - 'Objets D'Art'
B&H Gold Box 'Rainy Day' CDP-01
B&H Gold Box 'Multiple Gold Boxes' CDP-01
B&H Gold Box - 'Treasure', CDP-01
B&H Gold Box 'Picnic' CDP-01
B&H 'Silver'-01B&H Gold Box 'Panning' CDP-01
B&H Gold Box 'Dinning' CDP-01
B&H Gold Box - 'Fishing', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Arrows', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Eureka' CDP-01 B&H Gold Box 'Third Time', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Grow ON Trees', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Chess', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Piano', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Rained Off', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Christmas Bonus', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Cricket', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box 'Tennis, CDP-01 B&H Gold Box 'Streets', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Paint The Town', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Exchange', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Autumn Leaves', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Handicap', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Scrooge', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Some people have a way', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Some Moments', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Venice63', CDPpg-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Turkey', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Reap', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box, 'Skiing'-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Magpie', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Frozen Asset', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Whittington', CDP-01 B&H Gold Box - 'Boat', CDP-01B&H Gold Box - 'Grow ON Trees', CDP-01

B&H Gold Box 'Filofax' CDP-01 british_vogue_september_15_1973__benson
B&H Gold Box 'Monopoly' CDP-01

B&H Gold Box 'Crystal Ball' CDP-01
B&H Gold Box 'Snooker' CDP-01

B&H 'Racing %22-01
B&H Gold Box 'Golf Club' CDP-01
B&H Gold 'Venice 2-01
B&H Gold Box 'Rainbow' CDP-01
B&H Gold - 'Bird Watching'B&H Gold Box 'Mont Blanc' CDP-01
B&H Gold - 'Cricket'B&H 'Faultless'-01B&H Gold Box 'Scarf' CDP-01B&H Gold Box 'Beach' CDP-01
B&H Gold Box 'Headline' CDP-01

 

nb. .Weirdly, they re-shot a couple of sixties ads in the seventies. Badly.
Compare these two the the two earlier versions to appreciate the value of a good photographer.

 B&H Gold 'Cellar' 3
B&H Gold 'Hoard'