VFTL. Episode 5: Mike’s Dad. (AKA Dave Waters).

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Starting out as a creative is tough.
Most days are divided into two parts, first you squeeze out as many ideas as you possibly can, second you try not to give up when your creative director tells you they are all crap. Occasionally you may get a ‘nice’, that will keep you going until maybe two months later when you may get a ‘cool’, even an ‘ok’ buoy the spirits.
Encouragement is crucial.
The first person of any note to say ‘nice’ about one of my ads was Dave Waters, although it wasn’t ‘nice’ it was ‘ ‘kin brill‘. it was written underneath an ad for the Starlight Foundation he’d cut out from Campaign and sent to his old partner Jan Van Mesdag, (who was my boss at the legendary Cromer Titterton).
It was very encouraging, Dave was one of the stars from the best agency of the time GGT.
GGT was not only the best creative agency at the time, it was known to have the toughest regime, weekends there were like Mondays anywhere else,

Also, if you didn’t deliver creatively, either your salary was cut or you were fired.
Dave thrived in this environment.
Dave Trott, the ‘T’ on GGT, called Dave his Roy Keane, saying he was hungrier than anyone, ‘the juniors would do trade ads and if they did well they could steal the bigger tv briefs the seniors were working on and have a crack.
Dave was one of our most senior creatives, he’d do all the big ads and then steal the trade briefs from the juniors, he wanted to do everything.’
Had a great chat with Dave, hope you enjoy it.

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(Dave’s wedding invite.)IMG_1635.JPGpatille-hills-balsam-dave-watersITV PRESS ADSITV ARIELSITV SCREENS

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'It's All Fresher' Morrisons, GGT.jpgMorrison's 'More Reasons' Bag, Dave Waters, GGT.jpg

mickey-cadburys-creme-eggs-ggt'Vera' Cadbury's Creme Eggs, GGT.jpg'Sid' Cadbury's Creme Eggs, GGT.jpg'Percy' Cadbury's Creme Eggs, GGT.jpg'Rambo' Cadbury's Creme Eggs, GGT.jpg

Dave W (above) v Dave T (below).

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'Manual' Daewoo, Dave Waters, DFGW.jpg

This gives me a great excuse to shine a light on Dave’s various stamps and bits of paraphernalia that turn up when you receive one of his letters or packages.Dave Waters - 3 x stamps-01IMG_0065
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An article about Dave and Dave Cook, from his Roy Keane period.Dave Waters & Dave Cook 1-01Dave Waters & Dave Cook 2Press - Dave Trott-01.jpg

Andy McLeod Interview.

 DAVE: Why advertising?
ANDY: I was quite quick tongued, bright at school, without being very academically gifted or driven.
I cared about ‘stuff’ in general, zeitgeisty stuff; trends, tribes, what was cool what wasn’t, what was funny what wasn’t.
I liked art and English at school and not much else.
Got not very good A-level grades, which led me to Bristol Polytechnic to do a two year course in Business studies with advertising.
The advertising bit of it was 1 hour a week with a guy who had obviously worked at a printers or something so it was all about type and copper rollers and stuff like that, which didn’t seem very relevant but did leave me thinking about the creative side of advertising.
Also I met a mate on the same course who kept talking about how he was going to leave the course and do a D&AD course – Davie Hieatt, who remains a top bloke.

 DAVE: What did Hounslow College teach you?
ANDY:
So Hounslow was at the time considered the second best (out of two) courses teaching you how to get an advertising portfolio together.
I did a copy test thing for Watford (no.1) – do an anti smoking storyboard, how would you describe toast to a martian, that kind of thing – and enjoyed it.
Evidently more than they did because I didn’t get in.

Which actually made me realize I REALLY had wanted to get in, and was left a bit stung by it. My first real taste of putting your soul out there for others to criticize which is what its all about after all.
So I got into Hounslow. Where Dave Morris was busy making sure his course became the number one. He made a lot of us out and about in the industry.

 DAVE: You met your partner of the next 20 years there. Love at first sight?
ANDY: Not really no, but we kind got pushed together by dint of the usual merry go round of copywriter art director couplings and recouplings.
But after a couple of projects it felt right. We both meant it.

DAVE: Which agencies didn’t you get jobs at?
ANDY: All the best ones. But we learnt from very good people when we were taking our book round them.

 DAVE: If you’d had a magic genie who could’ve granted you a wish to have a job in any agency of your choice, where would you have chosen?
ANDY: Well initially GGT; they were our Shangri La, the holy grail. Creatives at GGT in ’87, ’88 were like Gods to us eager students, or premier league footballers with razor sharp brains. Walking around in socks eating toast being brilliant.

DAVE: Who did you want to be; Trott? Webster? The spiky haired one from Kajagoogoo?
ANDY: I wanted to be any of the GGT creatives, or Chris Palmer, Mark Denton, or Tom Carty or Walter Campbell.
We were in awe of them, but they took time in their evenings to slag our book off when they could’ve done something more interesting.
We learnt so much from them.

DAVE: You’re offered a job at a new third wave agency Butterfield Day Devito Hockney.
ANDY: Kind of.
DAVE: There’s a previso.  You’re told ‘You’re one of two teams we’re taking on, but we’ll let go of the second best one in three months’.
A pressurised start?
ANDY: Yes, but brilliant. And no harder than getting anywhere near an agency in the year or so before; that taking your book round, changing it, going back, getting rebuffed, going again- that makes you or breaks you, doesn’t it? Even before that, 6 months into the college course, you knew the casualties would be heavy, that most of the class were going to be crucified out there.Andy McLeod, UviStat 'Children' BDDH Andy McLeod, UviStat 'Woman' BDDH.jpg
DAVE: Derek Day trained some great people. What did he teach you?
ANDY: He taught me intelligent writing, thoughtful thoughts, and go go go again.Andy McLeod, Honda 'Measure' BDDH-01Andy McLeod, IPA 'Cards', BDDH-01Andy McLeod, ITV 'Doomed' Radio. BDDH-01Andy McLeod, Thames 'Darts', BDDH-01DAVE: Why leave for DFGW?
ANDY: We loved Dave Waters and Paul Grubb, who had gone from GGT to start DFGW. We had idolised them since those days, and couldn’t resist.

DAVE: What was the difference between BDDH and DFGW?
ANDY: We learnt how to write ads at BDDH, we learnt about the job, the whole thing.
At DFGW we learnt how to do TV.

DAVE: What did you learn from my Emirates stadium neighbour Dave Waters?
ANDY: How fun and silliness are absolutely viable tools to make powerful advertising.
The economic value of fun and sillines.

DAVE: What did you learn from Grubby?
ANDY: Endlines.
Short form writing.
Grubby was known as the king of the end line.
I can’t think of an accolade I’d rather have.

Andy McLeod, 'Taxi'
DAVE: You reluctantly leave DFGW to go to a better agency, BMP/DDB?
ANDY: Reluctant because we loved working for Dave and Grubby.
But BMP was premier league, with a heritage of great work.
And we had to do it.
Andy McCleod, Schweppes 'Non', BMP:DDB.DAVE: Pre-match nerves on your first day?
ANDY: Of course. They had a strong squad.

DAVE: I joined BMP/DDB a few months later and my leaving card from Leagas Delaney said ‘Goodbye’ on the outside, and on the inside  ‘…to awards’.
At the time BMP/DDB was seen as quality, but slow and research dominated.
How did you find it?
ANDY: That probably says more about Leagas Delaney than anything else.
I’m sure you remember every single (admittedly brilliant) press ad that came out of Leagas. And there were thousands of them.
But what people in the real world remember is Cresta bear, ‘Watch out there’s a Humphrey about’, the Honey Monster.
I seem to remember Webster saying no research had ever made his ads worse, only better.Andy McLeod, London Trnaspot 'Out Of Your way', BMP:DDB Andy McLeod, London Trnaspot 'Eros', BMP:DDB
DAVE:  You told me recently that you were only there two years.
That’s astonishing, you did a mountain of work?
ANDY: Thanks. I think it was 2.5 years. But not sure._522_5_b4473ff856414235d1b18c35c9ded53b Andy McLeod, Labour 'Laurel & Hardy'DAVE: Did you work with John Webster?
ANDY: Yes, in our second week we presented a Walkers TV spot to him. Webster had started the Gary Lineker campaign a year or so before I think?
We wrote one which had Cantona doing his Crystal Palace kung fu kick (he’d executed it that season), but it was on a crisp-eating Linekar in the crowd.
I thought is was brilliant. When I’d finished reading it to him, he laughed (so far so good), smiled broadly (yes, yes), and said “it’s not just wrong, it’s a thousand percent wrong”.
We walked back down the long corridor and nearly kept walking back to DFGW.



DAVE: Everyone is a bit anxious until they ‘get something good out’, What piece of work settled you in at BMP?
ANDY: We did a Unison ad about public service cuts. Something like “come to a demonstration in the park, just past the old school, by the closed down hospital”.
And we did a party political broadcast for the labour party. John Major’s Pork Pie factory.
And a campaign on the light boards at piccadilly circus; watch out Ken Clarke operating in this area.Andy McLeod, Labour 'Wallets' Piccadilly Circus, BMP:DDB
DAVE: You managed to get the Simpsons to appear in a Doritos ad, ‘Doh!-ritos’, That should’ve been great shouldn’t it?
ANDY: Yes it could’ve been.
Things don’t always go brilliantly though. I think the core idea of Doh!ritos was a good one. Ambitious. But, you know, it just ended up being a bit so-so.
One thing I remember though is it was based around Homer in the nuclear power plant, and we only got clearance from the BACC if we agreed to stop running the ad if there was a nuclear war or a core meltdown in the UK. Erm, yeah, ok.

DAVE: You’re a bit like Marmite Andy.
Twenty years ago that would’ve meant you’re black and gooey, but thanks to you and Rich, people know it means polarising.
Was there resistance to the idea in the beginning?
ANDY: The brief was nothing to do with that, it was still all about my mate Marmite and kids and soldiers of toast and growing up and stuff.
But Rich loved it and I hated it, and it just seemed to us the most polarizing thing on the planet, and had to be useful as a property.
My bravest ever client.
Skoda U.K. were brave, but this lady was something else, hats off to her.

We launched with two 30 second ads; one was ‘my mate marmite’ to that tune, with people loving it, and the jar at the end with the “my mate” logo.
The other was ’I hate marmite’ sung to that tune, with people spitting it out and stuff, and the jar at the end with an “I hate” logo.
She cried on the shoot for the second one, but still had the balls to do it.
I hope she’s as proud of starting that ball rolling as I am.

And no, Dave, I am not like Marmite; everyone loves me.Andy McCleod, Marmite 'Honk if' 48, BMP:DDB. Andy McCleod, Marmite 'You'll honk' 48, BMP:DDB.DAVE: I’ve always thought it was a shame the ‘Use your vote’ campaign didn’t have major backing to run up and down the country, it’s one of the few political campaigns that makes me want to vote.
ANDY: Thanks.

Andy McLeod1490-01 Andy McLeod14ppp-01 Andy McLeod, M-01

DAVE: You reluctantly set up Fallon?
ANDY: Yes, at BMP we got a black pencil (back when they meant quite a fucking lot not absolutely fuck all like now) for a Doritos idents campaign.
And Tony Cox, our creative director, put his head round the office door and said, smiling “what you going to do next year boys?”, then walked out.

DAVE: Scary?
ANDY: Scary but the best decision we ever made. And it wasn’t that we were reluctant, that’s a bit misleading. It’s just that leaving your hardly fought for comfort zone thing, you know? The deep sigh when you know you have to keep moving on to the next thing. It’s not reluctance, it’s just the realisation that there is never time to bask, no wallowing. Clean your kit then straight back to the battle.
Starting the London version of Fallon McElligott was a huge leap of faith for all of us; Michael Wall and Robert Senior knew each other very well, and they knew Laurence Green a bit. Rich and I had never met any of them.
It could have been a disaster.
In fact as far as we could tell lots of people thought it would be.
The usual industry naysayers gave us about 6 months I think.

DAVE: Were Fallon McElligott a big influence?
ANDY: They were great. Really supportive, without being too constraining; they let us make our mistakes and learn by them.
Pat Fallon was a real mentor to all of us.

DAVE: How did you work in the same room as Rich for twenty years?
Let me rephrase that; how did you manage to work with the same creative partner for twenty years?
ANDY: We’d have killed each other apart from the fact that we loved the work we kept producing together.

Andy McLeod, 'Life After Divorce' Campaign article-01
Andy McLeod, Timex 'We've checked', Fallon-01
DAVE: When I set up DHM our schtick was all about truth, ‘truth cuts through’, ‘truth endures’, ‘it’s the age of truth’.
Compiling your stuff here I can see truth was equally important to Fallon London; Skoda, Umbro, Ben & Jerry’s etc.
But, perhaps sensibly, you didn’t bang on about it?
ANDY: We probably did bang on about, I think we are all told we have to have a thing by campaign etc, and we all walk around talking in sound bites for the next ten years.Andy McLeod, Umbro 'Sister', Fallon-01 Andy McLeod, Umbro 'We don't make', Fallon-01Andy McLeod, Skoda '2 logos', Fallon-01

 Skoda_’Motor_Show’

Andy McLeod, Fallon 'Skoda'
DAVE: You lucked out by landing the planet’s best Head of TV very early on? (It says here)
ANDY: Yes we did, she would talk about interesting new directors, and how to make work better, not about where the new place for lunch was.
She was also the world’s greatest Richard and Andy wrangler.

Lee_Jeans_’Bottoms’

DAVE: What did you look for in the scripts and scraps of paper teams handed over for you to creative direct?
ANDY: A truth, a difference, an ambition.

DAVE: Your house is on fire, you can only save one of your ads. Which is it?
ANDY:
Fuck the ads, let’s go.

DAVE: Okaaaay, what’s your favourite ad you’ve done?
ANDY: I’m very proud of Marmite “love it or hate it” being in the country’s vernacular.

DAVE: Your work is very direct. Has ‘direct’ gone out of fashion?
ANDY: Good has gone out of fashion.

DAVE: Which ads make you get all irritable with envy?
ANDY: The ones that are better than the programmes they’re shown in.

DAVE: What’s been the biggest surprise since you switched to directing?
ANDY: I didn’t think it would be quite so different, and in a way it isn’t – everyone’s looking at the same piece of paper albeit from different sides – but going from the big Fallon family, with lots of structure and back up, to the far more exposed world of little old self employed me waiting for a nice script was quite a jolt. I love it obviously, but the pace is very different.

DAVE: Who influences your work today?
ANDY: Everyone and everything. It can’t be about this style or that method. It has to be the right thing for the project in hand. I don’t want a house style, I want whatever is perfect for the idea in front of me, to make the spot as great for that particular idea as it can be. Really I’m just doing what I always did; it used to be all about trying to write absolutely the exact right idea for a brand. And now it’s about trying to direct in absolutely the exact right way for a particular script.

 

 

IN-CAMERA 1: Brian Griffin.

Brian Griffin, Hood
DAVE: You grew up in the land of the Brum?
BRIAN: I was actually born in the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, although I grew up in the Black Country in a town called Lye.

DAVE: Art College?
BRIAN: I worked in engineering until I was 21, so as a mature student I studied at Manchester Polytechnic School of Photography.

DAVE: Did they teach you anything useful?
BRIAN: How to lose your virginity and smoke.

DAVE: When did you take your first picture?
BRIAN: As an amateur around 1965, but as a professional November 1972. Brian Griffin - Moscow 1 Brian Griffin - Moscow 3 Brian Griffin - Moscow 2DAVE: What was your first job?
BRIAN: I was a trainee draughtsman.

DAVE: That must have fed into your photography?
BRIAN: Assisted my sense of proportion, when it comes to composition.

DAVE: Did you assist anyone?
BRIAN:
No.

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DAVE: What was the first picture you were paid for?
BRIAN: It was for the magazine Management Today, I shot Newsprint being unloaded from a barge on the Thames, just down the road from where I live now in Rotherhithe, South East London.

DAVE: Who were your early ad clients?
BRIAN: Daily Mail, British Airways, Hewlett Packard, Olivetti, Levi’s, Philips & Beefeater Gin.Brian Griffin, Time Out 'J. G. Ballard'DAVE: Who were your early photography heroes?
BRIAN: Myself.
DAVE: What did you admire most about yourself?
BRIAN: Obsessiveness, aesthetic judgment, bravery, competitive spirit and being not afraid of hard work.

DAVE: After your smoke filled upbringing in Birmingham, how did you find the glitzy world of advertising?
BRIAN: I have always enjoyed problem solving and advertising certainly nourished that. Being a good mathematician, inherited from my engineering days in Birmingham, served me well, certainly when jumping through photographic technical hoops on advertising shoots, prior to the advent of Photoshop.
I found advertising enjoyable because it not only involved creativity but a high level of problem solving.

DAVE: Who was the best Art Director you worked with?
BRIAN: Paul Arden, because he loved photography and understood how to use it powerfully.
Paul Arden (Brian Griffin) Republic Bank 'Horse'-01 Paul Arden (Brian Griffin) Republic Bank 'Boat'-01Paul Arden (Brian Griffin) Republic Bank-01
DAVE: I heard a rumour that you once turned up to the D&AD Awards, being held at the Royal Albert Hall, dressed  as the Royal Albert Hall.
Is this true and if so do you have photographic evidence?

BRIAN: I certainly did and here I am in the outfit.Brian Griffin in Albert Hall
DAVE: What was your first good ad?
BRIAN: I just can’t remember having done so many.
Wool 'Muyerbridge' Kit Marr-01Wool 'Photo-Fit'-01 Wool 'Canoe' Kitt Marr-01 Wool 'Chain fence' -01 DAVE: You worked with a little known art directing hero of mine – John Knight, how was he to work with?
BRIAN: That was on the Beefeater Gin campaign.
John made me feel that anything goes!
He enjoyed working in my studio, which at that time was situated in the dark overgrown weed land of the disused docks. Beefeater 'Billy Beaumont'-01 Beefeater 'Alan Price'-01 Beefeater %22Harvey Smith%22 adDAVE: Were you difficult to work with?
BRIAN: Eccentric but never difficult. In fact maybe far too easy at times.Brian Griffin, 'Quote'-01 Brian Griffin, 'Cactus'-01 Brian Griffin, 'Flower'-01DAVE: You’re quite arty, did you like the commercialism of advertising?
BRIAN: No.
Brian Griffin, Sony - 'Melly', BBH-01
DAVE: What ad were you most pleased with?
BRIAN: Probably the 1991 film I shot for Paul Arden, who was Creative Director at Saatchi’s.
Its title was ‘For The World’ and was for Forte Hotels.
My brief was to get Rocco Forte a knighthood and he got one!
Brian Griffin, Direction cover-01
DAVE: Why move into commercials? Cash?
BRIAN: It was my ego getting the better of me.

DAVE: Did you prefer Art Directors to give you a tight or open brief?
BRIAN: Always an open one of course.
Well, the top art directors were confident creative’s and always set an open brief.
WRANGLER_PRESS_RodeoDAVE: As well as being a ludicrously well paid advertising photographer you had a parallel career as a barely paid rock photographer?
BRIAN: Correct.
Brian Griffin and-Ian-Drury
DAVE: And sang with Ian Dury?
BRIAN: Me duetting with Ian at my 40th birthday party, which was also the launch party for my book “Work”.

DAVE: How many album covers have you shot?
BRIAN: 
I think almost 200, if you include single sleeves.Brian Griffin - Peter Hamill Brian Griffin - Inner City Unit Brian Griffin, DevoDAVE: Is shooting an album different to shooting an ad? 
BRIAN: Because of the total freedom, most definitely.Brian Griffin - EchoBrian Griffin - Depeche Mode, WheatBrian Griffin, 'My Best Buy', Direction magazine-01Brian Griffin - Look SharpDAVE: You shot a lot of them with your mate Barney Bubbles. Surely one of Britain’s most talented and least known designers?
BRIAN: Absolutely criminal. Mainly due to the fact he took his life 20 years ago.

DAVE: What did you learn from Barney?
BRIAN: At the point of absolute failure arrives success.
DAVE: Do you have an example?
BRIAN: Too many to recall an individual example.
It was most often that the edge of the envelope was pushed.
brian_mayDAVE: Often there’s only a face and a prop, so how is it that your portraits are so distinctive?
BRIAN: I wish I knew.
I guess its the fact I always try so hard to produce something that is different.
Plus coming from the Black Country certainly gives you a warped outlook on life.

DAVE: I presume some come from observing and thinking on the spot?Brian Griffin - George-Melly_London-1990Brian Griffi, The Times 'Tony Benn'Brian Griffin - Spotted Brian Griffin - Bald:hairDAVE: But some come from you having the sheer cojones to ask someone famous to do something odd – ‘Ere Manolo, sniff those shoes for Me’Brian Griffin - MANOLO-BLAHNIK‘Helen, be a love and crawl under that table.’Brian Griffin - Helen Mirren
‘Can we just cover one with a saucer on your bonce?’ZBBLkLZP
DAVE: Where do you get the brass neck to ask famous people to do silly things?
BRIAN: I have no choice. For I have to ask them otherwise the photograph would be boring.

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DAVE: I experienced this first hand when you shot some portraits for Me, (and art director David Goss).
We shot the first few.Dave Dye, H.A.T. 'Nick Gill', DHM:Brian Griffin* Dave Dye, H.A.T. 'Ringan Ledwidge, DHM:Brian Griffin* Dave Dye, H.A.T. 'Mark Denton', DHM:Brian Griffin*  Dave Dye, H.A.T. 'Tony Davidson', DHM:Brian GriffinDave Dye, H.A.T. 'Paul Silburn', DHM:Brian Griffin*

But then couldn’t think of how to shoot Dave Trott.
You said to your assistant ‘Pop down to the sports shop and get some ping pong balls, I think we’ll pop one in Dave’s mouth.”
‘You won’t” said Dave.
So we didn’t.
BRIAN: It was not easy trying to make Dave Trott interesting, and his lack of collaboration didn’t help.
Dave Dye, H.A.T. 'Dave Trott', DHM:Brian Griffin
DAVE: You have portraits that are supposedly shot in camera.
Brian, how on earth can you do this in camera?
Brian Griffin - In camera
BRIAN: Being an ex-engineer I developed many light machines to produce in-camera effects.Brian Griffin - Danny ThompsonBRIAN: For years after people visiting my studio would stand within this light machine.

DAVE: So I’m guessing you’re not a fan of CGI and retouching?
BRIAN: I’m one of the last practicing living photographers that had to do it all in camera, which involved technical gymnastics.
It’s good that they don’t request photographers to be that clever these days because its painful and you have to be really good.
Brian Griffin - S SBrian Griffin - Brian Eno
DAVE: Do you think the digitisation of photography has advanced imagery?
BRIAN: Created a great deal of harm in developing homogeneity in image making.
However it has opened up opportunities due to the decimal divisions now in exposures, to create beautifully lit scenarios when employing lights.

Brian Griffin - Tuna Fisherman
DAVE: If you could take a portrait of anyone, living or dead, who would you choose?
BRIAN: Princess Anne.

DAVE: Which of your rivals did you respect most?
BRIAN: Irving Penn                                               and Richard Avedon.
Irving Penn - Pizza*-01   Richard Avedon - Andy Warhol's shoes
DAVE: Why and why?
BRIAN: Constantly, day after day, as professional photographers they produced powerful images from a variety of subject matters.
Only the truly great photographers can photograph anything to a high standard.Brian Griffin, Moorgate 1
DAVE: Which photographers do you admire today?
BRIAN: None.
Brian Griffin, Photographer

 

N.B. A Direction magazine article from the early eighties. brian  griffinbrian griffin2Brian Griffin, Direction 'Improved', Article*

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOSS No.5: Mark Denton


Mark Denton in plasticDAVE: Why advertising?

MARK: It all happened by accident. I was quite good at drawing as a kid and my Uncle had gone to Art School and had ended up as a Silversmith.
The Dentons weren’t that imaginative (they all worked in the Family Scrap business) so ‘good at drawing’ meant that I should go to Art School too.
My Mum thought I could get a job as one of those people who paint the patterns on the edge of plates (although I didn’t like the idea of leaving home and living in Stoke on Trent).

DAVE: Did you go to Art College?
MARK: I couldn’t get into a proper Art College because I didn’t have enough O-Levels, it was only a chance conversation with a stranger that pointed me in the direction of The Ravensbourne School of Vocational Studies and a three-year course in graphic design.
I got a job as a paste-up artist first at Knitting Digest and then at the now defunct Bridge Advertising.denton_samson_batteries denton_midas_exhausts denton_maxell_cobras_hiss denton_mcewans_deathdenton_beta_video_nasty denton_beta_japaneseDAVE: Who rejected you before Leo Burnett accepted you?
MARK: Bridge Advertising were crap but my boss used to work at Colman Prentis & Varley who were a pretty creative agency years earlier and he got me all fluffed up with tales of John Webster and D&AD, (which I hadn’t heard of up until that point).
I went for a couple of interviews armed mainly with my magic marker visuals, not ads, just illustrations.
I remember being turned down by Masius and a Creative Director at Euro who looked through my book and said ‘it doesn’t make my knob go hard’.
The Burnetts break happened when the Head of Typography Mike Brant hired me as his assistant because he needed someone to draw up his visuals.

DAVE: What was your first ad produced?
MARK: Can’t remember the first, but the earliest one I can recall that I liked was a 48 sheet poster for Perrier. In fact it was the only finished piece of print I had in my folio when I left Burnetts.
I  showed John Hegarty in my interview, I was particularly proud of it as I’d managed to talk a famous photographer, Barney Edwards, into shooting it.
John wasn’t so keen ‘I hate it’ he said as he flipped it over.
Mark Denton 1DAVE: What was your first good ad?
MARK: My job at Burnetts was drawing up other people’s ideas but I couldn’t help myself, I always tried to do a better one myself. I think I did most of my best work there but almost all of it didn’t go through.

They had an established poster campaign for Cadbury’s Creme Eggs that featured classical portraits of Kings and Queens eating the product with lines like ‘Henry’s Eighth’ and ‘Elizabeth’s First’.
I first got noticed for my writing skills when I drew up my versions ‘Quasimodo’s Umpteenth’, ‘Bunter’s Billionth’ and ‘Dracula’s lost Count’.
Probably my finest line was for Maxell tapes ‘Stop taping the hiss’ Of course it was thrown out before the marker ink dried.
The first good ad I made was a Cadbury’s commercial featuring Charlie Drake as a 16th century driver of a Turbo Sedan chair powered by Creme Eggs.
My boss was furious because I was only meant to draw some posters up and not stick my hooter into the telly. But it was too late once the account group had accidentally seen my storyboard.
It was the first ad I ever got into D&AD.

DAVE:  Did anyone notice you?
MARK: As I started to produce things I started to get noticed outside of the agency.

I made an animated commercial featuring hungry vultures for an orange drink called Quosh with the brilliant Oscar Grillo of Klactovesedstein.
I think he was very impressed that I’d drawn a tight storyboard upfront and he said that he liked my drawings which was praise indeed coming from Oscar.

It turned out very nicely and Oscar started to show it off a bit. Most notably to a bloke called Ron Collins. Now, Ron Collins happened to be one of the most famous creatives around town and the ‘C’ in WCRS the hottest hot-shop in London. He liked the ad and said that he’d be interested in meeting me.
The only trouble was that Ron had a fearsome reputation and I hate to admit it but I was too scared to go for an interview, I didn’t think I was ready.
About the same time my book was summoned over to GGT who in my opinion were doing by far the most exciting work around. I sent it over and got a call shortly afterwards thinking that I was going to get an interview.
I excitedly turned up at their Soho offices and was pointed at the lift by the receptionist. I pressed the button expecting to be whisked up to the creative department but the lift doors opened and there was my lone portfolio ready for me to pick it up with no comment.denton_creme_egg_donkeydenton_creme_egg_dolphin Mark Denton -cadbury_creme_egg_bright-01DAVE: How did you sneak under BBH’s cooldar and get a job?
MARK: When I was at Shepperton shooting the Creme Eggs ad this bloke wandered in from the next stage and started talking to me.
His name was Chris Palmer.
He was so knocked out with the set that he put me forward for the job at BBH.
He was in need of an art director because he’d spent his first 6 months working directly with John Hegarty whose regular writer Barbara Nokes was on maternity leave and now she was on her way back.LEVIS_New_Patch NEWS_ON_SUNDAY_Toiletpaper ART_DIRECTION_Campaign_Bow_Ties_02 ART_DIRECTION_Campaign_Bow_Ties_01DAVE: Was Hegsy scary?
MARK: I was shit scared of John Hegarty. I was aware that I’d got the job with Chris’s support and I might not have been Johns first choice.
I had a portfolio full of rough storyboards and very little else, I certainly had no beautifully crafted print to my name.
John Hegarty was arguably the most stylish Art director around town, so I had to learn to art direct pretty sharpish.
ST_IVEL_SHAPE_Fromage_Frais ST_IVEL_SHAPE_Kids ST_IVEL_SHAPE_Ploughman ST_IVEL_SHAPE_FamilyDAVE: Why team up with a shaggy haired bike messenger with only a years experience?
MARK: I would have teamed up with the office cat if it had got me into BBH.
Chris (Palmer) had only been in the business for six months but in that time he’d won a stack of awards, including six D&AD pencils, for his work with John on Levis, Pretty Polly and Dr White’s Tampons.
It worked out pretty well though, not only did we have very similar creative sensibilities we both felt that we had to pedal hard to make up for lost time.
Chris had spent a lot of time as a dispatch rider while I was in the studio at Burnetts and we were both in our late 20’s.
BURROUGHS_Test_Match_Special BURROUGHS_Pillow_Talk DAVE: You started to moonlight to build up your tv reel.
MARK; Even when I was at Bridge Advertising I used to see any photographers, illustrators agents, reps etc that called up to show off their wares. I’d often try to persuade them to help me make a spec ad.
When I got to BBH my credibility rocketed over night so suddenly it became relatively easy to convince visiting producers that their new director needed a pilot. I had a portfolio full of ads that had been turned down at Burnetts so rather than wait for a TV brief I kept the pot boiling with my own stuff.
Chris was every bit as keen as I was on producing extra-curricular work and before too long the pair of us started picking up awards and attracting new eager producers and photographers.

DAVE: Did any creatives take us under their wing.
MARK: No not really. We were chucked in the deep end and allowed to make mistakes, although mistakes weren’t that popular so we tried to make sure we got it right.
I spent untold hours studying the guard books trying to get the hang of art direction.
My visualising skill came in handy because I’d spend nights and weekends drawing and making animatics of our scripts, that was pretty unusual for creatives to do that.
Chris joined in too because he was a bloody good illustrator.

DAVE: Some of your work from this period is more GGT than BBH?
MARK: We loved the super stylish fruits of the BBH creative dept but we also used to love the brutal populist stuff that was coming out of GGT. We tried to get a few GGT style scripts past John but I remember him saying ‘we don’t do that kind of advertising here’ and to be fair he was right, they didn’t.
Asda 'Stork'Asda 'Snowman' Asda 'Chicken'ASDA_Super_Cow ASDA_FishFingers ASDA_Fresian_CowDAVE: Hegarty. Trott. Icke. Who’s been the bigger influence?
(That’s Norman Icke, not David.)
MARK: It’s hard to say, they were all massive influences. And the list could have been a hell of a lot longer.
I know how to polish my shoes correctly because I was in the Cub Scouts. I know how to art direct because I was at BBH when it was small enough for John Hegarty to care about the positioning of every full point. You don’t forget that stuff.
I loved GGT’s work so I made a study of it, I dissected it and I tried to emulate it. Obviously it would have helped if I’d worked there, I did try.
Not many people have heard of Norman Icke.
I shared an office with him at Burnetts and he taught me bucket loads. He was the inventor of the Milk Tray Man.
He was bloody brilliant. Had he worked at a better agency he might be as famous as John Webster or Alan Parker.

DAVE: Why leave BBH, cash?
MARK: I’ve never made any decisions about my career based on the cash (maybe I should’ve). We were only at BBH for just over 2 years and we were pretty prolific but we were gagging to do more telly.

DAVE: Lowe Howard-Spink was very good, but wasn’t it a bit old fashioned for a couple of hipsters like you and Chris?
MARK: It was simple, Lowes had big clients like Heineken, Whitbread, Vauxhall and the Mail on Sunday with famous TV campaigns. I remember getting a small rise but it was the promise of TV that tempted us over.
Oh, and posters I’ve always liked doing posters and the Heineken poster campaign was open to the whole creative department.
HEINEKEN_POSTERS_Godzilla5HEINEKEN_POSTERS_BayeuxHEINEKEN_POSTERS_HedgehogsHEINEKEN_POSTERS_Shakin_StevensHEINEKEN_Duncan_GoodhewDAVE: And you started making the tv you’d gone there for?
MARK: We were only at Lowes for 18 months and in that time we shot commercials for Heineken, Vauxhall, KP, The Mail on Sunday, and Ovaltine Light.
On top of that we did quite a bit of print including a lot of posters. Because the Heineken poster brief was open to the whole department we worked nights and weekends to ensure that we got one through. We drew up 70 fully coloured in concepts hoping that would do the trick.
It did. We made five in total and cleaned up at Campaign poster awards that year.
The biggest job we did was probably the 1988 Vauxhall Cavalier launch which was the largest ever UK car launch at that time. The brief had been in the agency for quite a while. I remember that we were presenting a cut of a Heineken commercial late on a Friday night and our creative directors asked if we could help out on Vauxhall. We showed them the script of the ad that eventually ran on the following Monday morning.

DAVE: How did the snappily titled SPDC & J come about?
MARK: In the first week that I started working with Chris we went to my clairvoyant, Madame Clare’ of Catford.
She predicted that we would have our ‘names over the door’ as well as being ‘in front of the camera’ and ‘behind the camera’…we took that to mean that we would have our own business together.
So when I got a phone call from this bloke I’d never heard of asking if we’d be interested in starting up a business I just cupped the receiver and said to Chris ‘it’s that phone call we’ve been waiting for.
LUNCHEON_VOUCHERS_Ketchup_Bandit LUNCHEON_VOUCHERS_Fiver LUNCHEON_VOUCHER_Skinny_PigLUNCHEON_VOUCHERS_Crocodile TANDON_Brains NRM_Platforms_48 NRM_Murder_6 NRM_Mallard_48 NRM_BuffetCar_6 NRM_Stuffed_6TERRENCE_HIGGINS_Be_Good_In_Bedhttps://vimeo.com/121730115

TERRENCE_HIGGINS_Be_A_Good_SportDAVE: You had a wall.
MARK: Yes we had a wall. It was out in the creative dept and it was where we we pinned up all of the work that was going through.
Every team had their own briefs that they were responsible for. They had to deliver on their own work but once me and Chris saw a concept that we liked it went up on to the wall in the common parts.
Anyone could come along and better the ad, even the Cleaner or the office cat for that matter. We put our work up there too and I’d like to think that even though it was our final decision on what ran we were as tough on our stuff as we were on everyone else’s.

It was quite a competitive environment (to put it mildly) but everyone seemed to benefit from it. Most creative’s who passed through the department got a pencil or two.
It was a very honest way of operating, everyone knew where they stood.

DAVE: Didn’t it get annoying when all the teams you’d picked up from nowhere and then trained, would leave for double their salaries?
MARK:  We loved it, the more awards we won the more other agencies would try to poach our teams. It meant that we were doing something right.
We liked it so much that we encouraged creatives to tell us when they’d got a call and when they’d had an interview we’d go through their book with them and ask ‘what did John Hegarty think of that ad? or did David Abbott like that one? No one had to sneak out of the office with their portfolio.
If they’d been made a better offer we’d tell them, but generally we didn’t get a lot of people jumping ship.

SCIENCE_MUSEUM_Staveley_Road SCIENCE_MUSEUM_Crapper SCIENCE_MUSEUM_Scientific_Experiments SCIENCE_MUSEUM_Hole_In_Head
SCIENCE_MUSEUM_Hitler
DAVE: Were Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow & Johnson part of the Third Wave?
MARK: After Howell Henry Butterfield Day and Woolhams Moira set up Campaign coined the phrase ‘the Third Wave’ ( The Second Wave being WCRS, BBH, GGT etc).
So given that we set up shortly after HHCL and WMGO then we were definitely part of that gang. After us came Duckworth Finn Grubb and Walters, Elgie Stewart Smith, Leagas Shaffron Davis Chick, Tilby and Leaves, Emerson Pond-Jones and others that I can’t remember.

DAVE: Did you hate HHCL’s guts?
DAVE: No, we didn’t hate them. We didn’t know them.
They did seem to take themselves a bit seriously so we probably gave them a bit of stick. (I still don’t get that First Direct ad with the buckets in it).
We loved absolutely stomping them at the awards though (which was made a tad easier for us because they had a policy of not entering). So effectively we won a competition that they didn’t know they were in. ‘CHAMPIONS!!!’

DAVE: For Bottoms Up, you cast the bloke in the office next door, couldn’t you be arsed to do a casting session?
MARK: ‘Bottoms Up’ was one of those rushed jobs where we won the business and they wanted the advertising immediately.
We came up with a concept that required an ‘Alfred E. Neuman’ (MAD magazine) type of character. Andy (Mackay) had a funny face, it seemed like a natural course of action.BOTTOMS_UP_Sante BOTTOMS_UP_Salud BOTTOMS_UP_Prost BOTTOMS_UP_ChinChin BOTTOMS_UP_UppyajumpaDAVE: Were you bothered about awards?
MARK: Awards were all important. I just wanted to win more than anyone else it’s as simple as that. I’ve always been competitive.
I remember when I first met my wife and was introduced to her eight year old daughter. After an emotionally charged game of Monopoly they described me as a ‘bad winner’. Maybe it’s because I come from a big family and we all had to fight for attention.
But as far as advertising goes I only wanted to win a gong by doing a good ad.
Our starting point was never ‘lets do something to impress a jury’ it was always about doing a great advert. One that sells.
I’ve always loved to hear about how many units an ad has shifted. Generally my ads look like ads, I’m not a ‘small logo’ type of art director.BHF_Spelling_It BHF_Exercise BHF_CigaretteCROWN_FM_Know_Your_Arts CROWN_FM_Dow_Joneses CROWN_FM_Capitalist_RadioDAVE: How did you survive the first couple of years?
MARK: We were crap at new business to start with (Clare never told us about that bit). So we tried to make the biggest splash by putting a lot of our minuscule clients on 48 sheet posters. Slumberdown Duvets, Luncheon Vouchers, The National Railway Museum, Greenpeace, etc etc all got 48 sheet campaigns.
It was bloody tough, we paid ourselves a pittance and we were very close to the wire in our 3rd year I remember.
Quite a few of those Third Wave agencies had failed around this time.
ART_DIRECTION_SlumberdownDAVE: Was it company policy to hire nobodies, like me?
MARK: Yes, but most importantly we hired nobodies that wanted to be somebodies.
You can’t beat a modicum of creative talent coupled with a whiff of desperation, it’s a very intoxicatingly powerful combination.
Plus nobodies are cheaper and more malleable than somebodies.GREENPEACE_FU_GBhttps://vimeo.com/123434824

Greenpeace_Ozone_1
DAVE: You win Nike, not the creative prize that it is today, and probably not that big at the time?
MARK: We’d obviously been doing something right. The work we’d done for Wrangler in particular had got a bit of recognition in an arena dominated by Levi’s.
So even though Nike wasn’t the big deal in the UK that is today, it was still very flattering to be on their list.
We were aware of some of the great work that Wieden and Kennedy had done in the States but our main point of reference to the brand was the award wining press stuff that had been done by FCO in the UK.
NIKE_PRESS_All_Weather_RangeNIKE_Guide_To_DublinNIKE_PRESS_Golf_ShoesNIKE_PRESS_Cut_Out
DAVE: A lot of this stuff looks identical to the Weiden’s work, did you have anything to do with them?
MARK: We met Dan Wieden when we first picked up the business and we visited Wieden’s in Portland. Having not known much about their campaign prior to winning the account we were bowled over by the work. It wasn’t just the concepts it was their ballsy attitude too.
It felt really fresh compared to a lot of UK work.

So early on we tried to learn from the masters and emulate the look and tone that had been set up.
Of course after five minutes we started to get confident and before long we had our own take on things.
NIKE_PRESS_BabyNIKE_PRESS_Shape_You're_InNIKE_PRESS_XRay_Foot NIKE_PRESS_Runner_IllustrationNIKE_Ian_Wright_BabyDAVE: You started with press ads that were good but quite sensible, then you start doing more expressive, emotion based posters?
MARK: We were only hired to do the specialist football print and press stuff because at that time the Yanks didn’t know much about soccer but we didn’t let that stop us, before you knew it we had one of the biggest poster campaigns ever running in London and with the help of our super-ruthless/talented creative dept we started winning tons of awards for the work.NIKE 'Jordan', Mark DentonNIKE_POSTER_Except_The_BallNIKE 'It's Not The Winning' Mark DentonDAVE: You then start to playing around more with the imagery and bringing back squashed up type, which was very old-fashioned at the time.
MARK: I saw the trend in US magazines and it felt a bit different to what was happening UK advertising at the time so I thought it would be worth a punt.NIKE_PRESS_Courts_Can_Be_Hard NIKE_PRESS_Beat_Your_OpponentNIKE_PRESS_Painted_FootNIKE_PRESS_Giving_Up
DAVE: The 1990 Olympic campaign really got you noticed.
MARK: It was the biggest poster campaign that we’d done at that point and we were delighted with the creative work and the initial reaction that it got.
That all soured slightly when after very immodestly showing off about the prowess of Nike’s athletes they one by one got knocked out of the competition.
NIKE 'Traffic_Control' Mark Denton NIKE 'Algerian' Mark Denton NIKE 'Johnson' Mark DetonDAVE: After shouting from the rooftops about all these athletes who are going to storm The Olympics, they all strike out.
MARK: Actually in hindsight it was a great result for us, we just got talked about even more.NIKE_PRESS_Put_Foot_In_It 
DAVE: The campaign then really hits a peak, with the famous ‘Cobblers’ poster.
MARK: Didn’t you have something to do with this one Dave?
NIKE_Poster_CobblersDAVE: You don’t look for what’s cool do you?
MARK: I’m not anti-cool…but you’re right, looking for something I like is always more important to me than looking for something that’s fashionable.

DAVE: Then you push it all over the map, I mean that in a good way.
MARK: It wasn’t a conscious decision to keep changing the look of the Nike campaign I just found myself wanting to nudge it in different directions.
Of course it was important that everything hung together but tweaking the look kept it fresh. 
NIKE_POSTERS_A_Want_The_Ball NIKE_POSTERS_A_Behind_Every_GreatNIKE_POSTERS_A_Your_Hands_Can't NIKE 'Sampras' Mark DentonNike.Cant.96.1a_web Nike.Jockstrap.1a_web NIKE 'U Turn' Mark Denton

NIKE_POSTER_Make_WarDAVE: When I showed you this ad you said ‘I like it, now do one that looks nothing like it’.
MARK: I remember you presenting something that looked like a Nike ad but I wanted all the Nike print to feel like they hung together but were slightly different. I think that was mainly because we still had so few clients and I would have been bored with just one look.
Tourist Information 2DAVE: It ended up like this.Tourist Informationhttp://youtu.be/j43sBiQUndo

DAVE: You shot three ads with Tony, that was probably a record at the time, but you were on the verge of tears when you saw what Tony had shot and cut together on ‘Kick It’ . (Bad tears by the way, not tears of joy.)?
MARK: Tony had just started making a name for himself when we first met him. He’d recently cleaned up with his solid fuels cat, dog and mouse ad and had done some other really cracking work like ‘Abbey Endings’.
Me and Chris were alone working in Simons Palmer DENTON’s first offices which were over a fish restaurant in Covent Garden when we heard the front door bell ring. It was about 10.30 at night so we both wondered who it might have been given it was so late.
We opened the door and in bounds a very animated Tony Kaye. I can’t remember exactly what he said but he was so enthusiastic that when he left we both turned to each other and said ‘we’ve got to work with him’ (even though at that time we didn’t have many TV briefs knocking around).
I think the first opportunity presented itself when Greenpeace needed a 3 minute film to highlight the potential environmental problems that were facing Antartica. There was bugger all in the budget but fortunately Tony agreed to do it.
It was like no other shoot I’d ever been on. Exciting, disorganised, dangerous, emotional (I remember Tony crying when our producer tried to explain that the commercial really had to be finished in time for an international conference on Antarctica. I can’t remember if it ever got finished on time)….and very, very, very creative.
I loved the end result but in all honesty I think I loved the process even more. It gave me the kind of feeling in my testicles like when you go over a hump-backed bridge at high-speed. So we let Tony loose on our next ad too which was a hair and beauty ad for a shampoo. The end result was every bit as bad as the previous ad was good. It seemed like Tony was a risky proposition, you either got magnificence or WTF!!!, nothing in between.
That’s why he was the obvious choice for our first Nike commercial ‘Kick it’. We wanted something that was going to blow everyone’s socks off, so despite the possible risk factor we were prepared to board the Tony Kaye roller coaster for the thrill of it and the potential big rewards.
And he didn’t disappoint.
I’m not going to bother trying to explain the advertising idea in ‘Kick it’ . No one would ever be able to work it out by watching the finished film. As before it was a fantastically exciting shoot but we had a lot of fights along the way trying to wrestle it to resemble the original script. In the end I stopped fighting because I thought there was the danger that any forced compromise between Tony’s vision and ours would be less good.
I remember when the finished film was presented to the client. He said ‘this is nothing like the script that I bought’ and we said ‘No, but it’s good isn’t it’. He agreed, it ran, we all won lots of awards and more importantly I’d like to think that it contributed towards elevating Nike from the number two sports brand in the UK to the top spot.
There was actually a fourth spot that we shot with Tony for Wrangler.
No one’s ever seen it . It was a speculative film which featured a black rodeo rider. There was no budget, Tony just liked the script and jumped on a plane to Texas. Only an early rough cut exists because unfortunately we lost the Wrangler account before it could be finished. Shame, I think it could have been one of our best bits of work.
One of the downsides of being a director is that I don’t get to work with people like Tony, I really miss that.

DAVE: I only remember being allowed to enter your office once, what the hell went on in there?
MARK: Having a lock on the door was probably my idea and the polar opposite of all that’s in the management books. No one was allowed to disturb us in the morning up until 12.00. No wonder they fired us.
The_Sun_Gotcha The_Sun_Lose_A_Million The_Sun_Sales_Figures The_Sun_Pin_This_To_Your_Office The_Sun_Booking_An_Ad_Mirror The_Sun_An_Insertion
DAVE: You’re great with clients, but you didn’t deal with them much then?
MARK: I was nervous in meetings, Chris was exceptionally good at presenting so I had no reason to do the meetings then.
We fielded our best player. It’s only when I became a director and I found myself in pre-production meetings that I discovered that I was not only good in front of an audience but I actually enjoyed it.

DAVE: The Wrangler campaign was very unusual at the time.
MARK: Levis had the sexiest advertising at the time and the lions share of the jeans market. The number two brand Pepe were a long way behind. And even further down the chart was Wrangler.
We did a lot of research with the target 15-25 year olds and they slagged off Wrangler mercilessly.
They hated the ‘W’ on the back pocket in particular. So rather than running away from the ‘W’ we chose to make it the hero of the campaign.

Our line ‘Be more than just a number’ not only encouraged the punters to be an individual and wear something other than Levis but it also pitched the ‘W’ against the number 501. That was our theory anyway.
But everyone knows ‘it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it’.
We knew that we couldn’t compete with Levis on their own turf, executionaly or budget wise so we made our telly much grittier than theirs by setting it in a warts’n’all NYC and by picking a soundtrack that Levis wouldn’t have gone anywhere near, ‘Crosstown Traffic’ by Jimi Hendrix.
The follow-up commercial was shot in black and white and was set in LA with an all black cast.
The accompanying poster campaign featured graphic interpretations of the letter ‘W’ just to get the youngsters thinking differently about the thing they said they hated about the product.
Before very long Wrangler were the number two brand and the advertising was getting talked about. And then we parted company with the client (I can’t remember why now).

WRANGLER_Posters_SuperHero WRANGLER_Posters_Dog WRANGLER_Posters_Pants_W WRANGLER_Posters_Dragon WRANGLER_Russian WRANGLER_PRESS_Tank_Girl WRANGLER_PRESS_Rodeo WRANGLER_PRESS_Biker_Vicar Wrangler_HairDAVE: How did a  small agency pick up the biggest account in the country?
MARK: We wouldn’t have got anywhere near a pitch for the BT business if it hadn’t been for me and Chris having a reputation for writing ‘pilot’ commercials.
I’d always done speculative work ever since I was a visualiser at Burnetts. After a few years working with Chris we calculated that we had shot a couple of million £’s worth of pilots (THT, Samson, Mail on Sunday, etc etc etc) and we’d won loads of awards as a result (The Grand award at NY Festivals, Golds at Cannes and BTA, D&AD pencils, a BAFTA, the lot).
The secret was to not only make them good, they had to be for a real client, one you could possibly sell the ad to when it was finished.
We were approached by one of the hottest ‘pop promo’ directing duos in town Vaughn and Anthea. Despite the fact that they were knocking out extremely stylish promos for some of the top acts around at the time (George Michael, Simply Red etc) they couldn’t get arrested in Adland. It was much harder to make the transition from music videos to adverts back then and they were desperate.
So desperate in fact that they gave us a ring and asked us to write them a pilot to put them on the map. We had a word with Carl (Johnson) and said what client do we want? He said that the biggest spenders next to the COI were BT so before you know it Simon (Clemmow) was doing some research and knocking out a brief for BT.
We write a bunch of scripts, give them to V&A and they take them home to have a ponder. The next week they were back in our office telling us that they like the scripts so much that they were going to shoot two of them (we didn’t know at the time that they mortgaged their flat to raise the money!)
The shoot went bloody well and the ads turned out even better than we expected. Then we put the finished spots back into research, called up the BT client and to cut a long story short secured the lions share of the BT account.
Of course, always being one’s for paying back debts Vaughn and Anthea ended up shooting 11 commercials for us over the next year or so.

BT_Makes_All_The_Difference BT_Give_Him_A_Lift BT_Ah_The_BeautyDAVE: Why did you get kicked out?
MARK: We were awkward.
I would have kicked us out if I were the other partners.
I was only 31 when we started the business and I’d only been a proper art director for five years.
No one had taught me about the mechanics of the business and how to get along with people, I naively thought that if the work was good then everything would be ok.
What I didn’t realise was that when it all went pair-shaped for us I was holding a very good hand of cards, I just happened to play them badly.

DAVE: Did you offers to stay in advertising? 
MARK: After the SPDC&J experiment I didn’t fancy starting up again because I didn’t trust the process, so I thought I’d try my hand at directing while I decided what I wanted to do.
I can’t remember anyone offering me a job at the time so it was an easy decision.
Tell a lie, David Abbott called and we met him but I really didn’t fancy working for anyone else after I’d got a taste of being my own boss
.

DAVE: It’s interesting hearing you ‘recount your journey’, as Mark Maron says. The nagging question for me is; You’re the son of a scrap metal magnate and you have the words ‘MARK’ and ‘DENT’ in your name, that’s got to be deliberate?

Nb. COMING SOON: DENTON: THE POST AGENCY YEARS.

Turning Stories Into Ads: Dave Trott & Paul Grubb on LWT

I’ve written previous posts on ‘turning stories into ads’, The Guardian, BBC’s Panorama and GQ.
I wrote them because it struck me that although the brands were very different, what they wanted was exactly the same; An appropriate look to hold an idea about any subject under the sun.
Take The Guardian, the ads I worked on ranged from the trial of mass murderer Fred West to the fact that footballer Jurgen Klinsmann couldn’t stay upright if their was another footballer within a circumference of ten feet.

It now seems to be the way media does media.

You rarely see media owners talking about what they stand for, like The Economist, now it’s more likely to be ‘we have this bit of content on Tuesday’.

When chatting to Dave Trott recently, it  occurred to me that they could probably all be traced back to GGT’s  LWT poster campaign.
I don’t know if it was the first, but it’s certainly the best example of ‘Turning stories into ads’.

He mentioned they had produced seventy or eighty posters, so I couldn’t resist trying to track them down and see whether he remembered much about them.
I got to about 65 before the trail ran dry, thanks to Axel Chaldicott, Dave Waters and Paul Grubb.
(Paul in particular had a ton of info, so I’ve included that too.)

LWT TV Title

DAVE TROTT; “We never actually had the LWT account.
An agency called The Creative Business had it.
The man who ran the agency, David Bernstein, was a good friend of the LWT client, Ron Miller.
Both were good blokes, so the account wouldn’t move.
But one day Mike Gold had an idea.
He said to Ron Miller, don’t move the account, but just let us do the trade ads for you.
If you really want to get agency media departments to shift their money onto LWT you need to do something exciting.
Get their attention, create a bit of a stir.
At that time there were two commercial TV channels in London, both competing for ad agencies’ media money.
Thames TV ran Monday to Thursday.
LWT ran Friday to Sunday.
So the job was to get agencies to shift money out of Thames and onto LWT.
LWT tried to do this with a DPS in Campaign each week, running the same old media graphs.
Mike Gold said, if you let us run ads that get ad agencies talking about the ads, LWT will be much higher profile than Thames and you’ll look more attractive.
So Ron Miller said we could do his trade ads.
Mike Gold said the trade ads should be programme ads, as high profile as we could make them.
Leagas Delaney, who did the Thames TV advertising, did the sensible thing.
They ran half page ads in the Evening Standard.
But Mike said he had a much more exciting idea than that.
Mike had just seen a TV programme about communist China.
There were no newspapers, so each week they pasted a government press release onto the wall of every village.
In each village people would stand around waiting for it to change.
Mike said we could do that with posters.
If we changed the poster in the same place each week, people would be watching for the new one.
We’d only put the posters outside ad agencies, but no one would know that, they’d think the posters were everywhere.
The problem was, with a poster each week we could only print one plate, but LWT wanted their logo in 3 colours.
So Gordon Smith, the art director, had an idea.
He said each set of posters would run for 13 weeks at one poster a week.
Why didn’t we print 13 week’s-worth of colour logos and borders and keep them in a warehouse.
Then pull off a week as we needed and print the single plate.
That way we got full-colour posters printed in the same time as single-colour posters.
And that’s what we did.
When they ran, Mike Gold went round checking each poster site and having some moved to the other side of the road.
Why did he do that?
The posters ran in winter: it was light in the morning and dark at night.
People would see them coming in to work, but not going home.
You won’t find many media blokes that thorough.
When we did the ads, it wasn’t fair to give them to a particular team.
So we let everyone have a go but not in working hours.
If you wanted to do a poster you had to do it on your own time.
This meant, every Saturday, the agency was full of young creatives wanting to get an LWT poster in the D&AD annual.”
 

LWT-Hurricane-Higgins-Snooker
DAVE TROTT; “Paul Grubb and Sam Hurford showed me a rough with the picture of a snooker table with the pockets broken out, no headline.
It made sense because the biggest snooker draw at the time was Alex “Hurricane” Higgins.
But, good as the picture was, I thought the picture on its own was too subtle for a poster.
It would have made a good press ad, but posters have to work faster, from further away, in bad weather.
So I made Grubby put “Hurricane Warning” across the top.
He didn’t like it, he wasn’t happy.”

LWT 'John DeLoreon' Rough-01
REJECTED.
DAVE TROTT;  The client  thought this would upset Russ Abbott, John DeLorean and anyone who invested in the company (Like the Government.)
THIS WAS THE AD THAT RAN.
LWT 'Russ Abbott:Holes'
PAUL GRUBB; “We used whomever, whatever was available. The Art Director Dave Waters wore a skirt for this one.”

LWT 10.missile
DAVE TROTT; “I tried to get the client (Ron Miller) to buy two ads before this one.
Same visual but different headlines.

One said: WHAT WAS THE LAST THING TO PASS THROUGH KENNEDY’S MIND.
The other said: I NEED ANOTHER PARADE LIKE A HOLE IN THE HEAD.
Ron turned them both down so I thought we’d better go back with something serious.

LWT - The Gentle Touch-01LWT 15. 'Cannon & Ball'-01LWT 'Thriller', GGT-01LWT - '6 O' CLOCK SHOW-01
PAUL GRUBB; As you know, Mike Gold came up with the idea of preprinting the coloured border so we only had to print a black plate inside, allowing us the quick (at the time) turnaround of a poster a week.
And our clients were so good they allowed us to experiment, and here’s one such.
We thought it would be great to mix the sheets up, but in more than a couple of locations, the contractors posted them up in the normally correct sequence with the border aligned around the periphery (against specific instructions) so in those places it was just a poster that read EVER HAD ONE OF THOSE WEEKS, leaving people who cared wondering what the hell was going on. The irony….”
 LWT 5 'Whoops apocalypse'DAVE TROTT: “I was always disappointed that no one got this one.The picture was meant to be both of them putting their fingers in their ears to avoid the sound of all the H bombs going off.”
But everyone thought it meant they didn’t want to listen to each other.
I think we over-thought it.”

LWT 'Parkinson's Disease' Rough-01
REJECTED.
DAVE TROTT; “The client thought this would have upset Michael Parkinson, the BBC and anyone with Parkinson’s Disease.”

LWT-Royal-Variety-Show-1PAUL GRUBB; “This was one of my favourites. Everyone was genuinely nervous about what the reaction would be.”

LWT TARBY-01
PAUL GRUBB; We had to get Tarby’s approval for this and when he agreed, we thought he didn’t understand the idea, thinking it was just a picture of him.
Also, he wanted to actually be photographed rather than us using a stock shot.
On the shoot, he said “you guys think I don’t understand the concept don’t you? I’m not thick, I know you’re implying I have no friends”.
We were young we didn’t know how to respond.”

LWT 2 ' Royal Variety'LWT 27. 'Tales Of The Unexpected'-01LWT 'A Kind Of Loving'-01PAUL GRUBB; We were masters of the concrete idiom, leading some people to call us the concrete idiots.”

LWT 6 'Fugitive'PAUL GRUBB; We bent the rules on this one, or the border at least – we didn’t have a preprinted ‘folded and creased’ corner so we had to pressure the printers to work through and whack this particular one out in a week. Nice result though.”

LWT 4 'Denis Thatcher'
PAUL GRUBB; “Always prodding the establishment, trying to provoke and annoy.”

LWT 31. 'Ayotolllah'DAVE TROTT; “Paul Grubb had a picture of the Ayatollah with blood dripping from his hands.
I changed it to have a shadow on the wall, then added the headline.”
I think we got bomb threats after this ran, which we were all pleased with.

LWT 49.  'Big Boobs' article-01LWT 'Man And Superman' GGT-01LWT 14. 'Arsenal Fans'-01DAVE TROTT; “Nick Wray did this one.
White out red but still just one plate to print.
As a Man Utd fan, Nick hated Arsenal and they had a reputation for drawing or winning one nil.
I think Terry Neil was the manager when this ran.
After it ran he got the sack and threatened to sue us.
So Nick was happy.

LWT 46. 'Carribean Mystery'-01LWT 'Luftwaffe', GGT-01 2LWT 'Lead Pollution', GGT-01LWT 41. 'Credo'-01LWT 'Paying For Time', GGT-01LWT 'SEVEN SUSPECTS'-01LWT 'Second Chances', GGT-01LWT 1 'A New Detective Series'

LWT 'WINDS OF WAR' ROUGH-01REJECTED.
DAVE TROTT; “The client turned this idea down because it didn’t accurately reflect the storyline, or how much LWT had spent on it.”

LWT 'Winds Of War' ROUGH 2-01
REJECTED.
DAVE TROTT; “This one was turned down as well. 
Even though it reflected the storyline, he thought it might upset the people who were selling it to him.”
THIS IS THE AD THAT RAN.
LWT Rough 'Winds Of War'-01
LWT The Secret Adversary'-01Paul Grubb; “Along with The Fugitive, this was the only other time we strayed from the black plate only template.”

LWT 'Seven Dials' GGT-01
LWT 'Money' -01DAVE TROTT; “Gordon and I never knew if we should have had a question mark after “You remember money.” Still don’t.”

LWT 'A Fine Romance'-01LWT 'British Academy Awards'-01LWT 16. 'Children's Royal Variety'-01LWT 'Alan Whicker'-01LWT 'Churchill' Rough-01REJECTED.
This was pulled at the eleventh hour, because the client worried it may be seen as disrespectful. The one below ran.LWT 17. 'Churchill'-01

LWT 20. 'Game For A Laugh'-01
DAVE TROTT; “All these legs belonged to people who worked at the agency.
One pair belonged to a very senior account man who said he subsequently got very aroused every time he went past the TV producer (on the right) and thought of her panties round her ankles.
Fair enough.”

LWT 22. 'Old Times'-01LWT 9 'Brickies'LWT 'Marlowe', GGT-01 LWT 'Wild Geese'-01LWT 'Lead Pollution', GGT-01LWT 'Spiderman'-01Paul Grub; “A very good, well known creative, whom I won’t name, at the time accused Gordon of art directing with a knife and fork based on this poster.
He may well have had a point but he really missed the point – these were literally thrown together, some worked brilliantly and some didn’t work at all.
But we had fantastic clients like Michael Grade, Ron Miller and John Birt who stuck by us through the good and bad times.

LWT 'A Walk In The Dark'-01LWT 'Janet Street Prter' Rough-01REJECTED.
DAVE TROTT; “The client thought this would upset Janet Street-Porter, women, and anyone with big teeth.”

LWT 34. 'KGB'-01LWT 'Airwolf'-01LWT 'Marlowe', GGT-01LWT 'BOND, GOLDEN GUN'-01PAUL GRUBB; “A different Bond film, same attack on the establishment of the time.”

LWT 'BOND, SPY WHO LOVED ME'-02PAUL GRUBB; “This was a time when there were many news stories about gay spies. We never won any pc awards, there was no PC in GGT.”

LWT 3 'The Yanks'
PAUL GRUBB; “This one raised a few hackles – typically ‘offensive’ GGT style.

LWT 40. 'Are We Not Game For A ...'-01
DAVE TROTT; “Not a great poster but the one that got us into most trouble.

We ran it a few days after someone had broken into the Queen’s bedroom and sat chatting to her on the end of her bed.
Daily Mail readers were outraged that we could take the piss out of such a scandalous thing.
How dare we?”

LWT 21. 'Magnum'-01DAVE TROTT; “We didn’t know much about this programme except the detective was a Vietnam veteran.
When it ran, the client (Ron Miller) said he had a problem with his boss, who thought it looked like a black man’s hand.
And that we were implying all gun crime was down to black men.
We kept pointing out it was a white man’s hand, but it he didn’t believe us.”

LWT 28. 'Stanley Baxter'-01LWT 'The Fame Game'-01LWT 'Crease Up'-01LWT 'Lord Olivier' Rough-01REJECTED.
DAVE TROTT; “This was turned down by the client for not reflecting the gravity of the occasion. ”
THIS IS THE AD THAT RAN.
LWT 48. 'Is This A Rattle?'-01
LWT 'Eiger'-01

LWT 'Have It Away Day' Reject 3-01 LWT 'Have It Away Day' Reject 2-01LWT 'Have It Away Day' Reject-01DAVE TROTT; “Those were all rejected in favour of this one.”LWT 'Have-It-Away-Day'-01

LWT 50. 'Sperm' Article-01LWT 19. 'David Frost' 1 -01LWT 'Star Wars' Rough 2-01
REJECTED.
DAVE TROTT; ‘It was felt to be to be somewhat unpatriotic towards British Leyland.”
LWT 'Star Wars' Rough-01
REJECTED.
DAVE TROTT; ” This was turned down because the client felt it might upset Arthur Scargill (in the photograph).”
THIS IS THE AD THAT RAN.
LWT 42. 'Star Wars'-01
LWT 'The Mercenaries'-01LWT 'Steve Ovett' Rough-01REJECTED.
DAVE TROTT; ” The client turned it down because it would have upset Steve Ovett, Sebastian Coe and anyone with premature ejaculation.”

LWT 'Miss Beautiful'-01PAUL GRUBB; “One of two posters we did with Linda Lusardi, who was a very popular page 3 girl during that period (I can’t believe they still do that!)
This is the original artwork.
Trotty, unbeknownst to Micky Finn who was the account director at the time, made us retouch her boobs to be twice as big, because he didn’t think they were noticeable enough, so Brian Harvey (remember actual art retouchers?) did a magnificent job of giving her Dolly Parton-esque prominence.
Micky didn’t see the artwork until he got it out of the bag at the client.
He came back and stormed into Trotty’s office and went ballistic, I thought he was going to attack him!
We ran with this unretouched version, much to Trotty’s disgust.”

LWT 'Return To Eden'-01LWT 'The Price Is Right'-01LWT 'Spielberg' Rough 2-01REJECTED.
DAVE TROTT; “The client turned it down because the advertising for E.T. hadn’t started yet.”
LWT 'Spielberg' Rough-01REJECTED.
DAVE TROTT; “The client apparently turned this down because he had relatives at the BBC.”
THIS IS THE ONE THAT RAN.
LWT 43. 'Spielberg'-01

LWT 24. 'Victor Borge' -01
LWT 'Rapped' Campaign Article-01