NOT IN-CAMERA: GILES REVELL

Where did you grow up?
The sleepy town of Sawbridgeworth, it’s on the Hertfordshire and Essex border.

When did you take your first picture?
There was no eureka moment, I inherited my grandfather’s Silver Ilford Sportsman.
silver-ilford-sportsmangiles-revell

I do remember being intrigued by its beauty; a matt silver finish with shiny brown hinged leather case.
I wore it across my waist in my early teens, but had no idea what I was doing with it.
It felt sophisticated, technical, way beyond anything I’d ever come in to contact with at that age.
It was the act of making that I enjoyed, rather than ever believing that I was making anything important.
I liked the idea of editing a scene through the viewfinder.
Most of the time it wasn’t even loaded, film was too expensive.
It was in a time when a roll of film had to last you the whole summer.

What was your first job?
Express fruit & vegetable delivery man.
A white van man 
at 17, straight after passing my driving test.
Deliveries at extraordinarily dangerous speeds, I was compelled to drive as fast as I possibly could on every journey.
I went on to be a geologist, mainly because I wanted a job outside in the landscape.

How did you make the jump from white van man to photography bloke?
Was it a wise move? I tussle with this nightly, I might have had my own van by now.

One thing is for sure; we didn’t operate six month credit schemes before you got paid.
It wasn’t such a jump, photography was becoming an everyday activity.
The geology degree was a brilliant insight into the English landscape and how it was made.
I had aromantic vision of a career roaming the World recording and mapping extreme environments, physical and mental challenges.
I ended up in the gold fields of Western Australia, it was an experience, I was very fit then, surviving the elements as well as a very male dominated high testosterone environment.
But it wasn’t for me.

After a year full of the bullshit of travel I returned to the UK and started applying for jobs as an assistant.

Who did you assist?
Steve Rees gave me my first job, he was a good tutor and generous employer.
Then Bob Elsdale, he was the first photographer to own a Mac in London.
People would visit just to see it, they’d crowd around, scepticle if it would ever take off.
Both good people who showed me the ropes.

ls3 cats-bob-elsdale

(The work above is Bob’s, not 100% sure whether Giles assisted on this job.)

What was the first image someone paid you to produce?
Rubber Plants for a brochure,  a tropical plant rental company paid me 250 quid.
Ludicrous money at the time! I was on £100 a week as a full time assistant.
My first ad job was a series of nudes for a medical insurance company, commissioned by the Marshall brothers at Leagas Delaney.
Just before I startedI vomited with fear.
I had gone from table top still life to a full on big production over night.
I didn’t really know what advertising was, I h’d previously only worked in design.

Who were your photography heroes?
Many.
Henri Cartier Bresson; informative social documentary imagery with an exceptional graphic eye and sense of timing.

jump-henri-cartier-bressontrafalgar-square-henri-cartier-bressonAndrez Kertez, he found beauty in the mundane, presenting it in a very simple reductive way.
fork-andrez-kertezsnow-andrez-kertez
William Klein for his fearless, confrontational portraits, shot on a 35mm lens.
He clearly had built up a rapport with his subjects and tried to capture people from afar in voyeuristic way.
I also think the ease with which he experimented with other media shows an artistic man way ahead of his time.
smoke-veil-william-klein
cinema-william-kleinSebastao Salgado for his social documentary.
The body of work that explored international mining and heavy industry in the developing World is exceptional, highlighting working practices that hadn’t changed since the Industrial Revolution.miners-sebastao-salgadowater-sebastao-salgado
Jeff Wall.
One of my favourite images is a ‘Sudden Gust of Wind’.
T06951_10.jpgIt’s based on an Hokusai painting.
'The Great Wave At Kanagawa' Hokusai.jpgIt took months to construct, the airborne papers have all been placed in post production.
I don’t care how long it took, compositionally it’s brilliant.
milk-jeff-wall

Karl Blossfelt; a botanist with an artists eye.
He made photographs to catalogue plant specimens.
I’m really interested in the interaction of Art and Science.
common-male-fern-karl-blossfeldtmaiden-hair-fern-karl-blossfeldt
The illustrator Haeckal is another example of a body of work born out of a fascination for science. 

I first became aware of your work via Big magazine, did Vince Frost get you going?
Yes. it was a big break.

You come across a handful of people in your working life that are true talents, Vince is one of those.
He is instinctive and trusts in good work, the work comes before the reputation.
We became very good friends and have worked a lot together ever since.
The images were raw, and when combined with letterpress typography made a very bold, confident magazine that everyone wanted to contribute to.
screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-10-32-59-am
Do you prefer tight or open briefs?
It depends what it is.
Commercially I like to work on the best idea whoever has conceived it.
I’ll always give my view on a campaign, it’s up to the agency whether they listen.
I’m a wasted resource when used just as an art worker, but some jobs are like that.piccadilly-circus-london-underground-bmp

What’s the difference between shooting for an ad agency and a design company?
Advertising employs you for your technical ability or aesthetic, in the States they call you a ‘shooter’, which sums up the role.

All of your energy is focused on executing a collective vision, one an agency team has championed for a brand often weeks or months in advance.
You take on the commission with the commitment as if it were your own.
It’s all about the production of the shoot and building a team, the bulk of the thinking has been done for you.
It is a tried and tested model so who am I to criticise, but it but seems a little outdated.

Stronger ideas result from photographers being involved earlier in the process.
There are some talented photographers out there whose creative abilities are underutilised, I’ve noticed a generic quality to a lot of recent photographs, probably as a resulting from countless references found on Google images, I know it helps to sell an idea to a client, but it can limit the imagination of the creatives.
Advertising is fixated with being first, building a story around a technique, but being first today is old news tomorrow.
Designers are out of a different mould, the life span of the work tends to be longer.
Budgets are smaller but their i
deas are ambitious in a different way, the limitations encourage more thought and imagination.
It’s also a relief not to have to spend two days writing a treatment every job you do, to justify your creative credentials.  

The application of images is also more diverse.
I’ve worked on design projects from postage stamps through to huge interior installations.

‘Can you shoot me a face that works upside down as well?’
I can’t think of another photographer I’d ask to do that.
Or one who’d take on that ludicrous challenge
?merrydown-giles-revell-rough-1-%22down%22-01
merry-giles-revell-01

It’s one of the trickiest challenges you’ve ever given me.
But it was such a good idea, all the artists involved in that campaign produced wonderful work.

Your work is more like Art than any commercial photographer I can think of.
Wouldn’t you be far more famous in in that world if you were more pretentious?
Or spelled your name in a more exotic way? Gilles Revelli? Gilmondo Rev-El?
Probably, I think the public warm to an aloof, renegade facade.

You are what you are though.
If you play that role then you have got to sustain it.
I’m hoping that the latest projects will make an impression on the Art world, without having to take on a tempestuous, rockstar persona.
However, I’ve often thought about trying a pseudonym like Sebastian Conti; a new photographic presence in the fashion world.
Try it, but swap that ‘O’ for a ‘U’, it might give you a bit more attitude.
Giles Revell - Fish 2, Dave Dye
Do you think digital technology has helped photography?
Yes, undoubtedly when used intelligently and creatively.

It has allowed quicker workflow and more possibilities creatively.
The draw-back is that there’s this obsession with sharpness.
‘Hyper real’ is one of the most annoying terms attached to imagery at the moment.
I’m excited by imagery that takes away and refines .
Half of the images we value today in the galleries around the World are ‘soft’ by modern-day standards.
The speed that images can be made encourages sloppy practice, multiple versions are made to cover all eventualities, then cobbled together in post-production.
The expectation of how much can be achieved in a single day are being pushed so hard now that photographers are having to cut corners.
I’m excited by modern photography, but I am certain that when film was the dominant medium the whole team were sharper, because there was more at stake.
You had to be confident that when you walked off a shoot with just a few polaroids and half a dozen rolls of film that you’d executed the job.
You didn’t have the luxury of cross-referencing every frame.
Commercial imagery seems creatively very static at present.

The platforms on which we view the digital imagery has evolved beyond any of our expectations.
photography-book-giles-revell
Unlike a lot of commercial photographers, you don’t have a ‘look’ or style?
At first glance I’d agree, but when you look at my work as whole there’s a common thread; the subject matter is revealed minimally, through the use of a line or a plane.
The Port ‘Ten Ten’ cover is a good example, revealing the watch elements through hard shadow and silhouette, the geometry of the plane defined by black.
tenten-cover-giles-revell
It was a lesson to myself of making a composition where every corner of the frame needs to be considered, as well as balancing the proportions of black white and grey.
The great Bauhaus influences played a part in this composition.
Also, I’m interested in the content not the gloss.

Different ideas employ different processes, it means the images have a variety of looks rather than always using the camera optics route.
The common characteristic of the work is it’s stripped back with a definite intension.
The commercial world is obsessed with look and feel, it’s an irritating development over the last few years.
I’m always looking for discoveries and new ways of approaching themes.
Giles Revell - Heals Shaddow 1, Dave DyeYou’re always trying new things, lighting with an estate agents digital ruler, taking portraits with a photo finish camera.
Why? 
It’s not enough just to point off the shelf lights at objects.'Gold Leaf' Giles Revell-01.jpg'Gold Leaf 2' Giles Revell-01.jpg
autumn-leaf-giles-revell-01leaf-2-giles-revell-01flower-giles-revell-01Giles Revell - Pink Squiggle, Dave Dye

Are these photographs or illustrations?
One is photography, the other motion capture.
They’re both about an image developing over time.
100 frames is a collaboration with Ben Koppel to create form from movement.
All the red images are made from the body movement of a dancer, the black version from the movement of a British gymnast training on his floor exercise routine.
The idea was developed for a 2012 Olympic Park proposal, the idea was to create life-size sculptures tracking body movements that would be fabricated in resin.

Giles Revell - Red Squirly Thing, Dave Dye'Blue Car Shape' Giles Revell-01.jpgGiles Revell - Red, Curly, Spiky Thing, Dave Dye
They were printed as 3d sculpture moquettes.
The big red shiny thing, studded with relief, was a commission I made with Matt Painter.
I was asked to make a sculpture of the Manchester United v Barcelona European Cup Final.
I’m not sure I’d choose the aesthetic of this now, but the idea was interesting at the time.
We were given all the data captured as the game unfolded to analyse.
These statistics are used by managers and trainers to assess the performance and tactics of the players,individually and as a team.
Every event, such as a pass, corner, header, shot or goal is logged on a time line, as well as spacially on the pitch.
I decided upon two evolving hoop shapes, representing each 90 minutes that grew over the course of the game.
Each stipple marks an event on the pitch, the largest peaks are the goals. car-bar-giles-revell'Green Car Shaft' Giles Revell-01.jpg
Experimenting is easier today, but I seem to see less of it?
Yes, it’s disappointing and surprising.
Especially in an era where there’s so many opportunities to collaborate using different source material, homogenised though digital formats.
Science / medicine / engineering use incredible methods the gather imagery.
CGI is used widely and is a very powerful tool, but tends to be used in a bland way, as a replication tool mimicking photography and film rather than expressing ideas within its own medium.
Commissioners seem uncomfortable to make imagery from the data and information available to them.
The Man Utd vs Barcelona data sculpture is a good example.
Replication seems dull and needless when there are ways of achieving the real thing through another viewpoint.
Which goes back to my point about style over content.

Giles Revell - Red Stripe 1, Dave DyeGiles Revell - Oil People 2, Dave DyeThey say copying is the highest form of flattery, you must feel great, you’re flattered on a regular basis? 
I used to feel that way in the early days.
Plagiarism is the one aspect of the business that’s made me think seriously about a different career.

There is a  lack of integrity in the business.
Ideas and methods of working are my professional identity and security.
I can spend months developing a project or idea, to then discover it’s been infused into the work flow of others can be demoralising.
Not to say financially bruising.
Agencies, magazines and photographers are all guilty, it’s a symptom of the speed with which we all have to deliver.
Images are now referenced rather than conceived.
Consequently, new projects need to be kept under wraps until a suitably scaled, appropriate project surfaces, or better still, released as an exhibition, which would mark the date and occasion to the work.
Without such launches images are copied wherever they are seen and the origin is lost or hijacked. It’d be very easy to slip into a rant at this point, it may sound like sour grapes, but I crave a  workplace surrounded by genuinely talented people.

What makes up a good picture?
I read an article a decade or so ago that crudely broke it down into four ingredients;

1.   Image needs to be flawlessly beautiful, regardless of message.

2.  Image should be shocking, controversial or taboo.

3.  Image should be either informative, telling us something we don’t know or show us something we thought we knew, but with a new perspective.

4. Image should have an extraordinary narrative or back story. 
In 20 years I‘ve come close on a couple of occasions where I’ve made something that I’m still happy to look at ten years later.
But it’s rare that you achieve more than one of these in any image, when you do, interesting work is made.
 

What image are you most proud of?
I guess my finest moments would be 
The Insect Techtonic Project, also known as the ‘Fabulous Beasts Show’.
It was the summer show at the Natural History Museum and is now in their and the V&A’s permanent collections. 
Giles Revell - Insect, Dave Dye'Bug 4' Giles Revell-01.jpgGiles Revell - Fish, Dave Dye
Giles Revell - Fly, Dave Dye

Also, the recent Battlefield Poppies stamp.
It was part of the Royal Mail  Ww1 Centenary series, it’s out now. 
stamp-giles-revell


ww1-1916-battlefield-poppy-stamp-giles-revellww1-1916-battlefield-poppy-stamp-giles-revell
What the hell are these stripes things?
It’s a bouquet that’s broken down into petals, then distributed over time.
Oh yeah!Giles Revell - Colour Bars, Dave DyeGiles Revell - Colour Bars 2, Dave Dye'Stripey 4' Giles Revell-01.jpg

How did you start your collaborations with Matt Willey?
We met when he was running the Frost London office, he was designing the magazine Zembla with Vince Frost and Dan Crowe.
Dan and Matt went on to set up Port magazine, followed a couple of years ago by Avaunt.
We used to The Kings Head in Clerkenwell regularly, a special pub, for our enthusiastic conversations about topics we wanted to explore, ‘At This Rate’ was the first project we did together, it came out of those conversations.breathe-giles-revellGiles Revell - Leaf 2060, Dave Dye

The idea was to produce a booklet and poster illustrating the rapid destruction of the rainforests.
It was a simple set of timings from every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every month, every year with corresponding area of loss in that time.
They are an alarming set of statistics; every year we lose an area three times the size of Sri Lanka. We produced and sold them to raise funds for the Rainforest Action Network Organisation.
Giles Revell - Leaf 2, Dave Dye
The Photofit project was was another that came from those King’s Head conversations, very rewarding.
It was about identity and how you see yourself, most of us observe ourselves everyday for at least two minutes.
We were curious about how people would make an image of themselves from memory, without using a mirror.Giles Revell - Photofit 4, Dave Dye
Making drawings of oneself alienates those that are not artistic, so we decided to democratise the process by using a police photofit kit.
These were used in the 1970s in criminal cases to build a picture of a suspect for posters and news papers.

Each kit is extremely tactile, made up of 100 or so printed strips of images of eye, mouth, nose, hair and face shapes to select from.
That finally came together as a photographic montage in a perspex frame. Giles Revell - Photofit 1, Dave Dye
A broad demographic were gathered with each participant taking around 45 mins to make their portrait, accompanied by an interview.
The results were fascinating.
The physiological comparison was immediate, yet some of the participants revealed a more emotional response than they’d revealed in their interview.
Some picked a more youthful version of themselves, when they were at their physical peak.
Some had suffered trauma and were dealing with their new lives, others had clearly spent a lot more than two minutes in front of the mirror every day, marking every mole or line with pin point accuracy.
Giles Revell - Photofit 2, Dave DyeI think t
he project was successful because we had designed a democratic framework for the participants to express their own vision of themselves, without any intervention or bias.
It was published in the Guardian, we also repeated the project in Canada for the Walrus magazine.
Giles Revell - Photofit 3, Dave Dye
Matt’s a great talent, he’s in America now, designing the New York Times Magazine.
Giles Revell - New York Times Cover, Dave Dyechanel-giles-revell-01avant-falling-man-giles-revell
What photographers do you admire today?
I don’t tend to follow photography closely.
Having said that, I was blown away by the William Klein show at the Tate last year.
Photography meeting design and film and social documentary.red-x-william-kleinyellow-william-kleinboy-with-gun-william-klein-1955
Also, Tim Hethrington, who lost his life in Libya in 2011.
He was an special man, regardless of the photographs that he took.

He left an incredible body work from conflict zones, not only the wars, but the aftermath, which few photographers would cover, most would move on to the next conflict.
A couple of years ago I watched an astonishing BBC4 documentary about his life and achievements, it reduced me to tears. mid-battle-tim-heatheringtonsoldier-at-war-tim-heatheringtonburning-tank-tim-heatheringtonI love your new Shots front cover, any retouching involved?
shots-cover-giles-revell-01
This image is part of a large body of work that is about breaking down form and concentrating on colour alone.
How it’s made isn’t important as long as it’s engaging.
Each block of colour is accurate, sample by hand and accurate to the original flower.
The leaves are similar in that they attempt to look at the 
palette of a specific Acer tree in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
The black and white  accompanying image of a Lily and Helibora were made with the opposite intension; to look at form alone.
flower-giles-revell-01flower-2-giles-revell-01Giles Revell - Flowers:Black, Dave Dye
Thanks Giles, by the way, love the new tests.
Thanks, the work is becoming more minimal over the years often, crossing over into graphics.
Giles Revell-07.jpgGiles Revell-03.jpgGiles Revell-02.jpgGiles Revell-01.jpg

BOSS No6: Tim Delaney

 Tim Delaney, Pink Circle-01
DAVE: Why advertising?

TIM: I wanted to be a hotel bell hop boy when I left school at 15.
But when I looked in the newspaper want ads – Junior Opportunities – they only had 2 ad agency messenger jobs. I went up to London and one of them offered me a job.

DAVE: What was your first job in advertising?
TIM: A messenger- in a tiny basement room with 4 others. Quite Dickensian,when I look back.

DAVE: Did you try and get into Colletts, like every other aspiring creative at the time?
TIM: When I started copywriting at 19/20, I went with an art director to see Collett’s Head of Copy called Robert Pethick.
He was charming and said we needed to have more in the book. I remember writing back to him about ‘impetuous youth’.
Later, when I was CD at BBDO, Collets were always poaching our guys, so we sent over a price list of all members of our creative department with different descriptions.
For example ‘Ron Brown – period piece, in need of some refurbishment, good value at £6,000.’ We didn’t hear whether they enjoyed it or not.

DAVE: When did you become aware of the creative revolution going on in New York?
TIM: I used to save up to buy shirts from a place called Austin’s in Shaftesbury Avenue, the only place in London that sold American brand Oxford cloth tab collars and button down shirts.
This was a Mod thing.
But I was certainly plugged into American graphics and ads – I use to buy Life and Look magazines and of course Esquire with all those great covers for my train rides home. In there were ads but also illustration by all kinds of graphic luminaries like Paul Davis and  Jean Paul Goude.
Somehow it all clicked with me.

DAVE: How did you end up at PKL?
TIM: I started writing in a little agency and I quickly became aware that I could write headlines (copy was harder for me). So I picked the 3 best creative agencies – Collett’s, DDB + Y&R – to try and get interviews.
Y&R offered me job immediately so I took it, telling them that I would stay for a little while and then go to a proper creative agency; can you image.
It sounds awful now, but then I just thought I was telling them the truth and what was wrong with that? Anyway, I didn’t like really like Y&R but when an ex-Y&R art director left PKL to go to DDB, he told me they were looking for a new team.
So I got an interview with Peter Mayle at PKL, and he hired me during the interview.
I remember walking down the Kings Road to my flat ,floating with joy. 

DAVE: Wasn’t it full of rebels, rascals and ruffians?
TIM: PKL in London was run by Peter Mayle, who was one of the great bosses – naughty, mischievous, mildly anarchic, a terrific salesman and a very good copywriter and talent spotter.
He was CD and there was a Chairman, (Sir) Nigel Seeley, a fabulous toff, and Dick Hedger who was a suit, a bit of a flogger.
But they had style and we had fun. Peter used to take the Creative Department to lunches at all the great restaurants in Chelsea and Knightsbridge. Mind you we worked from 8 till 11pm most days and almost all weekends.
Prior to my arrival, we heard that Tony Paladino, an Italian NY art director, had a fight with Nigel and broke Nigel’s arm.
But the maddest thing that happened when I was there was when Peter told me to not think of moving (which I wasn’t) because something was going to happen. It did : he fired 8 accounts in one day and cut the agency in half; I was kept on in a tiny creative department,working even longer hours.

DAVE: Did you deal with Julian Koenig, if so what was he like?
TIM: I heard he was in the office but by the time I’d got back from lunch he’d gone. Big pity.

DAVE: George Lois – a first class maniac?
TIM: Peter used to talk about George Lois as a larger than life character but he never came to London.
I knew him more for his Esquire covers, which I now found out he didn’t do – at least not exclusively.

DAVE: And Fred Papert, who was he?
TIM: Papert was the account guy. No one ever talked about him.

DAVE: It all sounds like chaos, do you think chaos is good for creativity?
TIM: It wasn’t chaos in PKL London, it was pretty near perfect working environment. We had great accounts, the department was small but talented and we all g0t on, and Peter made sure everyone knew it was all about the work and us.
New York was probably different ; I wish they had sent me for a couple of weeks.
Tim Delaney, Harrod's'1pm',PKL-01
DAVE: Remember getting your first ad into D&AD?
TIM:
I first went D&AD when it was a lunch time affair at the Hilton in Park Lane.
I was working with John Gorham, probably, the best single graphic designer Britain has produced, and he asked me to write something in a booklet he was designing for Shell agricultural products.
I wrote some very basic words, no idea, and it got in the book.
My name was on it as writer.
My first ad I can’t remember, strangely.
Tim Delaney, 'Shell Report', John Gorham*DAVE: Which writer did you aspire to be at this time?
TIM:
I liked all the writers at Doyle Dane in New York. Their names were even inspiring : Evan Stark, Charles Piccarillo, Ron Rosenfeld, Bob Levenson, John Noble. Plus Ed McCabe of course.
They were like Gods; far away and in no way mortal.

DAVE: You must’ve been one of the first fifty or so at BMP?
TIM: First dozen. They figured out quite quickly that Gabe Massimi wasn’t much of a talent and that John Webster was as near a genius as you will ever find in the genius-free zone that is the ad industry.
So when I joined there were just 4 creative people: John, Alan Orpin (who the account guys used to dismiss as John’s alter ego – implying he wasn’t somehow involved-weird) David Ashwell, the art director who joined from PKL who I went to join there.

DAVE: Did you have a brown, BMP branded mini?
TIM: No, nor did anyone else.
Where did you hear that story.
We were in Goodge Street, just below Cramer Saatchi, a creative consultancy, run by Charlie and Ross Cramer.
BMP's First premises-01
DAVE: Ever work with John Webster?
TIM: Yes I worked on a couple of pitches with him.
We didn’t get the accounts.
But then
 we had a run of 12 straight pitches we didn’t get.  Tim Delaney, Trade Union 'Shut Up',BMP* Tim Delaney, Trade Union 'Stop',BMP*
DAVE: Learn anything from him?
TIM: I learned that looking at American Art Director annuals isn’t about copying, it’s about getting inspiration and learning about structure – how few words are needed in a spot etc.

DAVE: Why leave small, creative BMP to join a big, bad, American BBDO?
TIM: I hated BMP, even though I worked with great people.
I hated the way Planners bombed work,the way they used it to formulate strategy.
We would work our butts off and they would come in the morning as say it was all blown out.
I understand now why that was a good way of refining ideas but at the time it really annoyed me.
It was open plan as well – I hated that.
I like a door and for it to be closed when I’m working.
I met Paul Leeves and Alan Orpin there though – two of the funniest people I have ever worked with.
I went to BBDO (which was small and failing) because PKL reversed into it, and it became PKL but bigger.
So Peter Mayle asked me to go back and be  a Group Head. I was only 25,which seems strangely young now. I wouldn’t dream of giving a 25-year-old that much responsibility nowadays.
Tim Delaney, 'Learning To Be A C.D.', Direction-01
DAVE: What’s the difference between a good creative and a creative director?
TIM: A good creative answers a brief and executes well or hopefully brilliantly.
A Creative Director needs to fulfil a number of roles.
Creatively he needs to set the tone for the ideas that represent the agency’s point of 
difference.
To do this, he has to be good at strategy and later in the process, he has to be a good proponent of the idea in a client forum,that sometimes includes their very senior people.
First and foremost, he needs to have the confidence of his department which I believe means leading by example.
But many great Creative Directors have operated simply by guiding others (
or so I’m told).
Tim Delaney, Dry Clean, 'Spots' BBDO-01DAVE: Why were you, of all people, made Creative Director of BBDO at 27?
TIM: When Peter left to go to New York, he made me Creative Director. I was 27.
Then at 29 they made me Deputy Managing Director for some reason. And then after a Palace coup , I was made MD and was still Creative Director.
The guys in NY said the problem of my age would get better every day.

DAVE: Whose work was influencing you at the time?
TIM: In London, the gold standard  was always Collett’s and whatever campaign John Webster was up to.
Everything David Abbott did was also there to be emulated.

DAVE: I find a lot of advertising is faux funny, (or not funny is another way of putting it), in that you can tell that it is a funny ad by the construction, but nobody actually laughs.
The Sony Radio campaign is genuinely funny.
I’ve never understood why more agencies don’t use proven funny men to help create the content of ads, rather than just read the words of unfunny admen.
They know funny.

TIM: When I worked on the Sony account, it was very personal to me.
I had pitched and won it with my art director and I wrote a lot for the campaign
(although not all the best stuff).
When we decided on doing radio, I knew that comedians would write way better than me or any advertising writer because radio is a very different form.
So I simply asked the funniest man in TV and Radio to write a campaign; and that’s how John Cleese came to write what I think it still one of the funniest and most effective radio campaigns.
We worked together – him as writer, me as producer/ sounding board for 9 years. In the last few years , he let me write and he would rewrite. A lovely man.

DAVE: It was obviously going well at BBDO, why leave?
TIM: It was a roller coaster at BBDO. The work was always good, and quite often great. But BBDO needed a bigger presence in the world’s third largest advertising market.
So I set about lining up potential agencies for NY to buy : Saatchi’s, CDP, BMP (which went close) and I realised that, by definition,  I was not really going to be part of what I was setting up, which was fine but I had to start thinking about my life and not just helping the BBDO people in NY, who I liked,by the way.

DAVE: Wasn’t AMV a BBDO target at the time?
TIM: When David first went over to form Abbott Mead Vickers, I think it was tougher going financially than he realised.
So they sought a partner. BBDO, myself and the MD, had talks but they chose to go with Scali McCabe Sloves in NY, which I think was a very good fit.
Later, of course, they were bought by Omnicom and became part of BBDO.

Tim Delaney, Zanussi 'Plug', BBDODAVE: How did you end up advising Prime Minister Jim Callaghan in 1978?
TIM: I had always wanted to help the Labour Party.
Then I bumped into Edward Booth Clibborn in Paris when he was plainly having an illicit weekend with someone other than his wife and to ease the embarrassment he started talking about his contacts in the Labour party publicity department.
It went from there.
I ended up working for 18 months on the campaign ( which famously got postponed from Autumn 1978 to Spring 1979) and then during the actual 5 week campaign I was in No 10 most nights of the week working with Tom McNally, David Lipsey and Roger Carroll.
Before they put gates up, I just used to park my second-hand Porsche outside No 10.
The campaign was an amazing experience; I had to write 4 10 minute Party Political Broadcasts and shoot them while I was running an agency.
Also, there were amazing dirty tricks going on during the campaign but mainly within the governing Labour party.
Despite that, we did well from the campaign point of view .
The Sunday before the election Thursday, Labour was just ahead from being 20 points down. But after the Tories spent a fortune in the last week, we lost by 32 seats. I tell people I’m responsible for Margaret Thatcher getting into Downing Street.

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DAVE: Did you know Ron Leagas before starting an agency with him?
TIM:
At BBDO, I decided I shouldn’t do be both MD + CD, so I went looking for an MD.
He was a candidate.

DAVE: Did you start with any business?
TIM:  No. I was MD of a business, so I felt I couldn’t take anything from that business.
In the event Sony fired BBDO after hearing that I was leaving and asked us to pitch for a part of their business. I said ‘No – it should be all or nothing.’
I didn’t believe the brand should have different voices from different agencies.
We got our first piece of business on the Friday of the first week.
We ran an ad for the agency that week and it got us another piece really quickly but it also got us into a law suit as we attacked another agency’s work.

Tim Delaney- Endell Street-01DAVE: ‘We’re going to rip business out of big agencies like tearing meat off a carcus.” I bet that made you popular?
TIM: Did I say that? It sounds good, I wonder where I found the nerve to say that.
Although I have always thought that big agencies were essentially lazy and not very talented. And we started with no accounts so we had to be confident of our ability and display a desire to handle big accounts not tiddlers.
Tim Delaney 'Riches?%22 Campaign-01

DAVE: I remember at college, not an advertising  college but a regular college for civilians, people were quoting the ‘Phirrips’ ad.
Did you know that script would ‘blow up’?
TIM: Utilising the same attitude as I had employed on Sony, we asked two of the funniest people on TV at the time to do some  scripts and recordings for our pitch for Philips.
It is a fantastic spot and the beginning of a great relationship with Mel and Griff, not just on this projects but on others.
We did a great job for Philips but they seem almost congenitally unable to let agencies tell what a great
 company they are.

Tim Delaney - Phillips Radio 'Phirrips'-01
(The whole campaign can be found here:  http://heywhipple.com/radio/  )Tim Delaney- Phillips Radio 'No Point'-01
Tim Delaney, Phillips 'Deidre'*Tim Delaney, 'Next Office'' D&AD*Scan_06822DAVE: Ron Leagas is out, why not chisel the blighter’s name off the door?
TIM: I believe agencies are brands and when you mess around with names on the door you confuse people, clients, with a kind of flightiness.
Our agency is commonly known as Leagas to this day and I’m cool with that.
Tim Delaney Article 'Direction', Early 80's-01Harvey Nichols, 'All England', Leagas DelaneyHarvey Nichols, 'Dhurries', Leagas DelaneyTim Delaney- Day By Day Article-01DAVE: Here’s one of your weeks in the eighties. Changed much?
TIM:   Life is pretty much the same except that almost all our client meetings and shoots involve travel. Plus we have offices Hamburg, I want to get to those as often as time allows.Tim Delaney, Tetley Bitter 'Blood' Tim Delaney, Tetley Bitter 'Maternity'*
Tim Delaney, Tetley Bitter 'Nouvelle'
DAVE: So by 1990, you’ve really got a handle on this firing malarky, you were even firing people who didn’t work for you.
Campaign, 'New D&AD Revelations', Tim Delaney-01
TIM: Edward Booth-Clibborn was Chairman of D&AD but was also running his publishing business from their offices.
It was a mess and there was all kinds of funny business going on.
We had a whistle-blower who our lawyers asked to sign an affidavit about the misdemeanours at D&AD and that left us no choice but to suspend the Chairman and the Financial Director.
 

Tim Delaney - Timberland 'Eyes Are Frozen'-01

Tim Delaney, Timberland 'Boot'Tim Delaney, Timberland 'Exposing'Tim Delaney, Timberland 'Non'Tim Delaney, Timberland 'Wagging Tongues'Tim Delaney, Timberland 'We stole'DAVE: You’ve been writing ads for that posh shop in
Knightsbridge in the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties and noughties.
When are they coming back?

TIM: Clients create the advertising they think is right for their brand.
I cannot spend time lamenting what they do after they have moved on.
For Harrods , I think we did great work for 14 years.
What they do now is their business.
DAVE: Exactly, rubbish isn’t it?
Tim Delaney, Harrod's 'Come On' Tim Delaney, Harrod's 'Decorate' Tim Delaney, Harrod's 'Gives' Tim Delaney, Harrod's 'Nibs' Tim Delaney, Harrod's 'Santa'
Harrods, The Sale - Cutlery, Leagas Delaney
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Leagas Delaney Building-01
DAVE: I’ve read that you don’t believe ‘Advertising is something you can pass on to someone, it’s intuitive, a gift, like scoring goals in football’?
TIM: Being good at most things in life requires innate talent allied to effort and ambition. Messi, Suarez, Neymar : they probably all have brothers who are not  great footballers, however hard they train.
Advertising is like that. You either have it or you don’t. It’s why so many people pretend to have it – most account people pretend to understand how communications work; in my experience, not many actually do.

Linguaphone, 'Are you a man', Leagas DelaneyLinguaphone, 'The world is', Leagas DelaneyLinguaphone, 'Travel is supposed', Leagas Delaney
DAVE: Unlike a lot of advertising agencies you actually run advertising.
TIM:
 In a revolution, everyone has to be a revolutionary otherwise you get your head chopped off. We run ads because the objectives of our clients’ comms programmes requires us to.
What you are referring to is the dumbing down of mere advertising by digital agencies who have little knowledge of brands and even less talent at persuading consumers of anything.
As Ishiguro the writer said recently, ‘Machines (technology) can work; it can’t imagine’. Clients respect 
ideas; its agencies and digital ones in particular who have lost – or never gained – respect for them.
DAVE: Exactly, Ishiguro, I was gonna quote him, but you beat me to it.Leagas Delaney 'Saatchi' Ad'Tim Delaney, 'Woolies ad'-01Tim Delaney, 'Front page', Hose ad-01Tim Delaney 'Butllin's'-01Leagas Delaney 'Chasing' Ad'Leagas Delaney 'Dated' Ad'Leagas Delaney 'Lescarbeau' Ad'Leagas Delaney 'Nationwide house ad' Ad'
DAVE: You pitched unsuccessfully for The Guardian, so ran an ad calling them chicken. A sure way to guarantee you never work with that client again.
But they appointed you soon after?
TIM: 
We knew we deserved to win the pitch.
The editor even said so.
But they fell for a ridiculous visual gag which ran out of steam as gags always do, and they came back to us for the substance in the campaign we made for them.
They told us not to run the ad, implying that we wouldn’t get a chance at the business again, but I did anyway.
They had foregone their right to tell us what to do with what were in effect our ads.
Leagas Delaney 'Guardian ran and ran' Ad'GuardianTim Delaney, Guardian 'Hotel'-01Tim Delaney, Guardian 'Needle'-01Tim Delaney, Guardian 'Newspapers'-01
DAVE: How did you end up being owned by a rival agency, Abbott Mead Vickers?
TIM: I decided that Leagas was not right. A nice guy but he simply wasn’t in the business for the reasons I was.
Trouble was, we were a partnership which means that you can’t fire someone, you have to break up the partnership.
So I had to roll the partnership into a limited company.
By the time I had done that, Leagas Delaney was losing money.
So I needed someone to pay Leagas to exit and put us back on an even keel again.
I could not have wished for better partners than David Abbott and Peter Mead.
Scan_0333 Scan_0328 Scan_0347Tim Delaney - Nationwide 'Richest'-01Nationwide_0003_DearMissDixon Nationwide_EncourageYouToSpend Money_0004Tim Delaney, Nationwide 'Banks Must Like Small Business'-01Tim Delaney, Nationwide 'Out Of My High Interest'-01
Tim Delaney, Nationwide 'Life Doesn't Give You 90 days Notice'-01DAVE: Did you collaborate with David Abbott much in those years?
TIM: David and I hardly met let alone collaborate.
He was respectful of our integrity which was repaid in the way we ran the company.
We were flat-out busy all the time so there was very little time for socialising or working on projects together.

DAVE: Although the art directors and Head of Arts have changed over the years, the work has always had a certain sophistication, or appreciation of style.
TIM: That must be down to my incredible aesthetic sensibility!!
Seriously, all you have to do is look at Helmut Krone’s work to know that populist campaigns should have a differentiating look and feel and that people quite easily distinguish between something crafted and thought through and sloppy, slap dash art direction.
Apple designs are beautiful and populist – that’s the short answer to your question.
If it was a question.
Ordnance Survey, 'Ever heard', Leagas DelaneyOrdnance Survey, 'John McAdam', Leagas Delaney
Ordnance Survey, 'Warning', Leagas DelaneyOrdnance Survey, 'Still There', Leagas DelaneyOrdnance Survey, 'Stuck here', Leagas DelaneyOrdnance Survey, 'Walk away', Leagas Delaney
DAVE: Don’t you ever get sick of writing all those tiny little words that nobody reads?
TIM:
 I have always believed that if you write like you want people to read it, then people will do so.
Even the smallest piece of writing in the smallest leaflet.
What’s the alternative : write rubbish knowing believing that no one reads it?
That’s a kind of nihilism – although I’m pretty sure most so-called writers think that way nowadays.


DAVE: ‘I don’t like advertising, I just like ads’. Why?
TIM:
 
Advertising as an industry is full of over blown, egotistical, opinionated weirdos. This is because no one knows exactly how it works.
So in the land of the blind etc,etc, a big character or personality can pretend to know the secret of how to win a piece of business, which slogan will catch on, what a client will buy. And so on.
But ads, they are crafted pieces of expression which have to be thought about, nurtured, learnt from.
It’s only the same as saying Hollywood is one thing, making a film is another.
porschePRINT

DAVE: Something ‘chemical’ seemed to happen when you got together with Steve Dunn, you just churned out endless great campaigns?
TIM: Steve and I quickly and tacitly understood that we complemented each other.
We both loved what we did for a living ( although Steve did go off it for a while) and we both had the same idea of what constituted an idea.
We are both competitive too; we liked to win. Not so much awards, as beating a problem. You’re right though, it was a 
strangely productive relationship.
Some days we would 3 campaigns, all of them pretty good.

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AVE: I remember when I worked with you there was a cupboard on the top floor stacked with digital people. 1995. Possibly the first in-house digital department?
TIM: Certainly we were very early adopting and adapting to digital.
We had a separate digital company  in 1996 – Digital Partners – which is way before Martin Sorrell knew how to spell the word;  kind of ironic now as people immediately think because we care about the craft of our work, particularly print, we can’t possibly ‘get’ digital .
Fortunately our clients know how good we are at providing digital ecosystems.

Tim Delaney, adidas 'We Knew Then' 1 Tim Delaney, adidas 'We Knew Then' 3 Tim Delaney, adidas 'We Knew Then' 4

DAVE: You might have gathered from this site that I’ve kept a lot of stuff; rejected ads for The Economist, alternative Nike layouts and pitches we lost at CDD, (they alone take up a lot of space),  but I didn’t take any proofs for the Patek Phillippe ads I did.
At the time, I thought ‘they’re ok’, but over time they’ve become a benchmark for luxury advertising. Is it the sheer consistency of message?
TIM: It’s not just the consistency of the campaign that makes it a benchmark for all luxury goods campaigns.

It started out quietly with the original thought of ‘Begin Your Own Tradition’ which gave rise to the longer line now ‘ You never actually own…etc’.  
So it took some time to get settled and then really never looked back.
Over the years we have updated the look and feel and the photographers.
It’s a wonderful campaign which reflects the values of the family that owns the brands and the products they create. Perfect harmony.PATEK PIANO small shad
Tim Delaney - Pictet 'Work'-01 Pictet_3 Pictet_2
Dave - Time Delaney
DAVE: I find that people who haven’t worked with you seem to have a totally wrong impression of you –  some kind of lanky, serious-minded maniac who fires people on a daily basis, I worked with you for five years and  never found you to be lanky.
TIM: I am lanky.

Tim Delaney - Tripp 'Steal'-01
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Nb. If that’s not enough reading, here’s a bit more.Tim Delaney, Article-01
Tim Delaney 'Basics'-01

Tim Delaney, GQ 'The Delaneys, cover-01Tim Delaney, GQ article 'The Delaney's'-01Tim Delaney, GQ 'The Delaneys'-01Tim Delaney, GQ article 'The Delaneys 3'-01

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.

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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.

Adnams Pt 2: Words

Agencies and clients generally shack up together after a single blind date, (or a pitch, to give it its technical name.)
As a result, the relationship is a marriage of convenience – “Do you, Least Bad Agency In The Process,  take you, Client Who Needs To Look Like They’re Shaking Things Up?”

But when an old flame comes back, the dynamic is different, you feel you have to do everything you can to justify their decision.
Or at least I did when this happened back in 2009.

I got a call from Andy Wood, formerly Adnams Marketing Director, now their C.E.O. and top chap.
He talked fondly of the old Beer From The Coast campaign we’d created together.
adnams illustrations_001

Then he told me that their marketing had lost its way a bit in recent times, research had said people saw them a bit like a Volvo, reliable, trustworthy, but boring.

He shared some of their most recent ads.
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 18.42.25

Adnams %22Boatbuilder%22 Ads,Refreshing-01Adnams %22Boatbuilder%22 Ads,May Days-01Adnams %22Boatbuilder%22 Ads, Rich & Fruity-01Adnams %22Boatbuilder%22 Ads,Spindrift-01Adnams %22Boatbuilder%22 Ads,Regatta-01 Adnams %22Boatbuilder%22 Ads, Bitter-01Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 18.47.25Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 18.46.40
Wow!
The only positive I could find was that they consistently featured generously proportioned pictures of a pump clip, which would be lapped up by all those pump clip fans out there.

He was reluctant to jump back into producing more Beer From The Coast work, as it felt like a backwards step.

I told him I’d mull the problem over.

What to do?
The Beer From The Coast campaign was pretty well-known, so it felt wrong to completely ignore it and reinvent the wheel, maybe we could evolve it?
I remembered when we were writing the first campaign a planner had argued “brewing beer next to the sea doesn’t actually make it taste better”.
Maybe we should lie and say it does make it taste better?
If done in a tongue in cheek way it could be cool? e.g. Each pint contains special pockets of unique Southwold Sea Air.
It would be a kind of USP, (or Unique Selling Point for all you post Ting Tings generation.).
It could give Adnams a bit of attitude,  make them more contemporary.
Less Volvo-ey.

I emailed Andy a couple of concepts.
Adnams %22Fresh Air%22 Pitch ads 4-01Adnams %22Fresh Air Pitch ads 3-01Adnams %22Fresh Air%22 Pitch ads 2-01

He liked them.
But there was a problem, the idea was too beer focussed.
The Adnams of 2009 was different from the Adnams of 2002, it had diversified, they now distilled Whiskey, had a growing number of stores, hotels, wine departments and all manner of brand extensions.

All these different parts of the business looked different too.
We’d need to unify them.
But the messages would be quite diverse, ranging from ‘30% off Rioja’ to ‘Weekend Hotel Breaks’ to ‘New Store opening’ to ‘Mayday Bitter is back’.
Given the range and type of messages we’d need to cover, words seemed to be the only way to go.
We’d need to create a distinctive voice to make it feel like one brand.
The most successful ‘voices’ tend to feel true to the company.
Baked Bean companies that talk like street pimps or Banks that talk like they are your oldest friend don’t tend to hang around for long.
So what truths could be used to build Adnams voice?
We put together a presentation:
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.39.09 Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.39.28Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.40.03Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.14.25Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.39.48Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.40.18      Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.41.10Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.41.28 Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.42.17  Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.41.45 Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.42.37    Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.38.05Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 19.38.48Adnams Avenir Chat -01

This theory was bought.
But what did it mean in practice?
How would it look?

I liked the idea of using recycled papers as backgrounds, to look home-made.
I felt photographs of beer would look too corporate.
Photographs of products can look cool, graphic, vibrant and powerful.
But they rarely charm.
We just need to find the right illustrator…ooh, there he is, sitting on the other side of the office;
Simon Barna, the dude on placement. He could draw…
admans-illustrations029

Could he draw a pint of beer?  Yes.
adnams_glass_a6
We used a single font in the initial poster roughs…
Broadside new label v3-1-01
…but it felt a bit formal.

Maybe we needed to be more playful and mix up the fonts?
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.19.36Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.15.27Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.16.01Adnams, Oyster Stout-01Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.15.47Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.19.24Adnams, Irish Stout -01   Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.19.09  Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.17.58Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.18.53 Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.17.38  Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.18.42Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.18.30   Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.16.41   Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.16.29 Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.16.13 Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.18.17 Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.16.53 Adnams, Diamond Ale Poster %22Biscuity%22-01

I was happy with the tone of the words.
They weren’t overtly selly,  so felt like they were talking to an intelligent, sophisticated audience.
The tone was kind of ‘We know that your too intelligent to trick, so we’re just going to joke around with you about the merits of a particular beer, then you buy what the hell you want to buy. It’s no skin off our nose.”
It made Adnams appear confident.

The various recycled paper backgrounds worked well, giving the ads a homemade, environmentally friendly feel.

Changing the font from beer to beer gave each beer its own flavour, BUT it just made the campaign feel erratic.
We’re supposed to be unifying.

We needed to give ourselves stricter guidelines:Adnams Branding

Which makes them look like this…
Adnams Beer Posters%22East Green%22-01Adnams Beer Posters %22Tally Ho%22-01Adnams Beer Posters %22Oyster Stout%22-01Adnams Beer Posters %22May Day%22-01Adnams Beer Posters %22Lighthouse%22-01Adnams Beer Posters %22Spindrift%22-01Adnams Beer Posters %22Bitter%22-01Adnams Beer Posters %22Broadside%22-01Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.02.54Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.13.03Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.08.44Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.21.07

We needed a book to tell the Adnams story.
I chose an illustrator to help make the content more charming; Nicholas Saunders:
saun_foundation2-lsaun_davycrockett2-lsaun_foundation1-l

I liked his naive charm and homemade vibe.
Nicholas got his coloured pencils out and started drawing.
The cover…
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.12.14

…I wrote a manifesto for the intro page, then Nicholas brought it to life..Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 18.48.16

Some of the illustrations in the book were also turned into ads, like these:Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.24.41Adnams, %22Red, White & Rose%22-01Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.25.14

We needed a section on ordering beer online.
I thought it would be cool to have a picture with bottled beers hidden within it, and titled ‘where to find our beer?’,
a bit like a kids book.

Spot the beer-01

Nicholas’s first rough looked good…
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.09.54

…but maybe it would be better if it wasn’t confined to a street?Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.09.23

Also, maybe we could rehash that ‘coastal air’ idea?
Mr Blue Sky'tif-01

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.29.43

We re-skined their site.
Changing it from this…
Adnams webpage
…to this…
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.05.30Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.05.20Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.04.28Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.05.08Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.04.43

We colour coded the Adnams tours.
Producing these cool enamel badges, given to anyone who took a tour.
BadgesAdnams BadgesScreen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.16.22

Adnams Seasonal Cellar Wine Club didn’t appear to stand for anything.
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.23.28

We gave them a point of difference.
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.23.43

We made the brewery an Instagram/Facebook/Pinterest photo-op.d7056e7721a6197be1d85f59fb42fc65d16fc192d78c456861d6df05444da50cb1a60f01d0084c2334f069883a351288aaeeebe8481b05cd16b33d442aa4066b

We used boxes as ad space.
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.37.29

Lorries became moving 48 sheets.
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.07.066c275f119bc9d1f64c5085e4112d481dScreen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.26.37

We took our new voice in store.
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.18.19Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.17.17Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.17.54Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.30.11Adnams, %22Jars%22 ad-01Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.31.18Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.33.34Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.32.07ADN000 A1 SEMI PERM POSTERSv2.indd

We let people know about awards…
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.08.15Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.18.09
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.28.57Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.31.48Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.28.25

…links with Latitude…
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.34.54

…Newmarket…
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.34.33Adnams Cask Bar-01

…and an ever-growing range of beers…
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.36.01Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 20.59.12Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.15.05Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.32.56Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.35.31Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.34.04Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.29.22

One of the least used, most read bits of media; the humble beer mat…beer mats one
Adnams Beer Mat %22Local Ingredients%22-01 Adnams Beer Mat %22Yeast Older...%22-01

beer mats three

beer mats two

beer mats four

We created a sub brand and it’s packaging; Jack Brand.
Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 21.15.26adnams-innovation
Three years in Adnams was beginning to seen as being cool.

But, and we should have guessed it given their environmental policies, Adnams decided to source their creative work locally.
It’s understandable, after all they now had a template to copy, and agencies in Suffolk tend to be cheaper than those in Soho.

Is it worth paying writers to find an angle on a new message when we could just say it?

Is it worth paying for Art Directors to Art Direct each execution when we already have a style to copy?

Is it worth debating with an agency about what they want vs what we want?

Is it worth listening to an agency push us to be ballsy when we don’t always want to be?

Is it worth arguing about whether the layout is cleaner without the extra info?

Is it worth having to listen to the agency wang on about which is the wittier execution?

Well, on the evidence of their recent work, below,  I’d have to say…

Yes,

Yes,

Yes,

Yes,

Yes

&

Yes.

But then again, I’m  horribly biased.

3a1b13eda4fd37dd2617355cf03c0851e12c39e1bd7ca330143fe0c91587acb6

poster-s244823d6180607742d6ec96e682d5187photo 2

Wiggly lines.

I used to love those long copy Leagas Delaney ads.
Leagas Delaney, Harrod's '3 Year Olds'-01

Leagas Delaney, Tetley Bitter 'Nouvelle'-01

Leagas Delaney, Punch 'Puttenham''-01

Leagas Delaney, O.S. 'McAdem'-01

True, I never read the copy, but the theory at the time was that if  you write a thousand words on, say, how a boot was made, you’d appear like a very well made boot.
Showing a thousand words of copy was like a bit like a quality mark.
But I liked them because they looked nice.
Well, sophisticated, to be more precise.
In a sea of price flashes, exclamation marks and big, black, condensed type, these ads reeked of class, which obviously rubbed off on the brands and products they were representing.
When I got to Leagas Delaney I was always looking for an opportunity to create a campaign rammed with words.
It would seem impolite not to, a like going to Blackpool and not bringing back a stick of rock or going to going to Pisa and not getting a picture pretending you’re holding up the tower.

The first opportunity was for the Waterstone’s pitch, what could be a more appropriate client for a campaign heavy on wordage than a store that sold words?
(As arty and cool as those random sepia patterns look, they aren’t deliberate, they are the result of ageing photographic paper.)
Waterstones 'Plutonium'-01 Waterstones 'Hemingway'-01 Waterstones 'Erotic Books'-01 Waterstones 'Drug Dealer'-01 Waterstones 'Colin Wilson'-01 Waterstones 'Hindu Kush'-01 Waterstones 'One Day'-01 Waterstones 'Child' -01
The man from Waterstone, he say ‘No!’.

Bushmills? On the face of it you may think users of the product may prefer slurring words to reading them, but you get a pretty sophisticated drinker buying Bushmills and maybe they’d appreciate a bit of a history lesson.
.Bushmills B&W Rough, Peter The Quite Alright-01 Bushmills B&W Rough 'Raleigh'-01
Too many words too little colour?

Ok, we hear you.
Bushmills Roughs 'Influx'-01 Bushmills Roughs 'Amuses'-01Bushmills Roughs 'Mouths'-01
Bushmills didn’t want a history lesson.
They wanted to see young, happy people drinking it, preferably young, happy people with large breasts.

English Heritage?
Surely people interested in England’s Heritage will be up for a bit of reading?
Our first endline was ‘You own it, visit it’, it was rejected on a technicality, the public didn’t actually own it.
It became ‘It’s yours, why not visit it?
We set out to connect the sites to the readers.
The previous campaigns tended to big everything up so much that they felt distant and inhuman.
We wanted to do the opposite.
For example, rather than trying to impress people with the scale or numbers of  relating to Hadrian’s Wall,  we’d pick a  smaller, more human aspect, like a bit of thousand-year old graffiti.
Each ad could contain about half a dozen or so these details, and instead of stringing them together in one long piece of copy, we thought they’d be more readable if we broke them into separate, bite-size chunks.
Tonally, if are going to tell the English public that this is theirs, perhaps we should talk like them rather than plummy accented types who ran it.
But first we needed headlines to lead on.
photo (3)photo (2)

photo (5)photo (6)photo (1)photo (4)

Note that wavy line thing at the bottom, it was a kind of place holder for a bit of nice looking typographic ornamentation, to make the ads look sophisticated.
English Heritage bought the campaign.
The client had the word heritage in their name, surely a good enough reason for traditional hot metal type?
Who could work in hot metal, and turn that  squiggly line into a sophisticated bit of graphics?
Tony and Kim, who sat a few doors down suggested their old mate from BMP; Dave Wakefield.
Dave agreed, but had one concern “It’d be nice if that squiggly line meant something?”
ME: “Err, yes it would, but aaanyway…”
DAVE: “You know, if it had a real meaning.”
ME: “Yeeeeah… anyway, what about this type then?’
DAVE: “I can’t really think about the type without resolving this issue of what the wavy lines mean?”
ME: “Here’s the truth Dave, they don’t really mean anything…they are just there to make it look nice…decoration.”
DAVE:  “I don’t really like decoration for decoration sake, I think it should have a sound reason for its use.”
ME: “Couldn’t that reason be that it looks really nice?”
DAVE: “No.”
ME: “Give me an example of what it could be?”
DAVE: “Er, I don’t know”
ME: “Brilliant! Has anyone seen Tony or Kim?”

Dave disappeared to think some more.

He came back with a plan;
a) Base the typography on the period of the site we were talking
b) Base the ‘wiggly lines’ on shapes, objects or patterns relating to each site.
c) Link the ‘wiggly lines’ to the typography by using typographic elements from the same typographic family.

I had no idea how he’d do it, but the theory sounded good.
(My view on commissioning people is the same as Alfred Hitchcock’s view on casting people; “If you cast actors well you don’t need to direct them”.)

He read everything there was to read on each of the sites we were using in our ads, doodling ideas along the way.
English Heritage 'Wakefield Doodles'-01

Then, bizarrely, he made the theory into brilliant bits of design and typography.
He used the floor plan of  Walmer Castle.
Henry VIII had three castles on the site built in the shape of the Tudor Rose.
49b Walmer Castle colour2
This was then cast in metal. It contains over a thousand elements.English Heritage 'Roses' -01

When You build a castle_English Heritage

He used a combination of morse code, dazzle camouflage and ranking stripes as the inspiration for the base for the Winston Churchill ad.
(The morse code is an Admiral Ramsey quote from the period “BEF evacuated”.)English Heritage 'Zig Zag' -01Whilst Winston Churchill was involved_English Heritage

For the Hadrian’s Wall ad, Dave read “the whole of Breeze and Dobson’s ‘Hadrian’s Wall”, whatever that is?
Out of it he understood the Roman obsession with exact mathematics, he translated the thirteen primary forts from South Shields to Bowness, each showing a black, twin-portal gateway.
He worked it out by scratching away on this piece of paper.
English Heritage 'Wakefield Scratch Pattern'-01Hadrians Wall is much more pleasant_English Heritage
Three ads into the campaign, the head client, Jocelyn Stevens fired the agency.
We had referred to Her Majesty as her Royal Highness, or vice versa.
Bang! Instant dismissal, all the other ads were binned.

WARNING:
Doing an ad in hot metal sounds all very cool and trendy, but beware.
The letters are literally made out of metal, so there’s no cheating, you can’t squeeze the words by 7% to make them fit.
You have to rewrite it.
If you look closely at some of the lines on the ads above, you’ll see they are one or two lines long, it meant when Sean’s copy was traced to check if it fitted, Dave Wakefield would phone to ask Sean if he could lose two here add five there and so on.
It doesn’t sound terrible until you try and write  ‘Experiences of the” with two less characters, or ‘authentic detail’ with three extra characters.
It’s like an evil MENSA test.
Sean would politely agree to take on Dave’s request, put the phone down, light up a cigarette and start mouthing phrases that containing words like ‘Dwarf’, Wakefield’, ‘Idiot’, ‘Elf” and ‘Pillock’.
But he’d do it.

Loot. If it’s scruffy, make it scruffy.

Capture a company’s personality or create one?
When you’re developing a new campaign you’ve got to do one or the other.
It’s not always possible, but I prefer trying to capture what’s there rather than fabricate something.
Your message has more chance of being believed if it ties in with your perceptions of a company.
Conversely, if say, a bank start telling you about interest rates in the manner of an eighteen year old street hustler, it raises suspicions.
It’s like seeing an old uncle you are used to seeing in cords and cardigans suddenly turn up in black leather trousers and mirror shades.
You can’t help think there’s a problem.
Bottling the essence of a company means putting your own pre-conceptions and prejudices aside.
It’s not about turning dull into cool, it’s finding truth and reframing it.

When I was at Simons Palmer the agency won The Sun.
Exhibits A & B:
Ypaddypantsdown freddieate
Traditionally not a magnet for awards.
So I was curious to see how Chris and Mark would represent this sensationalist sensationalist, trashy product with ‘good’ creative work.
At the time ‘good’ creative work all seemed to be intelligent and sophisticated.
They didn’t turn it into something cool like they had with Nike…
nike_billboard_jordan2-600x450 ,
or … hip like Wrangler…
wrangler_pants-600x800wrangler_superman-600x800wrangler-dad1-600x800

…or stylish like The National Railway Museum…
national-railway-600x299

They made it appear sensationalist, trashy and argumentative, like The Sun.
They celebrated the truth.

When we pitched for Loot at CDD, I did the same.

Initially, we fell in love with the idea of producing contradictory ads next to each other.
The same object, only in one it’s seen through the eyes of the seller, in the other through the eyes of the buyer.
E.g.;Small ad on the left hand page; Picture of an old chair next to the line “it’s junk, sell it in Loot”, small ad on the right hand page; “Antiques. Buy them in Loot.”
Or like this on posters:
Loot- Opposites
The clients loved it.
But good old Captain Integrity, Sean Doyle, found a similar ad in an old copy of the One Show.
So we withdrew it.
We told them it’d ‘been done’ they couldn’t have it.
We’d go again.
It’s a fine line between integrity and stupidity.
(Not sure exactly which side of it we were on in that instance.)

We went again.
New thought: Anti-new.
Why not celebrate the second-hand, the used, the stuff with previous owners?
Loot roughs
It was different and VERY them.
So how do we turn that into a style that best represents Loot?
Loot had terrible printing, dodgy star bursts everywhere and exclamation marks on every square inch, everything was shouty.
Cool, that’s our ingredients then.

Dave Wakefield found this old cut of a font we scanned.

Graphique type sheet-01
Then we used graduated course screens, drop shadows, clashing colours and all the things that we would usually avoid.
(We were generally too cool for school.)
LOOT 'Underpants'-01 LOOT 'Woolies' -01LOOT 'Hate'-01 LOOT '501's-01LOOT 'Picasso-01LOOT 'New Shoes'-01
We recovered from not letting the client, Stephen Miron, have the work he’d wanted from the previous meeting.
But we couldn’t recover from the fact that I was the only person from the agency in the pitch.
It fell on the same day as our agency’s first briefing by our biggest, in fact only account, Mercedes-Benz.
It felt wrong to rearrange them in favour of a pitch.
But, we didn’t look terribly committed to the Loot cause.
A shame, I haven’t had the opportunity to bad printing since.

The Economist. Venn.

I worried about The Economist.
It was an open brief, which meant the whole AMV/BBDO creative department would work on through the year, in downtime, lunch hours and weekends, depending on hunger levels.
This had been going on for about ten years.
When I was Creative Director on the account, on average, for every ad I’d approve, fifteen would be rejected; there were twenty something creative teams.
So, with four bursts of ten posters every year for ten years and a few one-offs and specials thrown in, I’d say that about a thousand executions had run and about fifteen thousand concepts had been created.
But my main worry was whether they had lost an element of freshness to the public.
Awards were certainly down. No campaign continues to win as much once it becomes very familiar.
Here are a few of the 48 sheets Sean and I did at the time.
Economist artwork 48 sheets The Economist - %22Lose The Ability...%22-01The Economist - %22Mind%22-01

One day, whilst driving home, I spotted a big red poster in the distance, I couldn’t tell for quite a while whether it was one that Sean and I had done.
It got me thinking, the format is unbelievably well branded, but ten years on, do civilians approach the posters in a similar way? Thinking “Oh…there’s one of those red Economist posters, I’m sure it’s saying something witty about intelligence, but I can’t be arsed to read it.”
In a nutshell: Were they getting too predictable?
I thought the colour and font were so distinctive we could try and add an element of surprise and freshness by producing a mini campaign every quarter, that continued with the same messages but had a slightly different graphic look.

I spotted a venn diagram in Vanity Fair, a red circle overlapping a blue circle,
a bit like this one:
cecilia_venn_diagram_by_shoedude-d5cvt0m

I thought it’d be a great variant on the red look, and different, but a clever structure to write to.
I had a go at writing some.
The Economist Venn Scribbles (g)-01 The Economist Venn Scribbles (e)-01
The Economist Venn Scribbles (c)-01 The Economist Venn Scribbles (a)-01
It was a like a Mensa Test: One circle is red and says: “Reads The Economist”,
the blue circle says something else that’s clever, and the bit at the bottom says
something that is the summation of this that is both clever AND funny.
I couldn’t do it.
I just couldn’t unlock the formula.
I explained it to Sean.
He rattled off a load:
The Economist Venn Scribbles (b) *-01
Once he’d unlocked the formula, I started start writing them too.
The Economist Venn ScribblesDPS (a)-01
We loosened up a bit and started swearing.
But as the scamp below indicates, were still to discover the spellcheck filter.The Economist Venn Scribbles %22Tourettes%22-01

They were sold, bought and art-worked.
c2587af0df018aacb9db0bef851d54be0049d7e2e4782bb2fd2574389e11999bb8863393bc08ffc2f1c5272da59acf3beddeff54e390924c5ee8566e27672ca3The Economist , venn, No 106b9484e970a027acb66e1779fac3a602e77a2ad0e48b1a67db8fde60235d93b0

Then, C.E.O Andrew Robertson came in: “I can’t do it, The Red campaign was David Abbott’s gift to the agency.”
Flip!
It was decided we should run them along side the familiar red ads.

They worked well as cross-track posters, people could get the structure, then see how it played out, whilst waiting for their delayed train.

multi line 

These ideas were bought, proofed and cromalined.
They got pulled at the last minute for various reasons.

REASON: You can probably guess. (It’s surprising it got so close to running, it’s funny though.)
3b33287f9915770fd025703ef9ce343a

REASON: It’s a bit weird. (Although one of my favourites.)
76150021fa74d865f0c51178ecd2a0e9

REASON: Why risk offending Jezza?
Paxman 

REASON: It mentions a brand name.
4981c9945e14d2a00b48781543755431

REASON: It’s a bit childish, although it does use a lot of long words.21aedc1f4a91b64721d8f82b362661e3

A whole bunch of rejects were ganged up as a possible cross track, but didn’t happen.
The Economist - Venn, Rejects-01

The following year, posters in the red style were deemed sufficiently fresh to win a D&AD pencil ( “Jigsaw”) and a Campaign Posters Gold (“Long Copy”).
So perhaps Andrew was right, it was ‘David Abbott’s gift’.

TURNING STORIES INTO ADS. The Guardian.

Newspapers deal in stories, they have to find them and write them up every day.
If they find good ones their sales increase.
So when agencies try selling them brand campaigns, they tend to think it’s a lot of namby pamby nonsense.
Instead they prefer their marketing to be based on specific content.
That could be anything from a scoop to a serialisation of an autobiography.
The problem is that the stories are rarely on brand, they are often the kind of thing that any newspaper could print, it just depends on who gets there first.
So having a very branded template is crucial to tie that story with your newspaper.

Here’s some stories we had to promote:

MARLON BRANDO’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY. EXCLUSIVE EXTRACTS.

Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 11.49.40
Why, when it’s about Brando, by Brando would you not lead on Brando?
Why go all existential? Weird?
This was better, it has a much higher percentage of Brando.
Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 11.49.09

THE GUARDIAN NOW HAS A BIGGER SPORTS SECTION.
This was rejected.
Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 11.44.42
In favour of this one. Shame.
Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 11.50.44

THE FRED WEST CASE.
It’s six o’clock when Tim Delaney walks in: “We need to send some ads over to The Guardian in about an hour, about a new book on the Fred West case”.
Some people would hate that kind of brief, I loved it.
Two full pages.
The Guardian have to buy.
They’ve no time to fiddle with the art direction.
The only issue is actually coming up with something good within the hour.
Two were bought.
(It’s odd how much of an icon that cheesy house sign became.)
g.uardian
The second one looked very dramatic in the paper.
The idea was to say “xx people go missing every day, this is the only mention it will get in a newspaper.”
I can remember thinking “Shall I put one ‘x’ or two? I’ll put two, it makes the headline more dramatic.
15? 16? Who knows? Hopefully the information department won’t come back with a number too miniscule.”
(Note to editor: He hopes more people go missing because it helps his little ad? TWAT!”)
The information department came back and the ad ran. It said: “273 people go missing every day, this is the only mention it will get in a newspaper.”
273!
the guardian

INTRODUCING A NEW MUSIC SECTION.
Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 11.44.28

THE GUIDE TELLS YOU WHAT’S HAPPENING IN LONDON.
What strikes me most about these now is how aggressive they are.
We had a couple of goes at Jeremy Beadle.
Once on a 96 sheet.
Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 11.48.22
And once on 6 sheets. (Sorry Jezzlington.)
beadle

Then Tottenham.
Not so personal but did we pick them for any other reason than myself and the writer Tony Barry were both Arsenal fans? I can’t remember.