Why we need more primadonnas.

will ferrel

The term ‘primadonna’ is usually intended to be the ultimate crushing insult for a creative.

Worse than being a talentless creative is being a petulant, precious one.

It implies a fluffyness, a puffy sleeved temperament and an irrational obsession for all the icing on the cake not the sponge and it’s intended to cut right through to your strawberry jam heart, ouch…you called me a what? how very dare you.

Well, excuse me but ..er….I wish I was more of a primadonna.

You see, one man’s primadonna is another’s creative expert.

The more creative agencies know that actually, if they are going to produce great work, you need people obsessed with great ideas not comfortable ones, with exceptional production values not acceptable ones, painful though it can be.

So I think this so called ‘insult’ reveals a deeper issue when used and it’s about one word: Respect.

You wouldn’t call a doctor a primadonna if he or she insisted that you had Diabetes and wouldn’t hear otherwise.

When I worked on a big car account in a previous life I had a senior brand manager who was the consistently designated shoot attendee and consequently after several trips, mainly to LA, ( those were the days) we began to attain a sort of, if not exactly a friendship, a system of interaction that wasn’t entirely aggressive.

let’s call him Bernard.

He was about 40 then, he looked like an insurance salesman and had a sort of fastidious doormouse-like personality.

He was a dullard but he was our dullard and despite the sometimes odd client/creative dynamic I liked him.

At most car manufacturers, much like pharma companies, the role of marketing is something you pass through on your way to more important jobs. A successful stint in sales? fancy trying your hand at saying no to agencies for 18 months.

Invariably you’d just get a client to understand what it was he or she was looking at and then they’d really get in to it (or not) and they’d be off.

Bernard started to get in to it.

All he had to do was approve the car shots and as long as we covered the basic animatic we’d researched he was happy. And I can’t deny it, a two week shoot in LA saw a lot of swanky meals in swanky restaurants, sometimes spotting the odd celebrity and a good deal of sunshine. Then after a while, on location, we saw him having a look through the viewfinder, he started to not like wardrobe choices and he might feel strongly about a location or a cast member he felt was more ‘on brand.’

And like most agencies we went along with him in the most part, indulging him where possible. Arguing the toss occasionally.

You might feel these are all quite legitimate elements of his role.

But what exactly gave this man, dressed head to toe in M&S, the idea he was any good at wardrobe?

Well, I suppose to an extent, we did.

Then one day, back in the UK, my ECD came to me with a dilemma.

Bernard had had an epiphany. He wanted to join the agency.

No, not as an account man.

Or planner.

Oh Christ, not a…

Oh yeah.

And what’s more, guess who he thought would make a perfect art director for him?

Bernard had never really written anything before. Not for fun, never really had any real urge to create anything, not a poem, not a song, not an outline for a movie, not drawn anything, not built anything just for the pleasure of it, never had an idea in his head about a new invention. He didn’t really watch movies, play an instrument, watch much telly or really pursue anything creative just for the fun of it.

Nothing.

Maybe you have met creatives like this, but not I. At least not good ones.

Most of us, by the time we enter an actual agency have spent a lifetime honing their ‘creative’ work. Just for our own pleasure. We’ve even gone to college and studied it, we know about creativity and ideas in a way that a safari guide knows where to find a cheetah that most of us would miss because we’re too busy looking at the interesting tree.

To his credit, Bernard had apparently had the exact same idea for a brief as the one we had presented to him recently. So, you know…he was clearly a natural.

But back at the agency this put us in a somewhat awkward position.

Say “sorry no” and we risk him resenting us and doing everything he could to make our lives hell.

Saying “yes, welcome aboard” would mean we could hire him and then fire him in a couple of months as he would no doubt be useless and we get a new client in to the bargain. (We actually considered this but felt the agency would not be thanked by his previous colleagues and would make us look like immoral bastards – with some merit.)

The third option was to dissuade him of the whole preposterous notion.

As we sat at lunch, somewhere in Soho, I heard the full epiphany.

He had been on holiday in Greece and got caught in a huge wave that had sucked him under and he thought he was going to drown. As he somersaulted in the surf he swore to himself that if he ever got out of this alive he would change his life. Stop doing this stupid job of his and do what he really wanted to.

Become an ad agency creative director.

The more generous among you may have thought I missed out the 4th option. Give him a chance, go on..take a risk, you never know. Don’t be so cynical.

But Bernard was 40 (no crime). He wasn’t prepared to drop his salary ( I don’t know what it was but I’m guessing around 80k) and he wanted to waltz in to a senior job without ever having written an ad or earned his stripes within an agency, leap frogging other writers and art directors in the process.

What gave him the right, no….the flaming fucking arse-wobbling nerve to think he could even ask?

How dare he?

Would he expect to be taken seriously if it was a firm of solicitors he was having lunch with? An architect firm? A vet practise?

“Yes, well I have really enjoyed looking after my cat and I’ve visited a few farms in my time so I thought that it might be a natural progression to start treating Mastitis in dairy cattle.”

What was it that made him think that it was just a matter of physically being able to write and spell, that qualified him as a copywriter?

The cheek of it, you might think. But then, we do exactly what clients want more and more, every day we have to take on board their taste and artistic talent and accommodate their ideas and all in the name of collaboration and idea neutrality lest we be accused of primadonna…rism.

Well, it looks easy. Didn’t we just walk in off the street with some poems and a fancy haircut?

Look, don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked with some ‘creative clients’ in my time. But what makes them so isn’t because they think they can do our jobs it’s precisely the opposite. They embrace creativity in the way I embrace football, it doesn’t mean I’ll be getting a game at Stamford Bridge any time soon. And I also think – to be absolutely clear – agency/client teamwork, both exercising their own skills to create the best work, is essential, rewarding and ultimately truly effective.

But all that is beside the point if your client thinks you don’t like their idea because you are being ‘precious’.

If you want to be a creative in adland you need some evidence of talent. You need to create a spec portfolio and you need to get work experience, or go to college or evening classes and learn the craft. How to think. Very often it involves a couple of years trolling from one agency to the next on month long placements, no actual job, showing your work to senior creatives, trying to get an interview with a CD, hustling and working hard. Always writing new campaigns, thinking of ideas, filming test ads getting them critiqued, learning and doing more campaigns. It’s bloody hard and only a few actually make the grade. Others make the grade but quit when they realize they have no life.

And the few who get a job have to put in the years tackling all the unglamorous stuff the seniors won’t touch any more.

But as I told Bernard all this, encouraging him to maybe do an evening class or two, try putting a book together,  he blinked back at me through his NHS glasses and clearly didn’t see why it would apply to him.

This was about fifteen years ago, but the culture of ‘everyone’s a creative now’ is now generally accepted as a way of getting clients to buy in to the idea, so they can feel ownership and that is all well and good, but I hate to put some cautionary brakes on this joy ride.

We need to be careful it doesn’t devalue what we do. Or we will no longer be the pros who will go away and create magic out of thin air from good strategic thinking, but a co-worker in a committee-based ideation conglomerate.

It seems such an easy leap to make if you’ve been on enough shoots, sat in enough workshops and seen enough agency ideas that you’ve shaped according to your own creative skills, honed over many years working in a…er…pharmaceutical company.

And Bernard? As I recall, we spoke to his boss and explained our predicament. They took pity on him, as they were decent people, and found him another job within the company better suited to his dreams.

I know what my favourite quote from any client is and will always be.

“I’m not sure, but you’re the experts and I trust you”

Unless we maintain our reputation and be the doctor to their patient then we will always struggle to sell good work. So argue the toss, put your point of view across. You know your job, be a bit….precious.

Because, guess what, the client’s had an idea.

What?

Oh stop being such a primadonna.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Healthcare world cup and a level playing field.

 

Me and Phil in Cannes

Me and Phil in Cannes

Having just returned from Cannes after two days of toe curling, interesting, a couple of dead boring and a few truly inspiring seminars, plus an awards ceremony that sent a very clear message to the world of pharma agencies, my over all impression is this:

Finally we get our own world cup, the top teams won with outstanding work, but the pitches need some work.

With all due respect to the Globals and the RX awards, and especially the PM awards here in the UK, this is bigger, better and tough as hell to win.

I’ll be honest, over the years my enthusiasm for awards has waned, I know it’s important to an extent, and I still like winning them and judging them but it all just seems a bit tiresome to be concerned with.

But let me tell you ladies and gents I want a Gold lion, I want that Grand Prix.

For anyone unfamiliar with the set-up there were two juries, one for pharma and one for wellness. It seemed that the pharma lot may have been a bit harsher but I don’t think the wellness team let the side down. There was great work on show and I for one came away with a renewed sense of determination to take on the big guys.

But anyone looking at the work selected from a geographic point of view might notice a worrying bias.

Having spoken to some of the jurors, there was a lot of work entered from the USA, as you would expect. However, as one of the most regulated territories, that comes with some harsh legal requirements.

By all accounts the minute what the Americans call ‘fair balance’ began at the end of the TV spots (all the stuff when the VO says that ‘this may cause anal bleeding and you could turn in to a Zebra’ etc) the jurors winced and pressed the eject button.

Now for an elitist awards jury briefed to pick work that rivals the consumer version of Cannes, that is understandable.

On the other hand you could argue that in a specially devised healthcare awards the conditions that we create work in might be understood or forgiven or at the very least allowed for, it’s part of the regulations and there is simply nothing they can do about it.

Now clearly a truly global awards system needs the USA to be a player.

The fact that Brasil, Japan and Australia fared better than most is no comment on the standard of the work on show, the winners deserved to win, but it’s hard to compete with one hand tied behind your back.

So either the Americans should be allowed to re-edit for awards or the jurors asked to disregard the legal or a huge chunk of the industry’s work will simply not show up next year and that can’t be healthy.

After all, the idea is there to be judged not the regulatory system.

That said, Langland won agency of the year and the UK is strongly regulated, and Canada had some success and their regulations make the US seem like well, Brasil.

Perhaps, like football, it’s about finding space to play in.

As far as the punditry goes the seminars were a mixed bag. But one in particular caught my eye and squished my pupil till it hurt.

It was hosted by FCB (a major USA sponsor of the festival who came away with nothing)  and the talk was about attracting new talent to the industry.

Now I’ll skip the toe curling graduate writer who encouraged us all to tell people that “we do go out for drinks and we’re not just all geeks and ‘lame'”

Well thanks Missy for that endorsement, I feel so much cooler now.

But the level playing field extends to the whole industry on this topic.

Apparently 90% of all creative students say they would only choose pharma over consumer if that was the only choice left to them.

90%? who are we being left with?

So the talent coming in to the industry is by and large less like World cup standards and more like the Conference league and that should be a worry for us all if we’re all going to be playing at the top level.

The other comment on the same seminar was from Rich Levy, chief creative officer at FCB health. A clearly smart, creative and eloquent man.

“The goal is for there to be just one Cannes…no segregation”

The problem with that as a goal, apart from missing the point spectacularly, is that Health deserves it’s own awards not because it can’t play with the big boys but we are the big boys and this is our awards. If we want to be seen as equal we have to act equal, they should be wanting to win at our awards.

The consumer lot can go fuck themselves.

I’m not sure that’s the official line but you get my drift.

Can you imagine what a group of consumer creatives would make of the stuff we do? My one reservation about the ‘Creative floor’ awards is just that. To quote a tweet from Andrew Spurgeon: “It was carnage”

I’m not surprised, and frankly I don’t need consumer creatives to judge my work to validate it.

On Saturday night a few of us Englishmen left the party early to watch the football in a small extremely hot bar. Next to us were a table full of Italians and it was all good-natured cheering and football banter, descending in to foulmouthed expletives and drunken misery until the final whistle.

England played well, but ultimately came away with nothing.

Well, if you want to compete at the highest level, it’s clear playing well will only get you so far.

http://http://www.lions-health.com/winners/2014/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 3 worst ways to judge creative

From outside the Pharma tent, you could be forgiven for thinking it all just looks like stock-shots and poor typography created by people not talented enough to make it in the big wide consumer world.

OK, controversial start.

But you and I both know that contrary to perception there is talent in them there hills.

And even clients, if asked, will say they want good creative. And some of them even actually do.

So maybe the problem is evaluating creative correctly. If you have people who don’t really understand the mechanics of communication working for the agency, then the battle is already lost.

So with that vast assumption, I give you my top three daft creative judging criteria that can kill good ideas and make me want to kill needlessly and indiscriminately with a blunt dagger.

WILLFUL MISINTERPRETATION

or

“I know it’s an orange, but if people haven’t seen it’s an orange they might think it’s an apple”

I once worked with a female creative who had a rather annoying habit of accusing you of some slight at every turn, no matter how innocent the intent.

“Do you want another drink?”

“What are you trying to say? that I can’t buy my own drinks?”

Now somebody, somewhere, will always misinterpret something. But I tend to think that so long as 9 out of 10 interpret it as intended then a little collateral damage is sustainable.

Have you sat in a creative review like this?

” so..um…are bagels a bit negative?”

“How do you mean?”

“Because of New York”

“Is New York negative?”

“Well, I mean…as in 9/11”

“yeh, I think Mark is right..we don’t want people thinking about 9/11 in an ad for diabetes, it won’t reflect well on the brand”

“Plus a 9/11 is a car and we’re a drug”

“Good point Fran”

There is not a single ad that has ever run that you couldn’t find an obscure reason why it shouldn’t have. But if you are stretching to make negative associations you can bet your target market won’t bother making them.

The only question you should ask in this situation is:

If you were actually trying to make a statement about 9/11 would you start with a bagel?

THE UNSOLVABLE CREATIVE PROBLEM

Or

But what if nobody reads the headline?

management-trainee_48 copy

By and large, a good concept should be the perfect blend of headline and visual. (I’m sticking with print as it’s easier) If you can cover either one up and the ad still works then one of them is redundant.

The late David Abbott’s famous Economist ad ‘ I never read the Economist’ – Management trainee aged 42 – would not have been any better for seeing a tubby, balding man of 42.

And I’m pretty sure the famous Silk Cut campaign would not have been improved by a line saying ‘ the silkiest cut of them all’ or something. The visual did everything it needed to on its own.

Sometimes they face the world alone and sometimes they rely on each other to make sense. Just like the rest of us.

Meanwhile some people still think they have a serious point to make.

“But what if nobody reads the line…then it’s just a picture of a pig on a pogo stick”

“I think Gareth has a point…if I didn’t read the line I wouldn’t understand it”

That’s sort of like saying a French film was shit because you don”t speak French.

Very often, to my horror, I have found that even creative research (in pharma) seems to think the measure of a good idea is to judge it independently of a headline. And sometimes the reverse. Now, as I have said, not every idea needs both, but that shouldn’t be the only judgement. (The other thing that drives me nuts is the propensity for taking one successful line and shoving it on a totally different visual idea and assuming that is the perfect solution)

When faced with a creative problem that nobody can solve, very often there is no problem in the first place.

A NEGATIVE ISN’T ALWAYS A NEGATIVE

Or

Can we change the line from ‘smoking causes cancer’ to ‘live life to your best potential’?

I know that everyone wants to portray a positive image especially when it’s connected to a brand. But a positive image isn’t only ever attained by being positive.

No, really.

It’s not enough to employ a blanket ban when judging concepts. Like everything, there are exceptions. Sometimes showing you understand the real problem that patients face, or the new science that changes the understanding of a disease, involves communicating that carrying on prescribing the ‘old’ way is lagging behind.

I remember sitting next to a colleague at the PM awards while we watched as a certain Windsor based agency went up for the gazillionth time to collect an award for a campaign that intelligently portrayed ‘the problem’.

“I don’t get it…they’re just showing the problem…everyone has the same problem” and to a point he had a point, but if you can own that problem then you can own the solution too.

Revisiting that Economist ad, can you imagine what it would have looked like in the wrong hands?

“Yes, Dave…er…love love love the idea but it’s got a bit of a negative vibe, couldn’t we give it a bit of a switcheroo round to a positive? Like…and I’m not a creative but “I always read the Economist – Managing Director aged 16.”

Personally, I can never look at that Economist ad and not feel a twinge of guilt that I should be reading the magazine.

And isn’t that what the best ideas make us do? change our behaviour? Think? act? Negative or not.

So next time you’re wondering how to evaluate an idea remember it may be worth bearing in mind how not to judge it.

Or is that too negative?

 

 

 

The Cannes Canyon.

cannes-banner

 

In view of the upcoming inaugural Cannes Health festivities, when we healthcare creatives finally get to party like our slightly better looking, richer, yet infinitely shallower consumer cousins, I thought I would start penning some thoughts about the general state of the industry from my point of view as a recent convert from the dark side.

Of course, I’ve already got it wrong, this Cannes, like its consumer cousin, is billed as a festival of creativity and is choc full of interesting seminars about big data, social media and the future of Pharma communications.

In that regard it is no different from the consumer version, it too is full of fascinating seminars and talks on the future of…well…consumer advertising.

The difference is that I guarantee the majority of delegates to Cannes Health will actually attend the seminars. They may even take notes and give interesting talks to their coworkers upon their return.

My one and only experience of Adland’s annual exodus to the Croisette was an unforgettable two nights some ten or so years ago when I was the guest of a TV production company, in their villa somewhere in the hills. A special chitty was issued from Mrs C on the strict assurance that if I returned even mildly hungover on the Saturday morning ( yes – missing the actual awards ceremony which of course I had no intention of attending anyway) and be in no fit state to attend our son’s school parent summer ball, then she would unleash hell.

I had sold this jaunt internally on the basis of networking. “You see, my love, this will be a chance to mix with some top level execs. It’s all about who you know in this game.” But upon arrival it swiftly dawned on me that I was the schmoozee not the schmoozer.

I suppose all the big cheeses were busy on their yachts, discussing mergers and acquisitions of the hottest companies and equally hot personal assistants. On land it was like freshers week with the added bonus of expense account money.

I won’t say it was unendurable; a long list of production company parties ( Partizan being the most memorable – featuring skaters and graffiti artists and DJ’s with unpronounceable names) and jingle-maker’s lunches populated with young beautiful people, isn’t as bad as it sounds.  But where were the high rollers I needed to mingle with? I suppose as a Creative Director at Havas (at the time EuroRSCG Wnek Gosper) I was a medium sized catch. I was the client that needed to be wined and dined and made to cough up a few scripts in return. Oh well, there are worse roles to be cast in.

I wonder what the Cannes health vibe will be this year? I may now be a little more senior, a little less inclined to embarrass myself through alcohol abuse (Hmm, we’ll see) but so much of my previous experience of Cannes hinged on the vast schmoozathon of suppliers parties, I wonder whether the experience will be even recognizable from the one that will succeed it a week or so later.

So the big question is: Who’s buying the drinks?

Maybe a more sober affair isn’t such a bad thing. Healthcare is, if nothing else, notable for having a considerably lower wanker head count and the lofty air of education and science is part of the fabric of the industry.

Ten years ago our villa just happened to be full of other younger and much cooler creatives than I (two of whom would actually pick up the Grand Prix that year) and consequently the pharmaceuticals were about as central to the festival as this years will be, albeit employed in a more practical manner.

Forty eight hours with no sleep, (due to the string of parties one simply had to attend not the aforementioned chemicals) and the constant thumping of dance music from below at 4am and I was a defeated man.

So taking myself off to bed at 2am on the Friday night I set my alarm for an ambitious 6.30am wake up to catch an 8am flight. No worries, I’ll pack in the morning.

I awoke to the sound of the doorbell and a taxi driver ready to leave NOW. Shit.

The ensuing panic was all shot at 5 frames per second. Clothes bag. pants on. no time for teeth. run. get in taxi. drive. shit shit shit. clutch chest.

Fortunately Mediterranean taxi drivers need no encouragement to drive like lunatics.

I attended my summer ball, slightly spaced out but definitely present.

This year my flight home is at a leisurely midday.

See you at those seminars.

 

How to cock up a winning formula

I have always liked working on the briefs that no one else wanted or had exhausted themselves trying to crack.

I guess that’s why I like Pharma.

I like the briefs where you can slip in at the end, be a saviour and avoid the months of hellish rewrites and death by a thousand affiliate opinions. Just arrive at the party at the point where everyone will gladly jump off the end of a cliff to avoid thinking again about that wretched product. That’s when they are so grateful for any kind of answer you stand a half decent chance of actually making something.

Stealth creative.

I’m not sure I agree with the old cliche that there’s no such thing as a bad brief, believe me there are. But many of the seemingly plainer briefs have potential if you look closely enough.

The great briefs, or at least the high profile opportunities, are like the prettiest girls at school who absolutely know it and are so highly prized that only members of the 1st XV even stand a chance. (Once a public schoolboy always one I guess)

Your Levis, your John Lewis, your Volkswagens, they’re easy to spot and the competition is high within creative departments to bag one.

Or at least it should be.

When I was at the long since forgotten TCB – The Creative Business for long (an ironic ad agency name if ever there was one) and finding my feet in my second full year in the industry, we won the London Weekend television account from GGT.

At least that’s what I thought had happened, but it turns out we never really won it because it was ours already, we just sort of misplaced it for a few years and then they gave it back.

It was basically a small trade account whose prime objective was to persuade ad agencies to spend their client’s media budget on the station airwaves.

Dave Trott’s  http://davetrott.campaignlive.co.uk/2009/03/13/don-t-win-an-account-create-one/ partner Mike Gold had come up with the idea of putting weekly posters up on the same 48 sheet sites outside ad agencies, in black and white so they could produce them quickly, and with the same spend as their trade ads in Campaign.

Over lunch Mike Gold pitched this media idea and the account was somehow theirs. Oh, the eighties.

The ads ran on targeted sites, getting double the exposure of a trade campaign, lots of press coverage and gongs galore at the industry awards.

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 21.15.49 Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 21.16.08

It was genius media planning and ground breaking creative and yet they could run tomorrow and looking at them even now they still seem fresh.

GGT had somehow ended up pinching a straw account and weaving it in to Gold Greenless thread.

LWT-Hurricane-Higgins-Snooker LWT-Whoops-Apocalypse

Then, after a couple of very successful years the account inexplicably came back to us at TCB. Wow, a ready made award winning ad campaign landing in our laps. We all rubbed our hands and sharpened our pencils. What an opportunity for us youngsters.

But of course there was a reason that the account had slunk back in through the side gate.

Apparently the client had got fed up with being bullied by the agency. The story goes that ‘Trotty’ ( I have never met him so if he ever reads this I hope he forgives my over familiarity) would send off Paul Simons the account guy, to present an ad and the client would basically buy the concept.

Upon his return there may have been a few client comments…

” Er, just one thing…the client absolutely love the idea Dave…”

“Please, call me Trotty…everyone does”

” Er…he was just wondering if he could just change the…”

“No”

“but you see…”

“No”

“But if we could just…”

“That’s the way we want it, if you don’t like it we’ll do another one”

The client could hardly change a comma and the ad was thrown in the bin and the creative dept was asked for another execution. Or at least that’s what we heard.

Well, you can imagine how that would go down. Not least with the teams back at the ranch.

But the work they produced on that account inspired a generation of creatives. They were hilarious, sometimes poignant and always compelling.

I assume the dialogue with the client was swiftly reduced to, yes I like it, run it – or no I don’t like it and here’s why.

At least if the agency produced a bummer they couldn’t blame the client.

But they didn’t so they didn’t have to.

LWT-Royal-Variety-Show

But.

After a while of this, the client decided he’d had enough of being bullied and not being able to change anything so he mentioned this to his wife who just happened to be MD of an agency called…er…TCB.

Yes, of course we would like the account back darling. We’ll be far more accommodating.

Now at GGT, Trotty was famous for filling the corridors with young hungry creatives (many of whom went on to become agency bosses and industry legends themselves) all competing for the briefs and working all night to come up with the chosen concept. This was, at the time, almost unheard of.

Senior creative people had their accounts and they did the ads, before a spot of lunch and an afternoon watching the racing at Kempton.

The idea of an ‘open brief’ was simply appalling darling.

At TCB, sitting in the partitioned office spaces looking down the barrel of another Milky Bar kid TV ad, I felt like Robbie Williams in Take That in his ‘wanting to be Liam Gallagher’ phase.

At TCB we had several creative directors…the ECD was a man whose claim to fame was creating Monster Munch, an iconic brand without doubt. I’ll leave it at that.

But the guy in charge of the LWT account was another man of mature years. He had been what you call a ‘creative account man’ and had been associated with some great campaigns as MD in various agencies, but to my knowledge had never written anything himself and had managed to pull off the impossible by becoming a creative in his mid forties.

Sometimes it’s who you know.

Even though there were a couple of young hungry creatives working there, including myself, our CD kept these poster briefs closely guarded.

He knew their worth and not just to the agency, for a Creative Director with no ads to his name, this was his golden ticket to credibility.

So in precisely the polar opposite approach to GGT he wrote them all himself, under cover of darkness in a camouflaged hut in the woods, surrounded by barbed wire and guards (probably)

And I guess with a little of the client’s art directional expertise thrown in.

The resulting ads were poor imitations of the GGT work. They were in colour, so took 4 weeks to print not 1, so lacked that sparky spontaneity. They were overblown awful visual and verbal puns mostly and they were paraded to us juniors like they were the pinnacle of creativity, we could but dream of such brilliance.

But of course they weren’t. I’m sorry if you are reading this and recognize yourself, but that was the truth. It was like comparing A View to a Kill with Dr No.

I can remember one example. It was for a programme called HOT METAL, which was a drama about a newspaper. The poster was the words ‘hot metal’ set in…er hot metal. So, reading backwards yeah?…revolutionary.

I admit it, I’m still bitter.

The awards dried up as fast as the excuses began to flow.

Overnight it started to become the client’s fault. Guys this client is tricky…etc

Talk about making the agency look even more toothless and dated than it already did.

I often wonder whether LWT would have traded back their new accommodating agency for their old, bullying one had the relationship not hinged on an actual marriage.

And of course even though Trotty didn’t do any of the famous ads himself (as far as I know)  his unmistakeable hand upon the tiller gave him the kudos and created one of his agencies defining pieces of work, not by hogging it all but by giving the brief away to youngsters who had no real experience but passion by the weekend-load.

And my CD? well, I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard of him.

Poor work is ultimately always the agencies fault, sometimes because we let the client lobotomize it and sometimes because we let politics and egos get in the way and sometimes it’s because the talent just isn’t there.

Anyway, back at TCB they soon fired me for being a gobby little shit.

And for that I will always be grateful.