Saving lives one ad at a time. By Stu Outhwaite

9pm, September 2003, St John’s Street. It’s Mother; current Advertising Agency of the Year, and the hippest, coolest, most creative shop in town. A scruffy, big-nosed Serbian-looking kid and overweight ‘Duncan from Blue’ are working on their first ever advertising pitch for Boddingtons. We’d been at the agency for three months on placement. This was our first opportunity to grab a job we’d been told 10,000 people apply for! Mother! 10,000 people! Mother! The place all the cool kids work, and where advertising dreams come true! But also, Robert Saville (the boss) was shouting at us down a landline phone, that’d been passed to us like a stick of Uranium by the previous team he’d ‘enlightened’. We’d taken one sheet of A4, with mad ramblings scrawled illegibly all over it, to the final review of the day and he wasn’t best pleased. We better have something by the morning or we could pack up our things (a copy of the Da Vinci Code and a bag of Monster Munch) and get out. 

Two hours later and sitting in the basement kitchen, with the words still ringing in our ears, the eastern European and the fat backing dancer were staring at another blank piece of A4 -desperately searching for ways of making people give a shit about an old man’s beer that’s sort of creamier than other creamy old man beer. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING was coming. 

Prepare yourselves people: 

This. Is. Advertising. 

This is the world you’re all fighting to get into. A world full of head-scratching, wall-banging, stress-inducing, hair-pulling hell. And you think your skin is thick enough from the book-crit bashings? 
All of a sudden you’re literally leaving the ‘comfort’ of a university bedsit and finding yourself on the 6.05am bus to Guildford Station to get the 6.45am train to Waterloo to get the 7.35am bus to Clerkenwell to be in the job of your dreams by 8am. ‘First in, last out’ as they all say. But here’s the thing; 

This. Is. Advertising. 

Yes, it can be tough. Yes, it can be bloody. But it’s still just that stuff that sits between Gogglebox, or wallpapers bus shelters. Of course, we all want to make the aforementioned stuff amazing. We want people to care, we want people to listen, we want people to tweet the shit out of anything we interrupt their lives with. But, before our egos or stress levels go rocketing through roofs, let’s take one more moment to remember:

This. Is. Advertising. 
Lives are not on the line, the world is not going to end, Michelangelo will not turn in his grave (even Neil Buchanan couldn’t give two hoots). You’re about to enter a world in which you make stuff that tweaks behaviour, that nudges minds. Stuff that titillates and tinkers with emotions. 

We haven’t got a captive audience. People don’t pay for the stuff we make, people don’t make appointments to listen to our opinions or put their lives in our hands. Hearts don't start or stop beating. As tough as it is to often admit, people are entirely apathetic to the stuff we slave over and care so much about. 

But therein lies the secret - the sooner you realise and accept that people don’t really care about what you do, the quicker you’ll come to love this job and be all the better at it. Why? Because you’ll make stuff entirely accepting of this apathetic audience, and free from the pressure of believing lives are at stake. 

You’ll write desperately to try to make those who couldn't care less about what you do, well… care. To look up from all the other stuff that craves for their attention and listen to what you’ve got to say. 

You’ll realise that leaving work at 6pm every day, not only lets you have a life outside of work, but essentially makes you realise how lives are lead, how people operate, how light falls through a pub window. Yes, go to the pub more, people. Soak it all up, and come to understand what these motherfuckers who fast forward through our ads are actually interested in. What makes them tick, what makes them laugh, what makes them different to the self-interested, ego-fuelled tarts that make up so much of this self-inflated industry. 

Acknowledging that people don’t care is the most liberating and creatively freeing thing to entirely embrace and entirely take on. Grasp that, and it becomes both a source of pressure and most significantly a source of release. 

So, enter this industry with an open mind and closed ego. Enter it without fear of missing the mark, without a concern for fucking it all up. Step in and enjoy yourselves. Bathe in the joy of having your stupid ideas turned into a reality. Having the stuff you’ve got to say broadcast out to stationary traffic on the Westway. Of course you’ll make mistakes, have horrible ideas, make creative directors angry. Hell, if you’re lucky enough you might even bag a Turkey of the Week from time to time. But, has anyone died? 

No matter how much research companies will attempt to argue otherwise, what we do isn’t a science. It’s not something that text books can teach, there isn’t a rule book. We simply have to jump in and learn on the job. And with that comes a barrowload of mistakes, each one driving you forwards. 

So, back to that evening of Cream of Manchester hell. Half-arsed Djokovic and his tubby mate are now close to tears. Nothing is coming. And then up steps the hero of this tale: Danny Bush. The happy-go-lucky, cheeky chappy project manager who’s somehow still smiling even though it’s going on midnight. ‘Alright lads? Cracked it yet?’. ‘No’ we cry. We’ve nothing. We’re doomed. Our world is ending. And so come the words, from this perpetually cheerful, carefree little glorious bugger, that’ll stay with us for the rest of days - “For fucks sake lads, cheer up. It’s not like we’re making parachutes”. 


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Whatever happened to energy? by Tony Cullingham

    An interviewee arriving with some ideas at the next round of interviews.


An interviewee arriving with some ideas at the next round of interviews.

I have just completed a round of interviews for next year's course.

What was remarkable was the lack of work people bring to me on the day. A few pieces of paper, a couple of ad concepts, a script, a few photographs; the offerings on the interview table are usually thin.

It seems that there are many young people who say they are creative, yet they are unable to be productive.

They are not willing to put down idea after idea after idea after idea until their brain hurts. They are either idealists who want to get it right, or they are lazy.

Or they are too worried about being judged.

What I am talking about here is a lack of energy.

Energy is one of the four elements of The Creative Spirit. (I'll write about the other three elements later.)

Without sufficient mental energy, your creative pursuits suffer from flaws, caused by faulty logic.

Without sufficient physical energy, your creative ideas don’t get put into motion, they remain in the closet to gather dust.

All creativity begins as pure energy because the ideas that compose your creative thinking are nothing more than electrical impulses in your brain.

Without energy, creativity is impossible. The term energy also relates to the degree of passion you bring to everything you do.

When you are fascinated by a project, or personally invested in a subject or task, you feel charged and exuberant.

You are able to summon up as much energy as it takes to create dozens, scores, even hundreds of ideas to one brief. The energy you invest is repaid by results and positive feedback.

The more you love something, the more energy you will have to dedicate to it.

And so the more creative you will be.

When you are not energetic, the whole process may seem like a struggle, and your creativity will take a dive.

Energy is the force that drives you to write 6 campaigns when the the creative director asks for one.

Energy is what keeps you up all night writing great ideas that get bought the next morning, while the charlatans are in the pub.

Energy is what gets you to the top and keeps you there.

The Beatles played 3 gigs a day, 7 days a week in Hamburg.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy made nearly 200 films as individuals before they made a film together.

Stephen King's first published novel was the 17th book he'd written.

You may be the most interesting and talented person around.

You might get a job in advertising.

You might even write one or two decent ads.

However, if you won't make your mark on the business you need energy.

Addendum for wanna-be creatives.

Get off the lap top.

Stop clicking on images and Youtube videos.

Put your Facebook life on hold for a while.

Get loads of paper and a pen. Now, think of the brand as your coal face and get digging.

You dig away at a brand.

Work to simple emotional truths.

Questions, insights and hunches are your tools of choice.

What's the brand's problem?

You produce a mound of paper rubble trying to find an answer.

You look at it.

Are there any nuggets in there?


Keep digging.

Dig in a different place.

Dig with a different tool.

Get someone alongside to help you dig.

In no time at all you have 20 ideas.

If you think one of them is good, develop it.

If none of them are good, read The Sun, have a strong coffee, eat a biscuit and get back to work.


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Bag some rough diamonds from Hatton Garden...

Grey London – at the heart of London’s diamond district – plays host to The Talent Business’ CREAM 2015, showcasing young creatives worth nicking-

Some of London’s top creative chiefs shot in balaclavas by Rankin to promote the annual emerging talent event-

Grey London’s Hatton Garden HQ – located at the heart of London’s diamond district – plays host to this year’s CREAM private view, the culmination of The Talent Business’ renowned annual emerging talent competition.

The 17 September event will see the 20 winning creatives or creative teams unveiled before showcasing their portfolios, which have been judged by leading industry figures from around the world including Carlo Cavallone (72&Sunny Amsterdam), Icaro Doria (DDB New York), Richard Brim (adam&eveDDB), Steve Vranakis (Google Creative Lab London), Julie Scelzo(Facebook) & Caroline Pay (BBH London).

Inspired by the agency’s location and surroundings, Grey London has devised a ‘rough diamonds’ theme for the event, encouraging advertising’s A-List to bag themselves some raw, uncut talent. 

Invitations to the event comprise embroidered balaclavas and a specially commissioned series of photographs, shot by Rankin, which showcase some of London’s most senior creatives wearing the striking head gear themselves.

The work was created by Stevie Rowing-Parker & Emily Churches and Hanna Stenwell & Joyce Kremer and creatively directed by Dave Monk. It was designed by George Goldsack.

Tanya Livesey, managing partner and global head of creative talent at The Talent Business, says"Unearthing the raw talent that will be the industry's leaders of tomorrow is a constant quest, so CREAM is a fantastic platform for connecting the bright young creatives, fresh from colleges all over the world, with the ECDs that can give them their first breaks in the business.  It’s such an inspiring event to be part of every year so we are eternally grateful to our incredible hosts at Grey London and the ECD judges worldwide that help make it possible" 

Dave Monk, deputy ECD at Grey London adds“CREAM is an institution, and we’re chuffed that we’ve been asked to host it. ‘Rough diamonds’, given the heritage of Hatton Garden and the nature of the competition, was spot on as a concept. Big thanks to Rankin for shooting it, and to our sporting models, who I assume had more important things to be doing than donning balaclavas for us.” 

Graeme Hall, Creative Lead at Google Creative Lab and a past CREAM winner adds: "Being one of the 20 winners in 2003 directly led to my first job at DDB London, and a career that has taken me around the world and beyond all my expectations. CREAM has consistently stood apart as the best competition for young, undiscovered creatives. When I started my career, I wanted to win it. Now, several years later, I want to hire those that win it. Long may it continue."