Close-Up: Big Awards 2008 - a winners' roll call

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 31 October 2008 12:00AM

From traditional teams to digital mash-ups, the creatives behind all ten golds at the inaugural Campaign Big Awards reveal the source of their inspiration, why the Halo 3 campaign was named after its account man, and how a romantic coffee break led to the creation of Skoda's 'cake'.

DOMINIC MARTIN AND JON WILLIAMS, DIGITAL GOLD WINNERS

Although the success of this campaign has been overshadowed by a hefty copyright infringement lawsuit filed in the US by Hottrix, an iPhone application creator who claims the tool is a rip off of its iBeer concept, it is worth remembering that the principle underlying the justice system is "innocent until proven guilty".

It is also worth remembering that Dominic Martin, the copywriter and art director, and Jon Williams, Beattie McGuinness Bungay's former digital creative director, were still the first people to decide to tap into the commercial opportunities offered up by inventive applications on Apple's hugely popular iPhone.

Martin explains: "Anywhere is fair game for a good idea and the iPhone was just too good to resist. Not least because of all the media attention it was getting, but essentially because it's a great place to get a brand across.

"It's great being the first branded iPhone application out there because there's no-one to crowd you. It's going to get harder now other people have caught on to its potential, though."

It was Martin that had the eureka moment to align Carling to a beer-related game that would use the iPhone's accelerometer.

His first concept, to have a pint of beer balancing on a tray, gradually developed after Martin, a partner-less creative (applications on a postcard) teamed up with Williams, who is now Grey's chief creative officer, to help him realise this idea.

Together, the pair gradually developed the initial concept into a game that involves sliding a pint down a bar, with the reward of a virtual pint for those that win.

But as Trevor Beattie, a founding partner at BMB, explains, the iPint would never have come to fruition were it not for the mixture of Martin's idea and Williams' digital expertise. "Dom is one of those creative people you can't pigeonhole. He comes up with radical ideas that people struggle to make into a reality. What Jon did was make it happen, because he is a genuine digitally focused thinker."

While Martin, who admits to being inspired by Bill Bernbach and Dave Trott, brought traditional creative thinking rooted in his past as a JWT creative, Williams' background in interactive roles at Publicis and Harrison Troughton Wunderman enabled him to root out those with the technical capabilities to make Martin's concept a reality.

Martin concurs: "So often those ideas get left on the desk on a piece of paper. It's great that Jon took control of it and made it happen."

BARTLE BOGLE HEGARTY LYNX TEAM, DIGITAL GOLD WINNERS

Bartle Bogle Hegarty enlisted the creative juices of two teams - one young and one old(er) - to create its winning digital campaign, "Get in there mobile tools".

Describing the "fit girl detector" mobile tool as a "weapon of mass seduction", it would seem that the younger creative team, 27-year-olds Hugo Bierschenk and Dean Woodhouse, were perfectly suited to a brief that needed to reach out to a young, male target audience.

Bierschenk explains: "Me and Dean love chatting up girls and sometimes we're good at it, so we thought for those who struggle, Lynx could give them something to help."

To which Woodhouse adds: "Watching Hugo talk to girls was enough inspiration. I learnt what not to do and then formed the ideas around his failings. Mobile phones are the perfect medium as you have it on you all the time."

The creative pair met at Leeds Metropolitan University where they both studied graphic design. Citing "hard work and good looks" as their key to getting into the business, Peter Riley, the founder and creative partner of 20:20 Group, gave them their lucky break soon after they graduated. The team joined BBH in December 2006.

Bringing a bit of maturity into the mix, the second creative team on the business, Richard McGrann and Andy Clough, have more than 12 years of experience working together at Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R and BBH. The duo shared a flat in their first year at Staffordshire University where they both studied graphic design. Over the years, the pair have won awards at Cannes for Audi, as well as awards at Campaign Poster and Press, for clients such as Lynx, Boddingtons and Land Rover.

Describing the overall team as "one big family", Rosie Arnold, the deputy executive creative director at BBH, brought in Peter Sells, a digital producer, to work with the two teams and bring their ideas to mobile life.

Arnold says: "Hugo and Dean came to BBH as a young digital crew and have taken the agency by storm. They have such lively personalities and throw themselves into everything with great gusto. Richard and Andy are equally fabulous and excellent craftsmen. Bringing the two teams together was an interesting marriage."

MIKE OUGHTON AND CAMERON SHORT, DIRECT GOLD WINNERS

Mike Oughton and Cameron Short's Gold Award in the Direct category for Flora was never meant to actually happen. Creating a viral wasn't in the brief. In fact, the whole Monday-morning-after "John Wayne" campaign wasn't even part of Flora's thinking.

But when the creative duo found out that Flora had the e-mail addresses of everyone taking part in the London Marathon, then they knew that something different could be done.

"Cameron once ran a marathon dressed as a rhinoceros," Oughton explains. "So he knows all about the pain you get the Monday morning after the race. We wanted to show that we had empathy with all the participants involved, that we really cared."

While Short is out running marathons, Oughton spends much of his spare time fulfilling a passion of his own - writing movies. In fact, one of his most recent screenplays, a British comedy about a school reunion, has recently been optioned. Nothing has come of it yet, but Oughton is keeping his fingers crossed that it won't be long before there's an Oscar to go alongside his Campaign Big Award. Having spent five years together, the pair are now in their first full year at McCann Erickson, having joined the agency from Bartle Bogle Hegarty (where they created the Flora work) in July 2007. While at BBH they were also shortlisted for a Campaign Press Award for their work on Audi.

Oughton puts the relationship's success down to the simple fact that they're both always willing to plough head first into absolutely every challenge that faces them, and - perhaps even more importantly - that they're "both able to sit in a room together and not want to physically attack each other."

The satisfaction felt from creating great campaigns also helps in keeping the partnership strong, and the Flora campaign was perhaps more satisfying than the rest. Not only has it been heavily awarded, it was also created on a shoestring budget - the execution costs coming in at less than £5,000.

"We loved that Flora aren't the usual sponsors for a marathon. They're not a Lucozade or a Nike," Oughton says. "So it was great to go with an approach that puts the people involved at its heart. We had great fun doing the campaign and are over the moon that we won. Now we just need to make sure that next year we win a gold for McCann."

JIM PRIOR AND GREG QUINTON, OUTDOOR GOLD WINNERS

It's fair to say that Jim Prior, the managing director, and Greg Quinton, the creative director, at The Partners, aren't your average admen. "I got into this business on a whim," Prior says. "Until I joined The Partners seven years ago, I'd spent my career in jeanswear and sportswear in different product, marketing and management roles."

Quinton adds that he never once thought advertising would be the industry that he would end up in. "Luck plays a big part," he muses. "Being innumerate, illiterate, and inarticulate, my options were limited. Luckily, I could doodle pretty well so my art teacher suggested design. But 20 years of hard graft, lots of luck, and maybe even the planets aligning, brought us to the 'Grand Tour'."

Despite claiming that the idea for the "Grand Tour" campaign, in which life-size replicas of National Gallery pictures were placed around London, only "took about ten seconds to have", Prior admits that those "ten seconds have to be put into the context of the two years of work we did with The National Gallery beforehand and then the two years of work it took to bring the idea alive."

And the pair can justifiably be proud of all the effort they put in. The success of the campaign has certainly helped raise the profile of The Partners, with Prior revealing a, some would say rather ambitious, dream of "trying to build the world's most creative agency".

The pair maintain that hard work is the key to their success as a partnership, as well as avoiding being joined at the hip. They both ensure they have their own projects to work on as well as the ones they tackle together. Moreover, they don't spend too much time socialising with each other, which they put down to having two kids (Prior) and four kids (Quinton).

But when at work, the pair are always actively on the lookout for something else that can excite them and test them in new ways. "I've never been someone who sets professional goals or ambitions for myself for the future. I think it'd be a dull waste of my lifetime to end up somewhere I expected to." Prior says. Quinton agrees, adding, "I'm always looking to create bigger, braver ideas across new formats and media."

After viewing their work on the "Grand Tour" campaign, you wouldn't rule out the duo being able to fulfil their lofty ambitions.

GRANT PARKER AND JOANNA WENLEY, PRESS GOLD WINNERS

The gold winner in the Press category was actually the last campaign Grant Parker and Joanna Wenley wrote together before Wenley retired and moved to the countryside a year ago.

Wenley, who worked at DDB London for about 25 years, was Jeremy Craigen's creative partner for five years, before he was promoted to executive creative director in 2005. She then teamed up with Parker until retiring.

The pair would work Monday to Wednesday on creative briefs, since Wenley only worked three days a week, leaving Thursday and Friday free for Parker to fulfil his role as the head of art.

This arrangement was a great way to work, Parker explains: "Jo would go away for two days and then on Monday, we'd have fresh input and fresh eyes when she came back into work."

Over the years, the team have created "builder" for Nimble bread, "boxing helmet" for Harvey Nichols, which won a silver Cannes Lion this year, and other summer sale campaigns for the department store.

The inspiration for the menswear ad, which mocks the commonly held concept that buying great clothes will lead to a happy and successful existence, actually came from the client, who didn't take herself or the fashion industry too seriously, Parker says.

"The idea that fashion can change your life significantly or the notion that purchases will make your life better is a familiar one to us. The ad is a tongue-in-cheek take on this. The people who shop at Harvey Nichols will be in on the joke with us.

"We wanted to debunk the kind of classic advertising that says 'if you wear Lynx, you will get laid' or 'if you use anti-wrinkle face cream, you will look 30 years younger'. We all go along with it because we want to believe it but deep down we all know that it's not true."

Craigen says of the pair: "Grant and Jo are the only all-art director team I know. And they have proved that if a picture is worth a thousand words, a dozen of them are worth a bucketful of awards."

Parker grew up in South Africa and started his career as an apprentice at a tiny agency, run by an illustrator and his daughter, in Johannesburg.

JUAN CABRAL, TV AND CINEMA GOLD WINNER

If you work in adland and you haven't heard of Fallon's creative Juan Cabral, you've probably been living in a cupboard for the past three years (or working in media).

Here's a quick update, just in case: after a rather uneventful stint at Mother, Cabral joined Fallon in 2004 and has since created a string of groundbreaking ads such as "balls" and "Play-Doh" for Sony Bravia.

He's now returned to his native Argentina, but is hoping to remain creatively plugged into the London shop that rocket-launched his career.

"Gorilla", the most awarded of Cabral's haul (and directed by himself), is an ad he arrived at after being briefed to create a commercial for Cadbury Dairy Milk that would make the audience "feel like they did when eating chocolate".

"I'd asked the creatives to write work and imagine they were 12 again, because that's how chocolate makes you feel," Richard Flintham, Fallon's executive creative director, explains.

However, Cabral claims that what he arrived at wasn't simply "a gorilla playing drums" but almost a working treatment, which he believes naturally led to him directing as well as writing the ad.

"When I started to write the script, it came out very detailed, like some kind of production treatment. It had to be like that, because it was probably the only way to sell the idea - timings and tone had to be right.

"Once the client decided to go for it, we realised there wasn't much time before going on air, so directing it as well seemed like the right thing to do," he says.

Many may have baulked at such an off-the-wall idea, but Flintham says Cabral's solution instantly felt right. "There was nothing to be scared about. Tonally, spiritually, or in the execution. It was bang on the brief."

Cabral instantly got to the soul of the brand, a skill that comes down to his passion for pleasing his audience.

"Advertising should be about winning people's hearts, not their heads. That's where healthy brands live, in the audience's heart. I'm inspired by brands that realise this," Cabral explains.

Behind the soft Latin American exterior, though, is a tremendously focused creative.

"He's purist, but he's not puritanical. If someone tries to reduce the quality of an idea then humbly and respectfully he uses his Latin American charm to say no," Flintham adds.

SUSAN HOSKING AND PETER ROBERTSON, TV/CINEMA GOLD WINNERS

The New Zealanders Susan Hosking and Peter Robertson moved to London six years ago after teaming up straight out of university at Saatchi & Saatchi Auckland and, later, at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellington.

Robertson joined adland with a degree in marketing and advertising and Hosking had a BA in English and art history. "Our biggest inspiration comes from being in a foreign country and discovering all the quirks of being British," Hosking explains. "We'd never encountered women getting ready in office toilets and on public transport until we moved to the UK. In New Zealand, everyone gets ready behind closed doors in their homes. It was quite a revelation." With that in mind, the inspiration behind the "Here come the girls" Boots ad is not that difficult to work out.

The pair's strategy for the ad was to focus on what naturally happens in the office before the annual works Christmas party: the men turn up unprepared and the women spend hours getting ready.

Hosking explains: "It was a really fun shoot. Basically it was us and hundreds of women in an abandoned office."

The team joined Mother, after freelancing at Leo Burnett, to initially work on the Orange pitch. Since becoming permanent, they have worked on brands including Diageo, UKTV, Selfridges, Coke and, of course, Boots, collecting awards at Clio, Cannes, D&AD, the British Television Advertising Awards and The One Show.

In New Zealand, the pair won awards for their work with NZ Breweries, NZ Lotteries, Women's Refuge and NZ Telecom, winning Best in Show at the New Zealand Advertising Awards two years in a row, before making the decision to move to England, so they're not new to picking up statues.

However, Robertson says: "It was brilliant to play a part in the inaugural Campaign Big Awards. It was a great night and we were really excited to win. We're still feeling a little toxic from the excitement. Apart from our accents, we like to think that we stand out because we genuinely love what we do."

It is a point that Robert Saville, the creative partner at Mother, reiterates when describing the duo: "I don't know of any other team that brings so much honesty and humanity to their work. They are incredibly talented and fabulous people."

CAMERON MITCHELL AND ELLIOT HARRIS, INTEGRATED GOLD WINNERS

Some say that it takes time for a partnership to really fulfil its potential, but Cameron Mitchell and Elliot Harris, who take the plaudits and a Campaign Big Award for the Halo 3 "Jake Courage - shooting a hero" campaign, would disagree.

"Brian Fraser and Simon Learman (the joint executive creative directors at McCann Erickson) only brought us together about two years ago," Mitchell says. "We were first placed together on a BT pitch and something clicked. I'd had a few different partners in the years beforehand, but none had worked as well as the partnership that I had with Elliot."

And Fraser and Learman see this award as vindication of their decision to bring them together.

"They both have the skills to make a team work, and they are surprising and engaging in equal measure," Fraser says. "The award is a credit to the whole team, we have an environment that fosters responsibility and enthusiasm, and that good spirit is typified by Cameron and Elliot." That team spirit can be exemplified by looking at the name of the fake photographer used in the Halo campaign. Jake Courage isn't simply a name that was plucked from nowhere.

"We both believe that names are so important," Mitchell says. "And because of this you often find that coming up with a name that works is very difficult. One day, though, our account guy Jake Courage walked in. Elliot and I both looked at each other and thought that it just might work and bring more people into the process as well."

Suddenly, account man Courage is an influential character in the Halo world, with a role in the next game in the series a distinct possibility.

However, the pair are not the sort to sit and rest on their laurels and are eager to get their teeth into the next big project that could further fill their awards cabinet.

"When a brief lands on your desk, you never know which ones will turn out to be an opportunity and which ones won't. It often turns out that the least obvious opportunities can be the best, and this was one of them," Mitchell says.

CHRIS BOVILL AND JOHN ALLISON, TV AND CINEMA GOLD WINNERS

"Our eyes met across a layout pad at Manchester University and we've been together since," Chris Bovill explains. His 11-year "marriage" to John Allison (they are both creative partners at Fallon), reached a creative peak with an inspired idea for a Skoda ad while the pair were enjoying a coffee together a few months into their new role at Fallon.

It was Valentine's Day and Bovill had bought Allison a muffin and a shortbread with a heart in the centre to accompany their morning tea break.

"We're simple people," Allison says, "and we were eating cake at the time."

"We'd done work on cars before," Bovill adds, "but Skoda needed something that wasn't as 'car-ey'. We had the 'full of lovely stuff' line and we thought 'well, who doesn't love cake?'"

Finding creative inspiration during a romantic coffee break is a testament to the unity of creative thought shared by this duo.

"They're very tight. I only see them as a team, even when they're on their own you still feel a sense of team because they're both hardwired with the other's perspective," Richard Flintham, the executive creative director at Fallon, says.

As well as being creatively in-tune, the pair were able to look beyond their off-the-wall concept of making a car out of cake, to the crucial task of selling the idea in a sector more au fait with cars driving through mountain ranges.

"They know their job doesn't stop when they've got a creative idea, it's also about selling that to the client and the audience," Flintham adds.

Yet their ascension up to this creative peak was not an easy one. After leaving university, the pair ended up "selling their souls" for two years, working on and off in market research and eating plenty of baked beans while desperately trying to get a foot in adland's door.

They'd even circled a date in their diary when they were going to give it up, but fortunately Trevor Beattie, the former chairman at TBWA\London, gave them their lucky break in the nick of time.

Shortly after joining the agency, they worked on the award-winning John Smith's "babies" spot. "That ad made up for the fact that we had been out of work for two years," Allison explains.

Despite the ad going on to secure a gold at Cannes and two D&AD awards, they both agree that the Skoda ad is the icing on the cake of their career so far.

PAUL SHEARER AND DAVE JENNINGS, INTEGRATED GOLD WINNERS

"It's fun to hit a target, especially if the target is a midget wearing a thong," Paul Shearer, the global executive creative director at Nitro, says. He created the winning integrated campaign "The put it where you want it tour" for Nike alongside the copywriter Dave Jennings.

The idea came to Shearer as he was walking through the park one afternoon and saw a group of kids practising their accuracy by kicking a football against a tree. And the integrated campaign was born out of the simple premise that the football boots are designed to make the player more accurate.

The idea of using a target was then pushed forward to using human targets and enlisting the help of the Dirty Sanchez (the poor man's Jackass) crew.

Sport freak Shearer has worked with Nike for most of his career, which started at Partners BDDH and moved on to Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow Johnson, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper and Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam before setting up Nitro.

Jennings, who mainly works alone, has worked at agencies including Young & Rubicam, FCA, Impact FCA and Euro RSCG. He joined Nitro in 2007.

He holds up David Abbott as a role model. While, not surprisingly, being the footie fan that he is, Shearer points to Alex Ferguson and Nigel Bogle as his heroes. "They are single-minded people who never waiver from their point of view: that is why they are so successful," Shearer says.

Strangely, though, he is less than enamoured with awards, calling them "those bloody things", and maintains that he is in advertising to make ads and sell products - and to carry on, in his words, "daydreaming".

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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