Partner and director, Rose Hackney Barber
’You have to remember that this is a commercial world and if the client
doesn’t like it, he has the right to change it’
Without wishing to refer directly to the Tony Kaye incident I would
argue that directors have to be pragmatic. You often find that the
commercial that goes on air is different to the work you had envisaged
But you have to remember that this is a commercial world and if the
client doesn’t like it, he has the right to change it. Of course, it can
be very upsetting to have your work recut - if you were producing fine
art or a personal project, it wouldn’t happen. But it does in
advertising and you have to accept that.
However, problems should be ironed out at an early stage. When I get a
script I talk it through with the agency, then comes the treatment and
pre-production during which problems will have surfaced and been
Sometimes difficulties arise when a new client comes on board. All you
can do in this is accept their opinion and try to incorporate that extra
Quite often directors feel disappointed with the final result.
I produced a commercial recently and everyone was happy, but two days
later the client changed his mind and the whole thing turned out very
differently from the original. When I bumped into him months later, he
admitted his view had been wrong.
You just have to accept that these things happen.
Partner and creative director, HHCL & Partners
’Tony is incredibly brave. He learned his craft publicly and painfully,
and he was challenging convention’
Tony Kaye is possibly the only real genius in our industry. He’s taken
the craft of directing to places nobody else could have reached. He’s
also got balls. When he launched himself as a director, he endured years
of loneliness and ridicule. Tony is incredibly brave. He learned his
craft publicly and painfully, and all the time he was challenging
This industry needs him, and others like him, to kick us out of the rut
of competence which is the natural default of most advertising work. So,
what’s gone wrong ? Why is Tony in danger of being the best director
nobody dares to use?
Is it a question of teamwork? If you’re an artist working in a garret,
you can forget teamwork, but whatever you’re making, it’s usually a
collaborative process. That doesn’t make it pain-free, or argument-free.
It just means keeping one foot in reality.
We’re used to hearing about the exceptions, but Tony has proved he can
collaborate sensationally - with teams like Tom Carty and Walter
Campbell at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO. Breakthrough work benefits all of
us, and I’d like to believe that we can get to breakthrough work without
having to end up in court. We need more brave work, more brave clients,
and more brave directors. We’ve got enough rich lawyers.
Joint managing director, Union Commercials
’A good director will win the trust of client and agency before the
shoot and when this happens the best ads are made’
Tony Kaye is a one-off. He is unconventional in his approach and has a
colourful reputation around Soho, but people still want to work with him
because he produces stunning work.
I believe the majority of directors work successfully within the
constraints of their particular productions. They work with the agency
and their client to produce the best possible results. They understand
that when they enter into a contract with an agency that there is a deal
and the deal is this: the creatives write the copy and come up with the
idea, the director brings it to life and the client pays.
A good director will win the trust of client and agency before the shoot
and when this happens the best commercials are made. When the director
is trusted he has greater artistic freedom.
There are many successful ex-creatives working as directors. Their
understanding of getting a commercial from inception to screen gives
them an advantage over other young directors trying to get started.
However, I worked with a young director who, by diplomacy and skill, won
over a difficult client.
These talents are often overlooked in directors, if you succeed in
finding a director with good judgment skills, you have a star in your
Board director, Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper
’Where Tony messed up here is taking his grievance to the client and not
just the agency. The issue is the agency’s responsibility’
This debacle has everything to do with Tony Kaye maintaining his profile
in his chosen subject and naff all to do with director’s being messed
about by unsympathetic clients whose only focus is the bottom line.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s bloody good, but for me there’s no headline in
’Tony Kaye involved in another row’, only one in ’Tony Kaye gets on with
the job in hand’.
I don’t think that there is anything to be learned from this whole
episode, other than don’t work with Tony Kaye if you don’t like working
with people like Tony Kaye. I’d work with him and I’d encourage my
client to work with him if he was right for the job. Where Tony messed
up here is taking his grievance to the client and not just the agency.
This may be a new route to that higher profile he’s after but it’s wrong
- the issue is the responsibility of the agency not the client.
If the client is taking issues into the shoot then the agency isn’t
working hard enough - it’s unfair to expect the director to solve the
issues the client/agency relationship can’t overcome. An account
director’s job is to look after the agency’s interest, not the client’s
interest at production stage. A good agency by then has already sweated
bricks understanding the client’s needs.