Campaign Craft: Forum - What can we learn from Tony Kaye’s battle over his Bacardi ad?

DANIEL BARBER

DANIEL BARBER



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

addressed.



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

element.



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.





STEVE HENRY



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

conventions.



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.





CLARE TIMMS



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

hands.





NICK MCELWEE



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.



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