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Nick Gordon saw Star Wars when he was seven years old and it put him on the path to becoming a director. After a foundation course, a BA in sculpture and a stint as an animator, he started directing promos for bands including Placebo and Supergrass. Directing promos stood him in good stead for the "street music" spot for BBC Radio 1Xtra, which picked up the top prize at the BTA Craft Awards in 2003. The ad shows everyday action on the street choreographed to the urban music the station plays. How did Gordon marry action to music?

"I spent ages listening to stuff because we didn't want it to look staged," he says. "For the argument, we got the actors to argue in a stacatto way, using short words and speaking quickly, a bit like rap. We didn't want them to lip-synch because it would look staged."

The 1Xtra spot led to a brief from Ogilvy & Mather in Los Angeles for Motorola, which also drew on Gordon's musical knowledge. In the ad, a ringtone boomerangs: one person hums it, other people absent-mindedly pick it up and then it returns to the original phone owner. "We came up with that idea of a ringtone being passed from one person to another between us. That job worked in a really different way as the brief was left very free; it was simply to feature that particular phone with its polyphonic ringtones," he says.

In contrast to the simplicity of the Motorola idea, an ad for the Scandinavian airline SAS involved high drama. A girl sees a man being beaten up and hits his aggressor only to find herself being held at gunpoint. It promotes the airline's flexibility with youth fare return tickets. "Every single shot had to do two things as you had so little time to turn heads. The actress was street-cast; she needed to look innocent so you're surprised she knocks someone out. Sometimes with street-casting, you find someone who is the part, so they're not acting," Gordon explains.

Gordon used this method to cast the ad for the lobby group Mothers Against Guns. In the ad, toy guns become real: replica guns are used as real fire-arms through a seemingly harmless children's game in a wood. When you see a boy getting shot in the head, the ad makes its point through the power of shock.

Gordon says: "The children were great, considering most of them hadn't been in front of a camera before. The ad communicates to people with children to encourage them to look at the website and register their support."

The 60-second ad is a viral, which can be viewed at www.

Nick Gordon was talking to Lucy Aitken.


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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).