Close-Up: The creatives behind the Big winners

Meet the bright sparks who struck gold at this year's Big Awards. Here, they describe their campaign's journey from inspired concept to prize-winning execution.


Graham Fink, Simon Dicketts and Orlando Warner, M&C Saatchi

The "the last place you want to go" work was supposed to be a radio ad. That is, until M&C Saatchi's executive creative director, Graham Fink, decided that the campaign had the potential to be much grander. "I just had an instinct that this could be bigger," Fink says. "When people shop around for technology, they go in-store but then buy it online for less, and that's a big truth."

So, with a brave decision to change the brief, Fink set off with the creative director Simon Dicketts and the creative Orlando Warner to devise a poster ad. Luckily for the trio, Dixons loved the changed brief and went for it immediately. "The great thing about the recession is that some clients feel brave and take risks to get noticed," Fink says.

Having created the concept, Fink was keen to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty to create the ad, working closely with his good friend Dicketts, who has been at M&C Saatchi for 15 years. "I got really excited just sitting with Simon," Fink explains. "He's one of the best writers I've ever worked with, so I always want to work with him."

The duo, along with Warner, then worked on the ad's typography, which stemmed from the shops they were referring to with what Fink describes as "anti-art direction underneath it".

While the risque campaign has caused a stir with the department stores featured in the executions, Fink insists they didn't want it to be nasty.

"We wanted Dixons to be premium but we wanted to compliment the shops too and not slag them off," he says. "In fact, we wanted to be reverent. After the work broke, there was a programme about John Lewis (featured in one of the ads) and the managing director said he actually liked the campaign."


Richard Brim and Daniel Fisher, Leo Burnett

Richard Brim and Daniel Fisher joined up at Leo Burnett with an aim to do better integrated work, and the concept behind Shelter's "House of Cards" campaign is testament to that initiative.

"We knew what job we wanted to do and that was to stand out," Fisher says. "We wanted the idea to fit in with other channels, as well as be visual and a well-known metaphor. And a pack of cards has different facets that we could use."

The original idea was to build a giant house made out of playing cards, like the ones built at Glastonbury and outside the Houses of Parliament. This would be done, Brim says, to highlight the fact that no-one knew what way the housing market was heading. "But we didn't want to talk about it in a dark way," Brim adds. "We wanted to give advice to ordinary people who might be affected."

They began to map out the campaign with longevity in mind. Brim says: "We kicked off the campaign with a cinema and print ad and were astute to where it went. We wanted to get people talking about temporary housing so went to Glastonbury, where people were staying in temporary housing - their tents."

The executions led to the ultimate pack of cards - designed by the likes of Damien Hirst and Alexander McQueen - being auctioned at a fundraising exhibition. "It was like Christmas as so many top designers wanted to get involved," Brim says. "It was incredible."


Freddie Powell and Stuart Harkness, Wieden & Kennedy

Stuart Harkness is a former QPR youth team captain who has subsequently developed new ways of hanging out on the pitch with top players. Freddie Powell is more into spearfishing, but that didn't stop him helping to create arguably the most entertaining football-themed ad of all time, "write the future" for Nike.

The pair didn't set out to make a viral but could sense the film might bear repeated viewing. Harkness says: "We knew people would watch again, discovering something new each time. That tempered the speed of the edit along with the volume of material we generated. They say you're exposed to hundreds of pieces of communication every day. We figured why not load quite a few of them into a three-minute film?"

With all that time to play with, there was even room for a pair of famous football fans to make an appearance, namely the tennis ace Roger Federer and the basketball star Kobe Bryant. "Federer was a true gentleman and totally bought into the idea of him and Wayne Rooney hanging out with a spot of ping pong," Harkness says.

Powell recalls with fondness how the team's every madcap wish for the film came true: "We stuck Homer Simpson's joke in as part of a wish list and were amazed when Gracie Films agreed to do it."

The resulting film is evidence of a creative team having a field day. As Harkness puts it: "Sometimes you write an idea and it gets diluted along the way. This clearly wasn't the case."


Steve Jones and Martin Loraine, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

For a creative team of almost 20 years that have spent the majority of their careers creating TV campaigns, the fact that their first-ever piece of digital work has gone on to win so many awards must be all the more pleasing for Steve Jones and Martin Loraine, the Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO creative partners.

The campaign, "choose a different ending" for the Metropolitan Police, harnessed the power of YouTube and despite being originally aimed at 20,000 Londoners, according to Loraine, the films have now been seen by more than three million people.

"Choose a different ending" itself wasn't necessarily a time-consuming process, but it gripped users for longer than most campaigns.

Loraine says he was amazed at how many people opted to go down the moral routes, as well the more dangerous ones, in the interactive films. In fact, people took on average three different routes per visit - and that's a lot of time spent thinking about the dangers of knife crime.


Matias Palm Jensen, Jon Dranger, Tomas Jonsson, Carl Fredrik Jannerfeldt, Farfar Stockholm

Stephen Mangan looked confused.

The Green Wing actor had admirably handled the deluge of drunk celebrating creatives who had already been called up on stage to collect their Big Awards, but when he announced that Farfar Stockholm had triumphed for its "world's biggest signpost" work for Nokia, he was met with silence. Not because the audience didn't feel that the work wasn't a worthy winner - the sheer size, scale and innovation on show more than justified the recognition - but because there was no-one there to pick up the award.

And this wasn't a case of the creatives being too lazy or arrogant to turn up either. The sad truth is that Farfar Stockholm now no longer exists.

Just two months after producing the Nokia work, Aegis Group (which acquired Farfar five years ago) took the decision to shut the agency down, rolling it into Isobar's digital network.

The move sparked numerous departures, including the four men credited for the "signpost" work - the creative president, Matias Palm Jensen, the creative director Jon Dranger, the art director Tomas Jonsson and the writer Carl Fredrik Jannerfeldt.

The mass departure left a sour taste in the mouth of many, and the move is made all the more galling when you see the potential in the Nokia campaign. The campaign saw a giant digital arrow hang above London that the public could direct by texting the details of any destination worldwide.

Niku Banaie, the global chief innovation officer at Isobar, says: "The most critical element was a brave client who believed in us and the idea."


Tom Ewart, Publicis London

Publicis London's "start thinking soldier" campaign for the Army shows how stretched definitions of direct marketing have become.

The brief was to develop a way of spending more time with the 17- to 21-year-olds that the Army is targeting in its recruitment drive. Publicis' solution was to put gaming at the centre of the campaign by creating an online space that young people would want to revisit and learn more about the Army.

Publicis created a campaign in four stages, or "missions", as Tom Ewart, its executive creative director, puts it. After a PR launch, TV ads set out the task for the mission with radio, press and online encouraging people to visit a website where they could complete different assignments, collecting points and achievements along the way.

Ewart, who led a team of creatives on "start thinking soldier", says: "The campaign was hugely ambitious and demanded a brave client to invest in the development of an untried format. But the results rewarded that bravery."

The campaign generated publicity on Sky News, the BBC and in national newspapers, and more than one million people have visited the Army website. This resulted in recruitment figures being met for the first time in 12 years.


Sam Oliver and Shishir Patel, DDB UK

Despite being utterly stumped by their first-ever brief (for Interflora), it turned out that Sam Oliver and Shishir Patel were made for each other. The pair, who joined DDB from Ogilvy in 2003, won gold at Cannes for their "night drive" campaign for Volkswagen in 2008, created work such as "blob" for Marmite and were garlanded for their Golf Plus campaign in 2005.

The "Parallel Lines" campaign was born from a project the team worked on at college, where they recorded people chatting on buses or the Tube and then got actors to read out the same piece of dialogue but playing to different themes, such as horror or romance. Years later, when it came to tackling the Philips brief to showcase the cinematic qualities of the brand's flatscreen TVs, Oliver and Patel hit on making several different films using the same dialogue.

They had painstakingly written a script that could be adapted to several themes and interpreted in various ways and wanted to give the directors as much freedom as possible. They did, however, put in a word, "unicorn", which acted as a visual reminder of the campaign and could be interpreted in many ways; in one film, the unicorn is a tattoo while, in another, it's a boy with a horn. The team trawled through up to 70 directors' treatments of their script, but finally whittled it down to five.

The experience of making five short films in locations as varied as London, Moscow and South Africa, as well as creating an online interactive film, was not easy. "It was a lot to deal with. We had to juggle everything," Oliver says. But the large response to the campaign, including the barrage of entries (almost 650) to the campaign's competition inviting the public to make their own films, undoubtedly made up for all of the hard work.


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