Close-Up: The creatives behind the Big winners

Noel Bussey profiles some of the creative teams responsible for the gold award-winning work at this year's Campaign Big Awards.

Gold: Press Campaign

Hunter Somerville, art director/writer, DDB London

Graeme Hall and Noah Regan weren't available to be profiled for this piece on the Marmite campaign. They've left all of that up to the final creative, the Toronto-born Hunter Somerville.

But that's OK, because Somerville has a lot to say. Especially about celebrities. But more of that later. First, the work.

"The executions can be a bit tricky because to work they need a lot of consumer interaction so we tried to keep the illustration very simple. We'd usually come up with an idea, sketch it out and then work with Al Murphy, the illustrator, who took what we had and made it look much nicer."

However, he says that because of the intricacy of the ideas and the fact that they had to make sense at two different angles, the illustrations had to be very precise - and that their original ideas didn't always work.

"Some of the ideas were easy to come up with and explain, a few others took a while to figure out while some had to be dumped."

However, this sort of difficult but highly original work is in no way new territory for Somerville, who has a reputation for groundbreaking work in his homeland.

While at Ogilvy & Mather in Toronto, where he started as a graduate, he is largely credited with turning around the agency's Kraft business with his "diamond Shreddies" campaign, which won the 2008 Integrated Grand Clio and a bronze One Show Pencil.

But the agency exit door is not where his creativity ends. He is in the process of creating an app that will help non-Brits understand jokes about British celebrities.

He says: "I have had a tough time getting a lot of celebrity-based jokes here as there are a lot of famous people in the UK that I've never heard of. My plan is to develop an app that translates the UK celebrity's name into a North American celebrity. For example, if somebody uses 'Cliff Richard' as a punchline, I'd type that in and the app would come back with something like 'Barry Manilow'.

"However, I seem to be stuck on a translation for Kerry Katona - she's one of a kind." However, this may well be a joke.

Gold: Individual Press, Individual Outdoor, Outdoor Campaign

Anyone reading this with a keen memory might recall Grant Parker, the winner of three golds at this year's Big Awards, already winning one for his mantelpiece (or his toilet) last year.

He picked up the top honour in the press category for his "menswear" campaign for Harvey Nichols.

The creative, who has formerly worked in Cape Town at TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris as well as in below the line at the Fulham-based agency Anthem, is not tired of receiving the honours.

However, he says that waiting for Aardman to say whether Wallace and Gromit were free for the shoot was even more nerve-wracking than waiting to see if he'd won a Big Award again.

"In the end, though, they were great to work with," he says. Campaign assumes he means Aardman and not the characters, who were decked out in clothes made by designers from the fashion houses especially for the shoot.

"They were incredible - the detail that went into the clothes was just amazing. Also, Nick Park joined us for a final check - he tweaked an eyebrow, or moved a pupil to make sure it was just right."

He adds that there was a lot to take into consideration because they wanted the characters to keep their personalities while also making the ad look like a high-end fashion shoot.

"Making sure Gromit looked a bit non-plussed and cool, while Wallace was trying to maybe take it a bit too seriously, but not quite pulling it off, was very important."

Although, with all of this going on, a successful ad and a despite a sackful of awards, Parker still experienced the bitter taste of failure on the shoot when trying to impress a local schoolkid on work experience. "His report back to the school was that my job was boring," he sighs.

Gold: Individual TV & Cinema, The Arden Award

Matt Keon, creative director, Fallon

In the past year-and-a-half, Matt Keon has created both "trumpets" for The Natural Confectionery Company and "Mr Strings" for Cheestrings, two of the most downright crazy ads of recent times. You'd think he was a bit of a maniac, but he's actually a sensible, interesting and softly spoken intelligent creative.

"I do like to do ads that have a bit of something to them," he says. "But it's not like Richard (Flintham, the executive creative director at Fallon) comes to me with all of the strange ones."

He's also prone to telling the truth and admits freely that the idea for a little red jelly teddy shouting "bring on the trumpets" actually came from his eight-year-old niece, Paris.

Although he asserts there was a reason for this. "Increasingly, briefs are looking for ads to appeal to both adults and kids," he says. "I tried to think of kids playing with their parents and then watched my niece, who's a bit crazy, and listened to the things she says that don't make sense."

As well as sweets and cheesy snacks, he also works on Jammie Dodgers and all the Cadbury accounts, other than Dairy Milk. He's not just a snack man, though. He worked on Sony recently as well.

Being a true creative, Keon was most excited about his ad picking up The Arden Award because he says the late, great Saatchi creative was, along with John Webster, his inspiration for becoming a creative.

"It's the most meaningful award to get in the UK. Him and Webster never forgot who they were talking to and created simple, yet timeless, ads."

However, his only regret of the night is that he didn't have time to speak to Arden's wife for longer. "It was just a couple of mumbled words up on stage," he says.

Gold: Individual Digital

Chris Williams, associate creative director; James Hilton, co-founder, AKQA

It's not often that the co-founder and associate creative director of an agency roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty on a brief. But it appears that with almost half the creative department involved in AKQA's eco:Drive, the project needed some professional steering.

Chris Williams, who is a digital veteran and owned a dotcom business before the bubble burst, says: "Every specialism has a role to play, with leads from each department guiding the development of the project to us.

"The technology team had a clear vision of how it wanted to display as much data as possible, resulting in the creative team working double hard to push for its simple-looking route."

While the production process was a fraught one, with the teams trying to overcome the irritating hurdle of making sure the idea was technically feasible and would actually work, there was a chance for the creatives to test out the product and make sure it was enjoyable for the user.

Apparently James Hilton, who is a bit of a motorbike man and owns a number of bikes, wasn't too bad, but Williams, who is a bit of a car nut, was found to have a "heavy right foot".

Williams says: "For a couple of team members who were helping to test the application, it shattered their illusions of just how good they were at driving."

The eco:Drive has been phenomenally successful. It also scooped a Grand Prix in the Cyber Lions category at Cannes.

It came from a brief of Fiat wanting to create a stronger connection with its users and reinforce its credentials as an eco-friendly brand.

Gold: Individual Direct

Dave Mullen, creative director, Story UK

By his own admission, Dave Mullen could bore for Britain on the subject of fine Scotch whiskies, but he's especially informed on the Glenmorangie brand.

Unsurprising, perhaps, given that Mullen and the distiller go back a long way. They were together when he was in creative command of the direct marketing arm of The Leith Agency in Edinburgh 15 years ago and he was still running it when he and four associates left to set up Story UK in 2001.

What's been concentrating their minds in recent times is a Glenmorangie single malt called Ardbeg Blasda.

The drink is a strange fit within the Glenmorangie portfolio. For one thing, it lacks the peaty flavour of the main Ardbeg brand ("It's like taking the barley out of Guinness," Mullen says). For another, its marketing budget is miniscule - just £60,000.

As a result, Blasda (it means "sweet and delicious" in Gaelic), is promoted exclusively through an online "fan club" called the Ardbeg Committee, which has more than 50,000 members in 118 countries. The idea grew out of a "lightbulb moment" at the end of one of Mullen's visits to Islay when he learned that the place (population: 3,000) has more than 120 committees.

The latest idea to sustain the buzz around Blasda is an online game called Tipple Toppling, in which fans of the drink can challenge each other to see how many peat blocks they can pull from a pile without it tumbling over.

It emerged from the uninhibited brainstorming that defines the working of the Ardbeg team - Mullen, Rebecca Wood, another of the agency founders, and Olivia Jones, who joined as a trainee copywriter six years ago.

Gold: TV & Cinema Campaign, Digital Campaign

Matt Lloyd and Richard Connell, writers; Clement Woodward, art director, VCCP

If we, like the Chinese, attributed our years to animals, then 2009 would be the year of the meerkat.

His success is no longer a surprise to anyone as Aleksandr begins to clean up at a host of awards shows. The Big Awards - where the campaign scooped two golds - is no different.

However, what may come as a surprise is that (along with some help from around the agency - the concept of comparing meerkats came from a brainstorm, apparently) the brunt of the idea, and the following work, was developed by two creatives (Richard Connell and Clement Woodward) who had only been out of Watford College for a few months. They were also ably helped out by Matt Lloyd - another copywriter at VCCP.

Despite their youthful appearance, they're known in the agency for being mature and competent and that's why they were trusted with the campaign in the first place.

Connell says: "The brief was all about name-recall. We wanted people to remember who were, but without being shouty."

Woodward adds: "We treat Aleksandr as a real person with a real problem. We try to make everything about his world believable. We've written a lengthy biography for him. That depth makes him believable."


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