Why on earth have you been at the same agency for 20 years? I haven't been at the same agency for 20 years - it's evolved ... and not only in name (BMP, BMP DDB Needham, BMP DDB, DDB London and now DDB UK). In my time, I've seen different agency managements, ownership and positionings that have all contributed to a constantly evolving agency. The one constant, other than the glamorous Paddington location, has been the incredible talent in the creative department. I joined an amazing creative department, I inherited an amazing creative department and I now run an amazing creative department. Of course there have been chances over the years, but I genuinely believe this is the best agency in town.
Has creative life changed? I don't think it has changed as much as people would have us believe. Deep down, it's still people coming up with brilliant ideas. Obviously, the places for these ideas to exist and live have changed, but it's just a matter of understanding the technology that's out there and available to us. Gone are the days of ashtrays and typewriters but I think advertising as a whole has grown up. Agencies have grown to be more like partners to their clients, not just the ideas people at the end of the phone. And with that came more respect for what we do.
What's the secret to getting good work out of a network? The secret? Well, without doubt, it's to be part of a good network. There are challenges, yes; but, thankfully, most of those fall to the suits. We're proud to be producing some of the best work out of the network but, similarly, there's an incredible creative standard from around the world - take DDB Stockholm's "fun theory" for Volkswagen, which won a Cannes Grand Prix this year, to three times Agency of the Year DDB Sydney. From Berlin to Auckland, we're not the only agency getting out strong creative work, but that's what comes from a network that holds its product as its most important asset. It also helps having a brilliant global chief creative officer in Bob Scarpelli, who has always supported us. He pretty much lets us get on with our business but is always there for help and advice when we need him.
What ad do you wish you'd done? The Guardian "points of view". An iconic BMP ad from 1986 by John Webster and Frank Budgen and a lot of people's favourite ad of all time. I still remember the first time I saw it and how I completely reacted the way they wanted me to. How it never won a yellow Pencil I don't know.
Ever fancied doing a start-up? Never say never and all that. It's just not something I've ever seriously considered and, if I'm honest, in 20 years at DDB I can probably count on one hand the people I'd want to start a start-up with. But I've been so happy here at DDB for so long, why would I want to give it up? The work, the talent and the people have kept me here, and that's more important to me than my name above the door. Plus, the idea of remortgaging my house has never appealed.
Any regrets? What do you expect from 20 years at DDB?! I suppose there are three that stand out for me. The first was reported in Campaign only a few weeks ago. Enough said. The second was making an impromptu speech at Catherine Woolfe's leaving do, an ex-Volkswagen client. It was so rude and so incomprehensible after a long lunch with said client that they switched off the microphone. And, after another particularly lubricating lunch, my third regret is slagging off my jury in Cannes to an eager USA Today reporter. By the time I'd got back to the Carlton, the comments were already online and I was welcomed at reception by a fellow juror with the line: "How could you say that about us?" I don't think I'll be asked back.
CRAIGEN'S CREATIVE HIGHLIGHTS
VW 'UFO' (1996) - The brilliant line at the end of the ad 'Vee Dubya' was ad lib from the actor in casting. Not me!
Sony 'unexpected' (1999) - My second collaboration with Frank Budgen after UFO. Memories of an awful shoot in Budapest fighting wind and snow - not that you'd believe it from the final edit.
VW 'protection' (2000) - Sadly, the only time that I, and the agency, have worked with Jonathan Glazer.
VW 'wedding' (1999) - The most awarded ad in the history of The Gunn Report ... and I turned it down when I first saw it.
Bud 'labels' (1997) - Surely the most amount of logos to ever appear in a press ad?
VW 'lamp post' (1998) - Frustratingly, the account team tried to persuade me not to use the lamp post idea, saying it was too cliched. Which was entirely the point.
VW 'cops' (2003) - The same brilliant idea was presented to me by two different teams within hours of each other. So four names went on the credits.
Marmite 'apartment' (2000) - This was the third commercial to use our new love/hate line for Marmite but the one that really kicked off the now almost 15-year-strong campaign.
Harvey Nichols 'Wallace and Gromit' (2008) - Grant, our head of art, brought the idea to me less than five minutes after the client briefing, thinking it was so bloody obvious, he wanted to get in first.
VW 'Singin' In The Rain' (2005) - The creative team Steve and Martin have a lot to answer for, bringing George Sampson to our screens.
Marmite 'squeezy' (2007) - This was actually done by a French team. Whether they wore socks with sandals is unconfirmed.