Close-Up: Live Issue - AMV's 'balls'-busting duo swap sides for Fallon

The Cannes Grand Prix-winning duo joined Fallon straight after denying the agency's 'balls' top prize.

Matt Doman and Ian Heartfield are in a state of shock. Understandably.

They have had a busy couple of weeks: winning the Grand Prix at Cannes for their "noitulove" Guinness spot, leaving Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO for a new job at Fallon London the Monday after the awards ceremony, and getting straight to work on the forthcoming pitch for The Guardian.

The question everyone is asking is how the duo were welcomed by an agency from which they had just snatched the top prize at Cannes. Andy McLeod, the executive creative director at Fallon, explains: "With Sony 'balls', we felt we should have won. We were gutted. But the irony that we now have the winning creative team working here is brilliant."

Doman and Heartfield certainly believe they could not be joining the agency at a better time, particularly considering Fallon's recent new-business wins. Doman says: "The good thing about Fallon is there isn't a bad account to work on. It's a bit like being a child in a sweet shop. The client list we have to choose from is amazing: Orange, the BBC, Sony, pitching for The Guardian ..."

With The Guardian, he says, the team is just chipping in at the end: "I suppose we are a fresh pair of eyes, which aren't very fresh any more. We've had a few late nights recently. We're really excited to be here. We are just a bit tired."

Consequently, outside work the majority of Doman and Heartfield's time is spent sleeping, "or spending time with my three-year-old daughter", Heartfield adds.

McLeod explains the reason he hired the duo was their good mix of traditional craft skills and ability to see the bigger idea: "There is something very level-headed and bright about them. They are mature. And a big part of why we hired them is they fit in."

Doman and Heartfield say they came to the decision to leave AMV because they felt they had achieved all they wanted to there. Doman says: "We'd been at AMV for three-and-a-half years. It's a place we'd always wanted to work at. We'd done what we wanted to, worked with the clients we wanted to work with. We won some golds for The Economist. We've won quite an embarrassing amount of awards for Guinness. It felt like mission accomplished."

The pair started their career together at Buckinghamshire College in 1994. They left halfway through the course, however, when they were offered a job at McCann Erickson. Heartfield jokes that one of the reasons he came to work with Doman was that he was two feet shorter than everyone else, so he noticed him earlier. Two years later, they moved to Ogilvy & Mather, where they stayed for six years, winning awards for print and TV work for The Observer and The Samaritans. From there, they moved to Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy, winning awards for ads for Bell's whisky.

In 2003, they were hired by AMV, where their careers have sky-rocketed.

With so many awards on their mantelpieces for "noitulove", surely they can't have been surprised when the Cannes Lions Film jury named it the best ad of the year. "We were genuinely shocked when we won," Heartfield insists. "We were not expecting it. We are a pretty pessimistic duo. Even though the press was saying they thought Guinness was going to win, we had lower expectations."

The pair were at Fallon's villa party when they received the all-important call, ironically chatting with Nicolai Fuglsig, who directed "balls".

"Ian gave an Oscar-winning performance," Doman says. "He looked at me and somehow managed to mouth 'we've won'."

Despite their great success, there is a distinct lack of ego about the pair - instead, they radiate a surprising natural quietness and calm. The AMV chairman, Cilla Snowball, describes them as "a private pair", "not full of outbursts". Moving to Fallon's open-plan office, it is no surprise the pair say one thing they are going to miss in particular is having their own office to hide away in.

Malcolm Duffy, the creative director at MCBD, says: "Ian and Matt are one of those rare creative teams - when you see their book, you just have to hire them. There's a really grown-up quality to their work. They are very studious and perhaps old beyond their years. They used to lock themselves in a room for hours and then appear with pearls. They understand the briefs and still come up with something very fresh and highly polished. They get on with the work. There are no tantrums, no throwing their toys from the pram."

One thing for certain is they will be missed at AMV. Snowball says: "Their courage, tenacity and ability to engage with a wider team is outstanding.

They are generous and spirited." Paul Brazier, the executive creative director at AMV, adds: "They delivered on everything we put in front of them. Maybe they're just on loan to Fallon. Maybe they'll come back."

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