Close-Up: Profile - Tollett and Stamp: a creative combo to bet on?

The award-winning team are certainly rising stars, but what are the challenges they'll face at Adam & Eve, Noel Bussey asks.

The youthful agency Adam & Eve's first major hiring since its January start-up is the creative team of Ben Tollett and Emer Stamp. Tollett affects modesty when Campaign calls: "Maybe your headline should read 'Who the fuck are Ben and Emer?'."

Despite a number of awards and an impressive history, the pair realise that they are only just starting to forge the sort of career that may see them become regulars in the pages of Campaign, and know that a wider audience may not recognise their names just yet.

It doesn't stop them being determined, though, and they are aware that the fledgling agency has offered them not only the chance to grow an already impressive business, but also to cement their own reputations as well.

"We definitely see it as an opportunity to build our careers as well as a creative department," 32-year-old Stamp says. "The first time we met James (Murphy, one of Adam & Eve's three founding partners), he asked 'are you the team from BBH?', which says a lot, but hopefully we'll make a bit more of an impression now."

The pair, who have been cutting their teeth at DDB, and had previously worked at Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy and Leagas Delaney, have an impressive portfolio of work, with a number of awards, including Campaign and Cannes golds for Harvey Nichols and the Travelocity campaign featuring Alan Whicker. They have many fans in the industry.

Both Paul Briginshaw, a founder at MCBD, and Justin Tindall, a creative partner at The Red Brick Road, who worked with them at DDB, cannot say enough nice things about them.

Strangely, both use horse-racing analogies to describe the pair, with both saying that you'd definitely bet on them if they were horses.

Kind words, but the pair are experienced enough to realise that at Adam & Eve they may be called upon to bring more than creative skills to the table. Stamp admits they don't have any revolutionary business ideas to bring to an agency, especially a start-up, but she says that they're willing to learn.

Tindall warns that the duo must hang on to their creativity. "The only word of warning I'd give is that they need to remember all they've learned so far and hold on to it when they get to Adam & Eve.

"A start-up is a very different beast and it can be easy to forget what the mechanics of a good ad are - and that is something that Ben and Emer are good at. That's why Ben (Priest, Adam & Eve co-founder) has been chasing them."

But Briginshaw is confident that they will be able to take all of this in their stride. "They actually have a lot of business nous and they put their creative to the service of the client and offer truly unique work that fits the business. They don't just have good ideas for ideas' sake."

Another obstacle they know they will have to face is working in an environment where the media component is included throughout the whole creative process. But this is one they are much more confident about handling. "We haven't worked closely with media people before. They've been in meetings with us but we haven't really had to think about it at the ideas stage," 35-year-old Tollett says.

"But it's really exciting," Stamp enthuses. "Rather than briefing a media guy at the bottom of the food chain and a planner at the top, there'll be a collaboration that will speed the whole process up. We'll have to change and adapt to this, but we know we can do it."

However, there seems to be less enthusiasm, and clarity, about the concept of "creative teaming" (where people from different disciplines are put together to offer the best solution) that the Adam & Eve top brass are so proud of. The co-founders Priest and Jon Forsyth seem determined that at times Stamp and Tollett will be split up to work with other teams.

Priest says: "We'd be idiots to split up a team with such an amazing career history all the time, but we'll be keeping it flexible as to how they work and they may not always be together on projects."

Tollett adds: "We're excited about working with groups from other disciplines and other members of the agency, but I don't think they'd hire a creative team to split it up."

Despite this, it is apparent that both parties are excited about the hiring, as well as being confident that it will be of benefit to the agency.

It might have had a strong first nine months in business, but it should be remembered that Adam & Eve is still small and that a senior hiring of this nature is a big risk. However, it seems that if it is time to take the risk, then putting money on this pair of thoroughbreds looks like a smart bet.


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