Rosie Arnold and Will Awdry sit in their sleek Bartle Bogle Hegarty
office musing on one of the surprising side-effects of winning awards.
’People’s attitude to you changes,’ Arnold says. ’They are more prepared
to listen to what you say and to accept your judgment, it gives you more
She is referring to the Levi’s ’shrink to fit’ series which recently
earned the team three Campaign Poster awards, including the overall best
campaign, and a Cannes gold. The work came out of a bit of well-timed
opportunism: ’We had an idea on shrink to fit,’ Arnold says, ’so we
showed it to John (Hegarty) because we heard a brief was coming up.’
While their initial idea didn’t survive, Hegarty was sufficiently
impressed to award them the brief. The final result - striking montages
showing a tiny man confronted by a giant spider, dog and foot - takes as
its inspiration the 1957 film, the Incredible Shrinking Man, and is the
result of the marriage of Arnold’s art direction, Awdry’s copywriting,
Nadav Kander’s photography and typography by BBH’s Andy Bird.
Both BBH board members, both in their mid-30s, Arnold and Awdry have a
grown-up, unassuming air which is underpinned by a steely professional
fervour. She’s a vivacious whirlwind; he’s very tall and more
reflective, bookish even. In fact, their appearances could serve as a
form of shorthand for their working partnership: ’I talk a lot and Will
bandages his ears!’ Arnold says. ’Will always brings it back to what
we’re trying to achieve.’
Awdry, the copywriter, describes Arnold as ’an amazingly generative
person’, paying tribute to her ability to juggle a career with the
demands of two young boys.
Awdry started out with a two-year stint as an account executive at
McCormick Publicis. His first copywriting job, in 1986, was at BBH where
he partnered Martin Galton: their work included Levi’s ’procession’ and
’melt together’ for Haagen-Dazs. Later on, when Galton left for the head
of art post at Leagas Delaney, Awdry teamed up with Arnold.
In 1994 Tim Delaney approached him to join Leagas Delaney as head of
copy. There, he worked with Dave Dye, Gary Denham and, again, Martin
While he clearly relished the professional challenge, he chooses his
words very carefully when explaining his return to BBH, in 1996, where
he rejoined Arnold.
’Leagas Delaney deinstitutionalised me after nine years at BBH,’ he
’But it was an experiment that didn’t quite work, mostly because I
fancied having a home life. I’m less emotional about BBH than I was
first time round, leaving enabled me to separate my emotional from my
professional attitude to the agency.’
Arnold joined the agency when it opened its doors in 1983, straight from
Central St Martins where she graduated in graphic design. She accepts
she is regarded as part of the band dubbed ’BBH lifers’, but is
extremely loyal to the agency where she has won awards consistently
while managing usually to go home at a reasonable hour to spend time
with her boys. Arnold, the Kilburn mum, is less raunchy than her
She refuses to accept the view that the agency’s ’look’ (by which rivals
mean the instantly recognisable, highly polished, ’art directed’ tone of
the agency reel) needs updating in the more eclectic creative
environment of the 90s.
’I challenge that view,’ she says. ’I think the BBH style is to do
things incredibly well and confidently.’ (In fact, some of the work she
has done with Awdry - for instance, the low-budget adult literacy films
for the BBC, and the sexy Elida Faberge Addiction ’fax’ spots - give the
lie to the view that BBH’s output is self-consciously stylised.)
Like Awdry, who cares about the craft of copywriting to a degree that is
rare today, she is a perfectionist who is rarely satisfied with her own
work. It’s a trait that makes her shy of revealing the full extent of
her much-garlanded back catalogue.
Arnold’s portfolio, like Awdry’s, has Levi’s as a consistent high
As well as the shrink-to-fit posters, there is the ’just add water’
press campaign (created on her own) and the ’Mary Ellen Mark’ press
campaign (created in 1994, with her then writer, Charles Hendley).
Delving into the mists of time, she was also responsible for the
’dealing room’ Levi’s commercial that became one of the seminal images
of the yuppie era of advertising.
An earlier career landmark, with the writer, Derek Payne, was the
’smooth running’ TV and cinema campaign for Pretty Polly. It showed a
girl fixing a fan belt with her stocking and picked up two BTAA silvers
and a D&AD nomination. Another highlight was ’toast’ for Radio Rentals
which drew on her experience as a mother and featured every parent’s
On the subject of D&AD nominations, Arnold is the first to admit that
she has amassed quite a few without making it through to the pencil
To her enormous credit, it is a subject she can laugh about - although
she is quick to list ’picking up a few pencils’ as one of her remaining
The others include a stint as creative director, but ’later on’ because,
as she puts it, ’what excites me now is doing the work, not power,
meetings and helping other people’.
Probably her biggest frustration is the one shared by half the creatives
in London: not getting enough work out.
Awdry is just as ambitious: ’I’d ultimately like some stripes on my
shoulder’, he says. Few doubt that they will both make it.