D&AD: Close-up - Opinion - An average day in the life of a creative partnership

Long hours, stress and a top social life, being a creative is really dull.

Life's tough when you're working your way up advertising's career ladder. But get a couple of awards under your belt, so the wisdom goes, and you're made for life. Ben Walker and Matt Gooden, creatives at Wieden & Kennedy, were a more regular feature of last year's awards circuit than the red carpet itself, thanks to the brilliant "cog" ad for Honda. So is life now a case of lying back and enjoying the afterglow? Or do the challenges of keeping up the pace mean life's as tough as ever? What's their typical day really like? Ben Walker reveals all ...

We generally get in between 8.30am and 9.30am. We usually spend all day together, depending on our jobs. If we're thinking of concepts, we'll spend all our time together but when we're busy producing work we'll have a few hours doing our own thing - Matt working on a design or me writing copy. Sometimes we split up if we're working on two jobs at the same time.

We have toast at 11am and cake at 4pm. The kitchen is the hub of where everything happens; lots of secret chats.

We usually eat lunch here, but having said that we do get good lunches out too. There's no point in coming back. We just stay out and get really, really ratted. We do that maybe once a month.

When you're looking for an idea you sit down until you get a thought and once you have it, you think of ways of doing it. Sometimes you get stuck and need to go out. Then we'll go to a great magazine shop, cinema or bookshop. If we're thinking of concepts, we'll spend lots of time in the office but if we're finishing off an ad, we might not come in for a week.

We see clients a lot. It's about once a week for a client such as Loot.

We go down to Honda quite a lot too. At the moment we see Nike twice a week. We're doing a magazine for them so we have to show them our progress and discuss ideas. It's a two-way thing. Quite a lot of what we do is non-advertising. The website for Aiwa is one of best bits of work the agency has done. That's happening more than it used to. Nike is always on the look out for doing non-traditional advertising.

It's up to you as well. We're generally briefed by planners and the account team. Often we're chatting about the brief with the client. It's no use thinking "I'm going to write you an ad". People get bored with ads unless you do a corker. But I really like making ads, especially TV ads. It's nice working with directors - I enjoy the whole process. It's like working in films. You get to work with really, really talented people. I love that.

We get involved in media, too. We meet with Naked on Honda more and more and Starcom with Nike. It's much better to get everyone in a room. You make the best plan together. Naked has got great creative ideas like we've got great media ideas.

Since "cog" there's been a perception shift. It's nice to have something like that under your belt. It helps you relax. People take us a bit more seriously. A lot of that's luck. We've written scripts that we think are the best we've ever done and haven't got through, then suddenly one takes off and you're perceived so differently. You get more money and people ringing you up the whole time.

The best part of the day is when work goes through and you start making it. Talking to directors and working out the job, tone of voice and sound.

Sometimes you're lucky and you get loads of work through. But we once went two years without getting an ad out when we were at TBWA. You're more in control of what you do here.

The recession hasn't really affected us except we've got loads of mates who are out of work and more directors are ringing us up looking for work.

People get more desperate. We've been lucky here, it's really stable.

At 6pm we usually see a student team and their book. We spend at least half an hour with them. It's so competitive I feel sorry for them. We tell them what their book needs. We go through their campaigns and give them advice. It's important because you get to spot the best talent and it's good because it makes you think about what works. We got help when we started, so it's giving back and it's good PR for the agency.

This is a stressful job. Sometimes it's like "can we do it?". Last night I was sitting at home absolutely knackered at 11.30pm trying to think of something. The job is like that, you have to be aware of that. If you haven't cracked something, it's quite difficult to switch off. It's quite a nice feeling being tired at the end of the week. We usually go out and get absolutely hammered. It's a release isn't it? It's like, "God we made it through the week!" We never finish before seven-ish. And a lot of the time it's much later than that. We go home when we've had enough and are knackered. During pitches you go into the night. Sometimes there will be a week of really late nights and the weekend as well. It's quite a buzzy feeling if you're doing good work but not if the pitch is a nightmare.

You end up talking work when you go out. It is nice to meet directors.

There are little pockets where you know you'll meet some creatives. I like the feeling that you can go around and bump into people you know.

The social side is massively important. I don't think I'd enjoy this job if it didn't have that. Most nights we don't all go out together, but we always do on a Friday. We love awards nights but the trick is not going to too many. If you go to every one, you see the same people all the time.


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