Enduring creative love

How do you choose a creative mate? Should they be your double or someone completely different to you? After many years together, four leading agency pairings reveal the secret of a successful marriage.


- Paul Briginshaw

What's it like after 27 years with Malcolm?

Well, the sex is still good, it's just not as frequent.

And how have we lasted that long?

I think it's something to do with this.

Malc and I come from totally different backgrounds, have different interests and different friends (why would you want two identical people in a team?). It's more surprising that way.

We were thrown together as juniors in a big uncreative agency and moved to a couple of equally pedestrian shops. Getting out of those places into agencies where our best work got bought and won awards was like climbing Everest the hard way, up the inside. That belief in ourselves forged a deep bond between the two of us (starting an agency together will do that too).

But, above all, we're still hungry. Hungry to do the work, win pitches, help a client's business and to get our work noticed. We still get in the D&AD Annual.

My advice for a long and successful marriage?

Park your ego at the door. Have as many ideas as your partner. Believe every brief is an opportunity. Embrace the new and the unusual and hang on to the zeitgeist like your life depended on it.

- Malcolm Duffy

According to a marriage guidance expert, the seven secrets of a successful marriage are: 1. Communication; 2. Don't give up; 3. Learn to solve problems; 4. Be passionate with each other; 5. Have your own life; 6. Show respect; 7. Have fun. Apart from number 4, I think our marriage ticks all of the above. We like the same sort of ads. So we spend our time thinking, not arguing. We like our ads to be polished. So we spend many a happy hour buffing. We don't like unnecessary meetings. So we don't have them. I think it's these shared beliefs that have held us together through seven different agencies and stopped us from killing each other. It also helps that we're different. Paul's from Guernsey. I'm from Newcastle. Paul likes fishing. I like football. Paul likes photography. I like karaoke. Which means we've still got something to talk about on Monday mornings.

We've already hurtled past our silver wedding anniversary (we both forgot), but we're still having fun writing ads, and as long as that lasts, so will our marriage. I know there are other art directors out there, but I'm not tempted. Honest, Paul.

- Paul Briginshaw and Malcolm Duffy are the joint executive creative directors at Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy.


- Dave Trott

John Hegarty said: a great ad is 80 per cent idea, it's also 80 per cent execution.

A good team is like that.

Students often struggle working out who to team up with.

Because choosing a partner is not the same as choosing a friend.

You need someone who's good at the things you're not.

So first, work out what sort of person you are.

Are you a fusspot?

If you are, be an art director.

If not, be a writer.

A writer is usually more of a strategic thinker.

An art director is more of a tactical thinker.

Think of it as a military airplane.

The writer is the navigator, the art director is the pilot.

The pilot is in charge of the plane.

The navigator is in charge of the mission.

For simplicity, art directors are right brain, copywriters are left brain.

Right brain is emotion and feeling.

Left brain is reason and logic.

Right brain: pictures and sounds.

Left brain: words and numbers.

Right brain can tell you what it likes, but not why.

Left brain can tell you if it works, but not if anyone will like it.

Right brain stops you, makes you notice the ad.

Left brain makes the ad do its job.

In a good team you need both.

So work out which you are, then look for the opposite.

A simple test is: do you find this interesting?

If you do (like me), you're left brain.

If you got bored and stopped reading ages ago (like Gordon), you're right brain.

- Gordon Smith

Right brain and left brain ... Art director and copywriter ... Emotion and logic ... Execution and idea ... Yin and yang ... Bill and Ben ... Pete and Dud ... Rock and roll ... Duck and dive ... G and T ... Brahms and Liszt ... Gilbert and Sullivan ... Gilbert and George ... Sam and Dave ... Chas 'n' Dave ... Bubble and squeak ... Fish and chips ... Punch and Judy ... Slap and tickle ... Smith and Wesson ... Reggie and Ronnie ... Bodie and Doyle ... Holmes and Watson ... Fortnum and Mason ... Song and dance ... Fred and Ginger ... Pinky and Perky ... Eric and Ernie ... Tom and Jerry ... Ben and Jerry ... Joel and Ethan ... Wallace and Gromit ... Laurel and Hardy ... Rogers and Hammerstein ... Mick and Keef ... Trouble and strife ... Woodward and Bernstein ... Beavis and Butthead ... Pot and kettle ... Smoke and mirrors ... Done and dusted ... Over and out.

- Dave Trott and Gordon Smith are the joint creative directors at CST Advertising


Al (Waites) (gets off the phone)

Monkey (Saville): Who were you talking to?

Al: It was that Campaign magazine. They want us to write about being one of advertising's premier double acts.

Monkey: I'll craft them a few words: My Life With An Oaf.

Al: I'll write: A Decade With a Pantomime Dame.

Monkey: Listen pal, no-one wants to read about you. They want some insight into one of the finest advertising minds of a generation.

Al: Or, they might want to know what you were really doing at Michael Barrymore's pool party.

Monkey: Mendacity.

Al: No, I think it's called ...

Monkey: Silence, beast. This is getting us nowhere.Let's start with how we met.

Al: We were drunk, weren't we?

Monkey: Yeah, well, we can change that. How about we met over a power snack at the Groucho?

Al: Sounds fair. I know, let's tell them about the time we lived together.

Monkey: Just when I thought I'd forgotten.

Al: I was the affable Northern one and you so suave and with a nice way with a scatter cushion.

Monkey: Why don't you write about what it's like to work with me?

Al: A right royal pain. What's it like working with me?

Monkey: Ditto ... Beth Ditto.

Al: This isn't going well, is it? We've had some laughs.

Monkey: That was choking.

Al: Remember the time you called the Orange client a twat?

Monkey: You do me a disservice. I was cutting, merciless, toying with his inferior intellect and then ...

Al: You called him a twat.

Monkey: This is shaping up. What else have we done?

Al: We worked with the Spice Girls.

Monkey: Everyone's worked with the Spice Girls. We'll need more.

Al: We slept with the Spice Girls.

Monkey: Everyone's ... hang on, what about the other offices? New York, Buenos Aires. I convinced some of the world's finest talents to spread the gospel.

Al: I got them drunk.

Monkey: Teamwork. What more?

Al: We made a movie.

Monkey: Of course, I was the star.

Al: No, that was an ad. That Somers Town thing, remember?

Monkey: Of course, the movies. Bright lights, pretty girls.

Al: Free food.

Monkey: Yes, glamour. That'll make us look like, like glitterati.

Al: Or idiots. Would they want to know about the times handsome network heads have beaten a path to our door?

Monkey: And we beat them off.

Al: Steady.

Monkey: We spurned their advances.

Al: Told them to "get lost".

Monkey: "Keep your rotten money."

Al: And ended up renting off the Bethnal Green Road.

Monkey: We might not have done everything right.

Al: We're learning. Cuppa?

Monkey: You read my mind.

- Robert Saville and Mark Waites are the joint creative directors at Mother


K: I think there are several reasons why our working relationship has survived 23 years. The first would be that we are mates. That always helps. The second is that we make each other laugh. A lot. The third would be that we never discuss it. Not once have we sat down and gone: "Shouldn't you be a bit more like that?" "Wouldn't it be better if we were a bit more like that?" We just accepted that we're both massively flawed and got on with the job.

T: It's funny. We are total opposites (I have hair, he doesn't). And yet we have similar tastes and instinctively know when something feels right. There was a stage where we were finishing each other's sentences off. Scary!

K: It's true, we do have very similar tastes: we like the same photographers, designers, typographers, architects, product designers, the same films, comedians, artists (he has got some dodgy 70s disco tapes somewhere, though).

T: I think there is a good balance between us. Kim is a people-watcher and a good listener. He is also one of the most humble, down-to-earth people you will ever meet in this business. I tend to be more of a bull in a china shop, although I like to think I've mellowed a bit recently.

K: I have an older brother who is very similar to Tony, so I'm quite used to being around someone with his high energy and phenomenal verbal output.

T: The contrast is probably not a bad thing. But while our personalities may differ, I like to think people who have worked for us soon realise that we are no different to them and have common goals. All we want is to do great work and have some fun along the way.

K: Do we ever disagree? Not often. But if we do, we talk about it and usually see eye to eye pretty quickly.

T: Neither of us likes hierarchy. We've tried to run a company that has a fairly flat structure. It's about giving people the opportunity to do the best work of their lives. We both hate internal politics and bullshit.

K: The final thing I would say is that we, as people, are 50 per cent exactly the same and 50 per cent completely different. This works because we get to totally agree a lot of the time and totally surprise each other the rest of the time.

- Kim Papworth and Tony Davidson are the joint creative directors at Wieden & Kennedy.