It was on a camping holiday in the South of France that Grey
Integrated’s creative director, Simon Plent, met the people who
influenced his career. He was studying for an MA in Law at Cambridge and
was unsure of his future. He explains: ‘I met some people on the
campsite who worked in advertising, at Lintas, I think. I decided then
and there I wanted to work in advertising.’
So, when he left Cambridge, he went on a graduate trainee scheme at
Michael Bungey DFS. After a couple of years he moved, briefly, to
Davidson Pearce as an account handler. ‘I thought it was the company;
that I wasn’t being stimulated enough. As soon as I got to Davidson
Pearce I realised it wasn’t the company, it was the job.’ So he went
freelance as a copywriter for a spell, after which he joined Morgan
Grampian, where he was creative group head for three years. In 1988 he
joined John Drewry Associates and three years later was appointed
creative director of Grey Integrated. Plent now heads a creative
department of seven teams with two ‘floaters’.
Since joining Grey, he has worked on a number of accounts including the
Royal Mail, Allied Dunbar, British American Tobacco, Avis and the
Department of Trade and Industry. For a British American Tobacco safety-
in-the-workplace campaign, he used shock tactics instead of the usual
cartoon imagery. ‘We looked at how people actually injured themselves.
Our posters were hard-hitting and emotive, they made people look at
real-life cases of accidents in the workplace,’ he recalls. The Allied
Dunbar work concentrated on giving factual advice.
Plent believes all creatives would benefit from a stint as account
handlers. So why did he change direction? ‘In creative, the best thing
is variety. You get different challenges all the time. I need that,’ he
The most high-profile example of his work is probably the Royal Mail
redirection posters, which initiated calls from the public asking for a
copy of the poster. ‘It’s always gratifying when people like your work.
I was quite flattered by all the enquiries.’