Keeping up-to-date at HAT

August 7, 2015 / Features

By Jane Jarvis

Today's digital archives are built on creaking old machines and arcane knowledge.

Digital archives are where two very different worlds collide. In order to provide videos that stream through your fibre optic broadband in seconds, hours and even days must be spent in a windowless, climate-controlled room full of whirring machines, some obsolete for decades which require manual loading and expertise that’s becoming more arcane by the day.

But in this fast moving digital age of mov, avi, mp4, mkv, dav and dat files (to name but a few), it is worth reminding ourselves of the work needed by all media archives to ensure access to such a valuable part of our industry and social history is secured. Viewing and transferring to digital from a wide variety of formats is no mean feat.

With online access to our archives the priority, digitisation has become the (current?) solution to the obsolescence of all analogue audio and video formats. But to ensure the archive of the last century can move forward in this digital intensive environment, archives have come to rely on what are the ‘scrap yards’ of outmoded machines.  Think ebay, Gumtree, sale yards, even car boot sales and of course, TV and production houses where large, clunky analogue machines lie unused as victims of the digital age.

The History of Advertising Trust, the ad industry’s archive and barometer of social history holds all manner of images, film and documents charting the world of advertising since the early 19th century right through to recent years. To keep this unique archive up to date HAT is constantly on the look out for a host of specialist machines considered ‘old fashioned’ and redundant in the fast moving hi-tech environment of TV and production studios as they seek to de-clutter and rework their space.  Thankfully, these machines were built to last and designed for heavy use in editing suites with tapes freeze framed, rewound and played back again and again -  many make it to HAT who, paradoxically benefit from media’s technological progress, to continue their work in ‘retirement’,

Over the last four decades, HAT have built up a working ‘museum’ of equipment of all ages, shapes and sizes in their media suite. When Anglia TV closed its production studios a few years ago, HAT were delighted to take on a host of equipment including digi beta players, monitors and a one-inch tape machine but is always on the lookout for more specialist equipment including time base correctors, Steenbecks or any other equipment – indeed, for HAT, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

But it’s not just the equipment that is required. People who have a specialist knowledge to understand, operate and maintain the equipment play a crucial role in the archive’s work. These skills are disappearing as new technology replaces the old and with the threat that the future of analogue transfers relies on highly skilled people, we have to acknowledge that these specialists are a breed which will slowly become extinct.

Archive Technician Tim Day at work with the 1” tape machine at HAT

 

One such specialist, Tim Day joined the HAT team in November 2012 as an enthusiastic volunteer with experience working in International Broadcast Facilities in London as a VT operator in the late ‘90s. HAT soon recognised the value of his specialist knowledge of early technology and understanding of all formats and in May 2013 Tim joined HAT as their replacement  Archive Technician to work on the digitisation of their archive. Tim’s work involves patience, dedication and attention to detail to ensure the industry’s archive is preserved and, just as importantly, accessible to the industry. It’s a fairly unique job and one that Tim, like his HAT colleagues, feels passionate about. Transferring at ‘real time’ requires patience and constant monitoring and Tim looks on it as a labour of love.

“When I first came to HAT as a volunteer I had no idea of the extent of their archive and to be able to join the team and use my skills all these years later, working with analogue formats and machinery, which I thought I would never see - let alone use again, is fantastic.”

So are we on borrowed time to digitise our analogue formats  before these wonderful machines expire and the knowledge to operate them goes with them…? As a charity, HAT is always keen to welcome volunteers to the fold who might have worked in the industry and can give even a small amount of time to assist the staff and, more importantly,  educate a new generation to support HAT’s valuable work and so avoid this dilemma.

Does the Lexus Hoverboard Deserve the Hype?

August 5, 2015 / Features

By Alex Reeves

Space-age engineering projects like this might be a glimpse into the future of advertising.

Imagine a car commercial. It’s probably got a car in it – the one that it’s trying to sell to you. It’s probably a 30- to 60-second film playing in a commercial break on TV or before a film. It’s probably shot very nicely with a big crew and a high production budget. And it’s probably completely failing to hold your attention.

There’s room for those ads, but that’s not what Lexus and their agency CHI & Partners have been doing in their most recent global campaign. They’ve chosen to do something more futuristic. As the fourth and arguably most ambitious project in their Amazing in Motion series, the Japanese car brand and their agency have built a hoverboard.

The main video of the campaign, called Slide, hit the internet this week. Directed by Smuggler’s Henry-Alex Rubin, it shows pro skateboarder Ross McGouran gliding around on it in effortless skate-film style. “He’s the only person in the world to have mastered the art of hoverboarding,” says Sarah Golding, CHI & Partners’ CEO at a launch event for the film. That’s a big claim, but he’s certainly come the closest out of anyone to achieving the Marty McFly dream.

Brand / Client: Lexus International
Title of Ad: SLIDE
Executive Creative Director: Jonathan Burley
Creative Director: Monty Verdi
Creative: Brad Woolf, Dan Bailey
Photographer: Olly Burn
Photographer’s Assistant: Hannah Rose
Agency Executive Producer: Zoe Barlow
Agency TV Producer: Zoe Barlow, Nikki Cramphorn, Nicola Ridley, Matt Cresswell, Lindsay Hughes
Agency Content Producer: Karina Aloupi
Digital & Content Creatives: Chad Warner, Ben da Costa
Digital Designer: Chad Warner
Production Company: Smuggler
Executive Producers: Fergus Brown/Chris Barrett
Production Company Producer: Ray Leakey
Director: Henry-Alex Rubin
Director’s Assistant: Sarah Michler
Cinematographer/DOP: Ken Seng
Production Designer: Joel Collins
Rider/Hoverboarder: Ross McGouran
2nd Rider/Hoverboarder: Ignacio Morata
Editing Company: Marshall Street Editors
Editor: Spencer Ferszt
Editor Assistant: Jake Armstrong
Local Production Company: Goodgate
Local Production Company Producer: Gordon Mackinnon

Music Artist and Title: Rudimental “Waiting all Night”
Music Company: Platinum Rye
Music Composition:  “Waiting all Night”
Master Recording: Warner Music
Publishing: Bucks Music Group, BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Music Supervisors: Platinum Rye
Music Writer: Edward Jonathan Harris, Kesi Dryden, Piers Sean Aggett, Amir Izadkhah, James Richard Newman
Post Production Company: MPC
VFX Supervisor: Bill McNamara
Post Production Supervisor: Tim Phillips
Colourist: Jean-Clement Soret
Audio Post Production: Wave Studios
Sound Design: Parv Thind

Content Production Company: Carbon
Head of Carbon: Chris Reed
Content Director: Ben Hanson, Simon Frost
Content: With special thanks to Henry-Alex Rubin
Content Producer: Nazneen Hosenie
Content DOP: Ben Hanson, Simon Frost, James Blann (Announce only)
Content Editor: Simon Pearson, Pete Brenan, Alastair Graham
Content Colourist: Simon Pearson
Content Post Production Producer: Leanne Tarvin
Content Graphic Animator and Supervisor: Thomas Brady
Content Post Production: Kerry Arif, Aubrey Ghansah
Content Audio/Sound Design: Russell Bradley @ Scramble
Art Buyer: Emma Modler
CHI&Partners CEO: Nick Howarth
CHI&Partners Business Director: Jack Shute
CHI&Partners Account Director: Catherine Peacock
CHI&Partners Account Manager: Chris Tivey, Lexi Alston
CHI&Partners Planner: Rebecca Munds
Public Relations: Nita Rushi

Digital Content Strategy: AllTogetherNow
AllTogetherNow CEO: Conor McNicholas
AllTogetherNow MD: Steve Parker
AllTogetherNow Account Director: James Chanter

Model Maker: Robert Jones
Model Maker Assistant: Glenn Haddock
Production Designer: Joel Collins

Technical Partners: IFW Dresden and Evico GmbH
Evico GmbH CEO: Dr Oliver De Haas
Evico GmbH Chief Engineer, Hoverboard: Dr Lars Kühn
Evico GmbH Engineer, Hoverboard: Marcel Hüpfel
Evico GmbH Engineer, Hoverboard: Kai Günther
IFW Dresden, Pioneer of Superconducting Levitation: Dr Ludwig Schultz
IFW Dresden, Chief Engineer Supratrans: Dietmar Berger
IFW Dresden, Scientist: Thilo Espenhahn
IFW Dresden, Engineer: Ronald Uhlemann
IFW Dresden, Student: Stefan Hameister

Client Details: Lexus International; Atsushi

The Lexus hoverboard works with liquid nitrogen-cooled superconductors and magnets. Tiles of yttrium, barium, copper, and oxygen are cooled down to around -197 degrees Celsius using liquid nitrogen. To levitate, the board must be resting on magnets, which is why Lexus had to build their own custom hoverpark in Catalonia, complete with a magnetic track for the board to follow.

Ross isn’t the first famous skateboarder to try hoverboarding. Last autumn Tony Hawk demonstrated the Kickstarter-funded Hendo hoverboard, sliding around on a copper halfpipe.

The Lexus team claim they weren’t worried about this stealing their thunder. Ross asserts that it was easy to do something more impressive on this project. “As a skateboarder you could see that he couldn’t control it at all,” he says. “With this board I’m not in control of it at all either – I’m just riding it. The track controls where it’s going. [But] you can have more fun with it. You can do more tricks, whereas he couldn’t really do anything.”

CHI & Partners’ Creative Director on the project Monty Verdi agrees that the Hendo board was a good benchmark for them to beat. “We knew what we had was going to be better than that,” he says.

By the point the public saw the Hendo board, Lexus and CHI & Partners were already deep into the development of their board – a gruelling 18-month challenge chronicled by the documentary film Lexus released with their demo video. Working on it for over a year, Monty says the five-minute film could have easily been up to an hour long.

The agency’s Business Director Jack Shute summarises the obstacles the project faced:

“It was a first of every front. It wasn’t like you were taking a proven thing and putting it in an environment where it hadn’t been used before. You’re trying to invent the technology, then trying to develop that into something that exists within a shape that you need it to, then trying to make it ride-able and work with Ross to deliver that, then trying to build the environment that it can exist in, then putting the two together. Every facet of the project is learning at the same time. So every time you solve a problem you get a call at three o’clock in the morning saying ‘this bit’s not working.’”

Negotiations between scientists and engineers, an advertising agency and a skateboarder weren’t always smooth. Monty marvels at the number of times somebody said what they were doing was impossible, from scientists to production companies.

Ross remembers the engineering team repeatedly telling him no. One particular surprise was the jump that serves as the film’s climax. The engineering team didn’t believe it would work, assuming the magnet forces would pull the board in and then even if the board did escape they didn’t think it would reconnect. Ross tried it anyway. “And it worked straight away on his own,” he says. “So we just kept going through things like that. [The engineers] saying no then just trying it anyway.”

Why go to all the trouble just for an ad though? Considering these hoverboards won’t be on sale to the public in the foreseeable future and it certainly doesn’t look like a Lexus hovercar is on the cards, is all this work worthwhile?

Naturally, CHI & Partners defend their decision. Sarah explains her hopes that their achievement will make people “reappraise the Lexus brand and product.” The hope is that when people see Lexus can make a hoverboard they will wonder how this innovative spirit is applied in their cars. If they can overcome this challenge, imagine how well engineered their engines must be.

This strategy falls neatly into the groove several well-regarded brands are moving of marketing through product design and development. Like Volvo’s award-winning and potentially life-saving Life Paint campaign, which promoted a high-visibility paint to make cyclists safer on the roads, Lexus are creating something real rather than simply ‘telling a story’ with their advertising. “Brands that do, not just say, seem to be doing very well these days,” says Sarah. “They’re living their purpose.”

Just as Life Paint reminded us of the safety that Volvo prides itself in, Lexus’ hoverboard reminds us of the cutting-edge innovation that is integral to this Japanese car brand.

In a category full of clichés this approach is particularly interesting. We’ve seen a hundred pretty cars in beautifully shot films cruising through impossibly stunning scenery. Everyone’s bored of these spectacles. For Lexus to deliver what is essentially a skate video with a technological twist is a welcome surprise from the brand that made Alan Partridge’s car (it’s the Japanese Mercedes).

That’s why a pro skateboarder like Ross is a clever choice of brand ambassador. “I think it makes them look cool to a lot of people who probably didn’t think they were very cool,” he admits. Partridge probably wouldn’t get on with him.

The media attention the project has earned Lexus is pretty cool too. Tech publications like The Verge, Engadget and Wired got excited about their teaser video, which earned over 11 million views on YouTube without a penny of media spend or even actually showing the board in action.

It got people talking, which is key to this kind of marketing. “Ross has so many followers that people recognised [his] legs somehow,” says Monty, illustrating how closely the video was scrutinised by the citizens of the internet. And it didn’t take long for the geeks to speculate about the board’s design, deducing from the vapour it emits, it’s behaviour, size and shape that it uses nitrogen-cooled superconductors to levitate the board over magnets. 

Since the Slide film launched the web has been buzzing with conversation about the hoverboard, with articles about it on sites from the Daily Mail to Mashable. Naturally it’s all over social media too, with Lexus getting a spike of roughly seven times the number of daily mentions they’re used to.

The risk with daring the internet to talk about your brand like this is that it has a lot of potential to go wrong. Several articles and some social media opinions have focused on the limitations of the board – that it can only run on a track and has to be fuelled with liquid nitrogen and is hard to balance on. The Verge’s reaction was particularly brutal, summing up that “Even if you can get past the limitations (hope you’ve got a liquid nitrogen tank handy!), it doesn’t really matter, since Lexus won’t sell you one of these things. What we got is movie magic — well, ad magic, in this case — and I got to experience that magic in person.”

The problem is we’re spoilt by the dreams of science fiction. Everyone has an idea of a hoverboard in their mind. It’s the image of Marty McFly gliding effortlessly through the streets of the future. To judge Lexus’ real-life hoverboard by those fictional standards is unfair. Taking real physics and the technology available to us into account, what they’ve achieved is remarkable. Watch the film again. It’s much more exciting than a 30-second film of a car driving through a picturesque mountain pass.

A Teen’s Guide To The Ad Industry

July 20, 2015 / Features

By Hasnat Ahmed

A clueless 15-year-old enters the labyrinth of AdLand.

Entering these two weeks of work experience at The Beak Street Bugle, I mentally prepared myself for the role of playing a servant to a bunch of old, bitter journalists, making coffee and tea, following their demands like a bitch. Little did I know I was to be doing something totally different.

I was given the opportunity to go to ad agencies and companies like Somesuch, Wieden+Kennedy, BBH, CHI & Partners, RSA Films and Cut+Run. All, I must say, have completely different feels and vibes in each office. You had the contrast from an office with leather seats, wooden furniture and suits to one that looked like a shop with a selection of bicycles in reception and a different theme in every room with all the workers in casual wear, sporting Nike trainers (no prizes for guessing who that was).

Keep in mind that when I started, I knew nothing about the ad industry. I wasn’t interested in it either really. But I was thrown into the deep end, meeting and interviewing people like ECD Jim Bolton, many creatives like Chris Lapham, Aaron McGurk, Oli Short, Sarah Levitt and editors like Chris Roebuck and Ben Campbell. It really opened my eyes to the variation of jobs in advertising. I also got to talk to the people that handle the more business-like side of making advertising. I met people like Sales Rep Sophia Melvin, Executive Producers Casper Delaney, Sally Campbell and Kayt Hall and PR Director Isobel Barnes.

I got the chance to explore all the work and the never-ending hours of effort these job roles take and how all these people are necessary to make everything work. It’s like a complicated puzzle and all of these jobs are just small pieces fitting together. Without all of these people creating advertising, our culture would be less exciting and we wouldn’t get to see people express their creativity.

Wait… HOW long does creating an ad take?!

These commercials that all these people come together to make take many months, hours upon hours, just for a 30-60 second ad. FUCKING CRAZY! I’ve also found out just how much money gets put into making an ad, going up to millions!

Oli Short, a Creative from BBH said “sometimes, a 30 second TV ad can take 9-10 months.” What. The. Fuck?

There are so many job roles depending on what you’re good at and what you enjoy. It all depends on what talent and knowledge you have but there’s something for everyone. No matter what they are, you can easily translate your skills into a job in this industry.

I see it as a tree:

However, coming into this tough industry, almost everyone has to start at the bottom. Most people start as runners, meaning you’re making teas and coffees and fetching things for people higher than you. In order to build up your status in a company and get a higher rank, you must prove yourself by showing your motivation, making sure that you know your shit and can make it in this hardcore industry.

People with degrees and professional training still start at the bottom. Only a handful actually use their qualifications. Most people that I interviewed even said that their degrees were useless because all of the things they THOUGHT they needed to know were a complete waste of time.

What advice would you give to someone like me who wants to start working in this industry?

I repeatedly asked this same question to people I’ve interviewed. These were some of my personal favourite pieces of advice:

“It’s a long but amazing process. To get into this industry all I’d say is be really hungry for information and always be motivated for anything because it’s an incredible journey. As long as you’ve done your homework and you’re passionate about working in this industry. Always be hungry. Hunger is key.”
Renwick McAslan from BBH

“Everything links back to PERSEVERANCE. Perseverance is key because you need to understand that you will get criticism, people will keep knocking you back, but you need to be prepared for that. You need to be prepared and be stable for when your hard work gets turned down. But it’ll all be worth it in the end – believe me.”
Chris Lapham from Wieden + Kennedy

When I asked people what they love most about their jobs, it seems people in this industry genuinely love what they do.

Isobel Barnes from BBH said “It sounds like such a cliché, but I genuinely enjoy working with the people here as everyone in BBH is really nice and smart. Everyone loves what they do and always go the extra mile.”

Initially I thought, yeah sure, okay, everyone’s going to say that to save his or her ass from getting fired. I was shocked; as I kept on asking this question more and more people kept saying that, regardless of the frustration of doing long hours, they really enjoy what they do.

I found the positive energy from the people in all these companies very inspiring. It had such a positive impact on me to hear all their stories and struggles. It’s so refreshing to hear stuff like this for people like me, who want to get into this industry but are unsure whether it’ll be right for them. After all, I don’t want to be sitting behind a computer, drained, miserable and hating what I do! Everyone wants to have a job that they enjoy and are passionate about, including me.

However, it’s not everything it’s cracked up to be…

As amazing as working in the ad industry sounds, personally, I think there are some tweaks that need to be made. The issue with diversity and equality in this industry desperately needs attention.

I never really noticed the problem of this industry being a male dominated, white middle-class workplace. I haven’t got a problem with the people who work in it, but I find it quite unfair how little this issue is talked about.

It never really occurred to me until Sally Campbell, the managing director at Somesuch, opened my eyes. She’s recently been on the case to start an internship scheme, allowing young people with different racial, cultural and social backgrounds to get an insight into the ad industry.

In my interview with her she mentioned some remarkable things about herself and her problem with diversity in this industry.

“I feel very frustrated about diversity in this industry, presently,” she said. “That’s because I come from a very different background to a lot of people that work in this industry. I’m from New Zealand and where I come from culture is more acceptably diverse, so racially it’s very different and I believe that class-wise it’s very different. I think that in this industry, more of the problem is class related than racially related. “

She then shared with me what she wants to do to start resolving this issue by telling me her future plans with the APA.

“I think we’re going to set up an internship [scheme] where we pick between one and three kids a year and those kids are not just chucked into a company. We sit with them, find out their interests and then we find out what they like to do and place them in a company that is appropriate or relevant to them. For example, someone that enjoys drawing and art, we’d send them to an animation company. I think it’s our job to tailor it. You can’t just chuck people in a company that they know nothing about and expect them to come away from it with an amazing experience because they wouldn’t have learnt anything at all other than fucking making tea.”

In my own opinion, I agree with Sally. I believe that everyone deserves an opportunity to be in this industry. I’m not just talking about having a shitty job like being a runner. I’m talking about more chances for people to have the opportunity to be the best they can be and not be underestimated based on their skin colour, class, sexuality, religion, culture or gender. This isn’t the olden days people. It’s the 21st Century. And we all need to start being more fair and stop being so close-minded. This industry, to me, seems so amazing and so vibrant. If only this issue could be solved with everyone working together – not just one or two people, I mean EVERYONE – just get involved somehow to make this industry more equal and fair.

My time learning and getting involved with the ad industry was absolutely great. I feel as if I’m more educated about the whole idea of “THE MEDIA”. I’ve learnt that there is so much more to it and so many more platforms other than advertising that I still want to explore. I hope in the near future I get the chance.

Diary of a Cannes Virgin

July 3, 2015 / Features

By Sophia Melvin

Few of us can imagine the horrors of spending a week in Cannes as a rep. Sophia Melvin just did it for the first time.

The author. Before her Cannes defloration.



DIARY OF A CANNES VIRGIN

If I’m completely honest when Cut+Run’s MD first approached me about going to Cannes this year, I imagined a holiday disguised as work (don’t tell Tobes I said that) – the bright soothing sun twinned with a soft balmy breeze, the elegant stretch of the Croisette sprinkled with folk of the a la mode type, dipping their toes in the Mediterranean blue of the French Riviera - with no thought of advertising types (like myself) shadowing the view of the somewhat ostentatious utopia that awaited me.

Being a “Cannes Virgin” though, it was no surprise to me that every industry individual I spoke to prior to apocalyptic week felt it was their duty to scare the shit out of me (excuse my French) with apocryphal tales of Cannes Festivals gone by. Brazen and blissfully naïve I thought, “I’m 22, I’ve done freshers week, I can handle this”. It is however no amplification to say that Cannes Lions was nothing like I’d ever experienced before. Nothing at all. Apart from maybe losing your virginity, so I guess the title of this piece is apt.

AT THE END OF THE DAY… IT’S A WORK THING

I’ve come to learn that, as a Rep, Cannes is the highlight of your working / social calendar and not something to be treated lightly (however much you dislike the potent taste of French rosé). In fact, it’s near on a week of drinking rosé, seeing old faces, meeting new faces, drinking more rosé, booking lunches, knocking back even more rosé, securing party invitations (that’s a biggie), doing shots of rosé, entertaining your clients, feeling the rosé burning a hole in your chest, until you finally reach the safety of your desk in Soho with that famous couplet “new business”. So ultimately, it’s your day job - just revved up to a Formula 1 break-neck speed. So you may have a nervous breakdown by Saturday (if not before).

…BUT, YOU’RE ALLOWED PARTY?!

But yes, you are allowed to party! When nighttime falls, the elegant promenade of the Croisette transforms into an obnoxious 18-30s holiday destination and… it’s awesome. You’re a free spirit and you can let loose (I’ll admit some seem to let loose more than they should) but ultimately the parties were such a release. A breath of fresh air from the endless networking, small talk and exchanging of business cards between the awards ceremonies (oh yeah, there are awards ceremonies going on, but I’ll get back to that in a bit).

Though it was the sundown beach parties that really made me find a deeper appreciation for the people in our industry. The fact that you can talk serious business with a CEO by day and then dance around with them (whilst sporting the hat you just whipped from their head) by night, is pretty cool.

THAT FATEFUL WORD… WRISTBANDS

Although, collating the party invites takes much preparation. Months in advance your entire company waits on tenterhooks at the anticipation of which party invitations you manage to get your little rep paws on and for the rep, it becomes a complete addiction (I swear RSVPs became like dope to me) I found myself RSVPing to parties that I didn’t even want to go to, just to prove that I could get a wristband for it (which I could).

But it’s actually collecting the damn wristbands that becomes the bane of your life (orienteering is suddenly a key skill you wished you’d tried harder at during your school days). Hours are spent trekking up and down the Croisette, accompanied by your faithful bosom buddy Google Maps (generally smack bang in the middle of your very important lunch date) to pick up wristbands and it’s a bloody nightmare! To the point where I think even the word wristbands will forever send chills down my spine (I’m sure the reps of the world can concur).

Spare wristbands on the other hand are music to my ears. they’re like gold dust. I’m not complaining, but who knew my “cute British accent” (bearing in mind I’m from Stevenage) could get me a load more wristbands? There is no better feeling than producing an extra golden strip of plastic out of your handbag and casually handing it over to wide-eyed receiver who would otherwise be banished to the Gutter Bar. You feel like Willy-fucking-Wonka.

VILLA LIFE

Villa life is a weird one. You’re suddenly thrown into an apartment crowded with people that you have a professional relationship with and expected to live with them (or in their defense, they’re expected to live with you) for a week like it’s the Big Brother house. Fortunately my OCD tendencies were warmly received after our Tuesday night mash-up, unlike my morning face (we all have one) that almost shocked three of our senior editors into cardiac arrest on more than one occasion.

Though we were the lucky ones - a stylish city apartment a minutes walk from the Croisette and all its festivities, including the awards (oh yeah, the awards, I’ll get back to those later). It was the glitterati who resided in the hills on the other hand who suffered from what will always be known as the Great Cannes cab strike / Über apocalypse of 2015. With no means of transport back to their vast abodes (one of the many tragic first world problems we face in advertising) for lots, Cannes became something of a rambling holiday. I distinctly remember a female creative arriving at a party in a hot sweat with a broken Michael Koors sandle post-hike from the hills - so if ever I make it into one of those beautiful villas from MTV Cribs someday, I’m booking a driver for the week.

THE GREAT, THE GOOD AND EVEN JAMIE OLIVER ARE THERE…

The great and the good and even Jamie Oliver graced the Cannes Lions Festival this year - as did the infamous “Selfie stick”. Like Disneyland Florida they should been banned. They were everywhere! If someone wasn’t using one to take a ‘hilarious’ selfie with a giant pepper grinder or an oversized bottle of rosé, someone along the Croisette was trying to sell you one… #irritating

Although, I really could have done with one outside the Giorgio Armani café on the Wednesday when I was trying to keep up with Kim Kardashian, before a brigade of seasoned paparazzi photographers on mopeds came storming out of a side street behind Christian Dior and crowded me out. Never mind, catch you next time, Kim.

A VIRGIN’S THOUGHTS ON THE HOTSPOTS

So I can officially say that I made it to not all, but most of the Cannes hotspots this year, so here’s a word or two on my experiences:

Gutter Bar – Everything you heard is true plus more. Your innocence will be taken from you in the blink of an eye. I watched someone get arrested and then a random person stroked my face before throwing up at my feet (nothing personal I hope).

The Carlton – They meant it when they said it was expensive (bear that in mind before you order a couple of bottles of rosé for the table) and their staff get sassy if you don’t pay before they’ve finished their shift. But they do make a mean Bloody Mary for 25 Euros if you need a break from the old rosé or a seriously good hangover cure.

Île Sainte Marguerite – The most beautiful sanctuary on earth. Definitely the greatest place to spend your last day in Cannes. Also a good port of call before checking into rehab - Massive recommendation!

Radisson Blu Rooftop Bar – I recommend the Banana Colãda and it’s the best view for the Cannes Lions closing fireworks (they even turn all the lights off and play pretty music for you).

La Pizzaiola pizzeria – The manager Marco is an ultimate babe. He makes the best pizza you will ever eat when you’re staggering back to your apartment at dawn and need a quick fix (of the food variety).

Palais de Festival – I’ve come to learn you can only go into this magical place if you’re a delegate, whatever that is? (I don’t think anyone really knows to be honest. Not even the delegates)

EN CONCLUSION

Thus the legendary Cannes Lions Festival in all its glory is over for another year and whilst that infamous strip of the Riviera attempts to return to its peaceful normality, the Shaston Arms awaits the world of advertising where we will reflect on the unmentionable sagas that took place during the 2015 festivities – but what happens in Cannes stays in Cannes right? So I may have been brutally deflowered by the Cannes Lions Festival this past June, but I don’t think I’d have it any other way. So… Who’s up for Cannes 2016?! 

Oh wait, what was that? Oh yes, the awards….

 

Sophia Melvin is PR + Sales Rep at Cut+Run.

Live from the Croisette

July 1, 2015 / Features

By AdForum & The Beak Street Bugle

A collection of video interviews with the colourful personalities of advertising, live from Cannes Lions 2015

Click on the names to watch the interviews.

 

Interviews by The Beak Street Bugle

Asa Riton
Director, RSA Films

Marcel Wiebenga 
Business Development Director and Music Supervisor, Sizzer Amsterdam

Orlando Wood
Executive Producer, Biscuit Filmworks UK

Austen Humphries
Director, Rattling Stick

Matt Hoffman (The Hoffman Brothers)
Director, Independent

 

Interviews by AdForum

Arthur Sadoun
CEO, Publicis Worldwide

Tham Khai Meng (Part One) / (Part Two)
Worldwide Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy & Mather

Pablo Del Campo
Worldwide Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi

The Diversity Summit

June 30, 2015 / Features

By Alex Reeves

How do we turn words into effective action creating a diverse industry?

“We can all feel very smug that we got up for a nine o’clock talk,” joked APA Chief Executive Steve Davies in his introduction to the APA and CFP-E’s Diversity Summit in Cannes last week. And it would be easy to criticise the event as a self-indulgent ego massage for people who make advertising for a living. But what’s harder, and more worthwhile, is to listen to the messages of the six speakers and work on translating them into tangible progress towards equality in the ad industry.

Undoubtedly, there is much progress to be made. As Steve pointed out, advertising is a business in which most people consider themselves liberal and without conscious prejudice, but funnily enough, most of them are still also white, middle class and male. Talking the talk is no longer enough. Action is needed.

Tom Knox

In that vein, Chairman of DLKW Lowe and IPA President Tom Knox took to the stage to discuss the importance of advertising as a force for good as well as for money: “the values as well as the value” of advertising, as he put it. Diversity is a large part of this.

People are worried about discussing these issues, he observed, because they are concerned about their companies looking bad. But honesty and transparency is the best way to start. Companies like Google have led the way by publishing their admittedly less than perfect employment diversity data and Tom insisted that the advertising industry should follow suit, if only to get a solid baseline on which it can build.

The current IPA census data shows that at the beginning of people’s advertising careers the gender split is neutral, but only about 25% of the most senior roles are taken by women. The Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) percentages are at about 13% across the IPA membership, which isn’t representative when you consider how many of those agencies are in London.

He revealed that the IPA would publish a league table on the gender splits and BAME percentages of agencies. They also hope to include some salary data, to reveal unfair pay gaps. “I was surprised by the degree to which this has caused a bit of a stir,” he said, but he insisted agencies must be brave.

He explained that it is not an exercise in shaming those that have the lowest number of women in creative roles or ethnic minorities employed etc., but of establishing a benchmark. We expect the same low levels of both to be shown across the industry, so there is no reason for any agency to be concerned about being poorer than the average.

Despite people’s worries, the IPA intends to go ahead with publishing these figures. Once they’re out there, targets can be made, he said. “We must move the dial up.”

Finally, Tom stressed that “this is not just do-gooding.” Employment diversity is vital to making sure the industry is relevant to diverse audiences. It is the only way to succeed as an industry.

Kat Gordon

Kat Gordon, founder of The 3% Conference focused on the small acts everyone can take to promote gender diversity in advertising. Considering the significant consumer power women have, she noted how unproductive it is that they make up such a small percentage of top advertising professionals. When she founded the conference, 3% was the percentage of US creative directors who were female.

“Advertising does not have a recruitment problem,” she said. The portfolio schools are graduating more young women than men. The problem is that they got lost along the way in their careers.

One of the fundamentals of her movement is a document called 50 Things – a list of small ‘microactions’ to move the industry towards diversity.  They are manageable actions that can help to change the culture of an agency to be more welcoming to women.

She also evangelised for the power of ‘manbassadors’ – men who support gender diversity by championing women from their privileged position. “The differences between the genders don’t need to be remedied,” she said. “They need to be celebrated and accommodated.” Engaging men is a big part of the 3% mission.

Kat was the first of the speakers to mention mentorship, which became a huge theme of the summit. She suggested that men in leadership positions are often reluctant to mentor women in less senior positions because they worry about how it would appear. “It seems unsavoury for an older man to invite a younger woman out for lunch.” This needs to change and it is the responsibility of successful men to mentor young women who have the talent to succeed. “You have to get over the fact that people might wink behind your backs,” she said.

Beyond that, an important method is to make successful women in the industry more visible in order to inspire people. “If you’re a female creative director I think it is your obligation to jury an award show,” said Kat. “We cannot complain that it’s mostly male jury here at Cannes if you didn’t throw your hat in the ring.”

Thankfully, things are moving in the right direction. Kat noted that a lack of diversity is seen by agencies as a badge of irrelevance. “If you show up to a pitch with an all white, all male team, clients know what their customers look like and you don’t look like you understand their customer base.”

Sally Campbell

As the co-founder of Somesuch, who won the first Glass Lion this year for the Sport England This Girl Can campaign, directed by Kim Gehrig, and represent six female directors, Sally Campbell is one of the foremost champions for female creativity in film production.

She identified the trouble of keeping women in the industry. Motherhood is the clear difficulty here, because of the pressure that’s put on women to work long hours and to travel so much. “There has to be some kind of action to ensure women can be mothers as well,” she said. She suggested more mothers being brave enough to demand time to be mothers, to normalise the fact that women can work in advertising and have children at the same time.

Moving on to class and racial diversity, she admitted “we really suck at that.” Having told her story in a rather self-deprecating way as a series of mistakes and failures, she ended with a point: “A reinvented myself and you all believe me. And the reason you all believe me is because I’m white and middle class. Even though I was a fuck-up, ultimately I was a safe fuck-up because I have the white, middle-class thing to fall back on.”

Those who don’t have those privileges have far less chance of succeeding. “What if you don’t even know that there are fantastic jobs in advertising for you?” she asked.

The answer isn’t complicated, but it is hard. Sally insisted we all have a responsibility to look around at less privileged communities and do our best to help people from them in starting careers.

With the APA, Sally is working with councils in London on creating an internship scheme, encouraging every company in the industry to take between one and three interns a year from underprivileged and minority ethnic backgrounds.

But it has to be done the right way. “We can’t give them a job as a runner,” she said. “If you tell me to make you a cup of tea I’ll make you a cup of tea. If you say that to someone from a pretty rough background they’ll tell you to fuck off and make your own tea and you won’t see them again.”

The important thing is to discover the role that best suits their temperament and interests – 3D VFX for a kid who plays video games (“and maybe smokes a bit of weed”), working with a director for a kid who’s very creative, or alongside an executive producer for a bossy kid. “It’s about ensuring that that kid is learning and knows that they’ve got a chance because there is a job for everyone in this industry.”

Michelle Matherson

Production talent executive Michelle Matherson spoke briefly about how she came to end up in her current job at Shiver, the factual production arm of ITV Studios, detailing how she had to be pushy and determined to get there.

Many companies tried to focus on diversity years ago by recruiting people from minority ethnic backgrounds, but one problem she pointed out was that they didn’t last because as soon as these recruits made a mistake they lost their jobs. “For most companies that was it,” she said. “They did their bit, it didn’t work out and that was that.” The responsibility is to nurture, support and mentor young people and to bear with them when they make mistakes. She noted the importance of letting young people “fuck up occasionally.”

At ITV all the executives receive ‘unconscious bias training’ in order for everyone to question their perceptions. We all have biases, she said “and once you know what your particular bias is, that’s when you can start to address it.”

Another initiative ITV use is MAMA Youth, a training programme to equip young people from BAME, disadvantaged backgrounds with the skills to go into TV and the media. At the end of the course people like Michelle look at the people it has helped and cherry pick the best for their companies. Michelle did it herself a few weeks ago, proving that these kinds of works are creating a more diverse industry.

Finally, she admitted that we recruit naturally in our own image, but that in order to make any progress we have to take chances with some people.

Henrik Eriksson

As Chairman of Commercial Producers for the Swedish Film & TV Producers Association, Henrik Eriksson has been on the frontline in the fight against the gender imbalance. As a producer who runs a production company, his focus is naturally on the lack of female directors – a struggle that goes back many years.

“Almost all commercials are directed by men,” he stated. Less than 10 per cent of directors are female. From that starting point, the Swedish associations decided to introduce an award to their Roy Awards show to give to the person, organisation or company who has made the biggest difference to getting more female directors working.

“Nothing really happened,” Henrik admitted. “There was a lot of talk in the media and the industry but the numbers were still the same.” He admitted it was boring to have to hand out the prize year after year without seeing much concrete change.

In 2014 Henrik’s association came up with a new approach – a new pitch recommendation called One of Three, meaning every pitch for an advertising film must include at least one woman. It was launched last Autumn together with the Swedish Association of Communication Agencies.

The impact is yet to be seen. “We should talk again in five years to see what’s happened,” he said, but production companies began signing female directors to their rosters as soon as they found out about the new guideline.

Henrik next moved onto ethnic diversity with a story:

We won the pitch on this film for a French agency and an international client.

We were planning to shoot the film in Stockholm. We were told to have a very clear presentation in all details so we went down to Paris for the PPM. Two hours before the client arrived we went through all the slides – a massive folder – we showed the location pictures, casting, editing examples, photography, animatronics, everything and the last slide of 50 was just a big screen of 50 mugshots of extras to show how we create Paris in Stockholm in the street. It was a mix of people, exactly how it looks when I look out [at the audience] now.

The account director on that slide said ‘It won’t happen. You can’t show that slide.’

‘OK. You don’t want us to show the extras?’

‘No. The client will not accept it.’

‘Why is that?’

‘He doesn’t want the black people to be in the film.’

That’s a really tough comment.

‘We don’t agree with you but secondly for the film’s purpose we need to have diversity in this film. If we take them out it’s going to look like Finland.’

It went to a big discussion in French and my French producer was talking for ten minutes. This was really tough, hardcore French. I didn’t understand it. But ending in English as the last sentence saying ‘It’s because of you French advertising films look like shit. We will not shoot the film if we don’t have these people in the film.’

‘Great. Then you’re not shooting the film.’

Five minutes before the PPM starts.

‘Can we leave that subject and take out that slide just for five minutes? And take the subject again after the client’s left?’

‘OK.’

The client arrives and he’s black.

Henrik pointed out that these moments still happen and they are why diversity is so important to fight for. “Whatever we create will become a reference for how the world looks like.”

Trevor Robinson, OBE

Being a black man marks Quiet Storm’s Founder and Executive Creative Director Trevor Robinson out from most top creatives. He took to the stage as the Diversity Summit’s final speaker to tell his story.

He grew up in Clapham, the youngest of four kids. He described the area as quite rough, but he was lucky to have the protection of his older brothers. “My mum was amazing. She looked after us and worked really, really hard,” he said.

With nobody around him working in a creative job, his decision to go into a creative industry was a surprise. “The only icons I was really aware of were fighters or footballers,” he said.

When he suggested to the careers officer that he wanted to do something creative – to be an illustrator or a fashion designer – “she smiled and said ‘maybe think of another career. Maybe a bus driver or something?’ I got quite angry about that, but used it to form an ‘I’ll show them’ attitude.”

The insecure, bitchy environment he found when he got to college confused him, having grown up somewhere that “if somebody didn’t like you they’d just punch you in the face – very instant and very honest.”

After being on the dole for a long time, Trevor and his creative partner Al Young – “a seemingly aggressive Scottish man” – would repeatedly get rejected at interviews. They didn’t even get a placement. His only theory is that they made people uncomfortable.

Eventually they got into HHCL, who allowed Trevor and Al to make the ads they’d like to see. Out of that came their famous Tango ad. “That is totally a little Scotsman and a black guy having a laugh,” he said. “I think if you get the right people in with the right mindset you can do things that will really resonate with people.”

People are comfortable with people that are like themselves, he observed, but he felt his background allowed him to bring something different to the table. He attributes his success to being able to see things differently, and from a perspective closer to the people advertising is addressing.

Quiet Storm’s creative department is as female as it is male, and the agency contains many different nationalities. “We’ve got all sorts of people working at our company which I think makes us an incredibly strong agency,” he said.

“I thought when I first came in the gates would open,” he said. “I felt positive about the industry changing because I thought it made sense bringing the most talented people from whatever diverse backgrounds and you will get something different and powerful and will resonate.”

But as Head of Diversity for the IPA and later as the Chairman, Trevor got sick of everyone patting each other on the back without anything changing. He began to feel frustrated with the lack of progress.

He went back to his school and got kids to come up with an ad on the subject of knife and gun crime. This became the film competition Create Not Hate, the winning film of which was directed by a young ex gang member. Trevor’s very proud of the project. “I felt it was one of the best projects I’ve ever done in advertising.”

With this positive attitude towards taking action on diversity, the advertising industry can make an impact on its gender, ethnic and class profile. The overarching message from all the speakers is that change won’t come from one far-reaching initiative or campaign, but through the combination of everyone who cares taking the actions available to them, no matter how small.

 

The APA has some practical measures to announce that will enable APA members who are concerned with these issues to contribute to improving them. Details will be announced shortly.

A social history, no matter how you view it

June 18, 2015 / Features

By Jacqueline Holmes

Advertising is a unique tool for understanding the past.

Advertising has become a great barometer and record of our social change and history over the decades. Whether in print or on TV, ads and commercials have mirrored society reflecting the changing settings, fashions, language, products and attitudes which have enticed consumers, offering an insight into how we Brits lived our lives. 

A BBC TV Washes Whiter series, first broadcast in 1990, explored these changes in depth tracking the changing face of British advertising. Researchers collected thousands of TV commercials on a variety of formats from numerous agencies across the industry with only a fraction making the final cut. The entire collection however, was then transferred onto 1-inch videotape. In 2007, the BBC donated the 110 VT 1 inch tapes to The History of Advertising Trust (HAT), an archive regarded as a national treasure collected over the last 40 years and home to the industry’s archive. 

Thanks to the HAT charity’s expertise and equipment donated by the local ITV Anglia studio, the unique collection of ads from the Washes Whiter series is now preserved and being digitised by HAT. Programmes from the BBC series can be seen on YouTube:

The first in the 5 part series is entitled She’s Not a Moron – She’s Your Wife – a well-known comment attributed to advertising executive David Ogilvy 1955. Ogilvy suggested that customers should be treated more sympathetically, in softer tones and regarded as intelligent customers and not patronised.

She’s Not a Moron… focused on the changing role of women in society and the emergence of a new, post-war domestic environment. In the first half of the 20th century, cinema advertising – the forerunner of TV commercials – had  been mainly aimed at men and the war had seen women taken out of the kitchen and home to work in the factories and on the land.

Now, with the war over, TV commercials were produced to appeal to the female customer. They focused on products that could help women fulfil their new roles as they adjusted to being the homemaker, a mother and a good wife. Commercials were aimed at the woman at home in charge of their own domestic bliss! They showed how women could take pride in their housework – their families’ clothes were whiter – think cleaner – than the next person’s, which was the mark of a successful mother and wife. Even with the introduction of frozen foods and cake mixes, a frozen pie still had to be baked just right and an egg added to the mix to create a perfect sponge.

The thousands of Washes Whiter commercials from 1955-89 along with the British Arrows Archive of more than 25,000 award-winning TV commercials from 1976 to the present day are now available through the History of Advertising Trust. They provide a fascinating moving-image record of advertising right from the start of commercial TV in 1955.

These ads are held alongside records, documents, artefacts and images of various organisations, brands, agencies and campaigns charting the history of advertising back to the 1800s. The HAT Archive is regarded as the largest archive of British advertising in the world, reflecting changes in our social history and providing a unique resource for advertisers, broadcasters, researchers and students.

Washes Whiter was an early success story for HAT Archive and the charity continues to acquire, preserve and, very importantly, provide access to other collections from the industry and operate an efficient and reliable service to ensure they are preserved and accessible. The HAT Archive has featured in other ‘ad inspired’ series including ITV’s Ade in Adland, the BBC’s Back in Time for Dinner and a wide variety of other TV and Radio broadcasts from game shows to factual and foodie to footie docs. Take a look at HAT and prepare to be inspired!

Under the Influence: Brian Williams

June 17, 2015 / Features

By Alex Reeves

What inspires this Irish graphic designer turned director?

Now a director making commercials for major international brands like Adidas, the BBC and Lexus, Bang’s Brian Williams gets his acute visual awareness from his earlier career as a graphic designer. But what sort of experiences and ingredients does it take to make a director like him? We asked him to talk about his five biggest influences to see if we could work it out.

A Playful Upbringing

The atmosphere I was brought up in was amazing. Looking back on my early life and how my mum and dad were into the arts really fed through to every decision I made after that.

Everything was about playtime and imagination for us. We were a very lucky Irish family in that we got to travel a lot as kids. We were basically like gypsies on the road in a tent across Europe for a month, which is very unusual in the ‘70s and ‘80s. There was always that sense of adventure and that fed into the movies we watched.

My mum and dad were massive movie buffs. They just adored cinema. And they were kind of mainstream. I’d love to be able to wax lyrical about watching Fellini and whatever when we were young. We weren’t. It was Clint Eastwood, the Marx Brothers. Ice Station Zebra is a really particularly influential film on me.

The Lord of the Rings was a long time from being out in the cinema, but I’d read the books and loved them, so I made myself a ringwraith costume and I was wandering round the sand dunes in Cork scaring people. It was a fairly scary costume. I’d bought my first Bell and Howell Super 8 camera. I filmed myself murdering my family when I was 10 and we submitted it to BBC Screen Test.

Two months went by and eventually a BBC letter headed envelope came through the letterbox. Obviously, it was a very polite ‘what is wrong with your son?’

I just thought this kind of life was normal. I’d build a robot and enter it into competitions or build a city out of found objects and the whole family would be stepping over it for a month. They just accepted it.

At that time my dad was into amateur dramatics. I got involved in doing the lighting on The Plough and the Stars when I was about 13. This old ‘60s style man with polished shoes and Brylcreemed hair had taught me how to do lighting. It was coming up to the big launch of The Plough and the Stars and he dropped dead. It was a big shock but the show must go on and they turned to me and said ‘you know how to do the lighting board. Will you continue on with it?’ I said ‘OK, but I’d like to make some adjustments.’

There’s a famous battle scene in it and I took a lot of the lights down and put them underneath the grannies’ seats at the front. It had a spectacular effect when the battle scene was raging and the lights were going off in the auditorium. Unfortunately I did manage to melt somebody’s tights to the seat. They went a bit on fire.

When the review of the Amateur Dramatics Society ended up in the Evening Herald a week or two later it never mentioned my name, which I loved, but it did say ‘the lighting was very experimental.’ I was thrilled at that.

That period for me was such a fantastic playground. I was a sponge and I was being given all these amazing things to see and do and play with. Some might say I was indulged, others might say encouraged.

 

2000 AD

My brothers were reading very normal comics and I remember seeing [2000 AD] on the top shelf. I think Dan Dare was on the cover in the early days. I got into it when it was very young, just as it was moving away from that ‘60s, idealistic science fiction stuff and into stuff like Harlem Heroes – basketball with jetpacks – and Flesh – farming dinosaurs in the future.

I was captivated by the stories at first, but as I grew up the art became far more important to me. That’s when I began to mimic the style. I’m not an expert on the history but I think it was Brian Bolland doing Judge Dredd and a guy called Mike McMahon and I’d never seen anything like it. And I’d never seen anything as violent. I thought that was fantastic.

It’s punk, basically. I was too young to realise it was punk but it was. In a strange way many of the themes and looks that were created for it were cyberpunk before cyberpunk became cool.

The art of 2000 AD was always very considered but it had this very well thought out punk attitude in terms of stylisation of the characters, they could be bald with warts. I’ve always loved that idea of standout faces. If I’m looking at Marvel all the faces are normal, acceptable type people, whereas there were really super ugly heroes in 2000 AD.

There were a slew of characters I thought were amazing. My desktop background is actually still Rogue Trooper. There was Strontium Dog. What really changed things for me was Nemesis the Warlock. I think it was only Kevin O’Neill who did most of the Warlocks.

It was so edgy, so different. It showed a science fiction world in such a completely different way. They shredded the rules, coming out of an era of optimistic science fiction, where aliens were the bad guys and spaceships were rounded and clean. Way before Neill Blomkamp was dirtying up spaceships with graffiti, 2000 AD were doing it in the ‘80s.

I would be doing paintings of Nemesis the Warlock and hanging it on the wall at school. And bear in mind this is the ‘80s and it’s a Christian Brothers school. It was very unusual. 2000 AD wasn’t pop culture at that stage. Nobody realised what was hanging on the wall at the Christian Brothers school.

 

Syd Mead and Blade Runner

I saw the film and was obviously blown away. I couldn’t believe it. I started buying all the books and magazines, everything I could possibly buy. I remember coming across Cinefex magazine, buying a subscription and coming across the drawings of Syd Mead.

I absolutely adored his style because he had this quite architectural style, which is beautiful to look at, and fine pen work with those beautiful markers. It was super futuristic just in the way he drew and, having come from 2000 AD, it was something completely different again.

I got into the films on a totally different level then, even further, because of his work, buying books and drawings of his.

I began to do paintings and drawings of Dublin retrofitted like he’d done in Blade Runner. That’s what my portfolio was full of when I went to art college. I remember redesigning the Evening Press in a future Irish setting, because he had done USA Today for the film. I was just consumed by the world.

I loved the lighting and the cinematography. I didn’t even know I was looking at cinematography. I just knew that light is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It was only really years later that I honed in on Jordan [Cronenweth] and his work. Sure, Ridley Scott is a master, he was the ringleader, but those two particular guys, Jordan and Syd, and [special effects supervisor] Douglas Trumbull. Lets face it: they’re the triplet that were utterly key in making something that was so unique.

Ridley Scott was from an advertising background as well and to actually include advertising in the film as a huge component, that was utterly unique as well.

It was the everyday that we see around us. He didn’t change everything like science fiction had been doing. It was just taking the everyday and pushing it forward slightly and that was what Syd Mead’s job as a futurist was. He was grounded as being an industrial designer. It was a stroke of genius.

 

Vaughan Oliver Vs. Peter Saville

The two influences from that period for me would be Vaughan Oliver at 4AD versus Peter Saville at Factory Records. Two very different aesthetics.

Vaughan Oliver for me is kind of summed up by the music, whoever it may be on 4AD. I just found those album covers wonderful. And this is before Photoshop. By the time I was doing work like this as design or as a live-action director, I had the ability to do incredibly layered textural pieces, so it was a massive influence for me.

But then you look at Peter Saville and his restraint, his minimalism, his attention to detail and type and it was just a completely different story.

Basically my early career was very Vaughan Oliver, very OTT, very textural, then later in life I worked with another designer who was very minimal and I began to be influenced a lot more by his design style and that would be the Peter Saville style.

I found that the results were a hint of chaos and a hint of restraint. My work improved. And that fed straight into how I direct and what I like still to this day.

I was shooting something the other day and thinking ‘that is very, very busy coming through the lens to my eye. How do I frame up so that I’m not being greedy here?’ And that means sacrificing somebody’s work. Maybe your own. But the result is often more satisfying.

 

Dark 80s Music

My early taste was somewhat dubious. When I was very young I was given Cliff Richard to listen to. So my first record was Cliff Richard. My second record, however, was Kraftwerk - Autobahn.

It all ties in that we would be driving with our tent and a little trailer behind us on the Autobahn in Germany, listening to Autobahn on the cassette recorder, with my mum going ‘It’s a little bit monotonous, but I kinda like it.’

That then fed into all the other things I loved. I never went the rock route. It was always this electronica-influenced stuff. Caberet Voltaire was hugely influential, both visually and their whole attitude seemed to be quite unique.

Dif Juz – one of the loudest bands I’ve ever heard. They were like a heavy metal Cocteau Twins. Obviously Dead Can Dance, D.A.F., Shreikback, the list could go on and on.

All of those were the soundtrack to that period. There was a darkness to all of that. And there was a darkness to the films and the stuff I watched. I guess it’s the same as why the Swedish and Danes are so good at dark noir – they would always say they have a really happy life so they don’t mind looking at the dark. I think there’s something in that, without getting too wanky.

I was able to indulge all those things and have a great time doing it, but I felt very comfortable around music that was dissonant and dark. I think there’s a big streak of melancholy that goes through me and in a strange way that atmosphere informs the kind of commercials I like to make. I always like light and shade in film and I love a sense of warmth, but put it in jeopardy and you maybe have some magic.


Have a look for these influences on Brian’s reel.