Under the Influence: Olly Blackburn

November 26, 2014 / Features

By Alex Reeves

The Great Guns director digs down to the bedrock of his inspiration.

Looking at Olly Blackburn’s body of work, it’s clear the Great Guns director takes his influences from a broad spectrum of experience. From his big-screen exploits in the horror and thriller genres and recent rural teen drama Glue to his work in commercials, he’s a hard one to pigeonhole.

And when we asked him to name five of his biggest inspirations, his responses reflected these eclectic tastes. “I think every field is inspirational in its own way when you have real masters doing it,” he says. “And each one has a different lesson to tell. All these things, when I first saw or heard them, my mind turned into a supernova, but most importantly every time I re-watch or re-listen to them my mind still turns into a supernova. They all have that freshness and those inspirational qualities.”

PlayStation, Double Life

“To me a great piece of art that’s beautifully done, there’s no difference whether it’s a painting, a photograph or a film. And advertising can be great art. I was at film school in America – at NYU. I had this very inspirational writing teacher called Yvette Biro, who was very European and artsy. The first thing she showed me when I first got there about the art of making a great short film was a reel of classic British ads from the 80s and 90s.

Delivering an idea in 30 or 60 seconds is an art. And especially in this country we’ve proved to be amazing at it. When I was growing up all these ads would come out where your jaw would drop. There are so many of them. All these things like Guinness Surfer, the Vaughan and Anthea ads, Tarsem’s ads. Every time one of those came on it was this moment – this event. It was just beautiful filmmaking.

There’re other great ads; almost too many to go through. It could have been another ad on another day. But that ad for PlayStation by Frank Budgen – there’s something about that I will never forget. When I saw it for the first time I was speechless. It’s the simplicity and the humanity of it.  All great ads I think are very simple concepts. But as we all know getting to simplicity is one of the hardest things to do. When you join the dots between these very real, very strange people with what they’re talking about, which is this escape into a complete virtual world, it’s the whole package – an amazing piece of storytelling.

The storytelling in that ad is so profound, particularly through the casting and the location. Everyone remembers that strange kid saying ‘I’ve conquered worlds’ and he’s in this kind of wasteland. And just that three seconds of image suggests so much story. You could almost create a whole world around that image.

It’s not like I’m always thinking of that, but there are lessons to be drawn from it about casting and visual storytelling that are sunk deep into my bedrock.”

Beastie Boys, Sabotage

“The trouble with Sabotage is it’s almost impossible to describe. It just is. Its genius just exists and it’s almost impossible to break down.

It’s sort of crack cocaine. Whenever [Sabotage] gets played on TV you just have to sit and watch it. It’s the energy. It’s the humour. It captures that really gonzo, high-octane, crazy vibe.

The whole thing is funny because it’s such a pitch perfect piss-take of a 70s cop show – the fake moustaches and the guy dressed as the bellhop and the movements they do. They know their genres so well and they’re just sending it up immaculately. And it’s kickass.

That energy does [influence the way I work]. You want to capture that energy. And there’s something about that video that’s so spontaneous and instinctive about it. It feels like not much thinking happened. They just did it. And they’ve got it 100 per cent right. I think in filmmaking that’s what you’re aiming for.  Sometimes that can be very hard. Sometimes you can have people interfering with you.

What you’re really aiming for is to be able to get to those situations where you’re a group of people who’ve all got chemistry and every situation is instinctive and spontaneous, with your actors, with your DOP, with everyone all working as an organism. And that’s what that video says to me. Be like a shark. Keep moving forward. Don’t stop to think and let the creativity happen.”

The Clash

“The Clash is just, for me, the greatest band that ever existed. And the reason why is that, first of all, they both played incredible music and they looked fucking great. So it was the double-whammy. Secondly they lasted five years and they were like this meteorite. They didn’t outstay their welcome. They didn’t turn in to U2 or the Stones. They just delivered incredible shit then they exited the stage. They knew the great lesson, which is timing: when to take the stage and when to get off.

The other thing is that although they were punk rock they had this amazing eclecticism. And in the five years that they were making music as the original Clash, they did reggae, they did electro-funk, they did sort of soul music, RnB. They just had this incredible breadth and appetite and yet made it all sound like their own, which I think is extraordinary.

My commercials are completely different to the films that I make. The films that I make are very dark thrillers and horror films and I hope to make more films in different genres. But I feel that I have a lot of different interests and a lot of appetite and creatively I want to explore a lot of things. And that’s one of the great things about The Clash.

I wish I could have that rock and roll spirit. They represent the true spirit of rock and roll.

And they also wrote one of the great songs about advertising, which is Koka Kola off the London Calling album.”

Don McCullin

“We live in a visual medium and a photographic medium. A lot of commercials directors do photography. A lot have come out of photographic backgrounds. I love photography. I’m not a professional photographer.

Another day it could have been a different person but Don McCullin has always been one of my loves ever since I was a kid. I got given a book of great press photos.

There’s something about the way he captures the moment and the way he captures a face that gets to some kind of truth. He has a very famous [photograph] of a shell-shocked soldier in Vietnam. There’s something about that picture that just gets beyond anything you could express vocally.

The other thing I love about him is he shoots these very gritty things and there’s this kind of huge epic resonance to his eye to the way he frames, the way he shoots – I call it the ‘everyday epic’.

I’m British at heart. Almost all the commercials I’ve ever made have been in Britain and have all been about showing Britain in a very poetic, cinematic way. And a lot of that is inspired by Don McCullin and people like him and the way that his eye is trained.

He shoots beautiful black and white and I haven’t shot black and white for a long time, but whenever I try and shoot black and white that’s always the reference I give. This is how black and white should look.”

Night of the Hunter

“My favourite film changes each day, but there’s a certain core amount of films that are the supernova going off in your brain. First of all it’s one of those films that when you watch it, it’s so influential that you’re like ‘oh, shit, that came from this film!’ It’s full of stuff. You’ll be amazed at how much comes from that film.

When it opened it was a disaster. No one wanted to see it. It was too weird. Charles Laughton, who directed it, was an actor. He never made a film again after that. But it’s only just grown in influence ever since.

That [river boat] sequence is just unforgettable. It’s one of the most poetic moments in cinema. It captures the essence of fairy tale, of darkness and of dreams. It’s about these children fleeing a psychotic preacher and someone sings a song over the top as they float down this river [while] you see these frogs and rabbits in the foreground.

The reason I chose it is because it’s another one of those things where creativity is unforgettable in life and ever since I’ve seen it I’ve never forgotten it. It has a resonance that goes beyond time. It summons up a series of feelings in you about childhood and storytelling and darkness and light that just seem to break beyond the screen.

There’d be very little way you could directly connect it with the commercials I’ve done but there’s something about the visual storytelling and the poetry in it which I think does factor into [my work]. If you’re delivering an idea in 30 or 60 seconds each frame has to have a logic and humanity and poetry to it. You need to figure out where that lies. And it’s in casting people with rich faces that tell stories and being able to get the performances out of them, even if it’s just looking into the camera. It’s understanding where the innate soul of those five seconds is. All these things are about that. There’s an instinctive, innate soul about them.”

Have a look for these influences on Olly's reel.

Some Thoughts from Roman Coppola

November 14, 2014 / Features

By Alex Reeves

Titbits of wisdom and conjecture from the visionary filmmaker’s appearance at Ciclope festival, including his unique point system.

He’s one of the coolest members of Hollywood’s most creative family, a polymath equally talented in directing, writing and producing. Working across music videos, commercials and feature films, he also runs production company The Directors’ Bureau. Roman Coppola recently swung by the Babylon cinema – a delightful art-deco spot in Berlin, just round the corner from the former Communist party HQ (now Soho House Berlin) – to share his experience and wisdom with the brightest sparks of advertising gathered for Ciclope festival. In case you missed it, here are some highlights from his live interview to intrigue, and hopefully inspire.

On The RC Point System
With characteristic confidence, Roman revealed how he decides which commercial scripts to work on by sharing his tried and tested point system.

In case you can’t read that off the image with Roman cooling it, here it is in text:

RC POINT SYSTEM

(Looking for jobs which rate a 6 or higher)
Great creative – ADD 5 POINTS
Very good creative – ADD 3
Good creative – ADD 2
OK creative – ADD 1
Weak creative – SUBTRACT 1
Strong budget – ADD 2
Average budget – ADD 1
I get to write or contribute significantly to script – ADD 2
They use me as a ‘spokesperson’, or there is a paid PR component – ADD 1
Shoots in LA, Paris, Rome, Buenos Aires, Tokyo – ADD 1
Shoots outside of Above cities – SUBTRACT 1
Celebrity talent – ADD 1
Stage or back lot shoot – ADD 1
Good agency or creative team – ADD 1
Product I like – ADD 1
Fun/interesting subject to shoot (includes stunts, new technology or dance) – ADD 1
If this is a commercial which is a continuation of a previous campaign – SUBTRACT 1
Extended prep, longwinded back and forth – SUBTRACT 1

Roman Coppola: “I just cooked it up because I realised these are the things that I was looking for. Sometimes you work with people and they’re confused [and ask] ‘why’d you turn that down?’ It’s pretty accurate.”

 

On Risk

RC: “Working in commercials there’s a lot of fear of failure and concern about risk and, to me, risk isn’t so risky. In fact it’s a good bet to go with risky choices. As a director you always have to find colleagues and people that can deliver. That’s my job – to spot talent. But once I spot them I guide them and let them do their thing. It’s a pretty good strategy.

“With creative folks trying to make good work, in general, if you start with a good concept, find someone you think will do a good job with that, the more you can allow them to do it truly with enthusiasm, without a lot of hassle, I think the project will be better, by and large. Risky choices are a safe bet.”

 

On Inviting creativity
RC:
“A good project to me is like throwing a party. You get all of your ingredients for the party. It depends on your taste, but you get some alcohol, you put ashtrays around, some cigarettes – a little cup of those, that brings a smile – some food, make sure you have toilet paper – a lot of different things.

“And on set you bring people together. You have a way for people to gather. You make it an essential thing to make it fun and make it in the spirit of what you’re trying to achieve. Generally the work I like to do is more playful and fun and evokes a sense of delight. It’s hard to go wrong when you have talented people who have some enthusiasm and feel like they’re doing something for a worthwhile reason – not just a gig – and the magic tends to come just by inviting it to happen.
“I’m just a big kid. To me the world of creativity [is] invitations. So Wes – we were just friends and he said ‘will you come out to Rome and help with this thing?’ [And look where that landed him!] I just have my radar out for interesting invitations and experiences that are diverse.
“Happenstance is a big part of it. I love lucky accidents. You talk about risk and part of what that means is letting something happen that you don’t expect to happen. So I love surprise and delight.”

 

On Commercials and Wes Anderson
RC:
“[When making commercials] there’s a certain ritual. You do a comments call, write a treatment – all that type of thing and we do it different than other people. I always welcome people that speak more directly. If there’s a chance to cut through the BS it’s a nice place to start. Wes is a very different person. He’s a big filmmaker. He’s a real artist. And commercials intrigue him but it’s not something he seeks out. He’s very firm about what he won’t do. He won’t get on the phone or write something up just to make sure someone feels good. He does what he thinks will be best for the project – he’s very hard working in that regard.”

 

On Producing and Executive Producing
RC:
“To me there’s not really a division [between running The Directors Bureau as a director or as a producer]. We’re just trying to do interesting things. As a director I have a sense of what I think other directors would want, to be supported and not be pressured to do lousy things and have an environment that puts emphasis on being able to do research and [gather] visual materials. I think [I run The Directors Bureau] more as a director, but also as a producer too. The creative act of the producer is to gather people, get some good food and make sure there’s good coffee and a nice place to work.”

“It sounds obvious. [As a director] you want [your producer] to support you; someone who listens to you. They’re there to serve you really – to make sure you have all the elements that you may need and it’s always great – in the rush of production things get left behind – [good producers] take time to say ‘what would make this better’ and if I gave you my party analogy, good producers have a knack for thinking of those things, whatever it may be like ‘by the way we have some cold water here.’ Just little things that show that they care and the crew recognises that, so thoughtfulness and creative application of anticipating what problems might be and getting to them before they get to be problems.”

Naming Rites

November 5, 2014 / Features

By Alex Reeves

You see these companies’ names all the time, but how did they get them?

Scan over the company names on the APA’s list of members and you’ll learn why so many people want to get into the creative industries. Sure, a couple have simply slapped the founders names above the door and there’s nothing wrong with that, but the majority have bizarre names that defy any good sense of professionalism.

The stories behind these monikers are no doubt a rich vein of entertainment, so the following is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are some of the tales behind how companies in advertising got their names.

Disclaimer: for the purposes of entertainment and lack of editorial rigor, some of these stories may be false. But we wouldn’t want the truth to get in the way of a good story, would we?

 

750mph

James Bradley, Managing Partner: “In 1998 we spent months thinking of what to call our studios. On my computer I had almost 2000 potential names.

Then the inevitable happened and my machine crashed. I managed to salvage a few potentials like 6000 Mexicans and headed to a crunch meeting with the bad tidings and the knowledge that we had to come up with a name that day for marketing and publicity purposes.

After an hour of getting nowhere one of us spotted a paperback version of The Right Stuff based on Chuck Yeager's attempt to break the sound barrier with a jet.

The question then arose, what is the speed of sound?

The answer, depending on the dryness of the air, altitude and temperature, was 750mph. We had found our name.

A few phone calls to trusted mates received a thumbs up and we have been travelling at the speed of sound ever since.”

 

Big Buoy

“When first forming the company we realised that all of the staff members were involved with sailing. We had an ex tug boat captain, a deep-sea diver, two pirates and three who had appeared in several episodes of Baywatch.

On one of our bi-annual trips to Butlins in Bognor Regis, we all decided to go for a late night swim. Little did we know it was hurricane season and we were washed out to sea. By an incredible stroke of luck or, dare I say, fate, in the distance we saw a Big Buoy and we were saved.

Hence the name was born.

We lost three that night, they went back to Baywatch, I miss the Hoff. He was a great flame op.”

 

Blink

James Studholme, Managing Director: “Blink was born sometime in 1985. The child of Bob Lawrie, a tiny irascible antipodean graphic genius, Blink was quite definitely an animation company back then.

Bob had left Australia in the mid sixties at the age of 18 to seek fame and fortune in the UK, having become the biggest thing in book jacket design in Sydney.

It was B for Bob and L for Lawrie in Blink, with the ink part being a pun on the principle of film making and the inky nature of graphic design and animation.

I joined him later that same year. Our office was at 18 Archer Street Works (a Soho street shady on both sides). Our studio had been purpose built to service the music industry in the days when every theatre, club or bar had live music. Musicians would congregate in the afternoon hoping to catch the eye of a bandleader with work for that evening. The Works were where they got their instruments mended.”

 

Caviar

Eva Custers, Marketing & Communication: “Our name reflected our desire to use a word that would pretty much be understood in an international context. In that sense we were both very ambitious and somewhat arrogant too.

We also thought that starting with a "C" would put us fairly high up in alphabetical directories, see? Practical and arrogant, truly the best of both worlds.

And lastly we wanted to convey immediately how exceptional our company was. For us the word caviar conjured a sense of uniqueness and sophistication that we felt represented perfectly the kind of work we wanted to do.”

 

Dark Energy

Matt Brown, Managing Director / Executive Producer: “So after working through 1500 names we narrowed it down to things like Blacklight and Dark Matter, for all of which the domain names were taken. Then my wife said ‘what about Dark Energy?’

My initial reaction was no. I’d never heard of it, then I thought ‘hang on – I like it.’ I went onto Google and looked it up and to my surprise read this: In astronomy, dark energy is a hypothetical form of energy which permeates all of space and tends to accelerate the expansion of the universe. Dark energy is the most accepted hypothesis to explain the observations since the 1990s indicating that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. The universe contains 26.8% dark matter, 4.9% ordinary matter and 68.3% dark energy. So in short it is this little known substance, which is in fact incredibly important and everywhere.

On the day I registered the company I saw an article online saying ‘finally it looks like we have proof of the existence of Dark Energy’ and they were right!”

 

Doofer

Dom Murgia, Managing Director: “I was asked to come up with a name for a new production company and suddenly from nowhere, the word Doofer popped into my head.

I thought it was kind of relevant to our industry in that in the north west of England it can mean TV remote control... It wasn't until I checked out the urban dictionary that I realised it has many meanings, depending where you are in the world.

We made a page on our website dedicated to the name and its various interpretations.”

 

Good Egg

John Hassay, Executive Producer: “Our moment of conception came as an industry leader remarked to me that commercial production companies existed to shit out golden eggs for their owners.Immediately I thought Golden Egg would make a great name for a production company.

After an abortive experience trying to get it up and running with a resolutely bad egg I realised that it was actually more than a little hubristic and I needed to think more carefully about the people I wanted to work with.

From there the process was simple. Good Egg is a phrase I used to bestow compliments on the best of friends; people who quietly go out of their way to help. It’s about loyalty, hard work, seeing the process through and, like my first company, Colonel Blimp, it reflects the very best of British.”

 

Grand Central Recording Studios

Carole Humphrey, Founder / Managing Director: “Grand Central Recording Studios is named after Grand Central station, which is an important New York transport hub.

I wanted us to be a hub of activity and delivery. Naming a facility after an iconic, beautiful building in America seemed aspirational and exciting.

Our studios in Marshall St had a central reception area, and the 4 studios, Xfer and offices came off that - like a concourse with platforms coming off it in a square. It was a brilliant design and working space. It made for a busy and social facility.

Our letterhead had the windows from Grand Central on it and we commissioned someone to take some photos of Grand Central that were in reception for 10 years.”

 

A Large Evil Corporation

Ellie Botwood, Head of New Business: “The animation company now famously called Evil, came to light after the company was searching for a new "iconic" name. Being friends with Mark Denton, Evil asked the creative director and advertising guru if he could help with a new identity. In true Denton-esque style, Mark embraced the creative circuit and they all sat down one night for beers and a good old fashioned "gang bang" (Mark's words not ours...) to come up with a new name. Names such as Chinese Burn Masters & Superwinners were hot favourites but it was when someone said A Large Evil Corporation did everyone sit up and take notice.

What started off as a hilarious joke quickly became a reality and quickly followed Evil branding in terms of books and postcards and posters not to mention Evil branded dollar bill business notes. It still makes us chuckle that A Large Evil Corporation is actually a lovely and small animation company in the beautiful town of Bath. However, Evil are now a household name and have recently finished the Xmas campaign for Sky (an actual Large Evil Corporation) and their Evil Vinyl toy designs have caught the eye of very very Large Evil Corporation's in the US so perhaps the Evil dream will come true someday in the near future...

And so the Evil brand was born.”

 

Riff Raff

Matt Fone, President: “It’s hard thinking of a good name – one that cuts through, one that you have a empathy to. I always liked the film, the Peanuts character and the feeling it gave me: Me Vs. the rest.

And then my six-year-old kid drew the logo and I thought “I like that!” It suddenly became something other than what I thought; it became something else, which is the best part – something of its own.

Just have to make sure I don't fuck it up…”

 

Somesuch

Tim Nash, Managing Director [in an entry from their blog]: “Anyone who’s ever started a company will have faced the task of naming that company. It’s a tortuous journey. Our company was nearly called so many shit names, vacillating between the pretentious and the plain retarded. Architecture. Chapters. PFB. High Rise. God Speed. Unknown Pleasures. Work Makes You Free. Sun Ra. The Golden Bough. Atrocity. Blah blah.

One thing we all agreed on was that we liked books. And writing. So for about a day we were called I’d Prefer Not To after Bartleby the Scrivener’s famous dictum. But then common sense prevailed: I’d Prefer Not To was probably not sending out the right message for a new shop opening in the height of a recession.

Sally and I are big fans of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. There’s a great passage where Huck and Jim meet a pair of grifters called the Duke and King. They’re down and dirty swindlers. Confidence tricksters. They throw a sham play called The Royal Nonesuch to try and make some cash. So for about a week our fledgling production company was called The Royal Nonesuch. We tried to register the name with Companies House and were quickly informed that to be Royal anything we’d need a letter from the Ministry of Defence and the Queen’s consent. This left us with Nonesuch films, but we eventually reasoned that Nonesuch Records would take a dim view of it, especially given their litigious reputation.

One morning Sally [Campbell, Executive Producer] said, ‘What about Somesuch?’ Somesuch. Some. Such. Hmmm. I liked the sibilance. It was a nice word to say. Well, not really a proper word. More of a nonsense. But it felt good in my mouth. Somesuch. I thought it sounded like what an Atlanta based hip hop label would call themselves. Somesuch Entertainment Inc. We’d have a logo designed by Pen and Pixel and sip lean all day. But Sally loves ampersands. So we had to have an &/And. And the &/And was quickly followed by Co. It made us feel reliable, like those old menswear shops on Jermyn Street. Somesuch & Co. Like a long standing family business, rather than a company started on a credit card, some borrowed desks, and a wing and a prayer.

After a while you grow into your name. It feels as though you could never have been called anything else. And of course, much to our annoyance, no one ever used the &/And Co. It was always just Somesuch. Hello Somesuch.

Now the &/And feels like a hipster affectation. Suddenly everything seems to be &/And bloody something.

Our new website [launched in August]. We’re fucking off the &/And Co. From now on it’s just plain old Somesuch.

The new website has a section called Stories. It’s a platform for long form fiction and non-fiction. We’ll be launching a new story every Sunday.

In the end it always comes back to writing.”

 

tenthree

“Why Ten Three? Well we actually prefer tenthree. The name was born in the most unlikely of places far away from the manicured edit suites of Soho. This is a tale of shattered dreams and broken bones set in the mud and sweat of Kingsmeadow playing fields.

tenthree’s founder, Billy Mead, used to moonlight as a professional footballer but his career was cut painful short by a double compound fracture of his tibia and fibula. For those without a degree in anatomy and physiology that basically means he snapped his shin in half and the bone came out of the skin. That fateful moment occurred on 10th March, or the tenth day of the third month of the year, or tenthree. It marked the end of his aspirations on the football pitch and in turn ignited his passion for editing.”

Ancient Wisdom

October 21, 2014 / Features

By Alex Reeves

The History of Advertising Trust reminds us why we should protect the past to improve the future of our industry.

The advertising industry’s obsession with the future is inevitable. The new is exciting, cool and interesting – everything advertisers want to be – and if they’re going to be communicating in a relevant way, agencies need to be on the cutting edge of culture. But this obsession is also a dangerous one. It results in acute amnesia. The past is quickly disregarded in favour of the next big thing and lessons are often left unlearned in the wake.

The History of Advertising Trust (HAT) has been fighting to restore balance to the industry since 1976, reminding them that a look in the rear view mirror every so often can be a valuable thing. They also handily provide them with a big mirror to do so.

HAT’s job is to protect and represent the heritage of advertising, to preserve the story of its development and the best work through the ages. Their archive of millions of relics from the advertising world is fascinating and ever growing, stored in temperature-controlled, low-acidity conditions at their facility in Norfolk. It’s a potentially a rich source of inspiration for new generations and a fascinating treasure trove to dig through.

There’s a lot more than just ads at HAT’s archive. Their collection also encompasses the context in which they were created, including such fascinating artefacts as the notepads and sketches that went into their creation, telling the stories from behind the scenes. There are even contracts for famous talents and correspondence between clients and agencies, fleshing out the history of the social dynamics of the industry.

“Although formats change the ideas are what really matter,” asserts Chloe Veale, Director of the Trust. And while HAT’s collection is vast and exciting, she and her team are always keen to grow it and fill in the gaps in the communications tapestry.

Their facility is full of gadgetry and gizmos for converting old formats into stuff that can be digitally archived and backed up, but it’s painstaking work putting old 35mm film and transparencies onto hard drives as it often has to be done in real time.

The end goal of all this is to reduce the impact of that geographical barrier between the metro-centric British advertising industry and HAT’s base of operations in Norfolk by cataloguing everything online in a digital format. That’s a huge job, especially for a charity with limited access to funding, but it’s one they’re handling at a steady pace with the support of the idustry.

Channelling their efforts into this digitization and opening the doors of its archive wider to the industry is testament to the fact that HAT is no dusty repository where ads go to be catalogued and forgotten; it’s an active, participatory part of an industry that desperately needs to learn from its past in order to produce the best work.

They’ve built their archives by gathering material from a plethora of sources and as lovers of history they relish this. “We rescue material,” says Chloe, “but we’d prefer a working relationship. The hardest thing is to make sure we’re getting the fresh stuff that’s being produced today. We’ve got to keep feeding the archive with stuff that’s current.”

It’s a paradox, but while technology has given us all the tools to preserve our work easily by building our own digital archive, it has also taken away the structures and disciplines that physical cataloguing demanded. The notes a creative made while coming up with the next historic ad are likely in a folder in a hard drive somewhere, but where exactly is up to that creative’s personal filing system – and calling it a system may be giving it too much credit. “We’d like agencies to send us their digital records,” explains Chloe, “but a lot of them wouldn’t know how to access them. The digital world is a great asset for information but it’s also extremely expensive to have all the back-up storage.”

HAT want to nurture a two-way relationship with agencies. Ultimately they need cooperation in constantly building their archive, but it all goes towards the greater goal of strengthening the industry as a whole.  “It’s all about relationships, the whole business,” says Chloe. “And we’re here to help everybody. We’re a service, not a museum. This is living heritage. We’re still creating it and it’s here to be drawn upon.”

Ultimately, in a world obsessed with immediacy and cost cutting, HAT can save agencies and production companies time and money, by smoothing the process of research. They have shelves rammed full of guard books that detail the entire chronologies of brands’ advertising histories. They’ve gathered together material from disparate sources – from head offices, local factories and outlets, agencies and even ex-creatives’ lofts and boiler rooms – to fill in the gaps in brands’ timelines of communication.

It’s all in one place and available for their clients to access and they can deal with lines of enquiry where Google would hit a brick wall. HAT have recently been working on a project called Saving the 70s, producing compilation reels of 1970s advertising and collecting anecdotes, photographs and ephemera from the era, but Chloe is confident they could virtually cover any timeframe or theme people are interested in.

“You can’t catalogue ideas,” she admits, “but you can catalogue slogans, language, images, products and brands. When [agencies] are saying ‘give us everything you’ve got on salad cream since the 1930s’ we can do it."

At Advertising Week Europe earlier this year, The History of Advertising Trust screened Risk and Responsibility (http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/news/1154210/), a witty deconstruction of the client-account manager-agency dynamic featuring now legendary ad men Ronnie Kirkwood, Jeremy Bullmore, Sam Rothenstein and David Bernstein. You can’t find it on the internet, but the sketch from 1966 hilariously depicts a pair of risk-averse clients reducing Ogilvy’s iconic The Man in the Hathaway Shirt ad to a pile of bland rubbish. It’s message is as relevant now as it was then – risks must be taken in order to stand out, and clients will need some persuading to take these risks. The battles of the industry then are still raging.

We may have immersive online brand experiences and creative technologists coding our advertising now, but the core principles of the industry still hold. That’s why we should pay attentions to The History of Advertising Trust and the wealth of knowledge held within their archive. We’ll never be so enlightened that we cannot learn from the past.

Under the Influence: Arno Salters

October 8, 2014 / Features

By Alex Reeves

The absurd inspirations of Caviar’s zaniest Franco-British director.

No director is an island. And as much as they claim they pull their ideas directly out of their genius brains, the vast majority of creative ideas are, in fact, pilfered from other people’s work and combined with other stuff to disguise their genesis. That’s why we do this series – to try and trace the lineage of directors’ output.

Arno Salters, who recently signed to Caviar, has some truly odd commercials on his reel, often playing with the laws of physics. We wanted to understand what goes into a head to get this sort of thing out, so asked him to talk about five of his biggest influences.

Taking the Metro

“I live in Paris, and when you live here you either drive a moped or you take the Metro. I do the latter.

There’s a lot of frowning that goes on down there, but if you look beyond that it’s a great source of inspiration. You get to observe every single layer of society up close, and come face to face with characters of such strangeness that you couldn’t write them into a screenplay without readers feedbacking ‘I don’t buy that character.’

Some of the observational virtues have diminished in recent years with the advent of smartphones. People tend to hide behind Candy Crush or 2048 rather than putting their personalities out there for all to see. But if you look close enough, you still find plenty of inspiration in the occasional awkward co-worker conversation, the pick-up line falling flat, the preppy guy pulling out a spray can and quickly doing a gangsta-looking graffiti on the wall, or even the busker I once saw who hummed while ‘performing’ public masturbation for spare change - perv with a sense of humor (I have yet to find a place for that character in one of my commercials...).

The Metro also has a way of forcing you into decisions that define you bluntly as either Nice Guy or Dick: ‘Should I take a minute to help this mother get her stroller up the stairs?’ ‘Should I interrupt my book to give change to this homeless dude?’ ‘Shall I actively not recognise that guy I met last week who really loves to talk about video game design?’ Or perhaps the most common: ‘Shall I pretend I didn’t notice this other person was going for that seat and quickly maneuver my way there first?’”

Monty Python

“When I was a kid one summer they played the entire Flying Circus in English on French TV. I recorded every episode on VHS and watched them over and over. I can’t think of anything so free form on TV today. Social commentary and philosophical meanderings wrapped in a fat layer of completely unfiltered comedic randomness.

So when I veer towards comedy, my mind often drifts towards Socrates scoring a header against the German philosophers, Graham Chapman wearing a massive fake nose, or John Cleese and Michael Palin in the argument clinic.

As a sidenote, special shout-out to The Goon Show, an amazing radio show from the 50s featuring Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan and which feels like a spiritual predecessor to Monty Python.”

Rashomon

“I read that when Rashomon played at the 1951 Venice Festival, Kurosawa was asked by a journalist what the film meant. His answer was that if he could answer that question in a couple sentences, he wouldn’t have bothered making the film.

Think I’m gonna start using that line on clients.”

Absurdist Literature

“I don’t read that much fiction but when I do it’s got to have some absurdity to it. Here are three that I love.

The Nose (1835) by Gogol, where a man wakes up only to find his nose has disappeared from his face. As he goes on a hunt for it, he finds that his nose has realised all of his own personal ambitions and climbed the ranks in19th century Russia.

Basically Russia’s 19th century equivalent to Charlie Kaufman.

Baron in the Trees (1957) by Italo Calvino, where a boy from an Italian aristocratic family has a tantrum and decides to go live in the trees for the rest of his life.

Always thought Terry Gilliam would eventually turn it into a film.

American Desert (2004) by Percival Everett, where a man gets his head cut off in a car accident. After morticians sew it back on for his eternal rest, the man wakes up at his funeral, sending the world in a panic.

Everett’s the head of the English department at USC. Gives me renewed faith in the US college system."

My Kids’ Drawings

“I’m sorry; I swear this is not me being a cheesy proud dad. It’s just that kids come up with some of the most amazing avant-garde shit. I’ve been inspired more than once by my girls’ concepts. Here are three examples:

1. ‘He’s trying to grab the red guy but he can’t because he doesn’t have any hands’ You can’t help but feel really sorry for the blue guy. He looks majorly bummed. But then again, if he did have arms what was he gonna do to the red guy?

2. ‘Bird looking at you’
Stop looking at me with a raised eyebrow, bird. I didn’t do nuthin’.

3. ‘Its a Rainbow that’s attacking a princess’ – Pixar have approached us about buying the rights to this one. I just hope the princess keeps that hairstyle if it ever does get adapted.”

Have a look for these influences on Arno's reel.

Creating Creatives

October 7, 2014 / Features

By Alex Reeves

How does the one oddball ad school consistently produce talented advertising professionals?

The School of Communication Arts is weird. Based on an upper floor of an old converted church in Brixton, there’s a distinctive community centre vibe about it. The studio is scruffy and open plan, with tables dotted around and groups of students working animatedly around laptops and notepads in casual groups. It couldn’t be further from the dusty libraries and lecture theatres of a traditional university. Yet it competes with every university in the country offering training in advertising. In fact, it beats them all. About 80 per cent of the school’s students get a job at a top-100 agency within six months of completing the course.

The school prides itself in being different from universities and its appearance is a clue. The atmosphere feels closer to an advertising agency than to a place of study. Having met the Dean, Marc Lewis, we’re sure that’s no accident. He told us exactly what SCA is and why, now in its sixth intake, he believes it’s the best place to prepare people for a career in creativity.

But how can creativity be taught? Many would see it as an innate talent – you’ve either got it or you don’t – but Marc and his school would disagree.

"I don't think creativity is any more innate than something like English,” says recent graduate Will Wells, currently on a placement at Wieden+Kennedy. “And yet this sense that creativity is unteachable prevails. Maybe it's perpetuated by 'creative' people worried at the thought that everyone can do it. I think it's a shame that a lot of people don't think they're creative at all; they convince themselves they don't have a capacity for it and so continues the notion that you're either creative or you're not. Luckily Marc doesn't share this view.” It’s helpful to think of creativity as a muscle, and SCA works it every day of the course.

Oli Rogers, another recent graduate now on a placement at AMV BBDO agrees that creativity is more than a genetic gift. “Creativity can absolutely be taught,” he says, “but not by being sat in a classroom or writing a load of essays. Obviously you need some talent to start off with, but hard work and perseverance make up about 95 per cent of advertising.”

Marc explains how these attitudes are put into practice at SCA. “It’s a very intense course,” he says. That sounds like an understatement. A three-year degree packed into ten months in the studio, followed by six months of placements is a daunting prospect, but the delivery of learning is completely different too. Their website reads: “We don’t behave like students, we are out-of-work creatives who want to become the very best talent of their generation. We don’t use text-books. There are no exams. We laugh at the idea of a dissertation.”

Based on the idea that the best way to learn a job is to do it, students at SCA work on briefs and stunts from day one. Like advertising professionals, not students. Along the way they receive advice and criticism from mentors working with them, drawn from a pool of over 700 industry professionals working in the industry, from copywriters to user experience experts.

Adam Newby, Will’s creative partner, insists that having done both undergraduate and masters degrees beforehand, nothing compares to SCA. “The course pushes you,” he says, “finds your limits. The teaching method – all mentors – may seem chaotic, but the course is put together with precision. While we were given a lot of freedom, there were some strict rules in place that drilled professionalism into us. We had to be at school by nine every morning, school hours ran the same as agency hours, the workload was huge and deadlines were deadlines. The course really does crunch three years into one.”

By the end of a frantic year they come to Portfolio Day, where their work is exhibited to perspective employers from agencies and six months’ worth of placements are arranged, which often lead to full-time jobs.

Naturally, Marc is proud of the school’s success in starting careers, but it’s easy to see why the school is top rated by the industry – it’s a part of it. “I think a lot of our secret sauce is how plugged in we are to our industry,” he says. A social enterprise owned by advertising agencies, their involvement with the people who work in advertising is far deeper than simply as source of graduates.

The school is supported by over 100 companies, mostly ad agencies, but there are experiential agencies, music agencies, media owners and tech companies in the family too. “They give us either money, knowledge or people,” explains Marc. “Those three things help us to create what we create.”

Money is vital, of course. Their financial sponsors keep the lights on and fund the scholarships – an integral part of the school’s ethos. Of 38 students in this year’s intake, he tells us that 11 are on scholarships. “That’s really important for us,” he says, “because we’re a very undiverse industry. We’re a very elite school but we want to be a very inclusive school.”

Redressing the imbalances of gender, class and ethnicity are goals the school is keen on pursuing, but they realise that you can’t entice people into an industry they have no idea exists. To tackle this, SCA recently started working with Commercial Break – an initiative that gives opportunities to underprivileged teenagers early on – while they’re still at school – so they can start working towards careers in communications early. Two of SCA’s current intake came from this programme – no giant leap, but a start in making sure the best talent flowing into advertising is from every background possible.

In fact, the school’s distinctive selection process is based partially upon their thirst for diversity. They say on their website, “We honestly couldn’t care less about your A-level results or your swimming certificates.” They select purely on character.

Oli describes the admissions process as “unlike anything I’ve experienced. An impromptu phone call several months after my online application, loaded with off-the-cuff questions ranging from the newspaper I read to stuff I did in my spare time,” he recalls. “After this stage I was invited to an interview day where I was instructed to ‘show my creativity on stage in four minutes.’ It was vague to say the least. I ended up making an omelette and then spent several gruelling hours working on a creative brief whilst being taken aside every now and then to answer questions from the in-house mentors. The end of the day was great. We were thrust in front of the current intake and asked to interrogate them about every single little detail about the school: good or bad. I respected Marc for that. I felt we got honest answers and I knew from then on that this was the school for me.”

Marc’s proud of the process. “We can come to a more accurate decision than ‘were they lucky enough to have come from a family that can get them into a good enough school, for example’ I don’t know that I agree that good grades necessarily make somebody bright. They might be able to store and regurgitate knowledge really well, but it doesn’t necessarily make them intelligent in the dimension that we’re looking for.”

SCA also relies on the industry for is knowledge. The school’s curriculum is run as a wiki and is continually changing according to what agencies are saying. “The industry are constantly feeding back to us what they want emerging talent to learn,” says Marc, “and our job is to aggregate or curate that knowledge, then transcribe it into an experience for the students. We’ll make sure the students are learning what agencies are telling us is currently relevant.”

Then the third way the industry supports the school is with people. The school maintains a network of over 700 volunteers, mostly from advertising agencies, who have signed up and committed to donating at least one day a year pro bono to come and share their knowledge and mentor the students.

Despite the careers they’ve started over their five years of teaching, SCA is still alone in its approach to teaching creativity. Marc wishes there were copycats out there though. “We want there to be a school like this for animation or creating video games or architecture. There should be lots of schools like this and I think one of my major frustrations is the inertia of industries coming forward to put money in a hat and start something like this. It’s so important for us as an industry PLC to create social enterprises that share the responsibility for preparing the next generation so that we can compete against our counterparts in Europe or America or India or wherever. So we would encourage it.”

Free-flowing creativity is misunderstood. One thing that SCA makes clear is that creatives are not born; they’re made. And, in Marc and his school’s view, a degree doth not a creative make, which is why students don’t receive any official qualification from the School of Communication arts, only the skills that earn them jobs. “The school makes you professional,” says Adam. “Despite its openness it really does create no-nonsense, hard-working creatives, used to a heavy workload. Juggling briefs is nothing new to an SCA grad. Neither are long hours.” What more could agencies ask for?

Directions to Direction: Ivana Bobic

September 24, 2014 / Features

By Alex Reeves

Her films may be cool, but this director’s past has made her a shameless geek.

Ivana Bobic watched Alien when she was about five years old. “My dad explained it was just cheese coming out of the guy,” she says. “I don’t remember being particularly scared so I think my threshold for horror and action was quite high.” From there she grew up with a fervent love for film (particular favourites as a kid were Indiana Jones and Top Gun). It’s put her in good stead. She’s now an award-winning director of short films, music videos and commercials, directing tough, stylish video on both the Park Village and Able & Baker rosters.

Her route to directing wasn’t straightforward (it never is), but she got off to a good start quite early. Aged 18 she became a runner, because that’s what you do when you want to work in film.

“I didn’t really know what was going on,” she admits, but she soon learned. Her first shoot was on was for a short film at Pinewood, next to the 007 stage, no less – almost too much for a teenaged action movie admirer.

Her career in filmmaking progressed steadily. She was only running for half a day before she was promoted to video assists. She did well enough to get asked back, so she must have done something right.

As it turns out, the video assist role was a great vantage point from which to learn about filmmaking. Ivana soon became close to the camera department and loved the work she did. “It’s quite demanding and fiddly [but] it’s super geeky,” she says, “and secretly that’s what I’m into. I was really obsessed with knowing how things work.”

Sitting next to the director and quietly watching the process was how she learnt the fundamentals and soon she was working on set for loads of promos and commercials with the camera crew. “I didn’t get paid loads but I did it quite regularly on all sorts of different productions,” she says. She started to do jobs in all corners of production, from art department to production assisting, but it was always video assist she enjoyed the most.

Ivana has no doubt that experience on set was how she learnt enough to become the director she is today. “I have a huge respect for the well-oiled machine of the set with really specific people doing things they’re really talented at,” she says. Having that vast spectrum of specialised talent to go and speak to as a resource wasn’t wasted on her.

Soon after her first forays into film, Ivana had begun a foundation course at Central Saint Martins that led into a graphic design degree at the London College of Communication. She found it interesting and it taught her aesthetic rules which you can see being used and (more interestingly) broken in her films, but her love for moving image was already cemented by then. “I knew I wanted to do film because I didn’t mind waking up at five in the morning and going and doing crazy stuff [for it],” she says. She remembers the horrible hours, menial labour and unglamorous locations as a sort of test. If none of it bothered her then she must be onto something.

By her third year of university, Ivana had worked enough in film to realise she might want to become a director. So she decided to make her own film to see how it went. “It was hugely embarrassing and nobody will ever see it,” she says. “I was just trying to figure things out and you learn a lot by practice.”

Eventually she made a short film that she was happy with. It was called The Priest and was really made as to educate herself in directing. “I was trying to figure out some way of doing something with no dialogue, on landscape, one actor – the most minimalistic thing we could do as an exercise,” she explains.

Ivana managed to convince Rain Li to work as director of photography on the film, despite the fact she had to fly over from LA, where she was shooting a feature. She was shocked that Rain, who’d worked with people like Jim Jarmusch, was interested in collaborating with her, but it worked out immensely well and the pair have in fact worked together on many projects since. “That was the clinching point,” she says. “I [already] knew I wanted to work in film. After making The Priest I knew I wanted to direct. There are so many things you can do in film, but for me the ability to be able to work with every department, everyone, is exciting.”

From that point on Ivana kept a steady stream of directing going, including films and live visuals for a band called S.C.U.M., which was a new challenge. She also started working on fashion films for Stella McCartney. “I had two completely different things going on at the same time,” she says, “but both involved me shooting and editing on my own and being a one-girl band.”

But she missed working with bigger crews when she worked alone. A good director isn’t a dictator, as she sees it. “I think one of the biggest things I’ve learnt through the way that I’ve got my way into making films is to have a clear vision, but to know when to collaborate, let go and trust people. Because they know what they’re doing.”

Stella McCartney was her first foray into directing on commercial briefs, although being a fashion brand, she admits the experience was very free-flowing. “We learnt as we went along,” she says.

One thing that struck her about working in fashion was the breakneck pace. With each collection a brand changes violently in style – “it might be hip hop orientated and then the next season is really floral and feminine,” she says – but she found that to be a good lesson. “I think having all those different views of what a brand or collection can be can be is good for learning how to work in advertising. Fast is not necessarily always good but it can be a good challenge.”

After a period directing in the music and fashion spheres, Ivana was glad to return to short films. She had the chance to shoot one in Belgrade, where she had spent the first five years of her childhood, and was happy to do proper storytelling again. The film was called In the Night, and working with Rain again, shooting on a 4K Epic and with a big crew, Ivana was glad to make this shift in tone.

That film got Ivana some well-deserved attention and she was asked to do a trailer for the London Short Film Festival, as well as an exhibition at the festival itself. The most exciting part was that it was a proper cinema trailer, to be distributed in cinemas all over London for a couple of months. The exposure was too tempting for her.

Working with editor Ben Campbell, she was keen on making sure the film had a strong rhythm and together they became obsessed with getting the most out of sound design. “I’ve found that how you can incorporate sound and image is interesting,” she says “- that you’re not just illustrating the picture with sound; you’re creating a whole different thing. We had so much fun with that, putting in things that weren’t there, making stuff that was fun and humorous and dark and atmospheric all at once.” It ended up winning a Music and Sound award for best sound design in cinema advertising, which Ivana is immensely proud of. “It is so good because it’s a very techy, geeky award,” she says.

The past year or so has been intensive. Having worked with all sorts of clients semi-freelance she ended up realising she’d be stronger with a production company behind her. Her next big film was a project for Russian department store Au Pont Rouge and it was a job that would have been impossible without Able & Baker, who produced it. She describes the brief as “a full-blown car chase thriller running round all over St Petersburg with stunt cars and big units.”

As a female director, Ivana’s keen not to get bundled into the corner so many women do – directing delicate commercials with children and beauty products – and this project was exactly right for proving a sexist industry that she can do tough and high-octane as well as beautiful and human. Her upbringing on action films served her well and it’s left her wanting more of this kind of thing. “I love getting to play with cars,” she says. “I definitely at some point want to do a car ad.”

With those two projects on her reel, Ivana was back in her groove working with big crews, but with no agency, she could exercise more freedom interpreting the brief.

Her most recent commercial project was different. Working with AKQA and Nivea was a great chance for to do something closer to a normal commercial production. Working with the real-life talent of a ballerina was right up her street too, bringing a toughness to an art form that’s traditionally very gentle, playing on the tension between grace and power. Again, she got a bit geeky. “I wanted to have these quite technical match cuts between the two [the tough side and the soft side] so she is always existing on both sides,” she says. With a strong vision from the agency, Ivana didn’t have to worry about the idea, but she enjoyed being able to delve into the details of the lighting, the grade, the sound design and the music.

And she's only getting more technical as she goes on. Her latest music video for The Kooks saw her develop a completely unprecendented technique with DOP Jake Scott, building a giant human zoetrope using a strobe light to act as a shutter.

 

Ivana’s love for directing comes from her respect for all the other professionals she works with and she’s let this shape her style. Now working on and pitching for more commercial jobs alongside the music and fashion, she’s keen to collaborate with people who really know their trade. "It's all about confidence and knowing what you want," she's learned, "but also learning when to let go."

Jumping the Fence: Neal Handley

September 22, 2014 / Features

By Neal Handley

An Englishman in New York.

Neal Handley
Was: Account Director at various advertising agencies
Now: Head of Business Development at Pipe Dreams 

I have a confession to make.
I’m an ex-agency account man.
I don’t know how many of us there are in production land or if there is a stigma attached to it but it sounds like the sort of thing I should confess to. Possibly apologise for?

Perhaps it was 10 years of life in agencies that instilled this sense of unease in me? The years of my agency producer rolling their eyes when I explained the latest insane client request or being held at arm’s length from genius directors and brutally honest location managers etc. etc. but it did feel as though, when I jumped the fence to a production company, I was a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Now I’ve been this side for a while I have started to question something.  Are the production and the account management roles really that different? After all, if they are done properly they are both about (among other things) building relationships, generating trust and ultimately guiding the brand client to the best creative solution possible.

So here’s a slightly fudged and probably more than slightly biased take on what I’ve learned in my decade on the agency side of the fence and my fleeting 12 months on the production side. A view from the other side while I can still remember it and before I get completely assimilated into the production way of thinking.

I have a theory that every great producer is already a good account man but they just don’t know it, or care to acknowledge it.

For instance here are four golden rules of client liaison that get bandied about the average agency account management department, sometimes worded in different ways but all essentially the same and, I would argue, they are all patently obvious and instinctive to the best producers.

1. Detail is king
This is a mantra to most account men, especially in the early years. If you don’t count the number of attendees at a meeting you might run out of biscuits or there might not be enough copies of the document. Harrowing enough, but if producers didn’t adhere to this rule from the outset of their careers, artists would turn up at London Victoria while the crew are ready to shoot in Manchester Victoria, a US casting would happen on  6th July rather than the 7th June and shoots would regularly be drastically over budget.

Detail is the day-to-day currency of the producer and the account manager alike.
It’s just a lot more noticeable and potentially expensive if a producer drops the ball.

2. Under promise, over deliver
Again, this seems almost axiomatic in most agencies and barely a day goes by without hearing it, or at least sensing it being said somewhere in the building by a wise old account handler to their graduate charge.

But it instinctively seems to be at loggerheads with an equally ubiquitous piece of advice; ‘Never say no to a client’ – if client expectations are unreasonably high how can you ever over deliver?

Conversely, there is a widely held belief amongst account men that a producer’s default response is ‘No’. As long as this is the case, and production companies continue to play bad cop to the account management good cop by defending their budgets to the bitter end, the awkward conversations can all happen up front rather than further down the line or even after delivery, and minor production ‘miracles’ can still be pulled out of the hat when possible to surprise and delight the client.

3. Add value
It might be less obvious how this can be the remit of the producer but there are plenty of ways that great producers go above and beyond the call of duty. From knowing the brand inside out so that a mistake on the product shot is picked up before the client or the account team even notice, to remembering that the brand CEO has a phobia of bare feet so ensuring they are cropped out of shot (this one happened on one of the last ads I was involved in from the agency side).

Adding value isn’t a mystical power, it’s about being interested and interesting and anyone who is good at their job should be able to do it and do it often.

4. Be a partner not just a supplier
Account teams are always looking to elevate their relationship with clients to a business partnership where the client will consult them on all manner of business problems in addition to advertising – to become truly indispensible to the marketing team. Knowing the client’s business inside out is integral to this process and that includes their business goals, ways of working and internal politics.

This is instinctive to a good producer. Knowing how certain CDs like their scripts to be visualised, what level of client facing duty different agencies / clients might expect etc. is part of doing a good job and the quickest route to repeat business.
It might have been that back in the day the best way to get in with an agency was to foot the bill for long lunches or other little (less wholesome?) enticements but, in this day of transparency, it is just as likely to be the result of a savvy producer knowing the ins and outs of how the agency works and working with those idiosyncrasies to smooth the process.

I guess what I’m saying is, while the average account manager might be apprehensive of the mysterious world of production, with its brown envelopes stuffed with money and crews of thousands, and it might be tempting for producers to think of account handlers as slack jawed yes men, it might also be useful to recognise the fact that there are parallels in the roles even though the worlds they operate in are very different.

When working at their best the account handler is the practical face of the client and the agency while the producer is the reasoned face of the director and crew.

Neither of them ‘make the stuff’ but they ‘make the stuff happen which makes the stuff’ and while it would be easy to say they are the glue that holds the process together I think it would be more accurate to say they are more like the Velcro that binds the two distinct parts of a production. Briefly. Before they are ripped apart and put back together next time they are needed.

There you go – producers and account managers are the Velcro of adland. Which of them is the rough, spikey side and which is the soft fluffy side you can debate amongst yourselves...