Wrong and proud

We always said we’d never work at Ogilvy. That big old dinosaur of an agency. Stuck out in Canary Wharf with all the bankers. Must be boring. Must be crap.

How wrong we were.

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Seven weeks in and we are in awe. We weren’t so much thrown in the deep end, as drowned in it. But we’ve always said the best way to do anything is to dive in and get your hands dirty. Though getting your hands dirty by diving into something seems impossible. Unless you’re diving into some dirt. Which would just be painful and/or weird.

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Anyway, because we’re working across both O+M and OgilvyOne (we’re integrated creative directors, don’t you know) we get to see the agency from a fairly unique position. And it’s a wonderful tangle. There’s a healthy rivalry which is great from a creative point of view, a desire to always better one another, while understanding that ultimately, we’re all on the same team.

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Everyone we’ve met has been lovely. Though we haven’t yet met everyone, and we’re hoping to meet some real bastards soon. Thinking about it, it’s probably not even possible to meet everyone here. There’s something like 900 people in the Canary Wharf office alone.

Some of the opportunities we’ve been presented with in our first few weeks here have put our entire career so far into perspective.

Everything we’ve been striving for and wanking on about in the pub for years seems to be coming to fruition. The dream of media-neutral briefs, creating “ideas to advertise, not advertising ideas”, and genuinely using marketing to make the world a better place – it all seems possible here. 

cDWKGJBWe even wrote, designed and published a book over a weekend, to help a client get better work. And the client almost cried when she saw it.

We’re not saying it’s nirvana. Far from it. But there’s something really great happening here. Something powerful. There’s an energy in the building. A sense of momentum. It’s hard to articulate. The huge haul at Cannes has galvanised a lot of people. The impending move to Sea Containers House (impending on a geological timescale, that is) seems exciting. And our client’s desire for more proactive work is like giving us permission to go for it. Which we are.

Right, we’re off to Brazil to do more wrong…

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How to brief an Illustrator (republished)

This time last year, our good friends at Jelly asked us to write something for their excellent blog. So we did. It’s still relevant and we think it’s good advice, so we thought we’d republish it here…

How to brief an Illustrator

jelly-london-how-to-brief-an-illustrator1-v7KBcUrF_620_0For a creative team in an ad agency, briefing an illustrator can be a tricky business. If you don’t get it right, you could end up with a beaver smoking a crack pipe when you actually wanted a frog sunbathing on a skateboard. Here’s one way to go about it…

First up. You need your idea. You do this bit all the time; it’s dead easy. When you realise it needs to be illustrated, it can help to have a style in mind as you’re cranking out the first scamps. Though don’t hang your hat on this first inkling. Now, go to the pub for a well-deserved pint.

Make sure your creative director likes the idea and the vague style you’re going for. Get approval from everyone you need to – the account team, the CEO, all the planners (especially the ones who have nothing to do with the brief), project management, the producer, the art buyer, the tea lady… oh yeah, and the client.

Fight against any and all client amends with every ounce of your being, then give in when your resolve finally breaks. Make all their changes and compromise the idea. Go to the pub for a commiserating pint.

Once everyone’s approved the idea (or whatever bastardised mutant it’s become), you’re ready to start looking for your illustrator. There are squillions of them out there. A vast ocean of the pencil-toting bastards. They’re all different. And they’re all amazing in their own way. Jelly represents one or two. You might want to start there.

If you have an art buyer, have them narrow the search down for you. You’ll have to give them a vague idea of what you want – a sort of semi-formed proto-brief that will eventually become to the fully fledged he-man-brief you give to the illustrator. Go to the pub for a cheeky pint.

Choose your illustrator carefully. Make sure you ask yourself these 10 questions:

  1. Can they draw?
  2. Can they draw good?
  3. Are they at least better at drawing than you?
  4. Does their style fit the idea?
  5. Are they worth what they’re charging?
  6. Will they do free work for you on the side?
  7. Are they attractive?
  8. Will your parents like them?
  9. Can they really do this or do you just fancy them?
  10. Is this really what you wanted to do with your life?

Done all that? Great! Go to the pub for a celebratory pint.

You’re now ready to brief your illustrator

Working with an illustrator is different to working with a photographer, in that you can’t art direct the shoot as you go. You have to do it all beforehand – and that’s what your brief should be.

Do it face-to-face if you can (conference calls are like screaming into an unwashed anus – best avoided). The most important thing to do is make sure they understand the idea. Excite them. Then let them augment it.

Remember, in this case, they’re the expert and you’re the idiot client.

DO NOT SAY, “you know that thing in your portfolio, can you just do that again”. Illustrators hate that. Imagine if someone said to you, “remember that ad you did last year, can you just do that again?” You’d defecate a block of ceramic material used in masonry construction.

If you have to send a written brief, keep it short (that’s what brief means after all). Try not to dictate too much, but make sure you highlight all the bits you absolutely need and make sure they understand the idea.

Finally, go for a pint. And perhaps a cigar.

If you follow these simple instructions, you’ll get a frog sunbathing on a skateboard instead of a beaver smoking a crack pipe, every time. It’s so easy!

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Can anyone help us make some furniture?

Indeed, can anyone help us birth a whole new concept in household design? We call it INDFRNT, because it sounds a bit modern.

INDFRNTYou know what furniture’s like. Predictable. Inanimate. Ergonomically passive to the point of dullness. Sure some of it looks nice. But it always does what you need it to do. Where’s the modernity in that? Modern society isn’t utilitarian or useful. It’s throwaway and irreverent. It turns itself upside down and inside out every few seconds. And it DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOU.

INDFRNT design doesn’t care about you either. And to more clearly explain this concept, here are some prototypes we’re looking to build:

DALLY LAMP

Most lamps do as they’re told. Flick a switch and they turn on. Flick another and they turn off. Some smarter lamps switch themselves on and off depending on the brightness of the room. Not so DALLY LAMP.

DALLYDALLY LAMP does not care about you and your light-based needs. Flick its switch and DALLY LAMP will decide for itself whether or not to turn on, depending on how it’s feeling at the time. Perhaps it’ll decide to turn itself on later, when it gets round to it. Maybe it’ll turn on right away but only at a quarter of its usual brightness. Or perhaps it’ll decide to do something else, like take a terrible photo of you and post it to instagram.

And when it comes to switching off, well, that’s entirely up to DALLY LAMP. Even unplugging doesn’t switch it off, thanks to DALLY LAMP‘s integrated solar circuits.

SLIP CHAIR 

Chairs are pathetically obedient. Regardless of their styling, they all exist for your sitting pleasure. But society isn’t obedient. Society doesn’t even want you around. And neither does SLIP CHAIR.

SLIPSLIP CHAIR is poised at a precise 128° angle and finished in an almost-frictionless high-gloss polymer. The resultant experience for the sitter is one of slowly sliding towards oblivion, forcing a situation in which sitting is practically impossible. We’ve also designed a more luxurious version we like to call DIVA DIVAN.

DROP DRAWER

The chest of drawers is the most subservient of furniture items. “Oh I’ll just sit here and look after this stuff for you”. Rubbish. DROP DRAWER is taking the power back.

DROPAt first glance, DROP DRAWER is no different to any other mundane chest of drawers. But upon opening, you’ll find DROP DRAWER hates you, as each of the drawers are bottomless. Ha, fuck you conformity!

HELP US

There are many more INDFRNT concepts to come. But for now we’re looking to get a DALLY LAMP prototype produced. If you can help in any way please get in touch.

Your skills will probably include some sort of Arduino programming, electrical soldering, and lightbulb fitting. As well as a willingness to join the fight against Swede-inspired utilitarianism.

Once we have a prototype, we can approach design manufacturers to begin the laborious process of licensing and mass-production. So get in on the game early, become part of the INDFRNT team and make vast sums of money. JOIN US.

If you could build a SLIP CHAIR too, that’d be awesome.

Be More Dog

Today sees the launch of VCCP’s latest campaign for o2: Be More DogGo grab a fistful of tube-stuffs and jam this up your eye sockets:

For the record, our excellent friend @gregorstweet was the brand planner on this. And o2 took some of the think-babies from his über-simian brain and turned them into a video to explain the campaign for thickos (completely unnecessary, but it’s quite nice to see this sort of thing occasionally):

There’s the obligatory website with a mobile-connected game. And a make-your-own dogbombing video generator thing too. Which is fun and will no doubt be popular on the twitters. We hear the posters and press are rather amusing too, so we’ll be looking out for those.

What’s interesting is that the campaign plays in a much bigger park than a lot of other mobile companies’ work. Three’s “Keep On Internetting” from W+K, for example, feels like a funny little subset of “Be More Dog”. 

So obviously we love this. It has dogs in it. We love dogs. And cats. Cats being dogs is a relatively new thing to us, so we like that too. And sticks! STICKS ARE AMAZING. It has interesting thinking inside it and populist work on the outside. It should do well for o2. And as a customer, I’m looking forward to seeing how they recommend I become more dog. Perhaps I’ll take up skateboarding…

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Top work VCCP. Top. Work.

One last thing: What with this leftfield campaign, and the weirdly surreal ‘Thinking of You‘ work that ran previously, o2 should now be the ‘wacky’ brand of choice for the public. But there’s something about o2 that still feels very corporate. What is it? Is it Sean Bean? Who knows. What do you think?

How are you feline about this campaign?

J.

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