Tuesday, 25 March 2014


 The class of 2013 are all in the business !!!
Dan/Drew & Mikael/Doug at BBH,  Rich/Jolyon at Mother, Chloe/Jess at Dare, Duncan/Steve at Fallon, Harry/Jenny at BMB, Gareth/Martin at Lucky Generals and Matt at Perfect Storm.

Now it's time for the stars of 2014.

             'RAISE YOUR FLAG'.

Mountain tops 
Await for you
They stretch beyond an infinite blue
Pathways steep
To make you weep
And mist to chill the bones
A lonely march that never stops 
Whilst you have the breath
Laces tight, bend your back
Inch up that weathered stone.
The flag you carry is heavy
It is yours, and yours alone.

Bobus Chubley, 1957.

AMV/BBDO 3/2/14

Uber smart creatives Jez and Prabs were our hosts for the first week of the tour. The guys set 5 briefs to be cracked in 4 days. 

After a speed review on Wednesday, (each team was given two minutes to run through ideas),  the Watford teams spent the only 24 hours that Thursday could offer, executing their strategies. Thursday can be mean.

The students returned to the agency on Friday morning and laid a veritable carpet of  deep-pile ideas across the wooden floors at the back of reception.  
Jez and Prabs then reached for the Shake and Vac.

There were some good simple ideas, particularly on Hummer and Pimms.

Two teams tied for the best ideas of the week,
Oli/Jose and Myles/James will battle it out later in the year for the placement on offer at AMV later in the year.

Jez and Prabs award a bottle of champagne to the teams of the week.
' AMV Placement Face Off Flag' by James Rafter.

Monday morning and one of my students, Lizzie, turned up late.
Ordinarily, such tardiness would have warranted the coming together of my eyebrows, stern words and a three hour detention listening to Yoko Ono's back catalogue.

On this occasion, however, her lateness excuse was a little more interesting than, 'sorry, I overslept'.

Lizzie was late because she had been hanging out with The Pope at The Vatican the day before. She had taken an early morning flight back from Rome on the Monday.

I'm not entirely sure whether Pope Francis asked to see Lizzie's portfolio, but the new Pontiff did confirm that he used to be a bouncer in a bar in Argentina when he was younger.

Pope Francis waving goodbye to Lizzie.
Creative Directors Pete Heyes and Matt Lee greeted us, both looking sprightly enough to be early contenders for the, you haven't changed a bit since you left Watford, award.

Center Parcs,  Nutri grain, Kellogs cornflakes and The RNLI were the tricky briefs we had to crack. 

Watford at Burnetts.

During the week, Creative Directors and former students, Rik Brown and Jon Fox, set us the task to create a Valentines' Day ad for Flash cleaner.

The best concept featured a marriage proposal on a clean floor which was conceived by two teams, Oli & Josie and Ben & Matt.

Rick and Jon turned the ad around, this is what actually ran.

On Friday, we gathered in the board room where Pete and Matt cogitated over the assembled campaigns.

Although there were no outstanding ideas it was a good week for learning how tricky it is to find new angles for briefs like Kelloggs.

Pete and Matt peruse the ideas.

WCRS 17/2/14

I have always loved WCRS. 
It might have something to do with the fact there are legions of ex Watford students there. 22,001 at the last count.
Although, this might be a slight exaggeration.
Or I might have counted the same people twice.
Why do people move around when they are being counted?

The two Creative Directors, Billy and Ross are always genuinely delighted to see us. And if I am ever stuck for good banter I know I can always count on Leon Jaume to shoot the breeze about the good old Watford days, when beer was 14p a pint, crack was something on your ceiling and everyone read the Daily Mirror.

Mike Comley takes a break from his studio to give sagely advice.

During the week at WCRS, I took time out to nip over the road to visit an ex Watford team who are working at Dare. 

Chloe and Jess were on the course this time last year. After gaining a placement last July, they worked their pink Primark socks off to impress the Creative Director. 

They now have their just rewards. They have a job, some really juicy briefs and a nice new shed to work in. Oh, I almost forgot. They have also been nominated for a Creative Circle Award.

Jess and Chloe in their 'shed of  dreams.'

On Wednesday afternoon we took the Central line over to Shoreditch to spend some time at Mother.

Paddy Fraser, creative genius and disgruntled Man United fan asked the course to re launch Burger King, while Richard and Pilar, another talented team reviewed the work on their set brief, the Mexico Tourist Board.

Paddy Fraser and Karen the amazing planner, get stuck in to the student campaigns at Mother.

The week at WCRS was intense. 5 briefs in 5 days finishing with a Transport For London brief set by Orlando and Joe who recently took the Job Bus from M and C Saatchi to alight in Great Portland Street.

The course in listening mode with Orlando and Joe.

'7.00am Bacon Sandwich At The Agency Every Morning Flag'. By Matt Butterfield.

IRIS 24/2/14

ECD's Shaun Mcilrath and Chris Baylis open our Irises.

When someone in the industry tells me, 'I applied for your course',  I suddenly get a sinking feeling.

Did they reject me or did I reject them?

Fortunately, in the instance of Chris Baylis, an ECD at Iris, I did offer him a place on the course in 1999. He rejected my offer.  Phew.

The fact that he is now ECD of Iris following a successful stint in Amsterdam was proof-positive he didn't need my help anyway.

Chris was joined by fellow ECD Shaun Mcilrath and they both ran through the agency credentials with the style and panache you would expect to see from a hugely confident and successful agency.

One of the young teams, Joe and Sam, set the students a 'newsjacking' brief and a Dominos pizza task while Chris Baylis wanted to see some ideas for Mini.

Iris creative Dave and planner Gareth talk to Oli and Josie test drive some ideas for Mini.

The flag of Ben. Newsjacking game Happies Saddies. A news version of Snakes and Ladders.

FALLON 3/3/14

Ah...Fallon. Dan Watts, a Creative Director, is the living embodiment of John Lennon's maxim, 'the love you take is equal to the love you make'.

Dan has given Watford a lot of love and in return I have given him unrestricted access to TC's Little Black Book Of Awesomely Hireable Creatives.

Recently, Fallon have won loads of business and have hired loads of ex Watfords.

Dan with some of his recently hired Watfords.
From left, Mike, Chloe, James, CD Dan, Duncan, Alice and Ed.
The Fallon challenge: produce big ideas for Clarks shoes, Oddbins, Jolly Green Giant sweetcorn, Krispy Kreme and Air Lingus. All tough briefs.

The objective:get one campaign good enough for the folios.  

Mike and James class of 2012 talk ideas with Robbie and Sophie.

Thursday evening 6th March was a big night.

The current students went over to Shoreditch to present some ideas on Skype to brand content agency, Just So.

I stayed  at Fallon for the graduation of the class of 2012 and 2013.

Besides awarding the Diplomas, I announced the winners of the Team of The Year Award. This is in memory of Rosie Mitchell who was a former student who passed away in 1994.

Previous winners include Sam Oliver & Shishir Patel, Creative Directors at BBH, Ali Campbell & Susie Hails Creative Directors at Agency Republic and Saatchis and Oli Beale & Tori Flower, Creative Directors of Anomaly and We Are What We Do.

Only two people have won this award as solo creatives. 
Paddy Fraser who is a Creative Director at Mother and Sarah Naughton who won the award back in 1997.

Much to my delight, Sarah Naughton came along to the event with Chris Mitchell, Rosie's father. After a fabulous career in advertising, Sarah is now a highly claimed author and was recently nominated for a Costa Award.
Her debut novel is currently rated 4.8 on Amazon. 
My novel is rated 'could do better' by Miss Jones, Form B, 1964.

Chis Mitchell, Sarah Naughton and TC.
The evening gave me a chance to catch up with ex students and to chat about their blossoming careers.

The winners of The Team of The Year Award, sponsored by Liz Harold and Dave Trott, went to Tom Hall and Tessie Gaertner for the 2012 class. Tom and Tessie are at Crispin Porter Paddy Powering their way to greatness.  

Gareth Morgan and Martin Tighe won for 2013. 
The boys are having fun with Danny Brooke-Taylor at Lucky Generals and have already won a Creative Circle Award.

After drinking Fallon dry we all went to The Yorkshire Grey to take on the night.

The Watford Team of The Year Award Board.

Friday 1.00pm.
The students pinned up all their ideas/executions in the Fallon boardroom.

There were no outstanding ideas although a few teams did have some cool thoughts which had potential.

Duncan talks about his Watford days.

The flag of Myles Vincent. Brainstorming with a dodgy tummy.

Dare 10/3/14
I have been coming to Dare ever since the agency began with two creatives, 
(Flo Heiss and James Cooper), a secretary and a few Commordore computers.

Nowadays, Dare is a huge and talented ad agency. Flo is still waving his magic wand creating genius wherever he roams. The new Creative Director, Sean Thompson, has settled in and is geting some great work out of his creatives.

Two tasks for the week.
One: create an idea that would stop dogs fouling the pavement.
And two: stop cigarettes fouling the body. 

On Thursday morning I had the good fortune to meet a genius, one Kerry Roper.

Kerry is a hugely talented graphic designer, who, with Celtic passion,  ran through his ideas and approach to designing ads, record labels, T-shirts and dogs.

I was so blown away by this Welshman's talent I ended up in a banana plantation in Belize. 

His work is.......well, you decide. Here it is:


I would urge every young art director to print Kerry's entire portfolio and wallpaper their bedrooms with his work.

Thursday was a beautifully sunny day which brought out the dog walkers and their four legged faeces factories. 
With cameras in one hand and poop scoopers in the other, the teams went forth to film the dog toilets of London.

The Creative Circle Awards were held on Thursday night. There was a heavy Watford influence across the winners board. 

Particularly pleasing was seeing some of the more recent graduates do so well.
Here is a link to all the Watford Winners.


Friday saw the teams present their films to Pippa & Drew and Chloe & Jess.
The Dare teams picked out their favourite two films which you can see here.
They were written by Ashley/Lizzie and George/Lizzie. 

Ashley & Lizzie - Make Your Dog Proud

George & Lizzie - Poocicle

Both teams were short listed for a placement at Dare. The 'deal breaker' will be the best ideas for our other brief at Dare, Anti Smoking. 


A&E/DDB 17/3/14
There have been 6 flags planted on the moon. 
Only one remains.
The fourth flag.
Sometimes it is better not to be first, but to be the strongest.

Theodore Chubley, 1997.

Half the agency are Ex Watford, including one of the ECD's Ben Tollett. This was going to be an amazing week.

The week started with breakfast and a talk by Ben.
Ben was as generous in his praise of Watford as the patisserie chef was with his  almonds on his Monday croissants.

Ben Tollett welcomes Watford.

After a full tummy and the warm words of Ben, we all wanted to hibernate in an animated hole with the John Lewis bear.

But as Curtis Mayfield once implored, you gotta keep on keeping on, which is precisely what the teams did.

A&E/DDB have a fair quota of Watford students, so I spent much of the week talking nostalgia to my former charges. It was a really good feeling to see so many of my students happy and in good hands.

The full list of ex Watford creatives at the agency is:
Chris Bowsher
Tash Lyons
Dan Lacey
Ben Tollett
Frank Ginger
Jonathan John
Mikael Alcock
Doug Fridlund
Aidan McClure
Laurent Simon
Stef Ellis
Nikki Lindman
Toby Brewer
Tom Webber
Nick Shepard 
Sophie Knox

A few of the A&E/DDB ex Watfords.

We worked on a range of live client briefs after signing confidentiality documents which  means we are not allowed to talk about the briefs or the work we did on them.

Those of you who are advocates of Bobus Chubley's seminal hypothesis, Mind Scape Manoeuvres, will get an idea of what we did by staring at the picture below for 6 minutes.

The week finished with the harmonious rattle of the agency's drinks trolley approaching our base room.
After a few libations, some soft hugs and well wishes we wafted out of the agency to be kissed by the warming lips of Spring zephyrs and to dance with falling cherry blossom. 

Watching John Lewis ads on continual loop for a week really does something to you.

A huge thank you to Caroline Tripp, a DDB creative producer, for all that she did for us behind the scenes. 

The wonderful Caroline Tripp with students.

Spot the drinks trolley.

RKCR/Y&R 24/3/14

I am a fan of the past.  The past may be another country, but it is a cool place to hang out. 
On that note, here is some history about the building that houses RKCR/Y&R.

Demand for cigarettes increased during the First World War and the Carreras Tobacco Company expanded its business in the 1920s, like many other tobacco companies. Carreras had outgrown its  cigarette factory in London, so it closed the facility and opened a new one in 1928 in Mornington Crescent, Camden.

Statue of
The architects of the factory were greatly influenced by the contemporary fashion for Egyptian-style buildings and decorative arts. The Carreras building was designed four years after Howard Carter's 1922  Tutankhamun expeditiion   Commentators on the architecture have also speculated that the use of Egyptian decoration was used to create an association of the "luxury" image of smoking with the treasures of Ancient Egypt.
Furthermore, between the 1880s and the end of World War 1, the Eygptian Cigarette Industry was a globally successful manufacturer and exporter of cigarettes. Non-Egyptian tobacco companies adopted Egyptian motifs in their advertising to take advantage of this. Although the Egyptian industry had begun to decline by the late 1920s as popular taste shifted away from the Turkish tobacco it used.
The building was opened to great fanfare; a ceremony held in front of the building involved covering the pavements in front of the building with sand to replicate the deserts of Egypt. There was a procession of cast members from a contemporary London production of Verdi's opera Aida actors in Ancient Egyptian costume performed around the "temple" structure, and a chariot race was held on the Hampstead Road.

Dominating the entrance to the building were two large 8.5-foot (2.6 m)-high bronze statues of cats, stylised versions of the Egyptian god Bastet.

So now you know.

The  resonance of the Carreras building is having an effect on me. I started thinking about cultural gurus. Everyone should have one. Mine is a long haired hippy who works in an empty swimming pool in an old school house in the West country.  Every week he sends me links to creative ideas and interesting stuff from around the globe. Most of what he sends me is not to my taste. (Thailand subculture:  Thais dressing up as Mexican gangsters.) Some of what he sends me is awesome. (Podcasts about Viv Stanshall.)

Here are just two of the thirty links he sent me this week.



Back to adland.

Just two years ago, Barney and Gus were being fertilised in the composts of Watford.
After leaving the course early, beating two hot teams in a placement 'face off' over three months and winning an aircraft hanger full of awards, they have decided to leave the agency and join WK London. Today, 27/3/14, is their leaving drink.
Barney and Gus at Watford 3rd row, the two on the right.

Barney and Gus, two years later winning awards.

I have been taken out to lunch once by an ex student over the past 25 years. Stu Harkness took me to Poppies fish and chip house some time last century. 
 26th March 2014 the lunch date happened again.
This time the lovely Nicola took the equally lovely Mike, Andy and myself for some Thai nosh in Camden.

The waitress was too busy taking pictures of The Internationally Acclaimed  Mike Comley to serve us food.

The Board Room. Friday 28th.
Lord Forrest and Lady Wood will see you now.

The Watford teams presented two films each. The first film was their creative solution which they turned a pound in to a profit and the second involved getting 20 people to do something.

The 'Pound Brief' films were fun. Chris and Ann- Sophie sold genuine British rain to tourists. Ashley and Lizzie ran an umbrella cab service and Robble and Sophie sold Tea with the Queen and took £21.00 in the process.

On the '20 people doing things' task, Oli and Josie got 20 people to play Twister on the tube and Lizzie and George conducted marriage ceremonies on the steps of St Pauls Cathedral.  This link should take you to the films.


Nicola and Andy gave the Watford crew a wonderful time at RKCR/Y&R.
I wish I could kidnap them and superglue them to my shoulders.

The Boardroom presentation.

                                                                                Nicola and Andy.

Grey 31/3/14

 If you feel good with what you are doing let your Freak Flag fly

Sarah Jessica Parker.

There's more buzz at Grey than the saw mills of Oregon the day after the tree huggers have all gone home. Yes, the agency is doing great work and growing.

Nils Leonard, the ECD, is a lovely bloke and although we've barely spoken to each other he's always been supportive of The World of Watford.

Current Grey creatives from Watford include Lucy Collier, Ben Stafford, Andy Howarth, Jamie Starbuck and Darren Wright.

It was a foggy, air polluted London on the day we arrived. 
If I had bumped in to Sherlock Holmes looking for his lost pussy cat, I would have not been at all surprised.

Arriving at Grey on Monday.

Our tasks for the week were the two live briefs.

Outside Grey holding the two briefs. I am third on the left.

The week ended with Dave Monk, one of the Creative Directors, running through our ideas. Viks Maguire treated the students to a wonderfully inspiring talk and gave out free sweets from her very own sweet shop, Suck and Chew.

I'd like to see a flag made out of fingers and knuckles, so that it could really wave in the wind. It would be the most welcoming flag in all the world.

Jarod Kintz

18 Feet and Rising 7/4/14

Johnny Leathers. 
The name conjures up an image of a leather clad motorcyclist who rides the Wall of Death at a Cincinnati fairground in a 1957 film. 

Johnny Leathers is, in fact, an ex Watford student who, after stints on the roller coasters at BBH, Lowes and Publicis, now finds himself as  Head of Art at 18 Feet and Rising.  
Johnny works alongside Matt Keon, founder and ECD of the agency.

I bumped in to Johnny in the street last year and told him about the Watford Tour. He said he would ask Matt if we could come in for a week. 

Johnny called back to say that Matt would love to have my students in the agency but the dodgems will be closed for the season and the lady who runs the hook-a-duck has run off with candy floss seller. 

He didn't actually say the last bit, but that's what I heard.

'Johnny Leathers' 1957
Johnny Leathers. 2014.

On arrival, the first thing that caught my eye was a table my eyes labelled, 'The Breakfast To End All Breakfasts'. 

Either the agency were laying on a spread for The Halifax rugby league squad or Mr Creosote was about to to be lowered in by crane for his morning nosh.

Anna Carpen, an 18feet creative and ex-Watfordian,  appeared and told us to tuck in. The spread was, in fact, for us.
MMMmmmmm    Breakfast of Champions

After filling our bellies, Matt Keon the ECD and Jonathan Trimble the CEO, ran through the agency's philosophy and duly informed us that we were all going to be treated as permanent agency staff.   I took on the role of tea lady whilst the students toiled away on some amazing briefs.

Matt Keon and Jonathan Trimble run through the agency's credentials.

We were given Non Disclosure Forms to sign, which is the legal equivalent of having your lips stapled together by Ray Winstone. 

Those of you who are familiar with Bobus Chubley's  Essay, 'Thought Travel without an Oyster Card' will get an insight on the briefs from the visual prompt below.

NB  To this day, Chubley's essays remain unpublished and are only available via telepathy.

Friday 11th April. 
It was Johnny Leathers 40th birthday and we all assembled in the boardroom for cake, champagne and crisps. 

Anna Carpen ran through the best Watford ideas of the week and gave out prizes.

Robbie and Sophie won three out of the 5 tasks and were awarded a placement at the agency. 

Anna gave a special mention to Jack, who worked on his own all week. 
To the delight of everyone Anna gave Jack a placement too. 

The agency then ran through their latest work: Nandos first ever TV/cinema campaign which is very quirky and would not be out of place on a bizarre American sit-com. It is very funny, advertising juries take note.

Wow. What a week. 18 Feet and Rising is a fantastic agency with some very special people. 
We learned loads.
We contributed ideas for clients. 
We ate toast.

Many thanks to Matt, Anna, Jonathan, Emma, Joel who made our week merry, meaningful and memorable.

Wall of Death practice session.
The Easter break!
Whilst I sojourned in the wilderness of Cumbria the students all worked on their folios.
Ex students Gareth and Martin were having fun sending our Easter eggs on behalf of The Labour Party.

 Saatchis 21/4/14

After eating lots of Cleggs, it was time to crank up the Tour Bus and hit the agencies again. 

As you all know from my previous blogs I started out as a young writer in 1979 at Saatchis. I loved the agency. And I still do. And I loved Fitzrovia/Bloomsbury. And I still do. 

Fitzrovia has such an amazing cultural history. 

When in exile, Lenin held his first meeting of the Communist Party on the same spot where the Saatchis is based today. True. 
Rossetti trained in Charlotte Street. 
Orwell wrote in the local coffee houses.

Dylan Thomas, a Welsh wizard long before Ryan Giggs dribbled in to his bib,
was also a fan of Charlotte Street.
The great Welsh poet frequented Charlotte Street on a regular basis.
He used to hang out at the Fitzroy coffee house (now The Fitzroy Tavern) and write poems with Augustus John.

When they had writers block they would order another latte and sit back to watch Swansea F.C. on Sky TV and later sing 'The Green, green grass of home' on the karaoke machine.

Dylan is my favourite poet. Everyone should have a favourite Dylan poem. 

For some, it's 'Maggies Farm. More tender folk may go for Hey Mr Tambourine Man.

My own favourite is, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.
Place leek in hand before reading.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan dressed for a Mick Hucknell Simply Red reunion gig

As I walked along Charlotte Street I felt dizzy. 
Standing at the cultural intersection of Hallam Street, a ley line  surged through me and a poem flashed in to my head.

Today I'm marchi 
To Saatchi and Saatchi
As happy as a lead Mariachi
Though my tummy is starchy
My tonsils are parchy
My heart is more Liberace.

The wonderful Tracy Flaherty organised a fantastic week for us. 
This week focused on pushing the folios. 
Tracy organised folio crits with all the senior Saatchi teams.

At the end of the week Ben and Matt told me that they presented their folio to Andy Jex and Rob Potts. 
Their folio went down well apparently, as the boys returned to the fold with the 'we've just been offered a placement' smile across their tired faces.

Ben and Matt practice writing a thank you note to Jexy and Pottsy for their placement.

Karmarama 5/5/2014
The human flag.

Lamas, motorbikes and rainbow tunnels are some of the things that greet the eye as you walk in to this veritable cavern of fun adjacent to Farringdon station.

The Rainbow Tunnel.

The perpetually effervescent Tom Woodington, senior creative and ex Watford student, greeted us. 

After coffee and fine biscuits, Tom whipped out his Tombola of Dreams. The teams all drew out briefs from the Tombola and went straight to work.

On Friday, Tom and I went through the students' ideas whilst the industry's most kind hearted creative director Dave Buonaguidi, occupied the students with a spell binding talk.

Dave talks.

Tom had seen four of our folios throughout the week and was suitably impressed with George and Lizzie. He liked their tone of voice so much he announced he would like to offer them a placement.  Such great news to end a wonderful week.

George and Lizzie with Tom centre.

Homeless  12/5/2014

Sadly, we were blown out by BMB. The agency were frantic on pitches and couldn't host us. Next year, maybe.

We decided to set up camp at The Festival Hall and conduct our tutorials from there.

View from our temporary office at The Festival Hall.

Thursday was a wonderful day. A friend of mine in Devon posted me a manuscript he found at the bottom of an old trunk he bought at a car boot fair in Barnstaple.

The hand written manuscript was titled, The Art of Clowning by B. Chubley. 

For fans of Chubley, this is the equivalent of finding a Penny Black stuck on a winning rollover lotto ticket and autographed by King Henry 8th. 

I am currently trying to authentic the manuscript with The Chubley Society.
(There are fakes out there, collectors be warned.)

Perusing the manuscript I found some fascinating comments on the 'art of clowning'. A lot of it was very technical, with sections on the optimum circumference of a red nose and Coco's Theorem on the gravitational dynamics of custard pies. 
However, some of the advice is really, really useful to any pursuer of the creative arts.

Here are a few of the comments:

What we need:


What we do:

Say 'yes' to fate.

'Yes' to experience. You are here to experience life on earth.

No false emotions

No to judgement.

It's beautiful to have success after many failures.

There is no one like you.

Be present in the moment all the time.

Protect your space. If you let people into your space physically or mentally they can control you and you will never find your clown.

You need confidence, not resistance to find new experiences: 

Clowns can't write books so they need experiences.

If you have everything, then put control in, nothing will be the same.

Control creates anger. You don't say 'yes' to an experience if you try and control it.

Old people look crooked because their joints are full of control and anger.

Make an invitation - "If you need help I am here", don't rescue. 

Allow people to make their own decisions.

A quick re-cap on the placements awarded thus far.


VCCP 19/5/2014

Advertising doesn't influence me at all. It doesn't work folks.

Sorry for that rather bleak opinion. But it is true.

Let's move on.

I had a dream last night. 
My cat become a dog and I became so depressed I ate Wagon Wheels until I became one. 
Jean Claude Damme saw me melting and asked to borrow my O2 phone. 
Enraged at his muscly cheek I challenged him to a fight.
He knocked the jam out of me and took my meerkat toy as a trophy to his victory.

The week started with a talk by Creative Director Jim Thornton who told us about the rise of VCCP from its early incarnation of three guys in a Victorian house in Wandsworth to a  creative citadel in Victoria.

Jim Thornton welcomes the students.

Creatives Dan and Elias took over from Jim and laid down the gauntlet:
a new folio in one week. 
The briefs were Slazenger, Saga, Safe Cycling, Which and Oasis.
The teams all scooted off to fill a hundred layout pads with a thousand ideas.
I went to the post office to post a letter.

Thursday 21st May. Watford College.
In the lift I met Brian Melling. In the 60 seconds it took for the lift to rise to the third floor he told me a heart warming story.

He said his 25 year old son, Harry, had written a play.
He had never written a play before.
It was something he just had to do. 
It was a burning desire of his.
So he sat down in his flat and poured out his words.
After writing the play an agent pitched it to theatre producers.
An American producer bought it and put the play on in New York. 
It recently opened on Broadway. 
The New York Times gave it 5 stars.
A rare rating for an established playwright, never mind a novice. 

Brian the proud playwright's dad and me.

Our last day at VCCP was a happy one. The redoubtable agency creatives Elias and Dan went through a mountain of work so high the top few sheets had snow on them.

'Idea Mountain' was soon blasted to rubble by explosive comment and in the clearing grey smoke the gems emerged. 

The best idea from each team was presented to Jim Thornton. 
He laughed a lot. 
He made some incisive comments.
He avoided the biscuits. 
He was generally pleased with the standard of thinking.

The VCCP judges then went in to a quiet corner to discuss whether any of the teams were worthy of a placement. They emerged and duly awarded George and Lizzie a placement.
Claps, biscuits, crisps and beers followed.

VCCP creatives giving feedback
Dan  arranging the boxes of Cadbury fingers
George and Lizzie, front,happy to be chosen for placement duty.

PS. On my last day at VCCP I bumped in to Fernando, an ex-student who was freelancing at the agency. 

He told me it was his last day and he was going back to Brazil to start his own favella. 
I told him to go to New York to write a play.
Good luck Fernando. 
We will miss your silky skills on the layout pad.

Fernando,ex student on his last day at VCCP.


McCann 9/6/2014

Pain removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul” C.S. Lewis.

This was film week.

Kate Pozzi, former student, kicked off the week and set the fun challenge of making two 90 second films to a random word. 

When Kate was a student she worked at LBC radio at weekends. Kate read the travel reports. 

So in her best radio voice she read out the brief with so much warmth, tone and clarity the students knew which routes to follow and the pot holes were clearly sign posted. 
The teams revved up and ready to go drove off in to the big wide yonder.

Kate Pozzi briefs the group.

Monday was spent brainstorming, Tuesday, story boarding and writing. Wednesday and Thursday were filming days.

On Friday afternoon McCann creatives gathered to watch the films. 
We were joined by two more ex-Watfordians,  Director Steve Reeves and writer Mike Oughton.
Steve and Mike's feature film 'Keeping Rosy' had just been premiered in Manchester to favourable reviews. 
We had a nice chat about the wonders of film making and the merits of Hollywood versus Cricklewood.

The student films were excellent. 

First prize went to Oli and Josie for their 'unexpected item' script. Robbie and Sophie came second with 'The narcoleptic escapologist' Third was Jack with 'The demise of the invisible man'.

Lee Tan and Tee Cee play pass the seagull.

Four generations of Watford. Steve, Kate, Mike and me.

16/6/2014 Crispin Porter Bogusky.

On the way to Crispin Porter I bumped in to a lot of people outside Kings Cross station carrying flags. Monday 16th June was International Cleaner's Day and the world's cleaners were all out on the streets demonstrating for something.  

I asked one cleaner what he wanted.
'Non-slip banana skins, automatic plug hole hair removers and more absorbent sponges. Oh, and more money', he replied.

Kate and Joe, lovely agency creatives, organised a brilliant week for us. They met us in reception and we were led up to the boardroom for a talk about disruptive advertising.

Every day we were set a brief with a critique the following morning.
Ben Carey, Tessie Gaertner, Emma Penz, Ben Walker and Kate and Joe weighed in with some fine workshops. 

One of the briefs we worked on was CALM, the charity for male depression. Ash, Lizzie and Jack wrote a poster campaign which Kate and Joe thought was strong enough to be presented to the client.

Ash with his older brother.

Ben Walker runs through some Paddy Power work.

On Friday we said goodbye to Robbie and Sophie who left the course to join Crispin Porter on placement.

Robbie and Sophie wave goodbye to an old man who has been bothering them for months.

BBH 23/6/14

This week was all about conversations.
There were some beautifully profound words from Sir John Hegarty about the power of ideas. 
We were captivated by an inspiring discourse from Nick Kidney and Kevin Stark on craft skills. 
Mellifluous articulation came from Mark Reddy, the Head of Art, who conjured up the world of sumptuous design with every careful syllable.
And Jim Carroll weighed in with his warm, loquacious wisdom on marketing, words which fell like lotus blossom on the ears.
Over in the corner there were excited shouts of 'Got', 'Got' 'Need,' Got, Got, Need.
It was nice for me to run through Johnny Durgan's World Cup Panini sticker swaps.

A few of the Ex Watfords at BBH. Mikael, Doug, Caroline, Ed, Mark,Martin, Jonny, Drew and Lewis.

...and a few more ex Wats. Dan, Shish, Sam and Charlene.

Kevin Stark, Creative Director, re lives the wonderful Murphys print Campaign.

Tuesday was good news day at BBH.
Dan and Drew, graduates from 2013 who had been on placement at BBH since last September, were awarded a full time job.
And Mikael and Doug, fellow classmates, had their internship extended.

The students worked on some great briefs over the week.  Matt Fitch and Mark Lewis asked the students to create a one page comic, while AK&George, Johnny & Martin and Dan & Charlene proffered equally challenging briefs.

On Friday afternoon a veritable mini army of creatives gathered in the boardroom to peruse the student folios. More debate ensued as the BBH creatives decided whether any of this year's teams were good enough to be awarded a place on the agency's internship programme known as The Barn.

The final conversation of the week went like this. 

Dan and Charlene to Oli and Josie: 'We'd like to offer you a placement.
Josie: 'Thank you'
Oli; 'Thank you'

Dan Morris awards Oli and Josie a placement.

 Prince Harry thanks Peter Wardle

A big thanks goes to Peter Wardle, Head of Creative Services, who organised a truly memorable week for us.

Wieden Kennedy 30/7/14.
The agency had hired two more ex Watford teams since I last visited,
Barnaby and Gus from RKCR/Y&R and Thom and Danielle from Mother.

Thom and Danielle were away on beard grooming duties while Barn and Gus were hard at work spreading Lurpak ideas across white sliced layout pads.

Our week was hosted by the incredible Vikki whose smile, on a clear day, can be seen from the top pod of The London Eye.

This was an eclectic week full of wonder and joy. 

Our first task was to write lines for the Brazil World Cup Charity Ribbon Wish Bands which were being sold in the agency window.

I wish Gareth Bale was English.
I wish referees had beards.
I wish Wayne Rooney joined Weightwatchers.
I wish Shakira was single.

Plus a thousand other witty wishes.

Most of the briefs we worked on were live projects, a.k.a. 'Fun Boy Three' briefs. Our Lips Are Sealed. (The track was originally written by The Go Gos Jane Wiedlin.)

There were lots of treats at the agency on Friday.

Guy Featherstone, self confessed  skate boarding sneakerhead
and soon to be Head of Design at W&K Portland, treated us all to a talk about his design philosophies. 
Amazing stuff it was too.

Vikki Kottler treated us all to breakfast.

Tony Davidson treated me to some wonderful visions and view points.

And Barnaby treated me to a hot beef with mustard from his favourite Brick Lane bagel shop.

Tony and Guy And the Watfords.

The day ended with multiple folio critiques from the agency teams. 

As always, the W&K experience was truly different, immensely inspiring and hugely enjoyable.

What would Jimmy Page think?

Vikki and the Watford Crew.

Mother 7/7/11.

All things must pass
None of life's strings can last
So I must be on my way
And face another day


Our final week saw us on board The Mothership.

Ben Heap, a top Northern bloke who is very good at football and plays for Blackburn, gave me a hug and welcomed us to Mother.

Alex and Ed, ex Watfords, set the first brief; Halfords bikes.

Rich and Pilar, Mother creative team, set Tony and Guy Hair Salons.

And Robert Saville, ECD,  made use of us by getting us involved on a pitch.

Ash made in my coffee. You can take the boy out of Starbucks but...

Friday 11th July. 

Last day for the class of 2014.

The students were hammering out their final ideas for Mother.

I went for a quick visit to Creature where I met former students Mike and Sam for coffee. 

Over a cappucino Sam told me something about himself which I found rather interesting.

Sam revealed that he was a keen Roller Derby player.  So keen, in fact, he entered international competitions and was moving up the rankings.

Currently, he is the 9th best Roller Derby player in the UK. 

I was so stunned I treated Sam to an artichoke. 

The 9th best Roller Derby player Sam accepting his artichoke.

The final few hours of the 2014 course were spent in the Mother boardroom where a whole bunch of agency creatives reviewed the student folios.

The final book critique.

Our final  round of applause of the year went to Ben Heap who galvinised the Mother creatives to treat us to an amazing week.

Thanks Ben. You are a great Mother.
The evening ended up with a Watford gathering at The Yorkshire Grey. tears, smiles and laughter. What better way to finish.

End of year Watford drinks at The Yorkshire Grey.

Before I disappear to Norway for my annual tree climbing holiday I feel it's apposite to leave you with some words from Tommy Ramone who passed away recently.

It's not hard, not far to reach
We can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach

Placements awarded throughout the tour.

Cassie/Jeske         VCCP and BMB.
Ash/Lizzy             Dare, Creature, Lucky Generals and Grey.
Myles/James.        Lucky Generals and The Corner.
Oli/Josie.              BBH, Anomaly and Fallon.
George/Lizzie        VCCP, Lucky Generals and Karmarama.
Robbie/Sophie.     Crispin Porter and 18ft and Rising.
Ben/Matt              Full time Job at Saatchis.
Jack                     18ft & Rising and Irresistible films

TC  24/7/2014.