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Campaign Brief (AUS/NZ) Online.
Campaign Brief Magazine : May June 2007
T H E B U SINESS go play tennis, so if you were expe- riencing a bit o f a creati ve b lock you would c hange the mood. There’s no doubt that when you are having fun and enjoying yo urself you are more likely to t hink up something more fun a nd intere st- ing,” he says. Nunn, who has fond memories of spending h ours p ouring ov er t ype faces w ith Ch andler , agr ees that the re us ed to be mu ch more emphasis on the craft. Conversely, today’s wri ters a nd ar t d irectors aren’t encouraged nor do they have the time or skills - to craft the work. Creatives used to spend a l ot more time ta lking about cre ative issues with photographers, illustrators and film d ire ct ors - n ow it ’s abou t ordering a stock shot from a photo library or talking t o t he d irector about ways to make the job cheaper rather than how to m ake it be tter, he says, making it feel like a pr o- duction line. But in talking about fun, he’s not talking about the long lunches and the debauched production company parties, which was always just a side benefit - i t was about feeling you were involved in s omething real ly creative. Many leading ar tists an d cultural ico ns in Austr alia and th e UK got their st art in advertising - people like Phillip Adams, D avid Puttnam, Ken Done, Fred Schepsi, Allan Parker, Ridley Sco tt, Peter Mayle and Bryce Courtenay, which meant that you were work ing wi th lots of interesting people. “If you write up that it was more fun be cause it was mo re p eople going o ut and getting pissed then that was wha t gave advertising agencies a b ad name anyway an d clients w ould r ead that now an d say, it’s just a s well a ll that’s gone because why should we pay for that and they wou ld be quite r ight in saying that. What is miss ing i s the pleasure of a job well-done.” Now, margin s ar e so tigh t, to remain profitable agencies have to be run by ‘little money men’ where every hour has to be acc ountabl e and as a result the emphasis is now on tim e s he et s an d money as opposed t o the pursuit of cr eative excellence. Furthermore, a lot of the marketing departments that ad agencies deal with ar e al so d riven by t hese same financial pre ssures, which mean s the c reative proce ss has been shunted to the back. “This ha s impac ted on creati ve standards by restricting them across the board. There are s till examples of great ads happening but they are much r arer now than they used to be, the standard overall used to be higher,” he says. That said , Nunn says he and Loveder are fi nding ma ny a dvan- tages in working for themselves as a small cr eative consu ltancy dealin g directly with the client - and they are the ones that set the timetable. Says Nunn: “We a re do ing ou r own thing so we are much more in charge o f our time. We st ill mi ght put in as much time as anyone else but if we choose to go for a surf all morning and then work ba ck a bit 44 CA MPA I GN B RIEF Furby thinks part of the problem is that a lot of the characters haven’t been replaced: “There is no new (Bobbi) Gassy. A lot of the new generation are very serious and almost accountant-like. We need the characters to ensure a fun workplace. There are still a lot though. I have some very strange and wonderful people who I have met through advertising.” Rob Belgiovane (left) and Graham Nunn Graham Nunn’s office on the water in Kirribilli Warren Brown (left) with Jack Vaughan at night then we can do that. In fact that doesn’t even ha ppen, we a re much more efficient because we are not spending half our life sitt ing in meetings wasting time, which hap- pens in big agen cies a lot of the time these days.” Nunn is aware that t his s et-up works at the s ize t hey ar e at . He thinks the proliferation o f smaller, creative specialists is a way for some people to get their mojo back. Not only are they doing good work and having fun, crucially they are valued and respected by t he client s who hire them. “We have been doing this now for a y ear and have rediscovered t he fun, but that’s not like we are going lunching and partying, we do less of that n ow t han we d id, par tl y because we are a lot older now, but we have rediscovered th e tool s ets and executing good work. We’re at the wharf in Kirribilli, so it’s a good environment to be in.” He expe cts the pr essu res of today’s environment would make i t difficult to attract tale nt. Af ter a ll, it’s a tough busines s and you ’ve sometimes got to work ridiculously long hours, and turn stuff around in very short deadlines, and take a lot of crap sometimes from clients who rubbish it, so to c ompensate f or that, ther e better be so me of th e enjoyment that comes fr om occa- sionally feeling like you ’ve done a really good piece of work. “The salaries are s till r easonable, but you are not getting the satisfac- tion you once got, it really is much more of a sausage factory mentality at a lot of the big agencies th ese days. In the good old days you were actually paid for you r ad vertising judgment wher eas no w re search and the client more than anything has taken all of that sort of s tuff away so as a writer or art director now it is just fill this space.” Vaughan agrees that mandatory overtime has killed some of the fun: “I us ed to think it was fun to stay up all night working on a problem when it wasn’ t expected. There were times when I’ve had a whole department do that of their own volition, for an important project. Then we’d go to breakfast at some hotel at six am and giggle at every- thing becaus e we were so tired. That was k ind of fun too. But in recent times, that kind of intense application has become expected - even demanded - on an ongoing basis. Not just i n our bus iness, but in business generally. It’s fun w hen it’s your call; it isn’t when it’s a ‘so- you-should’.” Vaughan says doing wor thwhile stuff can be intense and sometimes terrifying, especially when all eyes - especially your own - are on you to conjure up that killer answer by Tuesday, s omething that’s not all that much fun: “I’ve long been con- vinced that good creative people always have demons with even the mos t bril liant people admi tting they’re driven by the fear of being ‘found out’. That i sn’t much fun; though i t is when you occasionally beat the devil. Often, the laughs creative people have are gallows humour,” he says. He’s curious about what it would be like to work in another business where there weren’t such pressures and demands - or perhaps much fun either: “When it’s two am and you haven’t got the answer, or it’s a balmy Sunday when you’ve had to turn down a sail, you can find your- self envying accountants, or actuar- ies or manual workers,” says ? MAY/J UNE 2 007
July August 2007