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Campaign Brief (AUS/NZ) Online.
Campaign Brief Magazine : July August 2008
smart people and knew what they were looking for. I am not certain why he chose me.” They originally approached 60 advertising executives and screen- tested about 35 people from various levels of the industry. “We are making this series with the advertising industry and about it, but not for i t. We are making a TV show here, and we have to cast the people who are right for te levi- sion. Ther e are ver y impr essive peopl e we met i n t he au dition process who we were blown away by in terms of the information they had to say, but they weren’t right for television,” says Denton. Denton was amused by some of the comments they had early on, which was how dare you even talk to people in the advertising industry as if they are some sort of toxic being that s hould be ost racized from society lest we get infected. He says: “I find that e xtraordi - nary, it’s not as if the advertising industry is off in its own little evil lair, just creating ads, the advertis- ing industry is the pointy end of us, it is the pointy end of capitalism. It is about our desires and our needs and our greed and our fears, and that is one of the reasons it is so interesting to us. Pe ople who work in advertising know more about us than just about anyone and for that reason alone they are really worth listening to.” Casmir, who was brought up by parents who taught him to question all forms of authority, admits to a n ingrained skepticism about anybody that attempts to persuade him of anything whether it be religion or advertising, says making the show changed his mind about advertis- ing. Overall, he thinks the show has been very charmed. “An awful lot of work was done and an awful lot of hunches paid off, but it’s been a train on a track, it’s gone really well.” Denton is quic k to point out tha t television is rarely like that. “I can’t think of a show I have worked on where almost everything has gone as we would have hoped, touch wood,” he says. Thanks to the show, Sampson has become something of a pin-up boy for the advertising industry with CB bloggers c rooning about how cute, sexy and intelligent he is. (For the record, he’s happily married with a young child). Ther e’s been pl enty of mai n- stream press coverage as well. In the last weekend in July he was on the cover of My Car eer in the Sydney Morning Herald and the next day there was a full-page profile on him in the Sun-Herald dubbing him the ‘thinking women’s sex symbol’ and the week before that he was in The Sun-Herald’s ‘Going up…and going down’ list as someone who’s smart, sexy and interesting. Then there are strangers asking him to be their Facebook friends, and the approaches in the street from women with children to bikers comi ng up to commen t on the show and discuss the issues raised. JU L Y /AUGUST 2 008 Howcroft’s main media exposure before the show was limited to ABC Radio, but he’s enjoying getting on a plane and having the person he sits next to want to talk to him. One time he sat next to one of the senior bureaucrats in the health department and had a long chat about health policy and another time he spoke at length with Ziggy Switkowski, the former Telstra chief, who now chairs the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, about nuclear policy. (However, it didn’t save the Telstra account for the Sydney office). “I’ve had peopl e of all differ ent demographics sa ying t hey li ke the show, o r i t’s r eally g ood f or th eir kids. Because I’m taking it all with a grain of salt, I respond to people, it’s all in the spirit of fun. I’m just on a panel show,” he says. The most gratifying approach was fr om a teacher fr om W este rn Sydney who said she was so inspired by the show t hat she has added it to the sch ool cu rriculum for 270 schools. He’s also been getting requests for public speaking engagements f rom big c orporations t o charity mo ve- ments, i ncluding t he Himalayan Foundation who he’s n ow working with – it’s a perfect fit as Sampson is an avid climber and has reached the summit of Mt Everest. Some o f t he q ueries h ave b een about people asking for work at Leo Burnett, or for career advice. If he can help, he d oes, t aking t he atti - tude that it is t he r esponsibility a s leaders i n t his in dustry t o h elp – with or without s tarring o n T he Gruen Transfer. Has he been getting any calls from potential clients? “Context is important. I am just a small part of one of the top creative agencies in Australia. Clients would not co me h ere b ecau se of me or The Gruen Trans fer. They wo uld consider us because of our creative reputation and proven capabilities – these are bigger than a panel show,” says Sampson. While the message boards haven’t been giving Howcroft the same sex symbol status – “Russel has proba- bly b een ge tting th e b us iness ,” quips Sampson – he’s also been get- ting plenty of attention. Howcroft’s main media e xposure before the show was limited to ABC Radio, but he’s enjoying getting on a plane and having the person he sits next to want to talk to him. One time he sat next to one of the senior bureaucrats in t he hea lth depart - ment a nd h ad a l ong c hat a bout health p olicy and another time he spok e at Switkowski, the former Telstra chief, who leng th with Zig gy now chair s the Aus trali an N uclear Scien ce an d Technology Organisation, a bout nuclear policy. (However, it didn’t save the Telstra a ccount for the Sydney office). “I don’t know if I would have had those c onversations i f Th e Gruen Transfer wasn’t o n a nd I r eally enj oy being able to have those chats. It is a great privilege to be on that show, and it is a great privilege to h ave Andrew Denton a nd h is crew select y ou and have fa ith in you,” he says. However , Howcr oft doesn’t expect it t o ki ck s tart a t elevision career, saying there’s not much of a television c areer for someone t alk- ing about a dvertising fo r the next twenty years. Other panellists are also attracting attention. Bridg et Taylor was include d in David D ale’s column on the se xiest people on te levision and d uring a di scussion a bout the show on R adio Na tional, fre elance copywriter, Jane Caro, said the phone hasn’t s topped r inging s ince The Gruen Transfer. She suspects clients e njoy t he i dea o f working with s omeone who t hey have jus t seen on television. 7 CAM PAIGN B R I E F 21
May June 2008