Company: EHS Brann Cirencester
Job title: Creative Director
What made you want to get into brands/advertising/media/marketing?
Honestly? I did one of those ‘job suitability’ computer programmes and it suggested either copywriter or dustman. That and the fact that I wanted to get a job near where my girlfriend had just got hers. Oh yes. It’s that kind of ruthless ambition that’s got me where I am today.
How did you get into the industry (including relevant qualifications and professional training)?
Brann was one of the few agencies that had a Grad scheme for creatives. I applied for a job on that, sent in some posters that I’d done for the band I was in at Uni and had a two day interview thing in Cirencester. On the back of that Paul Kitcatt gave me a job, God bless him.
What was good and bad about your first job?
Well, technically this is still my first job (I haven’t worked for another agency), but when I got started…I think as a rookie copywriter you feel everything you do has to be ever so clever. Like, check out this pun, ladies! Look at my sexy wordplay! Then you realise you’re just being a twat and actually getting in the way of selling the product. The good part was being surrounded by wonderfully talented, warm and funny people. From that point of view it was exactly what I hoped my first workplace would be like.
List your jobs to date
They’ve all been at Brann. From trainee copywriter to Creative Director.
What were the best and worst, and why Best and worst were probably the first 12 months after being made Creative Director. I ended up running a dept with next-to-no management experience at all, way too early, so consequently turned into a complete control freak and nearly had a nervous breakdown trying to do everything myself. Oh, I can smile about it now, but at the time it was terrible…
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
In retrospect – and even though (or possibly because) he often drove me nuts – probably Mark Beeching. He’s now Digitas’ Global Chief Creative Officer in New York, but was our CD for a few years near the start of my career. The enthusiasm and drive with which he approached everything, the way he presented to clients, the floppy cuffs…I can see why the Americans adore him. I’ve been ripping him off for years.
Who in the industry do you most admire?
Probably Steve Harrison. And not just for his awards haul over the years. More because he’s so utterly single-minded in terms of pushing for a better creative product. And for relentlessly pointing out that crap briefs = crap creative. Bang on.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
Am I allowed to say my kids? If not, probably a pack I did a few years ago that was selling Volvo cars to pregnant ladies. I still see the “Mum-to-Be On Board” plastic signs we sent out in cars to this day. One of the few times when stuff you do breaks out of the ‘direct mail’ arena into something that people actually want and enjoy receiving. That and the fact that it won practically every award going.
On what do you base your success so far?
I’m never satisfied with anything I do. Ever. Seriously. And I’ve been blessed to work with some truly talented people. Still do. Standing on the shoulders of giants and all that.
What are your ambitions?
To have a happy, healthy family and to start writing for TV. To be the next Russell T Davies. The man’s a genius.
Change one thing about your job: I clone myself; Frazer 1.0 does concepts & copy, Frazer 2.0 runs my dept.
Change one thing about your industry: Pitching is just the worst method of getting agencies and clients together. For both parties. I don’t know what the alternative is, but there’s got to be a better way.
Change one thing about the world:
I can’t help thinking that the downsides of religion outweigh the upsides.
What is your favourite brand?
Factory Records. Everything – the music, the attitude, the art, the Haç, the serial numbers, Tony Wilson’s sheer bloody-mindedness, God rest his soul… Perfect. Just perfect.
What is the next big brand in your view? I don’t think Google have even got started.
List your media diet: Radio Four & the Today programme on the way to work (unless it becomes too middle-class-white-men-arguing) then just a bunch of websites throughout the day – the Guardian, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, Brand Republic, Popjustice, Pitchfork, The Superficial, a couple of blogs. Once I’m home and the kids are in bed I usually watch Channel Four News followed by The Daily Show. And because I tend to get addicted to books, I’ll end the day by reading into the small hours. Even if the book’s rubbish. I can’t help myself. Alex James, you owe me three night’s sleep.