Share

Last week the jury chairs of the British Arrows and British Arrows Craft juries were announced and in mid-November the Arrows will also release the full jury line-up; those who will be casting their critical eyes over the best of British work for next year's event.

Ahead of that, the Co-Chairwomen of the Arrows, Global Chairwoman of Unreasonable Studios, Clare Donald, who has also recently been announced as Publicis Groupe UK's Chief Production Officer from 2020 [pictured above left], and Independent Films Managing Director, Jani Guest [above right], discuss how they've adapted to overseeing one of the UK's biggest advertising events and the plans they have to evolve the not-for-profit Arrows for the next generation. 

Above: Charlie Crompton [left], Donald and Guest's predecessor as Arrows Chairperson, with Matthew Fone, Arrows 2020 Craft Jury Chairman, at last year's event. 


You were installed as co-chairwomen in May; can you tell us how and why you took on this challenge?

Clare Donald: There was a desire to have a woman take on the role of Chair as we'd had two men in the role previously. I was considering putting my hand up, then Jani and I started talking. We thought, you know what, we're both incredibly busy with big jobs, and we're both mums, how about we try a joint venture? That soon became very exciting because we both thought this could be a huge learning experience and an enormous amount of fun as well.

We’ve decided to look at absolutely everything. The event’s going to be unrecognisable [from previous years].

Jani Guest: I think, for both Clare and I, knowing that we would have each other to collaborate with and share in the responsibilities made the decision to co-chair alongside each other an easy one. We knew it would be a great deal of work, but joyous nonetheless.

Above: One of the coveted Arrow awards. 


How has the fact that there're two of you at the helm helped?

CD: It’s definitely been about divide and conquer. We started at the beginning saying, look, if we just get through to hosting a successful event then we’ll feel we’ve achieved something. But then, I don’t know how it’s happened, but we’ve decided to look at absolutely everything. We hired Lisa Lavender as our Operations Director and the event’s going to be unrecognisable [from previous years]. We’re changing some of the awards, we’ve looked at what was called Bad and we are changing that quite substantially, including the name. It was a brilliant thing but we think there are more effective ways the Arrows can support diversity going forward

We’re really trying to tighten up the actual awards-giving part, be a bit controversial. Some people will probably think we’ve tightened it up too much but those are the decisions you have to make.

JG: We’ve been incredibly excited by the challenge. I think the two most critical things are celebrating the creative excellence that reflects the heart of the British industry as well as creating an evening where that sense of community can prevail.  

CD: Jani and I have known each other for a long time, but we haven’t actually ever worked together, but that collaboration has been great. At the same time, [Jani] pulls me up if [she] doesn’t think that something is quite right, and vice-versa. It’s not as if we’re just blandly agreeing with each other, but we are very much singing from the same hymn sheet.

Click image to enlarge
Above: Scenes from 2019's British Arrows. 


Can you tell us a little more about your plans for Bad?

JG: Due to the Arrows' heritage and its standing within advertising, we want to focus on exposing students of all ages to their future potential and careers that might excite and inspire them within advertising. Workshops and lectures by various experts in our field are going to be areas of focus and there has been a tremendous amount of enthusiasm from the Arrows board in pursuing this path.

You've taken on board a lot of feedback from attendees; what things have come to the fore?

JG: The feedback varied from location of the venue and length of the event, to the need for a recognisable presenter. We embraced all the input and are delighted to announce that we are returning to The Grosvenor Hotel. We do acknowledge that some might consider it as ‘going back in time’, but the event itself is being transformed dramatically enough that we are confident that this will not be the takeaway of the evening’s experience. And we will have a well-known Master of Ceremonies, so please stay tuned for more on that.

It’s important for the UK agencies and production companies to be shouting out loud about the work that they are producing.

CD: People have short attention spans and it’s a shame because we want people to be focused on the winners because that is the point of it, but at the same time you can’t expect people to sit for three and a half hours. So, we’re really trying to tighten up the actual awards-giving part, be a bit controversial. Some people will probably think we’ve tightened it up too much but those are the decisions you have to make if you really want the whole awards thing done in two hours.

Some people and companies have been critical of the amount of awards shows and events within the industry, and scaled back their attendance at such thing; does that concern you?

CD: In my experience of working in agencies I know how the budgets that are allocated to awards get smaller every year, so I think people are taking tough decisions about which ones they want to enter. Blanket entry is no longer an option so [the Arrows] has to stand for something that people still think is really valid in terms of putting that money into it.

The two things that we do know to be inherently true about our business are that there is a power to an idea, and that the craft in which that idea is executed is equally important.

JG: In terms of the global market it’s important for UK agencies and production companies to shout out loud about the work that they are producing. Historically, some of the best work that’s won at Cannes or other festivals has come out of the UK, so this event is about us acknowledging the work we do, and about us honouring the best of that work.

Nike – Nothing Beats a Londoner

Credits
powered by Source

Unlock full credits and more with a Source membership.

Credits
powered by Source
Show full credits
Hide full credits
Credits powered by Source
Above: Last year's Commercial of the Year winner.


The Arrows is one of the arbiters of British creativity; is mining the UK’s creative heritage as important as looking towards its future?

JG: We all know that our business, and the landscape of our business, is changing immensely and none of us know in which direction it’s going to go or what the models are that we are all going to be working in. However, I think the two things that we do know to be inherently true about our business are that there is a power to an idea, and that the craft in which that idea is executed is equally important. I think those two things will always remain the same. So, in terms of what is the past, what's now and what’s going to the future, I think as long as the Arrows protects [idea and execution] then I think it will always be relevant to the business.

I think the political and economic climate has definitely set a tone for how agencies are working with their clients and how brave clients are prepared to be, or not be.

CD: I think the truth is that British advertising isn’t succeeding the way it used to. On the rare occasions on which I watch television I’m profoundly shocked at how poor most advertising is, and I know that in Cannes this year the proportion of ads winning that were British was much lower than previous years. That seems to be a trend, so what more can we do but try and remind people that when we do do it really well, we should look at that, celebrate that, award those people who have been brave enough and creative enough to create that work. I don’t know how else you can try and buck the slight downward trend. [We should] reward those clients that take the decision that allow people to make great work

Above: The team behind Nike's Nothings Beats a Londoner. 


Do you think that the downward trend in people watching terrestrial, commercial television has exacerbated the downward trend in UK advertising?

CD: I believe it would be a mistake to think that. It seems to me that’s not our greatest fear. Our greatest fear, I think, is people making very, very safe and uncreative decisions which just impacts the work at every stage

The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is a supporter of the Arrows, and hosts screenings of Arrows winners each year; are there plans to travel the Arrows further afield?

CD: The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis has a week long celebration where they have showing after showing, after showing of the year's winners. It's a fantastic, well, advertisment for British advertising, and we're hoping to expand on that with different territories.

JG: One of the things that we discussed is doing similar things in other countries. Finding venues in Asia, for example, or other European countries, to screen the event so that people become aware of the outstanding work that comes out of the UK.

I think the one thing that has been always really amazing about this business is how hard people do fight to get good work out.

CD: We want to champion the British advertising brand and tell that story as widely as we can. It’s a revenue stream, of course, but I think there is also the benefit of simply getting good work celebrated as far afield as possible.

Above: W+K Creative Director Hollie Walker and Riff Raff MD Matt Fone will be chairing the British Arrows and British Arrows Craft juries respectively. 


Do you think that the UK advertising market is in a good place at the moment, creatively speaking?

JG: I think it’s a challenging place for a variety of reasons. I think the political and economic climate has definitely set a tone for how agencies are working with their clients and how brave clients are prepared to be, or not be. And I think we can see it in the quality of the work that’s being produced. 

We're a pretty resilient bunch and people in this industry do care enormously.

But I always think it’s really important to look at what advantage can be taken of the challenging time and that, ultimately, rather than feeling defeated, we should see it as a challenge to overcome and make the effort to output better work as a result. I think the one thing that has always been truly amazing about our business is the commitment of so many to get good work out.

CD: We're a pretty resilient bunch and Jani's right, people in this industry do care enormously.

The British Arrows 2020 takes place on March 31 next year. For more information about the event, and for details on how to enter, please visit the British Arrows website.

Share