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What’s the most creative advertising idea you’ve seen recently?

Steve: Elon Musk and his designer smashing the bulletproof windows of the Cyber Truck at its launch event. It made an iconic piece of design instantly world famous and unmissable.

Nick: All of the stories in the press and online about the new Bond film. The Bond franchise is insanely good at getting stories out about upcoming films – whether it’s about the filming going right or wrong, you can’t escape that a new film is coming, which makes you want to watch it.

What website(s) do you use most regularly and why?

Steve: I’m on our Vollebak website every day. Having spent 15 years as a copywriter I write every word we put out. I can’t ever imagine leaving this to someone else.   

Nick: Google, because it helps me with any idea I could ever think of.


What’s the most recent piece of tech that you’ve bought and why? 

Nick: A Sonos Play speaker to dance to 90s euphoric dance music with my wife and children. 

Steve: The new BOSE noise cancelling headphones. The quieter it is, the better I can think.

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What product could you not live without?

Nick: My Vollebak Ocean Shorts. I’m not very good at wearing trousers – they make me feel too grown up. I run in these shorts, swim in them, holiday in them, go to bed in them (I have a few pairs, obviously!)

Steve: My Salomon Speed Cross trainers. I run barefoot as much as possible, but there are some places on Earth where I need shoes. Like central London and deserts. And these shoes go anywhere.

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What’s the best film you’ve seen over the last year? 

Steve: It’s a few years old now, but The Barkley Marathons on Netflix is mine. It’s a brilliant piece of filmmaking because you can clearly see it’s a wildly irrational race, with wildly irrational competitors. But at the end of the film you’re left thinking the most rational thing for you to do now is to go and enter the race yourself.

Nick: Also not very new, but Jurassic World. It has everything you could want in a film: death, space-age tech, big dinosaurs and Chris Pratt doing epic, brave stuff.

What film do you think everyone should have seen and why? 

Nick: Hook. It’s the meaning of life in one film. Spielberg and Robin Williams are two of the best creatives ever to have lived.

Steve: Riding Giants, directed by Stacy Peralta. It shows you very clearly that it’s your job to go and figure out what you’re really into before you die. And then go and do it.


What’s your preferred social media platform and why?

Steve: I think social media magnifies a lot of elements of modern day life, but creativity and innovation are not two of them. So, while I like how Instagram helps us chat to our customers, I don’t generally spend a lot of personal time on social media.

Nick: I don’t use any social media, so can’t pick a favourite one.


What’s your favourite TV show and why?

Nick: The OA. The plot was just sensationally smart – like Stranger Things but on LSD.

Steve: Succession. The unflinching honesty about how people actually behave is incredible. It’s also flawless writing and directing.

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What’s your favourite podcast? 

Steve: I don’t listen to any religiously. I tend to listen to stuff friends forward to me. And the Joe Rogan Experience is the one I get sent most often. The episode where he got Elon Musk to smoke marijuana I think really put the show on another level from anything else out there, as it became the news.

Nick: I find it tricky to stay focused when listening to podcasts. I have a very short attention span when things don’t engage enough of my senses.


What show/exhibition has most inspired you recently?

Nick: The Moving to Mars exhibition at the Design Museum. The Mars Globe built in 1909 by Emmy Ingeborg Brun was just mind-blowing. I recently saw what I think was Mars in the north of Scotland – it was just a red twinkle in the sky – and the fact that someone made a globe of that planet 111 years ago is just nuts.

Steve: I just took my children to see the Olafur Eliasson show at the Tate Modern. I’d never seen Big Bang Fountain live before and I could have watched it for hours.

What’s the most significant change you’ve witnessed in the industry since you started working in it? 

Nick: Brands used to portray a polished exterior created by ad agencies. Now more often than not the real culture and mission of the brand is seen by the world, whether or not the brands wants this to happen. I think this is a good thing and it’ll lead to better brands and companies.

Steve: We started in an era of truly iconic campaigns where brands like Guinness, PlayStation and Levi’s acted like mini Hollywood studios. The fragmentation of media channels and audiences in the years since means there’s simply less iconic, brave work being made now as clients seem more afraid to commit.


If there was one thing you could change about the advertising industry, what would it be?

Nick: I’d enforce complete honesty and transparency for all brands – this would lead to radically different companies. 

Steve: I’d try to re-instil the power of imagination. In the last few years before we left advertising, most clients would want to see exactly what the work was going to be like before you’d even made it.

Who or what has most influenced your career and why?

Steve: It’s very simple. Walter Campbell. I saw Guinness Surfer when I was at university, and decided that’s what I wanted to do for a job. In our last four years in the industry we were lucky enough to get to work with Walt at TBWA\London. He taught us that the idea that seems the most impossible is always the one to go for. I don’t think it matters what field you’re in, it’s a very good standard to live by.

Nick: Reading Shoe Dog by Phil Knight and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, which showed me the enormity of creating companies and brands like theirs.

Guinness – Guinness: Surfer

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Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know.

Steve: My first job after university was in account management at AMV and at the end of the first week I couldn’t understand why no-one had asked me to write an ad. Despite the fact that I worked on the wrong floor and wore a suit to work, one of the creative directors, Tim Riley, very kindly let me write some, and they ended up on air six months later. 

We had Armando Iannucci (before The Thick of It and Veep) playing a dog in a kennel going on a very long and very surreal rant to his owner about how crap his dog food was. And it was shot by Mark Mylod, who now shoots Succession. It gave me completely the wrong view of the industry, as I thought that’s how easy every campaign was going to be.

Nick: I live my life according to the poem Ithaca – life is not about the destination (mainly because the ultimate destination is death). It’s about enjoying the journey every day.

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