From starting his first business working from his dining room table at just 16 with his 12-year-old brother to beating Bieber to a Christmas Number 1, this lad from Stockport has gone from strength to strength, I asked him to sum up his career in just 1-minute:
Thanks for being in our Champion Northern Creatives. Let’s get right in!
After finishing formal education what did you do next?
I had already done numerous work placements during my course so I had a job offer in place for when I left (Liverpool John Moores) University. This was at Driven in Wilmslow working on ads for Vimto, webuyanycar.com, Carcraft amongst other brands.
How has your career path been shaped over the years?
Since then, I left after a couple of years along with my creative partner to take a job at McCann Manchester. Here I spent a few years working on the likes of Aldi, American Airlines, Nestle, Royal Mail, N-Power & Cross Country Trains.
I then left to go freelance for a year working mainly at McCann Birmingham on Miele, Evans Halshaw, Vauxhall and Bentley. I also worked as a CD at Big Brand Ideas. In this time I also worked at Leeds agency Propaganda and Edinburgh agency Leith on Irn Bru.
I then worked freelance at Magnafi as I moved more into film. One of my first jobs was the music video and campaign for the NHS which resulted in us beating Bieber to Xmas Number 1.
I took on a full-time Creative Director role there, working on campaigns for Missguided, Betfred, Very.co.uk and Sofology. And, just recently, I moved to Trunk. We work with agencies to collaborate on making engaging content.
Cool! What has been some of your most difficult obstacles in the workplace?
Processes within some of the bigger agencies can sometimes stifle creativity and stop you being agile and responsive. In today’s world, you need to be quick and be able to produce ideas and content fast without getting left behind. This is why I like to work within smaller teams and be involved in the process from start to finish, working with a talented team that works together to make things happen.
What has been your favourite project to work on?
The NHS campaign was very intense but extremely rewarding. To see the campaign grow from a one minute idea into a music video that reached number 1 and got played after the Queen’s speech was incredible and something I will never forget. It also put a huge statement out to the powers that be that the public won’t let the NHS die.
Amazing! When you first started, how did you create opportunities for yourself?
I think it’s important as a creative to have a brand and a point of difference. It’s not easy to remember a name. And, you need to get your work seen. I have done this with the Bank of Creativity, Agency Quotes and One Minute Briefs, but it all started with the story below…
When I was 16 and started college, I decided I didn’t want to create a portfolio of work. I decided I was going to run a Graphic Design company.
I called it NE-Design. You know… NE-Time. NE-Place. NE-Idea. Punny right?
But my approach got me noticed. I emailed local companies and sure enough one came along with a brief to redesign their logo and website.
It was a huge engineering firm turning over a lot of money and here was little old me inviting the boss over to the NE-Design ‘office’ which was, in fact, my family’s dining room.
I asked my mum to stay in the kitchen whilst I had the meeting.
When I opened the door to this big CEO, he must have been shocked as I’d given no clue previously to my age. He was in for even more of a shock when I took him through to the office to meet my web developer… who, of course, was my 12-year-old brother.
Some people would have walked out there and then…but we reassured him that we’d create some great work for him.
And, we did. Earning a nice bit of pocket money for ourselves in the process.
By saying I was a business, rather than a college student, I changed the perception of what I was. And this became who I was. Because you are who you say you are.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The most important work you do is the work you do to get people to look at the work you do.
Love it – This might be the best start-up story I’ve ever heard!
Who would you thank for helping get where you are?
Gary Fawcett of TBWA Manchester was a big help for me. I had a book crit with him. At the time, he couldn’t give me a job, but he gave me loads of contacts and one of them was Driven. I still speak to Gary to this day and I think it’s very important to keep in touch and remain thankful to people who get you where you are. I thank the tutors from uni. The course was a very good one as you didn’t see your tutor for ten mins once every two weeks. They helped you as much as possible and pushed you to be industry ready by getting out there.
I’d thank the Creative Directors at all the agencies I have worked for pushing me to create better work and I’d thank Simon Lewis and Jon Butler for giving me the opportunities to take on Creative Director roles with them. I’d also thank my good friend Adam Britton who I work closely with at Trunk now as we look to achieve great things. There have been plenty more people along the way too, especially the OMBLES. Without them, One Minute Briefs wouldn’t exist. It’s become an incredible community of people who help each other creatively and as friends.
Absolutely! Let’s talk more about One Minute Briefs, how did you originally come up with the idea/concept for OMB?
It started when we had about 7 weeks on a uni project. As we all know, that’s unrealistic in industry. And, I don’t work well with long deadlines. So, of course, myself and my creative partner decided to try and crack a brief in One Minute!
One of us did a good one. One of us did a shit one. Which was great as we realised you can actually come up with a good idea when you’re thinking is restricted by time but at the same time de-restricted as you can put anything down on the paper.
It was also a lot of fun and our course mates started to get involved. We then put it on Twitter and opened up to the public by setting a brief every day. Slowly but surely, people started to get involved and the community has grown to 15.5 thousand followers in the last few years.
What has been your biggest work/OMB achievement to date?
The NHS campaign was a big one but I feel that the viral Isabella C-word film we recently created is the biggest. From a one minute idea, we were able to write a script for a film featuring Neuroblastoma sufferer Isabella herself.
The film has been seen by over 20 million people and featured in national press and TV news coverage. It has also raised tens of thousands of pounds towards her target. Could one minute help save someone’s life? That would be the best achievement ever.
By combining the expertise of our team along with the support of the OMBLES, we were able to achieve something great together as a team.
What do you think is special about the North of England?
We don’t have to get the Tube! That’s the main thing. The North is great as we have got some great agencies producing quality work. We don’t get the budgets London agencies do but that just means it’s more of a challenge.
I’m from the North and have had opportunities to go to London but I like it here. We have the best football teams here in Manchester too. Particularly my beloved Man City!
I’m a firm believer that great work can be produced anywhere and with the transport links and technology available these days, I don’t see why that shouldn’t be here.
What has been your experience with working in a traditional team?
Traditional agencies are sometimes set in their ways and can’t adapt to new technology and respond to opportunities quickly. That’s why I like to work with people who have the same mindset and are always looking to create something new and make a difference within the industry.
What’s your next big goal? What does the future hold for 2018?
I am making a film for Multiple Sclerosis sufferers which I want to have big reach and create an impact this year. I’ve created an OMBoard as I look to push One Minute Briefs even bigger.
And, I want to create some amazing work with the Trunk team.
What advice would you give to anyone entering the industry?
• Create a brand for yourself.
• Stand out from the other graduates. They are your rivals.
• Don’t wait until you graduate to make contacts.
• Believe in yourself.
• Do great work.
• Make Creative Directors wish they had thought of the ideas you are showing them.