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First Direct

F

Interviewee

3 Creative

Team Advantages

Team Disadvantages

0, 2

Project Outcome

Unsuccessful

Industry

Financial

Location

London

Team Risk Tolerance

Low

Team Dynamics

TeamDynamics_Turnaround

Company

First Direct


The most disappointing time for a creative is when they have gone through all of the hoops and the work still dies. So there's no point in me telling you "Oh, I showed some work to a creative director and he hated it. Woe is me." That's just pathetic. Welcome to the club. Get over it. [340]
Get over it. You're in the rejection business, because most creatives will tell you that 90% to 95% of what they do goes in the bin. You have to be tolerant to rejection. That is it. It's like being an actor going up for an audition each time. It's just you, you pitch it, and they go "Not so much. Goodbye." And that's the end of it. All of that work's in the bin. Some of it you love, some of it you thought "Eh, a bit padded, but fuck it. I'll try it." It's all in the bin. [341]
So then a tiny little bit that gets through. By the way, always isn't the best in your head. It's not a meritocracy. It's a subjective business, and you've got a creative director who's subjective who's got their background and their likes and dislikes, then you've got clients and then you've got the bloody consumers, and it goes up the line. Then usually what happens is this, this is where I'm gonna come in, there's one guy or one woman, it's usually a man ... I can be generalized on this, because it's true. It's usually a bloke who's a senior bod, FYI, "Could you have a look at this?" And they go "What the fuck is this? I didn't approve this brief. I'm a new [broom 00:51:09], usually. I don't like this strategy. Not sure [crosstalk 00:51:13]." [342]
A new broom as in a new manager who's come in, who just wants to make a noise and just reject work for the sake of it and goes "Right." Well, that's being a bit unfair, but let's just say that this strategy for them is not something they agree with, "Not right tone of voice." In the bin. And you've gone through all the hoops. [343]
Two examples. Okay, I'll give you an example of that scenario and then I'll give you another example. The first scenario is one that we did for an idea that we really liked. It still haunts me, and it just really, it's so tragic. It's like, it's just a bloody idea, but it gnaws at your guts, because you think about it all the time and you think about how good it could have been. It was for First Direct. It's a bank idea. And it was basically based on a ... It's nontraditional media. We didn't want to do TV, didn't want to do print or any of that. And it was to coincide with First Direct's birthday, although it really wasn't dependent on that. It just happened to be a nice coincidence. [344]
That was an inspiration. I've been with the bank for awhile and I thought "This is great." The idea was just "Can you pitch just a very simple brief, friendly banking. That's the proposition. Discuss. We'll see you in awhile." So it was like "Great, okay. Friendly banking. Very simple." And the idea was basically they've got a huge call center up in Leads, with about 200 odd people sitting in rows and rows and rows of desks with their little microphones. Phones ring, they go "Hello, how can I help you? First Direct, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh." And to all intents and purposes, they look like machines, but they're not. They're all individual human beings and they're all up in Leads, yada yada. Went and thought "Well, this is great. Here's what we're gonna do. We're gonna do a nine part, 10 part, whatever, series. Each section lasts five minutes, so let's call it half an hour altogether. A serial, which you can download on the web and it is based on a dog day afternoon situation. Five youngsters, teenagers, dopes, walk into First Direct and hold it up, thinking it's a real bank, not realizing of course that they don't have a vault, they don't have any money on site, and they're gonna try and hold this bank up." [345]
Obviously it's a stand off, the police turn up, they're trapped, they're screwed, they're dumb. But they're still gutsy. And what you chart then is their conversations with these wonderful people who just talk to them, who do what they do best. And eventually they just talk them down and they get out of there and the guns go down, not a shot's fired, and the situation is diffused. It was a great way of saying "Friendly. These guys are brilliant at their jobs." [346]
Scared shitless by it, but then kind of knew in his heart of hearts that it was good. Bought it, then totally unbought it. And it was based totally on the part in the bank, HSBC. He was worried about his top brass saying "Are you kidding me? You're about to sign off something about a bank holdup in our bank?" Nevermind that it was perfect for the communication and that it would be absolutely breakthrough for banking, that it would be a completely different way of advertising their products. [369],[370],[371]
We pitched it to a guy ... I won't use names ... at First Direct. Scared shitless by it, but then kind of knew in his heart of hearts that it was good. Bought it, then totally unbought it. And it was based totally on the part in the bank, HSBC. He was worried about his top brass saying "Are you kidding me? You're about to sign off something about a bank holdup in our bank?" Nevermind that it was perfect for the communication and that it would be absolutely breakthrough for banking, that it would be a completely different way of advertising their products. And you could easily have weaved in extra bits inside the dialogue. So it was a vehicle that was very robust as well as being very "creative." And I was talking about we were gonna have discussions with directors, we were talking about how we were gonna close off a certain section of the bank, we use real people, we use some of the extras could be the actual employees themselves. And they just shat themselves and they didn't do it. They pulled the plug on it. Then they changed the brief. They went from friendly to straightforward banking. [349],[348],[347],[350]
That has been executed now as black and white banking, and that's been done by another team. [351]
Yes. And for me, they threw away an absolutely essential piece of their DNA. The reason they did that was for business concerns, because they were reacting to a general feeling of the time that banking, and still is, bankers are not being transparent in their actions, that there's lots of hidden charges, and that consumers are walking away from them as a result, and they were having a bad time of it because of that kind of reputation, generally, and they were being tarred by that. [372],[373],[352],[353]
I came up with it on the train, by the way. [375]
Time was a constraint. Budget was a constraint. Yeah, let's not make ... yeah, they didn't want to spend a lot of money. So we had to be ... That was part of why we came up with that idea, 'cause ... I came up with it on the train, by the way. [354],[374],[355]
That often happens with advertising is you just think "What's the absolutely diametric opposite of what you'd expect?" And there the idea might live. You go "Okay, great." So that was that. [377],[376]
They started out open, honest. They ended up being really closed and unhelpful I'd say. And that was charted against the graph of fear factor. Just it just became "Oh, let's talk. Let's have an open discussion from that." It just became "No." Closed down. No emails. That's it. [381],[378],[356],[380],[379]
Good relationships within the team. Very good [inaudible 01:00:13]. Good planner. Solid. Very optimistic, enthusiastic team. It gave me the freedom to think [384],[383],[382],[385]
Good relationships within the team. Very good [inaudible 01:00:13]. Good planner. Solid. Very optimistic, enthusiastic team. It gave me the freedom to think ... They didn't directly give me the freedom but I felt slightly more empowered because they themselves were quite gutsy and said what they thought. I think that has some effect on a creative. Yeah, they trust their account people and they think they're kind of cool people and it empowers them to be cool too. [359],[357]
ood relationships within the team. Very good [inaudible 01:00:13]. Good planner. Solid. Very optimistic, enthusiastic team. It gave me the freedom to think ... They didn't directly give me the freedom but I felt slightly more empowered because they themselves were quite gutsy and said what they thought. I think that has some effect on a creative. Yeah, they trust their account people and they think they're kind of cool people and it empowers them to be cool too. [358]
You mean me and Ben? Yeah, Ben and I were just quite senior and we just< I think felt very like we were just gonna come in and say "This is it. Take it or leave it. We think this is really good and this is really right." We were absolutely mind of one. [360]
It didn't affect the dynamic between us in any way. We just got more and more pissed off about it and then when the brief changed, I completely lost my temper. I remember getting really, really cross, and I could just see, he was backpedaling. Then when the brief changes, then you've thrown out the work. [361],[363],[364],[362]
We just got more and more pissed off about it and then when the brief changed, I completely lost my temper. I remember getting really, really cross, and I could just see, he was backpedaling. Then when the brief changes, then you've thrown out the work. [386]
You've used the work to judge the saliency of the brief, which is unforgivable. Most creatives will tell you that. That happens a lot. [365],[387]
"Here's a brief. Do the work to it. Oh, we don't like the brief. Never mind the work. Never mind that the work answers the brief. It's the right answer to the wrong question. Sorry about that. My bad. Well, thanks for wasting my fucking time. And by the way, squandering good work." [388],[366],[389]
So it's this disposability of ideas that creatives will constantly say "Fucking hate." Excuse my language, but it is so emotional as well as rational. It really is, 'cause we think hard. It's not just "Let's be wacky." It has to be anchored to pure logic. Then you can be creative as long as you have that hub and you can then go, you can do anything you want off it. [367],[390],[368]
Reference Tags
[340] Resilience,[341] Resilience,[342] Selective perception,[343] Dismissive,[344] Ikea effect,[345] Ikea effect,[346] Ikea effect,[369] Authority bias,[370] Effort justification,[371] Status quo bias,[349] Insufficient Feedback,[348] Premature idea evaluation,[347] Risk compensation,[350] Scope creep,[351] Reactance,[372] Anchoring,[373] Negativity bias,[352] Reactance,[353] Risk compensation,[375] Solitude disposition when stuck,[354] Lack of resources,[374] Planning fallacy,[355] Unbalanced workload pressure,[377] Creative Confidence,[376] Methodologically creative,[381] Alignment,[378] Communication issues,[356] Communication issues,[380] Insufficient Feedback,[379] Pessimism bias,[384] Believes one has a hopeful path,[383] Optimism,[382] Organizational encouragement,[385] Organizing effectively,[359] Organizational encouragement,[357] Trust,[358] Communicating ideas across domains,[360] Forceful conflict about ideas,[361] Forceful conflict about ideas,[363] Insufficient Feedback,[364] Scope creep,[362] Unresolved relationship conflict,[386] Reactance,[365] Premature idea evaluation,[387] Reactance,[388] Pessimism bias,[366] Premature idea evaluation,[389] Reactance,[367] Insufficient Feedback,[390] Reactance,[368] Reactance

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MADISON BARNETT
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