From the seaside town of Bangor, Northern Ireland, Chris Lyttle is a creative director at one of Ireland’s leading advertising agencies, Ardmore – No.22 in Campaign Magazine’s Top 30 Regional UK marketing agencies list for 2021.
With an honest-day's-work ethic, he has has written up, scribbled down and added colour to campaigns right across the spectrum for a host of local, national and international clients including Lidl, The Police Service of Northern Ireland, The Department of Justice, Stena Line & Network Rail.
My mum thinks I am the best thing since sliced bread, so take from that what you will. But really, if you asked me to describe myself I’d say I’m alright – friendly, calm and collected (most of the time anyway). I’ll talk to anyone.
I like to consider things through the eyes of my daughter – aged three and three quarters.
I think about what she sees, hears and takes in. It makes me consider things in a whole new light. A brighter and better future is what I want for her. So, a lot of the time that is what gives me the impetus to do better work.
It’s a privilege to do what we do. We create work in Ardmore that helps people, encourages them to do good, eat better, shop smarter, catch up with friends, visit family, be more sustainable, save lives even – it has a purpose to improve the world for us all, and my daughter.
A routine’s good, but you have to keep things fresh too, it makes life more interesting, even if it’s a bit more stressful.
Take a different path when you go for a walk, throw some chia seeds on your lunch or work from somewhere other than your desk for a bit – change it up, you never know what it will spark.
We’re about changing behaviour in Ardmore – that’s the work that keeps me coming back for more – the work that you just can’t stop thinking about. From where people choose to spend their hard-earned cash, to changing opinions on social norms and genuinely making their lives better. That’s what makes me proud of what I do.
The expectation here is world-class. We set our own criteria to make sure that we are proud of what we create. Ideas can come from anywhere or anyone in the agency, but they will all go through the same process. It’s pretty simple but really works for us.
That criteria has shifted over time. Yes. A big idea is a big idea… but they need to work harder than ever before. The playing field changes every day, and our ideas need to stand up and be counted.
At the start of a project I like to get right in amongst it – just last week I went through the initial stages of recruitment for the police, another day we are behind the scenes of a 24-hour national warehouse, or on the bridge of a new ferry. That’s how I like to start a project – being completely hands-on and fully immersed. We’ve a fantastic planning team as well, they make all the difference and help find those golden insights that make for amazing creative.
We’re slackers. We have a group Slack channel, which is populated on the daily with all kinds of creative inspo. You can find everything in there from Cannes Golds to the latest trending TikTok. It’s a brilliant resource for the team, and where a lot of us start when we get a new brief.
Once you have done the groundwork, your fully-immersed and informed subconscious really is quite amazing. So, when I get stuck on something tricky, I lean into that, and try to let the magic happen.
As a creative, we can think that nothing is ever fully ‘done’. You always want to try another angle, push a little harder, or remove another word… and that’s okay, but you do get to a point where you just know. And if you don’t, never worry, someone will give you a nudge.
Coming from Northern Ireland there were two, hugely influential themes on TV ads. Road Safety and the extremely poignant Paramilitary-type adverts. They changed opinions and behaviours and were so powerful. I remember watching them as I grew up, and I wanted to be part of that (advertising, not paramilitary groups!). And as I write this, that’s exactly the kind of work we’re doing right now.
I got stuck in. I started as a placement student, and took every opportunity going. I tried to take in every ounce of wisdom available. Like a sponge really, soaking up all the knowledge from the talented people around me. There was so much to take in. There still is.
To get into the right headspace for creativity, I rely on getting into the right space mentally and physically. Drink more (water), get more rest, take that walk at lunch. And when everything’s in a better place, then you give yourself the chance of doing the best job you can. Saying it is one thing, doing it is another, of course!
Ardmore does a lot to facilitate creativity. With #weardmore everything from yoga sessions to team lunches and walks along the seafront – all the good stuff. We know how important it is for our team and our brand, so we’ve really invested into that side of things.
For me, it's much more than that too. It’s having the safety to create, to be you, to allow for wins and losses. That’s the most important culture and where world-class creativity happens.