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Creativity Squared: Zack Gardner on the Game of ‘Blammours'



Copywriter at Collective explores whether creativity is innate or if it can be learned

Creativity Squared: Zack Gardner on the Game of ‘Blammours'

The world’s second slowest stepover to avoid copious broken glass and slime, quick look up to see my mate hopelessly off his line, then a botched chip that clears the court and threatens the 6th floor window of an Edinburgh high rise.

“Penalty that.”


I’m the sort of creative who’d rather tell you about Blammours than how I make ads.

So please bear with me, there’s a method to the following madness. 


Blammours is a game… 

Nay - a sport…

Nay, a calling - my mate Luke and I invented in the summer of 2018.

It combines the popular appeal of football, with the sustained tension of a tennis style scoring system, plus an additional ‘finesse’ element – more akin to equestrian or platform diving than community ball sports.

It’s amazing and like I say – we invented it.

A game goes like this…

First, 2 players need to source one of those basketball/football cages you find in council parks.

Venue secured, 1 player takes one half, the other the other, and you’re only allowed 2 touches of the ball, including any saves you make from your opponent’s attempt, before striking at goal. 

If any part of your body goes over the halfway line, or you fail to pass it with your effort, or you take more than 2 touches, or if you hit it out the park – your opponent gets a penalty kick.

Oh, and the scoring system! 




You play 3 sets. In the first, it’s first to 21, with 2 clear points needed to secure the bag. 

The second is best of 3. And the third best of 9. 


Shhh, you’re missing the best bit.

If either player scores a particularly outlandish, or spectacular, or sophisticated goal – they may call a ‘Blammour’. You can call a maximum of 3 per set – and if your adversary agrees – that goal counts for 3.

But if they disagree – your goal counts for nothing.


Oh, and you have to get a flat white at full time.

Genuinely – it’s class. Play as soon as you can.

But why am I telling you this? 

Well – it’s integral to my take on the question - is creativity innate or can it be learned?

Answer: Both. 

And most people tend to unlearn it.

Soon as we’re oot the womb we use creativity to help us grow, develop, and get away with murder.

Think back to being a kid. The games you played. The drawings you drew. The silly songs, fancy dress, plays, poems… even the porky pies you told. You did what felt fun to work out your boundaries. 

You followed your nose.

No plan, no process, just pure seat of the pants stuff.

Then at some point, usually when your age starts to end in ‘teen’ – this creativity is replaced with doing what others deem cool and/or sensible.

Hobbies, exams, job, mortgage, kids of your own, garden centres…

Plan, process, pure ironing the seat of your pants stuff.

The strongest creatives are those who doubled down. Sunk their heels in and refused to put the monotonous constraints on themselves that everyday life bafflingly defines as ‘mature’.

I’m speaking from personal experience.

When I was wee, I’d burst into bad opera at random intervals, then disappear to read and draw and build structurally unsound dens up the woods. Extrovert and introvert rolled into one big-eared, gap-toothed little enigma. 

But I ended up studying law. Nothing wrong with that, it just wasn’t me. I’d ran away from the circus to become an accountant. Prioritised potential money, potential ‘prestige’ above what made me really tick. 

Luckily, I caught myself just in time.

Didn’t do the required post grad and when I discovered there was a job you got better at the further you got from boredom, it felt like cheating. 

But it wasn’t. It was just creative advertising.

So Blammours is proof of a personal milestone.

Here I was, one of 2 men, rapidly approaching 30, getting so heavily invested in a daft new game that we genuinely considered commissioning a calligrapher to write up the official rules.

I’d fully re-embraced play. 

A sense of play many sense is ebbing from our industry.

Budget crunching means compromise and ‘reach as many audiences as possible while satisfying key stakeholders’.


But there’s always hope.

If creativity been unlearned – stands to reason it can be learned again.

By anyone.


But is Blammours genuinely good? 

Does it have the hallmarks of what’s considered a great creative product?

Well, yes.

It makes folk (at least 6) feel something. 

Converts get the joy of a brand-new sport. Plus, the novelty of nonsense. 

And critics have plenty to go at. 

“It’s stupid.”

“I don’t even like coffee.”

“Why the HELL am I reading THIS on LBB?”

It’ll divide opinion and that’s good. Blammours is confidently ‘for’ something – not overly concerned with a group of people who’d never play anyway.

There needs to be more advertising like that. 

It’s funny – we all now have more processing power in our pockets than first took man to the moon. We can shoot beautiful stuff and edit it in record quick time.

Maybe that’s why there’s a lot of work that tries to say too much or too little, to too many people, with too little emotive pull. And we take waaaay too long to do it. 

Because in the end it’ll look the business?

Great work should be simple. 

Aesthetics are important but secondary. 

The work should be useful and have depth. It should make a positive difference to a singular target audience’s situation. Or its quality should be a fair exchange of other people’s time.

But simple is never easy. 

Otherwise, we’d be out a job, eh?


When not on court - I do my best work at silly o’clock in the morning.

Good coffee and Spotify’s ‘Crackling Wood Burner AMSR’, sets the scene. 

Then, it’s arse in chair to tap the well for things to write.

A well that’s filled by listening.

Going to the pub, the cinema, the Twittersphere, the underground, or just reading an honest to goodness book.

Then comes the excellent bit. Getting to tap the well all over again, with people far more talented than me. 

Working my hole off to get a “that’s nice” from one of them. 

A verified work Blammour motivates me the most.

As with any creative process, there was a lot of trial and error involved in perfecting Blammours.

Because, as with any creative process, we worked under intense scrutiny and fear of criticism.

Mainly from our long-suffering girlfriends.

And feral looking teens on bikes.

But once we lost that reticence and just starting belly laughing, things started to take shape.

Freedom to have fun is the single most important thing when making something new.

If you don’t love the start of it – what chance does anyone have of loving the end?

Time is next most important. 

A day in the sun to rattle ideas, or a size 4 Sondico, around should do it.

But in an ideal world, time should only be up when you can’t think of any other ways to improve your work. 

After that, you just have to play the game and hope to get the win.


Back to Person for a second.

I’m terrified about sounding negative here because I love my job and this work almost as much as a tight 3 setter.

But there are a few red cards for me when it comes to a working day.

Interruptions are natural, but constant meetings about the work rather than getting to do it are not. 

They take everyone out their flow and create an artificial sense of deadline, that can scupper interesting angles prematurely. 

‘Next goal wins’ doesn’t really translate to great creative.

And as an industry, we need to totally reframe our relationship with the word ‘risk’.

This isn’t Blammours. 

There isn’t broken glass everywhere, scooter gangs circling, and oddly fizzy moss coating the back quadrant. 

‘Risk’ has become a synonym for too out there, too bold, too different in our business. 

Doing something that makes ‘the brand’ feel uncomfortable.

But surely the bigger ‘risk’ is not doing that and going completely unnoticed?

Final Whistle

Right, let’s wrap this up.

I’ve just moved to London and I’m excited to keep honing my craft in a place this big, busy, and abundant with Blammours courts.

So, if anyone fancies a game, and/or a chat about all things advertising – you’ll find me trying to shoehorn silly self-made sports into most things at Collective.

The first full time flat whites are on me.

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Collective, Wed, 17 Nov 2021 08:25:46 GMT