Wake The Town
Stuck in Motion
Contemplative Reptile
  • International Edition
  • USA Edition
  • UK Edition
  • Australian Edition
  • Canadian Edition
  • Irish Edition
  • German Edition
  • French Edition
  • Singapore Edition
  • Spanish edition
  • Polish edition
  • Indian Edition
  • Middle East edition
  • South African Edition

Five by Five’s Ravi & Andy: “Pizza Can Teach You a Lot about Creativity"


Creative duo Ravi Beeharry and Andy Mancuso talk LBB through their unique careers so far, their aspirations at Five by Five and why the secret to great creativity can be found in eclectic pizza toppings

Five by Five’s Ravi & Andy: “Pizza Can Teach You a Lot about Creativity"

Above: Ravi & Andy bring their unique dynamic to the set of a previous campaign

By this point, starting a new job in lockdown will be a sensation familiar to many. For Ravi Beeharry and Andy Mancuso, it was another unique challenge amidst a shared career like few others, spanning over twenty years.

Having met whilst playing football at university, the pair have since embarked on a rollercoaster creative journey which has crossed cultures and borders. Their latest challenge is to spearhead the fledgling creative culture at the fiercely independent agency Five by Five, one which the pair are approaching with their trademark blend of enthusiasm and determination. 

To pick through their story so far, as well as reflect on a changing industry and their goals for the future, Ravi and Andy spoke exclusively to LBB… 

LBB> You guys started off together at Hakuhodo. Do you feel that Japanese creativity, or culture, feeds into your creative philosophy today? 

Ravi> I think subconsciously it will definitely have a part to play! We were at Hakuhodo for four years and there’s no doubt it all adds up - the music, the food, the humour. We were lucky enough to head out to Japan while working there. It definitely opened stuff up that wouldn’t have been on our radar otherwise, even down to things like the style of animation we like, and how we like our work to be quite simplistic in its approach. That’s something that definitely comes from our stint at Hakuhodo.

Andy> We’ve worked at a few agencies, and we always pick up something different at every one. But with Hakuhodo, especially with that being our first job, it left a big mark on us. In unexpected ways as well, down to protocol and the way of working - there were unspoken rules that fed into us I think. 

LBB> You’ve been based in the UK throughout your career so far - have you seen the country’s creative culture evolve over that time?

Ravi> I would say one million percent yes. You notice that it kind of goes in waves - when we were at VCCP and they came up with the Meerkat it seemed like it was revolutionary stuff. But then you look back at Hoffmeister coming out way back in the 80s and it’s clearly a cycle! It’s easy to kid yourself thinking you’re doing something new, but everyone is taking influences from somewhere. Especially now where we seem to have an appetite for nostalgia with stuff like Stranger Things imitating the 80s, and 90s fashion trends making a comeback...

Andy> I’d say one way things have definitely changed is that when we joined the industry TV was the undisputed king - you woke up in the morning and you wanted to make a killer TVC. Digital was an afterthought - I remember bringing out the digital guys at the end of production! But now that’s been turned on its head. What needs to work on TV also has to work on digital, and of course in press. There’s so many elements to consider now. When we started digital was just banners! Things have come on so much since then. 

LBB> And is that a good thing? Or is it just a thing?

Andy> I think it’s a good thing. What hasn’t changed despite everything is that the idea is still the most important thing at the end of the day. It’s just that now, we’ve got so many more different avenues available to interpret that idea. That can only be a good thing.

Ravi> The way I see it is that 99% of the stuff we see, and that we produce, has been done before in its own different guise. And there’s that 1% of creativity which is totally original, unique and new. It stands out because it’s completely different. And that’s the work we all wake up in the morning and aim for. It used to be in the form of a TVC, definitely, but today it can be so much more. 

LBB> Ravi, you’ve mentioned in the past that you’re something of a culture sponge, and that you take inspiration from reality TV. What’s influencing you guys these days? 

Ravi> Haha, yes, Married At First Sight! And my advice to anyone is to watch the Australian version, it’s a lot more intense. But beyond that, I always make time to watch the news - if I can watch just one thing in a day it will be the news. Especially recently with the elections in the US and how that’s developing, it’s like a reality TV show in itself! They had their debate which was total chaos, then Trump got Covid and was talking some nonsense about being immune - it’s great TV. Worrying stuff, but great TV.

I think he’s hell-bent on portraying himself as an alpha male who’s invincible, who took on Covid and it’s gone beyond any kind of realm of what’s the right or responsible thing to do. Not that I’m into politics! I’m really not, but I find stuff like that absolutely fascinating. 

Andy> Personally, I go the other way and get my information from Gogglebox. If it’s not on Gogglebox, I don’t know it’s happening! Aside from that, I think inspiration comes from anything and everything you do. I appreciate that might be cliché but there’s no reason you can’t be inspired by something you see while you’re walking down the road. Our job really is making something out of it. 

LBB> You guys first met playing football at university. Social distance permitting, are you still kicking a ball around now - and if so what positions do you play? 

Ravi> I tell you what, Andy and I absolutely live and breathe football. Apart from work, footy is probably what we talk about most. In the times before Covid we’d play in Hyde Park, and we’ve actually been lucky enough to play at stadiums together. Stamford Bridge, The Emirates, Upton Park, The Valley. It’s been brilliant, really. If Andy lived closer to me I would be dragging him to five-a-side which I play every Wednesday night. I’m hoping we can rekindle it all with Five by Five once we’ve got a vaccine… 

Andy> Absolutely - in terms of positions, when you start at the beginning of life you’re a centre-forward, but over time you generally move further back. So at this point I’m a goalkeeper. 

Ravi> I’m a right winger - but not in the political sense! I’ve been described as an Asian David Beckham (by myself).

Andy> A wannabe Asian Beckham, yes I’ve heard that said about you! 

LBB> Throughout your career, you’ve always worked together. What do you think you’d be doing if you’d never met each other?

Andy> I’d be cutting grass as a landscape gardener. 

Ravi> And I’d be working in Foot Locker, asking people what size they are.

LBB> I wasn’t expecting such quick and specific answers to that one… 

Ravi> Haha, well we’ve thought about it a couple of times! 

Andy> It does come up - the older you get, it dawns on you that there aren’t a lot of old people in the industry. 

Ravi> We joke about it but if you’re in a creative department most places in the world, I’m not sure how many people over the age of 50 you’ll see. That’s a shame because we’re growing older as a nation, and I like to think the world is big enough for the Gen-Zers as well as the likes of those people who have a bit of experience. 

LBB> So at Five by Five, how have you been finding getting your feet under the table at such a unique time? What are your personal ambitions for this role? 

Ravi> I think it’s fair to say our approach here is informed a lot by experiences we’ve had in the past. Loads of CDs we’ve known in the past never got their hands dirty, making decks, writing scripts, doing design work. You’d tend to see people fob it off to their team, whereas we want to be hands-on, we're involved and we love helping our team out. We’re liberal and collaborative.

Andy> We want to build a space where people can try things. Maybe they’ll not work out but that’s okay. What’s good is that we’ve arrived at a place where there are clearly a bunch of brilliant creative people, and our role - and our goal - is to get the best out of them. We’re looking to set a creative culture that everyone buys into. 

LBB> And so what does a dream client look like to you?

Ravi> Tall, dark, handsome, and with a massive wallet.

Andy> And on top of that, an open mind is invaluable. We’re a collaborative pair and so someone who is happy to take on new ideas a little bit is perfect for us. 

Ravi> Yeah, someone who is open to new ideas and willing to instil trust in us as an agency. When it comes to your comms, let us be the driving force. It’s what we do best! 

Andy> And on that note, there’s a client we’re working with right now who encapsulates that. They’re totally brave, progressive, and willing to try new things to get their campaign right. We’re very excited to share that when the time comes! 

LBB> Looking back over your careers, is there a project that stands out as being especially significant or defining in terms of your own creative development?

Ravi> You know, I’d say O2’s ‘Think Big’ campaign was pretty special. It was in 2011, and it makes me proud because it was all about asking individuals how they would make communities better.

Andy> It was a small CSR [corporate social responsibility] project, and with a small budget. We needed to scour the country and find people with the best stories to tell about making the places they lived brilliant. We were travelling from Newcastle to Somerset at one point. 

Ravi> Those brand-building projects are always so rewarding, because at the end of the day it’s those projects which allow consumers to connect and identify with a brand. When you have great sales figures for a few years after one of those projects, don’t look surprised.

Above: O2’s ‘Think Big’ campaign saw Ravi and Andy travel the UK in search of great stories about improving communities

LBB> What advice would you give a young creative looking to get into the industry today?

Andy> Take every opportunity you can get. We’re all so lucky to work in this industry, there aren’t many jobs out there that allow you to be creative for a living… 

Ravi> Yeah, you can get fixated on the supposedly glamorous side of it where you’re John Hamm and you’re writing a famous slogan for the biggest brands out there. But to get there is hard work and graft. You have to fight for it, but when you do it’s the best career you can possibly imagine. 

LBB> Finally, we wanted to see just how similar you guys are with a divisive question. Is it right to put pineapple on pizza?

Andy> Oh no, my Sicilian grandparents would turn in their graves if I did that! 

Ravi> I don’t agree. There’s a time and a place for everything. You know, great pizza can teach you a lot about great creativity - something might seem strange and bizarre to you, but there’s no telling how other people’s taste buds will react. The only way you can push boundaries and improve is by trying what might seem wrong at first! 

Andy> On the other hand, it can teach you that some things just aren’t worth trying… 

view more - People
Sign up to our newsletters and stay up to date with the best work and breaking ad news from around the world.
Five by Five UK, Tue, 20 Oct 2020 12:12:41 GMT