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It’s Easy to Wang on About Creative Risk-Taking… Until You Become ‘The Client’



As Little Black Book reveals its rebrand and its wiggly new mascot, editor in chief Laura Swinton reflects on what it’s like to sit in the client chair

It’s Easy to Wang on About Creative Risk-Taking… Until You Become ‘The Client’
If something makes you feel uncomfortable, run towards it, not away. If something feels odd, it’s because you haven’t seen anything like it before. Ideas don’t emerge fully formed, you need to trust creativity and trust the creatives.

We’ve heard it all before. In fact, I’ve probably written those exact lines more than a few times in the course of countless features on great creative projects. And we believe it, right? We believe in creativity. We believe that it builds brands and businesses. We understand that doing the comfortable, easy stuff just blends in with the rest of the comfortable. And we’ve spoken to enough creatives and directors to know that ideas are like pearls, starting with a shard of grit that wills itself into being. 

And all that’s just lovely and inspiring and euphoric. Until the day a bunch of creatives swagger in and tell you that the future of your brand is an earthworm.

Worms?! Eugh. Bit weird.

After over 15 years of writing about the advertising industry, I found myself, along with LBB’s CEO Matt Cooper, in the position of actually commissioning a creative campaign. For as long as I’ve been at Little Black Book, we’ve found it quite difficult to articulate all that we do and are in a pithy, graspable way that doesn’t come across as a droning shopping list of very useful functions. We know what we are and who we are and we know what our vibe is, but for a company that employs quite a lot of writers, we all struggled to put it into words.

So, we started talking to the gangs at the Garage and 2050. We told them everything we did and everything we wanted to share and why we thought we did it and a whole lot of other burblings beside. And they went off and had a think.

And when 2050 came back there were all sorts of fun ideas and inspirations around empowering creative people – there were skeleton rock stars and kaiju and brains and 1970s Indian illustrations of people turning into tigers.

And then there was a worm. A floppsy, flaccid worm. 

Bit weird.

Matt and I left that meeting pumped and excited. There were so many directions to go, so many ideas and aesthetics that slipped comfortably into our own. Any of those ideas could be brilliant. But, we both nodded tacitly, not the worm. Ofc. Worms. Bit weird.

Also at the meeting was our chairman, Sir John Hegarty. He had other ideas. That worm’s a bit interesting. Would like to see a bit more of that. Haven’t seen anything like that before.

Allllllright, we thought, let’s, err, see where it goes? Sir John Hegarty didn’t become Sir John Hegarty without being able to spot an idea. But he must have backed one or two duffers in his time, and, y’know… a worm? Fine. OK. Let’s… see where it goes. Bit weird though.

The hype had dampened. But the guys seemed excited and there was a logic to the image of the bookworm. The story they’d pitched was about a tiny worm ranting and roaring and growing and transforming, fuelled by a creative righteousness. It did feel like a story we wanted to tell and an energy we wanted to channel. But worms? Bit weird.

Over the months the team experimented, distilled, experimented and distilled again.  And as they did so, our little worm came to life and within this little wiggle we began to see a cornucopia of possibilities. How would they chat to the production world? How might they travel in different markets? How might they dig and tunnel within the labyrinthine back end of the website? Ooooo… and what about merch?

In the end, this weird little worm has turned out to be very cute, and for a beastie that communicates in squeaks, mumbles and roars, it also has a lot to say. It represents quite cleverly how our democratic and easy to access platform gives everyone across the creative and advertising industry a way to amplify their own roar. For that, all credit must go to Nick Kendall and John at The Garage and the Adams, Saunby, and Ben at 2050 – they were able to articulate what we couldn’t. We’d been so close and enmeshed with the world of Little Black Book, like short-sighted little worms ourselves. 

It’s hard to predict what people’s response will be to the worm that roared. It may not be quite as emotional as mine has been. Having been through the journey, experienced the uncertainty and trepidation and then had my excitement cranked up notch by notch as the project developed, I did get a bit high pitched and hot-eyed and burbly when I saw the animations and the stills come in. There it is! Our worm-baby! And that line – Create. Promote. Roar! It’s so neat and so infinite. Can you tell I’m in love?

And I think I speak for the whole team when I say that this idea, this bespectacled little worm has motivated everyone. We’re probably devoting more time to coming up with ideas for worm merch than we are writing stories at the moment. The worm has become our Game of Thrones-esque banner. 

Had we gone for something easy, had we not followed the creative trail into the wormhole of weirdness, I don’t think we’d be feeling what we are now. And we certainly wouldn’t have been staying true to our love of creativity either.

Anyway, little worm is out in the digital world now, and if you keep your eyes peeled you may well see it out and about in the real world too.

Bit weird. But we love it.

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