New Talent… Harry Stanford and Mike Insley
Art Director & Copywriter / Euro RSCG, London
LBB > Here we are with copywriter, Harry Stanford and Art Director Mike Insley. Tell us a little bit about yourselves, where you met and how long you’ve been working together?
HS > We both studied at Falmouth on the creative advertising MA course there. When was that?
MI > 2008, I think? So we’ve had a job two years. It took nearly two years to get our first job.
HS > (Laughter) We met on that course and teamed up just after it and then did placements, which were at DDB, VCCP, Isobel and then, finally, here at Euro RSCG where we were on placement for about five months, and then got hired. It’s been a long time since I first went ‘Oh, maybe I’ll do advertising’. It’s about five years later than that initial comment that I’ve finally got a full-time job as a creative. Before advertising, I did History of Art at Manchester and then waited tables for about three years until I went to Falmouth and did my MA.
MI > Yeah, I did design at St. Martins, a long time ago and then did other stuff.
LBB > What made you realise you were interested in and wanted to pursue a career in advertising?
MI > I always liked film, animation, music videos and I was interested in directors such as Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry way back in the day. I was a bit disillusioned by it all, though, and to move into that industry, didn’t seem right for me. So, I’d go away for the winter surfing, did lifeguarding – the [most] opposite that you can be to advertising; but always with a passion. I wanted a routine, a career and I wanted to be able to put my creative talents and interests to good use and advertising appeared to be, and is, the perfect fit. It feels like a lot of people are leaving London now, burnt out by their careers and we’ve done it the other way around.
HS > We started quite late.
MI > We started late.
HS > We didn’t get our first proper job until we were about 30… I got pretty sick of waiting tables. It was finding out what being a ‘Copywriter’ is that made me realise what I wanted to do. I did some work experience with a friend, writing radio ads in Manchester and then realised that I could actually do that as a job. To do something creative, but not artistic; I’m not artistically gifted. Writing seemed like a good way in. All the time spent watching commercials as a kid finally turned into work experience, rather than wasted time! It transformed my childhood into something useful.
LBB > At the beginning of this month you won ‘Silver’ at the Creative Circle Awards for your work for V05 ‘Pageant’… How did the work come about?
MI > It’s a brief that had been floating around for a long time. V05 wanted to create more ‘break the mould’ work and to follow on from where their Chinese army ads before had gone.
HS > They had a few things in research already and then Dom Gettins (Head of Writing) and Jamie Colonna (Creative Director) called us into their office and asked us to create the next ‘break the mould’ campaign… The brief was simple. We were asked to evolve the work that had already been done and to push it forward. It follows a similar structure. It was a great brief for us to work on, a great opportunity.
MI > It had to be a conformist society that these people could break through or break free from or rebel against… and they needed to have bad hair, which is why we chose the social setting; pudding bowl haircuts, shrouded hair. It’s about individuality, all the stuff that styling your hair gives you. It was a place where everyone looks the same.
HS > It was shot in Romania. In fact, we’ve been really lucky as we seem to only shoot outside the UK.
MI > We shot with Adam Hashemi, from Blink. We chose him because he has a very filmic, cinematic look, and feel to his work.
HS > He is very good at capturing a particular feel, really nails it. His treatment was really good. He really got it and it was written really well.
MI > It was a straight idea but there is still an underlying humour in his work, which is something that we wished to bring in to this spot.
LBB > What do you enjoy about your roles now you’re finally in them. What is it about the job that inspires you and keeps you motivated?
MI > We’ve been quite lucky, we’ve worked with several different brands and we’ve had five different commercials come out and we’ve shot in all sorts of different places. For Peugeot we went to France and Chivas, our first work, was in Argentina.
HS > We got hired off of that. I think it was a bit embarrassing having the placement team going to Argentina to shoot the million pound commercial for Chivas.
MI > We went to India for Vanish…
HS > We shot Vanish in Mumbai straight after Chivas…. Last year we were super busy. I think the main thing is that we love creating TV commercials, the process that is involved. We have a job where we can sit and come up with ideas. That’s fun in itself and then when you get to go to the shoot, do the editing, choose the music… I think the whole process is really enjoyable. The campaigns are integrated and so, as well as film we get to play with other mediums. Each brief is open to interpretation; what best suits the brief. For the V05 work, we accompanied the TV work with an online campaign. We had a second director on the shoot, Tom Kingsley, and we used the set - we had the run of the set - to create interviews with the actors and to put together a mock documentary that was presented from the view of the villagers.
MI > There was also a village website that accompanied.
HS >Yeah and they made a little teaser for the pageant. All the actors were in costume and we had the run of this wild-west set (where they shot Cold Mountain). We would run around when not shooting with Adam and interview all the people in character who were, luckily, really good actors and could play up to the idea.
LBB >What has been your favourite piece of work in the last 12 months?
MI > That we’ve done? Has to be V05
HS > Yeah, it’s the biggest thing we’ve done and being able to do all the extras around it was really exciting. It worked out well in the end, was really inspiring, really enjoyable.
LBB > What’s next for you two in 2012?
MI > I don’t think we should talk about what we didn’t just get to create. We’ve just had a shoot fall through which was meant to be in Cuba, but for now we don’t have anything big lined up.
LBB > Do you just like the traveling, you two?
MI and HS > (whilst laughing) Yeah!
HS > That is an amazing part of our jobs. We get to see some amazing countries that we never got to visit before. Suddenly you get flown around places, to attend shoots and to do something that you really enjoy doing. It’s a bit quiet at the moment, we have some work on that we are creating for a major gallery. It’s funny, we had a really busy time last year, shooting three ads straight in a row. We were always in post-production, production… something and now we are back doing creative work again, which is great as well. It’s calm and we sit at our desk and get to think about our work.
LBB > Mike, I feel like you haven’t had a chance to say anything and that Harry’s just taken over! Is there anything you’d like to add?
HS > That’s kind of how it works with us…
MI > Yeah, I just draw the pictures… It’s also nice working with different directors. That’s definitely inspiring. Learning how they do their job. Every time we do a project, we learn a little more from seeing how someone else does it. Yeah, it’s really fun. It’s great. We’re really happy.