I have been exchanging email with Leslie Walters, a former advertising copywriter and now author of the book Red Thread: A Love Story, which he has written and produced in collaboration with the designer/art director Paul Dashwood. I am writing an article about people who have made a create leap from one occupation to another.

Leslie and I worked at an agency called MacKay King in the early/mid eighties. It was led by Terry King and Roy Meares and had a very good run before they cunningly did a reverse takeover of Saatchi & Saatchi. In one of his notes Leslie made a nostalgic remark about what it was like to work at MK. I wracked my brain for moments I could feel nostalgic about. But there are none. It was a revolting place to work. - monumental egos, a lack of respect for individuals, passive aggression from senior staff…I hated it. Which is not to say I didn't learn a great deal. Not all of it good. The agency's success in advertising award shows had a halo effect on me - even if my rather junior performance (doing the jobs noone else wanted to do) made little real contribution other than freeing the 'stars' to do the glamour jobs. It did provide me with a lily pad to jump from to another (Rialto) where I thoroughly enjoyed the less neurotic atmosphere and where I was allowed more responsibility.

When we launched Idealog I thought it would make for a good story to cover Roy Meares career. Though I didn't have very fond memories of him personally I did have a high regard for his talent as a salesman. There's no point in being good at making ads if you can't persuade clients to buy them (and assign a decent portion of their budget to production) - and I have to say I have never seen anyone before or since who can out perform Roy in that. I had the idea for the spread above. I wanted Meares to be styled in a tuxedo as if a cast member of Chicago…I had commisioned Linds Redding of the Department of Motion Graphics to create the sensational backdrop in 3D (from scratch). Roy shows up at the shoot with photographer Philip Peacocke in casual attire and insisting that he be able to include his little friends Sooty & Sweep. I don't like to go to shoots (I wouldn't hire a photographer if I didn't think they could deliver a job) so I get a slighlty panicked call from Philip who explains what is happening. 'Just shoot the shit out of it, Phil…I know it will be great'.

Is it great? Probably not. But it has a mad, surprising quality that I like. I think Roy demonstrated a classic advertising person's trait of not wanting to go along with anyone else's idea. As it happens I'm glad he didn't. Sometimes you've just got to let things go and work with what you get.

By the way; the one thing I did get from Roy was that it is always ok to back to a client who has already 'bought' an idea with a better one. I won my first ever award - for Metro Magazine - because Roy Meares saw a full page press ad I had pitched to the editor and publisher who were perfectly happy with it. Roy saw it as he passed my office. He asked what it was. I told him. He told me that people would kill to get a brief for a full page ad. If I thought it was good enough, then obviously I wasn't good enough and should think about working elsewhere. He was right. I worked through the night to come up with a stronger ad. He signed it off 'See, you can do it if your try…" and Warwick Roger loved it. The ad ran that day in the evening paper - one of the last evening broadsheets - the Auckland Star. The following day the offices of Metro had been daubed with angry graffiti. Mission accomplished.

I'm looking forward to reading Red Thread: A Love Storyby Leslie Walters.

For 3D / Motion Graphics genius contact Linds Redding at the The Department of Motion Graphics


  1. Anonymous11:06 pm

    I love 'The Red Thread.' I brought it today, and instantly fell in love with it. Amazing work.


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