Friday, 1 September 2017

Ed Sheeran appeared on my dinner plate.

I don't get Ed Sheeran. 

I find his music derivative, unexciting, cliched and lyrically vapid.

I had quite a heated debate when I tried to put this point across to a bunch of unimpressed Sheeran fans at a family gathering.

I was firmly rebuked for not having musical taste.

That evening my wife had cooked a rather delicious stir fry.
At the end of the meal my plate was swimming in soy sauce. 

Not one to let good flavours go to waste, I raised the plate to my mouth and slurped the remaining sauce. 

I placed the plate down and to my horror I found a gloating, evil Ed Sheeran staring back at me.

I took this to be a sign to do two things. 
To keep my musical opinions to myself. 
And to put less soy sauce on my Chinese food.

The thought of inviting Ed Sheeran around to apologize did cross my mind. 

But I reached for Frank Zappa's Weasels Ripped My Flesh album instead.

Here is the undoctored picture. 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017


This was our 8th year of touring the course. We had a wonderful time, learned loads and contributed some cool ideas for our hosts  and their clients along the way.
Agencies that gave us toast, coffee, a barrel full of briefs for a week and placements were:
Leo Burnett, Saatchis, BBH, Mother, Google, Grey, RKCR Y&R, CHI, VCCP, AMV, WCRS, BBC, McCann, Karmarama,  Joint and Adam and Eve/DDB. Thank you. TC.

BBC week.

                          BBC 1. 9.30am Papa's got a brand new BBC bag

BBC 2. 1.00pm   Celebrity Stalking.

                                       BBC3. 3.00pm The Day Of The Pods.

                     BBC4. 7.30pm  Dr Who's that girl being weird.

                    BBC 6. Holly gets her work critiqued by a Dalek

                                        Campaign carpeting at Leo Burnetts.

             Martin Reed, George Robb and Alice Burton with Lucy and Grace at Y&R.

 George Robb and Alice Burton try to find their way back to their desk without stepping on a great ad.

                                 With Caroline Pay at The Festival Hall.

 Jez Tribe Creative Director at AMV runs through the Book In A Week ideas.

 AMV's Jez and Prabs CDs  with Oli and Josie with the Watford Winners Lucy and Grace.

 In the WCRS boardroom with Creative Directors Orlando and Olly.

                       Ash and Sara judge the work at BBH.

                  Dickie Connell ECD and Ex Watfordian surveys the                                                work at Karmarama.

Google was an intense week. We worked on social issues and launched a new computer game which is designed to boost the social skills and confidence of teenage boys.

 Graeme Hall CD at Google Labs with Emma Durgan writer give feedback to the group,

 The ever so lovely brilliant amazing Janay Sor with the wattford teams.

  Google, Watford and an old man who likes walking on his knees.

Last day of the course, at Mother with the incredibly supportive Ben Heap.

The Radio Centre wasn't part of our Tour but I just had to include this wonderful group shot. A great morning hosted by the amazingly radio passionate Clare Bowen.

Some out takes.

Monday, 7 August 2017


Creative duo dared by Chuckle Bros to fly an air balloon; Richard Branson and The Drum make it happen

Miriam Pick (left) and Holly Hunter took to the streets with their quest
Sir Richard Branson has gifted a graduate creative duo a free air balloon flight in order for them to fulfill a challenge personally set by the Chuckle Brothers. Sounds bonkers? It gets stranger – but it's a story that underlines the real power of creative partnerships.
Last week on Holywell Lane, just around the corner from The Drum’s London office, a handwritten note was spotted pinned to one of Shoreditch’s many graffiti walls. It read:
“Dear Richard Branson. Can we borrow your hot air balloon? We are a creative double act, two students trying to get a job in London. The legendary Chuckle Brothers have given us a double act challenge to complete by Monday. The challenge? To fly a hot air balloon together.
“Do you think we could borrow one please? We don’t have a lot to offer in return, but we do draw a smashing pigeon portrait…”
Underneath, there was indeed an illustration of the business mogul as a pigeon.
The Drum tracked down the creatives – Holly Hunter and Miriam Pick, aka Holz and Miz – via the note’s hashtag #balloonpleasebranson. After finishing Tony Cullingham’s Watford Advertising course just under a month ago the two are currently undertaking a work placement at Anomaly.
“Every Monday [Anomaly] has a morning meeting where someone talks about something in particular and teaches the rest of the agency about something new and interesting,” Hunter explained. “We thought we should do it, so we volunteered on Monday and came up with the idea of doing a presentation on double acts.”
Their choice of topic was inspired by their discovery that “none of our friends outside the advertising industry ever understands what we do and what creative partners are”.
“I moved into a new house and for the first two months Miriam would be round every weekend and we’d work at the kitchen table together,” said Hunter. “One day I made a comment like: ‘Maybe I’ll get Tinder to find myself a man’ and all my housemates’ faces dropped. They were like ‘What about Miriam?’ – they thought we were a lesbian couple."
So Holz and Miz started tweeting legendary duos on Twitter, asking for a challenge to prove themselves as a double act.
After no response from Ant and Dec or Gogglebox's Steph and Dom, Barry "Baz" Chuckle got back to them suggesting: “Why not fly an air balloon?”
Aside from the fact that no Brit could turn down the suggestion of a Chuckle Brother, the creative partners were up for the challenge from a mildly philosophical standpoint too.
“I think it’s about trusting each other and just going for stuff,” said Pick. “Trying stuff like this is very similar to the advertising industry – you can get rejected together and you’ve got to get used to getting shot down.”
Hunter added: “It’s like, we don’t care – we’re just going to make a go at it. If you fail, you fail together and if you smash it, you smash it together and that’s what we’ve learnt as a double act.”
The posters featuring Holz and Miz’ signature imagery of a pigeon (a story for another day, but one that involves a challenge from Watford, a bunch of elastic bands and Bill Nighy) were printed and plastered around the capital.
The story could have ended there, but The Drum’s editorial team spotted the letters and began an undercover campaign to make the balloon ride happen.
Branson was, after all, the recipient of a lifetime achievement award at the title’s Marketing Awards in May and the team was confident the request was of the fun, bizarre ilk favoured by the Virgin founder. After an email interchange his team confirmed Hunter and Pick could have the flight for free – but Branson wanted to go one step further and match their guerilla poster campaign.
Underneath one of the duo’s many posters, Virgin stuck a handwritten note from Branson (who wrote it on Necker island) confirming his support of the project. He wrote:
“A little bird told me a creative double act in Shoreditch were trying to get my attention. Holly and Miriam, it looks like you’re up for a challenge and your doodle certainly made me Chuckle.
“Well, birds of a feather flock together, so of course we’ll let you borrow one of our balloons. The wonderful Virgin Balloon Flights team are on the case and you’ll soon be enjoying a bird’s eye view.
“In the meantime, here’s another portrait to put a cat amongst the pigeons…”
The note was accompanied by a picture of Branson, now illustrated in feline form.
Branson has today (7 August) published his side of the story on his social media accounts and on his blog. The duo will find out the success of their project only when this story is published this morning.
“At the start we were thinking about the end result and what we wanted to teach, but once we weren’t scared to fail it just bought us to this adventure,” said Pick, when she spoke to The Drum on Friday. “Right now we’re in a park making this fake hot air balloon with a birthday candle and plastic bag in case Richard doesn’t come through. We’re still up for the challenge, we’ve just gone about it a different way.”
Nothing can be a truer testament to the power of creative partnerships than the thought of two fresh graduates accidentally melting makeshift hot air balloons in a park on a Friday afternoon. But thanks to their determination and disregard for failure, the sky is literally the limit for this particular duo.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017


        Holly and Miriam will  be engaged for some time.

 Aly and Emma bagged two great agencies. 

       Raminder and Rose are off to VCCP and MBA via Brad Pitt.

From Monday, Becca and Dan are  two Virgins.

Lucy & Grace. Get the motor running, head up on the highway.
Looking for adventure and whatever comes my way.

Millie is joining Joint on placement next week.

And Tom and Jay are off to WCRS on placement.

Sunday, 25 June 2017


Big week.
Big days.
Big minutes.
Big breakfasts.
Big briefs.
Big piles of paper.
Big ice creams.
Big client.
Big thinking.
Big chairs.
Big effort.
Big, big effort.
Big smiles.
Big pats on back.



            JANAY (FAR RIGHT.) THE LOVELIEST LADY IN THE                                                GOOGLE WORLD.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Frank Zappa.

Schools train people to be ignorant, with style. They give you the equipment that you need to be a functional ignoramus. Schools do not equip you to deal with things like logic; they don’t give you the criteria by which to judge between good and bad in any medium or format; and they prepare you to be a usable victim for military-industrial complex that needs manpower. As long as you’re just smart enough to do a job and just dumb enough to swallow what they feed you, you’re gonna be alright. But if you go beyond that then you’re gonna have these grave doubts that give you stomach problems, headaches…make you want to go out and do something else. So, I believe that schools mechanically and very specifically try and breed out any hint of creative thought in the kids that are coming out today.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

A very nice letter from a very nice man.

I save letters. They nestle at the back of my wardrobe in a 1971 Dunlop Greenflash shoe box. 

I have letters from my mum that she wrote to me when I was away camping with the Leicester  25th Scout group. There are a few notes in SWALK envelopes from ex girlfriends. (Don't tell the wife.) There's even a short note from Barry Manilow somewhere.

In my 28 years at Watford I kept only two letters, both from Creative Directors. One was from Trevor Beattie offering me and my students the world. The other was from Peter Souter saying his agency would rather help out another college. (These letters I fear were lost in the  College Great Paper Cull of 2010.)

Nowadays, letter writing is dead. Emails are merely word bites which make Bukowski's Post Office seem loquacious.

Today, I received an unsolicited letter from a Creative Director I've never met before. 

An out-of-the-blue-never-saw-it-coming bunch of words that hit your soul with a warm mushy fist of human kindness.

Although the letter was in email format it would have equally looked at home if it was written on parchment paper with a quill.

This is another letter for my shoe box.

Tony, I felt it was high time I said hi.
My name is Richard Russell and I’ve just joined WCRS as CD on their Government business.
As it happens, I sit next to – and have just worked with – the gruffly delightful Johnny Ruthven and Ben Brazier, who also say hi. (Brilliant team – what a good job you did with them.)
For years, I have been meaning to get in touch and offer any assistance, if wanted. I am a huge admirer of what you do at Watford, Tony, and firmly believe that under your inspirational and human leadership it remains the pre-eminent course for aspiring Creatives. But these days, of course, any old Tom and Dick University or College think they can do the same job as you, and I hear that times are much tougher for Watford.
If you’d like a hand, I’d be happy to help. As unoriginal as it sounds, I guess I’m thinking about maybe coming to talk to your students, showing them a few choice, eye-opening things, and setting a brief of some kind. There may be other ways to assist you in promoting the course, but perhaps a visit is the best place to start. I’d relish the chance to speak to your class and get them fired up about the extraordinary things they can make happen as a Creative, and how best to go about it. While the industry is having an identity crisis at the moment, fiercely original problem-solving will never go out of fashion. Indeed, it’s more important than ever that the new generation of creative talent fly the flag for irresistible thinking and claim our place back at the top table.
I hope this finds you well, Tony. It would be a pleasure to meet you and perhaps we can make that happen sometime soon.