Our sixth star story comes courtesy of Eaon Pritchard, a creative at Weapon7, an interactive ad agency, which has done some very interesting work for Xbox and Smirnoff (the 'Triple Distilled' spot in particular) amongst others. Eaon's blog can be found here.
FLASH BANG WALLOP
by Eaon Pritchard
It's 1992 and I'm in the back office of the record shop in Aberdeen that I manage.
I'm clutching a brown cardboard envelope containing an Italian white label 12" record that's been mailed to me by one of the specialist importer/distributers I buy from. The note attached tells me they are hopeful of doing some business with this record and what did i think? It will be available as an import in about 3 weeks.
On the blank white label the words Glam Hell's Party are scribbled in black marker.
I dump the record onto the turntable and drop the needle on. Its a full on Euro house/disco stomper that samples Curtis Mayfield from 'If theres a Hell Below..'
On first listen, I'm thinking that I could probably shift about 20-25 of these on import before any UK release and decide to give it a whirl at one of my dj engagements at the weekend.
Over the next few weeks I play it at every gig and everywhere it drops the roof goes off. It's a monster tune. When the labelled copies are finally available I end up selling over 250 12" on import over the following couple of months before it's picked up by Sony in the UK, remixed and released for a stab at the charts.
The Sony rep calls me to sell in his new releases and offers it as a 1 in 3 deal (ie buy 3 get one free) expecting a big order. I buy 6. Ive already sold 250 on import so I'm done with it, now it's time for HMV or whatever to takeover.
The Long Tail and the Tipping Point in action before anyone had properly coined those phrases.
The distributer gave me one of the few white labels know in my history of being able to sell decent numbers of Italian imports. I'm also a reasonably well-known dj in Scotland. An influencer in my niche.
I play the record at the clubs I'm booked at (the small ones that are full of the clued-up kids - the influencers in their towns) - the cool kids love it and want it. When it's available they are the first to have it and play it at there own parties. The idea spreads. The specialist shops sell shed loads on import.
Sony cool detectors pick up the record for mass market - its in all the chains and hits the top 40.
It's hit the early and late majority.
It was round about this time I realised that I was destined for marketing because, without any formal training or anything, I just understood this stuff.
It's now 2007.
I'm working as a creative technical strategist with Weapon7, a specialist digital advertising agency in London, using basically the same principles to develop digital marketing campaigns for global brands. It's come full circle again as traditional mass interruption advertising is no longer as effective as it was in the pre-digital age, with word of mouth - this time accelerated by networked connectivity on an unprecedented scale. An evolved (fuzzy) role (geek marketer? T-shaped creative? Job 2.0? – delete as appropriate) with an evolved agency.
I quit the music industry around ’96 after helping launch a group of indie labels. We released about 15 records a month for 3 or 4 years. No big hits but the Long Tail kept us ticking over – we could sell about 2,000 of any release so it made sense to release loads rather than look for one big hit.
I then picked up my crayons again (I had hardly drawn anything since leaving Art School in 89 with a fine art degree) and spent a year or so learning how to work a mac on the job at the local newspaper setting ads.
Next stop was a small design and comms agency based in Aberdeen where we worked with the oil companies on everything from brochures, intranets and safety videos. The big lesson there was – never say no to a job. If we didn’t know how to do it we’d just go and figure it out. Try, fail and learn.
Decamping to London in 2000 I had the idea that interactive tv was going to be the next big thing, post dot com crash. After about 18 months at Sky I realised that probably wasn’t my smartest move (fail and learn, again) and then became Creative Director with Littlewoods Gaming, an old fashioned company looking to launch its gambling products into the 21st century and a market dominated by young pretenders like 888.com.
Around this time, I had my next epiphany when I was given a copy of Seth Godin’s Purple Cow. It seemed like everything I had been thinking but unable to articulate properly was encapsulated in those pages.
‘Pouring off every page like it was written in my soul’ as Bobby D would say – that’s maybe a bit dramatic but you get where I’m coming from.
My advice for grads making their first tentative steps into industry?
Well, if you are clever enough to be reading this blog and participating in these conversations you don’t need much from me. You already realise the power of community and dialogue in modern marketing. You are smarter than the average bear already.
Your potential employers and clients are desperate for new thinking, fresh approaches and innovation that’s going to keep their products/services and marketing relevant – beyond 30 second spots, no matter how smarty pants (I’m thinking drumming gorillas here…)
Be fuzzy, poke your nose in where its not wanted, challenge the status quo, don’t ask permission for anything and be prepared to fail and learn.
That’s about it.