Friday, 7 May 2010

Star Stories: Tony Malcolm

The next in our line of Star Stories features Tony Malcolm, a CD at Leo Burnett in the UK.

I’d like to give some sort of philosophical answer like Leo Burnett himself saying ‘I didn’t get into the business, the business got into me’. But I’m sure nobody will quote me on saying it was by accident.

I was thrown out of the Hounslow Manor School after only excelling at English, Art, Sport and smoking. My mum encouraged me to do a Graphic Arts course at the local college, which at the time was Hounslow Borough College. I took a portfolio of the still life drawings I’d done to pass my O level and they saw enough potential to give me the last remaining place on the course. On the three year course, I managed to scrape through with a diploma thanks mainly to an inspired alphabet I designed made of illustrated hands. I did however manage a more respectable higher diploma for my advertising work. Thankfully, in the second year of the course, advertising was added to the curriculum.

It introduced us to the D&AD Students Course where we would go out on a Thursday evening and meet some of the top creatives in advertising, setting us briefs, reviewing our work and showing us their swanky offices. They’d even give us free beer and crisps and that for me was the clincher. Back in the eighties Collett, Dickenson Pearce was at the height of its powers, producing stunning campaigns for Hamlet, Fiat, Parker Pens, Heineken, Clark’s Shoes, Barclaycard, Cinzano, Stella Artois, B&H, Hovis and Wall’s.

I admired the wit and the cleverness of what they were doing.

I started putting effort into what I was doing, studying D&AD Annuals, listening to the wisdom of those who were Copywriters and Art Directors for a living. I teamed up with my first art director. We’d been to one D&AD Students evening at a new agency called Gold Greenlees Trott. Dave Trott was a legend amongst the student fraternity for his no nonsense approach to advertising. We plucked up the courage to ring him and take our work in to show him.

He took our call, but said ‘if you want to come and see me, do thirty campaigns in two weeks’. He encouraged us to look for bad ads for good products in press publications and said we would find the brief buried in the copy points. So we scanned dozens of magazines, tearing out ad after ad. We did the required amount of ads in the specified time and were duly granted an audience with the great man. Trotty looked through all 90 ads pulling out the ones he liked and throwing out the ones he didn’t and at the end of the process, told us to photocopy all those that had made the grade, put them In a pack and mail them to the following people at the following agencies saying he recommended us. We wrote a letter saying what we had done and stapled it to the little booklet of A4 ads.

It certainly worked for us. We got very excited when we received a call from Saatchi and Saatchi.We went in the following day to see John Bacon and after verifying our story with Trotty he offered us a job. Just like that. I phoned my mum and dad. They had heard of Saatchi and Saatchi from the famous Conservative campaign and like me, were delighted. Especially my dad who thought the word ‘Labour’ could have been permanently replaced with ‘Tony’ in the ‘Labour isn’t Working’ poster.

Since those days I have worked at many of the best advertising agencies in London, including being Creative Director of CDP, Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow and Johnson, TBWA, and running my own agency Malcolm Moore Deakin Blazye.

Nearing my third decade in the business, I’m still working as hard as I did in those early days to ensure the quality of work at Leo Burnett lives up to the high standards engrained in me back then. As with Leo himself, the business got into me, and what started as an accident turned out to be a very happy one.

1 comment:

big suit said...

Good story short.. i like her looks when he use mensitaly product..