"Every Client That Comes Into The Agency Says ‘I Want A Meerkat’"

Television is the greatest medium there is – that was the verdict from an all-star panel of creative geniuses at Advertising Week Europe.

Creative Carousel, the fourth ITV flagship session at BAFTA, was led by Lindsey Clay, CEO of Thinkbox, and featured a stellar line-up of Darren Bailes, Executive Creative Director at VCCP, Dave Buonaguidi, Chief Creative Officer at Karmarama, Nick Gill, Executive Creative Director at BBH, Vicki Maguire Deputy Executive Creative Director at Grey London, and Justin Tindall, Executive Creative Director at Leo Burnett.

Their passion for great storytelling and the power of television shone through as they were asked for any words to inspire future creatives.

Bailes told us: “TV is the greatest medium that there is. X Factor – Saturday night, these audiences are the best thing. We’ve got a Superbowl slot every Saturday evening.”

Gill said: “Film is the most extraordinary medium to work in. Be ambitious – open your minds.” Tindall agreed: “If you want to tell stories, the place to start is TV,” he said.

The award-winning panel were asked to choose their favourite ads which they had created.

Gill chose his Lynx ad, showing a couple retracing their steps after a one-night stand and finding their clothes. “It’s a film that seemed to capture a lot of people’s imagination,” he said.

In contrast, Buonaguidi chose his ad for Ikea, which he said was “short, ugly and very brutal” – which showed Ikea staff laughing raucously after informing customers that the price had been slashed on the product they just bought. “I was very surprised that Ikea bought it,” he confessed. “They had a very anarchic sense of humour.”

Maguire chose her British Heart Foundation ad, starring Vinnie Jones, which had a huge impact in terms of getting the message across about CPR.

“We knew we had to entertain and educate,” she said. “There are 42 people walking around now that should not be walking around, because 42 people had seen that ad.”

Tindall picked out his McDonald’s ad, which showed the difficult relationship between a boy and his mother’s boyfriend. “McDonald’s has an incredibly capacity to bring very diverse people together,” he said.  

Bailes chose his original meerkat ad for Compare the Market. “We didn’t know how it was going to go down in the world,” he said. “It was pretty instant really – over the next few weeks everyone started saying ‘Simples’.”

“Then one day you get someone from ITV saying ‘you’ve got Gary Barlow, you’ve got Coronation Street, you’ve got meerkats – make it work!”

Dave said the ad had an extraordinary impact. “Every client that comes into the agency says ‘I want a meerkat’,” he said.

Clay also asked the panel for their tips about how to get started with creative ideas. “How does it go from a blank sheet of paper to what you see on the screen?” she said.

Gill revealed: “I listen to a lot of music – it just unlocks stuff for me, it gives me an emotional handle on stuff.”

Buonaguidi said: “I like sitting around with a lot of people, ideally over a cup of tea, and kicking an idea around 

Maguire said she liked to talk to real people. “If you’ve got a brief, you go out and talk to the people that the brief is going to influence,” she said. “Get out of the office as much as possible.”

Tindall admitted: “I’m very much driven by fear and that at some point I’m going to get found out for the fraud that I am.”

Meanwhile, the inspirational Buonaguidi said it was important to “f@ck things up a bit”. “The industry could do with a big dollop of that,” he said.