We shouldn’t be afraid to stand up and be counted

It’s gratifying to see a design group stand up for its beliefs and resign a piece of business, especially in these depressed times.

I’ve always admired Williams Murray Hamm’s work in breaking the mould and it’s applaudable that this extends into the way it runs its business.

Not knowing the ins and outs of this particular sad fallout (although I’ve personally experienced similar scenarios over the years), I can but guess that the rich creative fare WMH continually supplies became indigestible to the likes of staid RHM and its only top-of-mind brand, Hovis (pictured).

As designers, we have to ask ourselves, what do we actually stand for if such an award-winner, both in terms of design and design effectiveness, results in this ‘mutual split’, to quote Hovis brand director Paula Moss? Very little it would seem.

Of course, this lack of respect lies at our own door. Just look around at the shelves of fmcg brands and witness the bland repetitiveness that abounds.

Does this work really represent the wealth of creative talent within our industry? Certainly not.

What it does represent, sadly, is our unwillingness to stand up for what we believe in for fear of losing the business, which will be lost eventually when the blandness fails to work once again and the next unfortunate will be entrusted, for a while, to follow the same mind-numbing formula.

Well, you could say it keeps the business trickling in, but is this what we all aspired to while studying for our diplomas?

It’s interesting to note that until WHM came along, the last, equally mould-breaking, Hovis work was Ridley Scott’s famous commercial with the baker’s boy coming up the cobbled hill to the strains of Dvorak’s New World Symphony. It is still remembered today, and that was well over 30 years ago. Where the comparison ends is that ad agency CDP kept the business for many years to come.

John Blackburn

Executive creative director


London W1

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