The Interview Series // 18

antkeogh

It’s a big interview. Very big interview. Can’t believe how big this interview is. Get it? We are mimicking that Cannes Lion winning ad for Carlton Draught, The Big Ad (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=Mv5U0W8FDDk). Everyone knows it. But does everyone know who made it? We do! It’s Ant! Hello Ant! (http://www NULL.antkeogh NULL.com/) He’s made many more ads (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=C03k3YScMHc) since then, possibly some (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=0QsGcOnju-I) better (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=_RqrdRqAr1Q) ones (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=1xozDXxwvcw), but we’re the kind of dudes who like to hook in our readers with a popular reference to something well-known to get you all excited. Are you excited? You better be. We’ve used up our word-count trying to hype this interview. Wanna know some trivia? Ant was in Kenny (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Kenny_(2006_film))! That crazy movie about the dude who cleans toilets. He also thought his folio was terrible when he started out. There’s more trivia than that, but we can’t fit…

Junior: The information super highway told us that you were a talented illustrator as a child. Apparently everyone expected you to study fine art or become an illustrator. WTF? How did you end up in advertising?

Ant: Yeah. I went to University (RMIT) wanting to be an illustrator. But even back then RMIT was pretty advertising-centric. The illustration side of things was a little rigid at the time so I think I lost a bit of interest in that. So at the final year show I had some ads on the wall and a judge said your headlines are funny, you should try advertising. Then I visited (designer) Mimmo Cozzilino (http://mimmocozzolino NULL.com NULL.au/) and I think he said a similar thing and sent me onto Bruce Baldwin at the Campaign Palace. But basically my folio was pretty terrible at that point, just an even mixture of ads, design and illustration because I’d barely even laid eyes on an award book and didn’t really know what was possible. Then I worked for a year designing a magazine while at the same time doing Copyschool. That’s where I really learnt a lot about ads and met some of the people I could go and bug to give me a job.

Jr: And look at you now! Mr. Creative Director at Clemenger BBDO in Melbourne. How did you break into the industry. What was the first agency you worked at?

A: At Copyschool I teamed up with another writer. We offered to do briefs on spec for Y&R and then they produced our stuff which went onto win an award or two. After the awards they ended up offering us a job but we’d already taken a job at a smaller agency. Arhh! We stuck with the small place.

Jr: You stuck at the small place?! Eek. How’d you go getting through those first years in the industry? We all have a little trouble. What was your experience?

A: Yeah the first year actually wasn’t as scary as you would expect because Copyschool (which, back then, ran for nine months) actually got us used to working under pressure. I guess the learning curve was about actually making the ads. And that tiny agency that employed us? A year later, they retrenched us and then went out of business. So hopefully that’s encouragement for anyone having a tough time. I was retrenched from my first job.

Jr: Getting retrenched happens to the best of us! What advice do you have to kids just landing jobs and starting their creative careers so they won’t get fired like you did? (Editors note: Joke! Smiley face.)

A: Heh. The best advice I heard was, “Get in somewhere and then make yourself invaluable.” You see it a lot in a business – there are certain people – it might be a traffic manager or a receptionist – you can tell the place would fall apart without. Those people usually get taken care of.

Jr: You’ve had the opportunity to work on some amazing brands in your career – Carlton Draft (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=Mv5U0W8FDDk) springs to mind – it seems like everyone in this industry would kill for that kind of opportunity. How did you get to be in that position?

A: Well yeah it took a long time before I got to work on that, like ten years or so. I used to work on some accounts and think this just so isn’t suited to me. It’s funny because people now say, “Oh you get to work on beer. Beer is easy and fun.” Well, you know, Grant (Rutherford) and I made that opportunity. Carlton Ads weren’t like that when we started working on the account. Until a few years ago, beer ads in Australia were very serious affairs. More like Winfield ads. Get on youtube and have a look. (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=kcoebOqFsTs) Most stuff I worked on wasn’t a great account beforehand. But I was lucky because I got to create a campaign from the ground up. By writing the “Made From Beer” idea we were able to create a space where we got to play in an area very close to our own sense of humour. That’s why I’ve stuck with it for so long. We also enjoyed doing Barry Dawson The Cougar (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=K7zZbTC6UCA).

Jr: How do you stay inspired?

A: Look at other people’s genius stuff. Not ads so much. Good ads are few and far between but occasionally I get really excited by something, like the Skittles ads (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=3yPaLq1EpQw) for example. When you first see them they kind of give you a giddy thrill.

Jr: Ah yes, this is a good segway. So you’ve built your career in advertising as a copywriter – yet you’re also a talented and recognised artist. At what stage did you decide to switch to the other side and become a writer?

A: Oh after a few years I started working on my own doing both writing and art. At that time I became interested in screenwriting. Also there weren’t many writers around and I felt it was a good way to be more in control of the idea. So next time I teamed up, it was with a Creative Director who was an Art Director (Darren Spiller at Mojo) so I became, by default, the writer. And from then on I was a “writer”. I went to Y&R then George Patts now to Clems. Except now I’m on my own again, back to doing both.

Jr: You’ve had a successful career in advertising, won many awards, and worked with talents. How does this compare to the success you’ve had as an artist?

A: Well I haven’t really had a great success in the art world yet although I would love to. But I certainly enjoy it. It’s pure and I tend to keep it away from my advertising. The trap in some respects is I had early success in advertising. And that tends to encourage you in that direction.

Jr: Every creative has a side-project. What are yours? We know you’ve got ’em. We stalked you on Google.

A: Well I have my painting as I said (antkeogh.com (http://www NULL.antkeogh NULL.com/)) but I also have some feature screenplays on the go. I was in that film Kenny (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=I0vE4ygyv6g). I’ve made some short films. For a long time I was in bands and had a little bit of stuff on the radio.

Jr: Yes! So many fingers and pies. That’s what Google told us. Do you find the creative processes similar?

A: Well, in a sense I probably get to use many of those other skills making ads. Any film medium is especially like that – words pictures, sound. For example I’ve used my musical skills to make Carlton Draught’s “Big Ad (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=Mv5U0W8FDDk)”. The more knowledge you have the easier it will be. Computer skills are handy. I taught myself Flash and Dreamweaver although I’m a hack. To answer the question though, in advertising the creative process is highly conceptual and very tight. All about the “idea”. And people have to “get It”. In that respect, it’s great for teaching you how to think. What people call an idea in other disciplines often just wouldn’t cut it in an ad agency. I’ve heard a designer call something “a concept” which was actually just a typeface. With my own stuff I don’t try to be so conceptual and can be far more obscure.

Jr: How important is it do you think to have something else outside advertising?

A: It certainly is for me. If advertising is wearing me down, which it easily can because that particular creative process is often about rejection and is getting more and more bogged down with “process” such as research. It can take a long time to get something up. When that happens I can get creative fulfillment from other projects.

Jr: Thanks Ant. We owe you beers.

A: Cheers and good luck juniors.

Written by Junior
Originally posted on: 20/08/2009