The Interview Series // 12 (Part One)


Have you ever been jet-lagged? We have. It sucks balls. You wander around aimlessly for days and people say things like, ‘wow man, you look like a zombie’. Thanks friend. Thanks a lot. And you look like an asshole. When Toby Moore and Selena McKenzie rocked up to an inner-Melbourne bar for this interview, they looked like friggin’ zombies. We caught them on a weeklong whirlwind tour of their old hometown before flying back to their snug offices (above) at the ‘world famous’ ad agency Fallon London (http://www NULL.fallon These guys are pretty much our idols. They even paid for our beer. We spoke for so long that we’ve had to cut this interview into two. But that’s cool cause we get double the amount of hits. Suckers. Be sure to come back tomorrow for Part Two in the Toby/Selena jetlagged beer-off.

Junior: What was it like when you guys finished uni?

Toby: Well I finished around ’96. Straight after I took a year off and just sorta hung around my house…
Selena: Smoking bongs.

Jr: Should we strike that from the record?

T&S: Ha, no don’t. Leave it in.

Jr: Ha, OK.

T: Yeah. And you know, like anyone, you put off actually going out and getting a job. Finally my step-dad who I was living with basically said in a nice way, ‘I’m going to kick you out if you don’t get a job’. Which I was pretty bummed about cause I had a really big room at the back of the house with my own door out to the patio.

Jr: So what did you do?

T: Ugh, I panicked a little bit and then, out of the blue, I got a phone call from a design lecturer (I went to Swinburne) saying, ‘There’s this job going at a studio in South Melbourne.’ I only lasted about two weeks after I got there. I got sacked. But the next day, I went back to get my paycheck and the whole business had gone under. Apparently the accountant had put the decimal point in the wrong spot on the latest lot of bills, and they went under.

That’s ridiculous.

T: They should leave it to computers.

Jr: So we’ve heard some different stories about you guys. One particular story is that you sat in a library for a couple of months writing hundreds of ads. Did that happen? What’s the entire story?

S: We went to London with our book that Toby and I had put together of our own graduate work. We showed it to a Creative Director at a certain agency…
T: A not very good agency.
S: And this particular Creative Director said, “Uhh, it’s a bit middle class.”

Jr: Middle Class? That’s the words he used? What did he mean by that?

S: As in middle class – a bit boring, a bit safe…
T: A bit beige.
S: So we walked out and threw it away.

Jr: How many ads did you have in it?

T: Probably about fifteen things.
S: Yeah so we threw it away.
T: And took our middle-class asses back to Australia and back to the middle-class library.

All: Hahaha.

T: So we got home, got in my mum’s Volvo and said, “fuck this, fuck you, we don’t want to be middle-class.”

Jr: So you actually listened to this guy?

S: Fuck yeah. It hurt. Plus he was in a real office in a real agency.

Jr: But you said it wasn’t even a very good agency.

S: It still mattered.

Jr: Do you think it matters to take all criticism?

T: No definitely not. We should point out that the ‘middle-class’ incident was the worst insult of our lives.
S: Heh yeah, so we went to the library in the Volvo, which of course was beige, and for every brief we worked on we came up with one hundred ideas. We were angry.

Jr: One hundred ideas for every brief?

S: Yep. Roughly. Sometimes more, sometimes less.
T: When we say one hundred ideas, they were just written down. We didn’t execute them. We’d execute the best three as campaigns and we’d put those into a separate folio. So we had two folios. We figured if they didn’t like the ideas in one folio, we could show them the other. Like insurance.

Jr: How many briefs?

S: Ten to twenty?
T: No. Twelve? I don’t know. That took us ages… How long did that take us?
S: Oh, about eight months. On the dole.

Jr: Before Mojo (http://www NULL.publicismojo or after Mojo (http://www NULL.publicismojo

T: Before Mojo (http://www NULL.publicismojo

Jr: So this was before you’d had a job in advertising at all?

S: Toby had worked at Y&R Mattingly.

Jr: Right.

S: And then we showed our book to Dave Alberts who offered us a job in Sydney, at Publicis Mojo (http://www NULL.publicismojo
T: We were there for eighteen months. Then Darren (Spiller – Creative Director of Publicis Mojo (http://www NULL.publicismojo Melbourne) invited us down to the Melbourne office. We’d actually gone for a job interview there during our unemployment stretch, and Darren had kind of gone, “Ohh not sure guys, this is OK, don’t mind this, but I don’t think so.”

Jr: So what’s Darren’s version of that event?

T: We never really spoke to him about it. It was as though he’d wiped it from his mind. But I suppose our persistence paid off and we got to work with him in the end.

Jr: Haha, OK. So you were in Sydney, how was that? Amazing? Boring? Shit?

S: It was really amazing and great to work as an Australian team in a department of mainly English creatives. It was great how they threw around ideas and were really open with sharing thoughts. So we would share our ideas with them and everyone would make each other’s work better. It was tough, but we were around really good people.
T: Initially we did some ads that were pretty average though.

Jr: As you do when you’re starting out.

T: Yeah we tried so hard. I can’t believe how hard we tried to make them decent. But they were just, yeah, shockers.

Jr: So were you the first and last to leave every day?

S: I remember one night we worked thirty or so hours to meet a deadline. We’d read somewhere that Winston Churchill used to have powernaps. So we thought, ‘we’ll do that too!’
T: So every hour, I think the idea was you’d have fifteen minutes sleep.

Jr: Did it work?

T&S: Ha, no. Not at all.
S: We found it took more than fifteen minutes to get to sleep.

Jr: Heh, bummer.

S: Except we did come up with an idea at about 8am in the morning, which we then took into the presentation with the client and they bought it.

Jr: Was it any good?

T: It wasn’t that good.
S: We ended up re-presenting something better a week later.
T: But it was hell.
S: We’ll never do that again.

There’s still plenty more where that came from. Part Two coming tomorrow!

Written by Junior
Originally posted on: 15/04/2009