1. Can you explain briefly what you do?
Laura: Tom and I are a creative team – I’m a writer and he’s an art director – and we work together on all of our clients, from concepting on social ideas to creating TV campaigns.
2. How did you both get into advertising?
Tom: I’ve always wanted to work in advertising. My first job was at JWT in London, but being a watersports fan, I wanted to see what the regions had to offer. After working at various agencies in Bristol, I found myself teaming up with Laura at TJ, where I’ve undoubtedly learnt loads and produced some really nice work.
Laura: I started off at Central Saint Martins with an art foundation – I wanted to be a sculptor. I shortly realised that I wasn’t born to be a sculptor, and decided I wanted to be in advertising. My first job was in account management – I felt like a creative trapped in the body of an account exec. But after jumping through hoops for Gellan, our creative director, I became a writer, and he paired Tom and I up.
3. What’s your partnership like?
Laura: You know when you were a kid and nothing you said to your sibling could have ever been offensive enough? It’s a bit like that.
Tom: She’s the adopted sister that I didn’t ask for.
4. How do you tell each other if you think their idea is bad?
Tom: We invented the ‘sh*t ad voice’, where you repeat the concept back in a cheesy voiceover tone. It usually kills ideas pretty swiftly.
Laura: We’re very blunt if we think an idea’s bad. You have to be.
5. What would you say you do particularly well?
Tom: I think we’re strong at finding and pushing the insights that really matter to our audience, to make campaigns as engaging as possible.
Laura: Agreed – I also think we’re good at pushing concepts past the hygiene factors into more emotive spaces that play on our insights.
6. How do you come up with ideas?
Tom: We usually go for a coffee, take our sketchpads and talk it out.
7. What’s your favourite campaign you’ve worked on together?
Tom: We’re working on some nice TV projects at the moment – I’m really looking forward to seeing them in their final state. I can’t divulge too much on that though.
Laura: I loved the Christmas campaign we created for Bournemouth BID last year – visually it was beautiful, but also because we had a lot of hurdles to overcome and it paid off. Also, I have to say our Chip Shop Award entry. We got great coverage from Design Taxi, The Drum, The Lad Bible and Playboy, to name a few.
8. What’s your ultimate career goal?
Laura: Same. I want a wall full of them. But I also want someone to read something I’ve written and cry their eyes out.
9. What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for each other?
Tom: Sometimes Laura takes holiday, that’s always nice.
Laura: Cheers, Tom. On a daily basis Tom tells me that I’m running out of eggs, that I’m a “sick little boy” and other pleasantries. The nicest thing? He gave me a photo frame once and told me it was a picture of my future husband. The frame was empty: “just like my future.” Does that count?
10. What’s the most embarrassing moment in your careers?
Tom: Being partnered with Laura.
Laura: Again, cheers Tom. Mine was when I was an intern in Cape Town. A friend at BBDO was having a pants themed birthday party. Long story short: as in America, in South Africa ‘pants’ refer to trousers. Go figure.
11. What’s your favourite ad campaign?
Tom: Dove’s campaign for real beauty – the insight is genius.
Laura: I always tell people about ‘Catvertising’ by St. Johns Street – brilliant self-promo for an ad agency in Toronto, but my favourites constantly change. At the moment I love GiffGaff’s ad ‘Guts’ by Fallon. It’s brilliant.
12. What’s your Thinking Juice?
Tom: San Miguel Fresca.
Laura: H20. And by H20, I mean vodka.
13. What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Tom: An early mentor said ‘be true to yourself’ – it sounds wanky but it’s the thing that really stuck with me. Advertising pulls you in every angle, you have to know your end goal.
Laura: Simon Higby told me not to chase money, but to do great work and the money will follow. I think that’s true. Also, Gellan’s wise words to ‘roll with the punches, but come back fighting’ have always stuck with me.
14. What advice would you give to young creative teams starting out?
Tom: Advertising is one of those industries where everyone wants to give you advice. Sometimes it’s valuable, sometimes it’s not. Take a step back and consider what matters to you.
Laura: Be ruthless – learn to kill your ideas and don’t take it personally. When we see junior team’s portfolios, it’s often hard to tell if they can write. As well as ideas, I’d like to see headlines and bodycopy too.
15. What do you do when you’re not working?
Tom: I sail, surf, run, gym and eat.
Laura: I’m a keen horse rider, fitness enthusiast and average photographer.
16. What was the last book you read?
Tom: Predatory Thinking by Dave Trott. But it is the first book I’ve read since Harry Potter.
Laura: The Yellow Ford by Alexander Fullerton – my grandpa. It was one of his first books.
17. If you weren’t in advertising, what would you be?
Laura: An interior designer. Or a bad sculptor.