Interview with the talented and award winning Dave Bedwood
Cleverpeeps catches up with the very talented Mr Bedwood Creative Partner at Lean Mean Fighting Machine
Where did you start your career?
I wanted to study fine art, so I did a foundation course, then realised conceptual art was worryingly easy to blag. I had just enough marbles to realise I’d never be an artist. So I decided to do graphic design as it had a brief and more structure, and a client to answer to. Then I went to Bucks college to study graphic design and advertising.
I soon realised graphic design was too much hard work, you actually have to have craft skills and make stuff. So I stumbled into advertising; coming up with ideas, day dreaming, having a laugh and just scribbling ideas down. It suited my lack of skills perfectly.
This is where I met Sam and we became a creative team.
How did you get your first interview and what made them hire you?
Well, you don’t really get interviews in this line of work, you get book crits, hundreds of them. If those go well you get a placement. If that goes well you get a job trial and if that goes well you get a low paid job.
It’s not an easy route at all, and loads of people want to do it. And loads of people drop out along the way. But it’s a very good way to learn your trade, going through these hundreds of crits, writing thousands of ads means if you persevere, you learn the trade.
I think that’s why in writing terms, the best talent is still in the ATL world, as this is the only route to getting a job as a creative team.
Any tips for people wanting to get into ad world?
Care deeply about your ideas, but also be able to forget them in an instant if they don’t get made. The best people can just keep writing. One idea dies, another one is born. The worst just moan about their brilliant idea that other people failed to sell.
Who inspired you in advertising?
At the start it was all advertising people, Bill Bernbach, Neil French, Richard Flintham, Andy Mcleod, Ed McCabe, John Webster etc etc.
Then I suppose the longer you work in advertising as a creative, the more you realise that looking at advertising for inspiration can only go so far.
We are not up against other ads for the public’s attention; we are up against everything else - film, TV, news stories, theatre, etc. How can you be as good, as interesting, and as newsworthy as all that stuff?
Obviously inspiration has to come more from film makers, screenwriters, and artists. People who are doing it in mediums the public are paying to watch.
Just to be clear, when I say inspiration, I don’t mean nicking people’s work off YouTube.
You’ve launched some amazing digital campaigns, where does your inspiration come from?
Well, that’s nice of you to say. I suppose, we try to write ideas that have nothing to do with digital media, and at the same time everything to do with it. In that I mean we’re trying to write an idea that can be expressed in a sentence on a poster. I think that’s the real skill of a great writer, reduction.
It’s very easy to complicate ideas and even easier with digital media because the amount of tech available creates an amazing breeding ground, a petri dish of buzzwords and bullshit, and ideas can quickly lose focus, or be lost altogether.
Ideas need to be above this, to deal with story, emotion and persuasion.
Then once we have that it’s about expressing it in the appropriate medium. Digital is such a huge canvas and opportunity; a good, simple idea can find life in many different ways.
It’s a tough and long slog. To achieve this, I think our inspiration comes from desperation and determination.
Tell us about Lean Mean and what you guys do?
We’re a creative advertising agency. Our skills come from a mix of traditional and digital expertise.
I heard a phrase the other day: Ideas & Guts. It’s tough to sell good work, which is odd. It should be easy. Selling bad work should be tough. But that’s how it is. You need ideas, and you definitely need guts. Although how much guts is the tough question.
Why did you guys set up the agency ?
Because we were bored of big meetings. DDB was fabulous and we learned loads, but being CD at Tribal meant most of the time was in meetings with twenty people.
We wanted to make more stuff. We thought, ‘Hang on the Beatles were 5 strong including George Martin, and they created all that! So how can it need 20 people to make a banner ad?’
Clearly we didn’t really get the business side of it. So we decided to give it a shot. To be honest, ignorance is sometimes your best friend and we didn’t know enough to talk ourselves out of it.
We set out to just the best work we could for our clients and their audiences. Luckily there wasn’t any social media around to let us know if our work was shit.
It’s good for your confidence if you only listen to yourself.
What was the first day like when you launched how did you guys feel?
We handed our notice in to our mate, who at the time was the MD at Tribal. We were in a pub. He was pretty shocked. And that was it.
Everyone came down to the pub from the office and we got drunk. Then the next day we started work from my front room. Looking back it seems quite normal, not that big a deal. Again, ignorance is sometimes a blessed thing.
What’s been your favourite campaign you worked on?
I think the ones that I look back on and think - we couldn’t get that made today.
Usually the ones with most risk. ‘Nonstopfernando’ was a 14 hr and 40 min film, one take. Hugely risky to film. But probably ‘The Adventures of Nick Turpin’ was my favourite. It was intense. No matter how good that day’s photo, we had 24 hrs to get another.
It was like Challenge Anneka but without the leotards.
What was it like collecting interactive agency of the year at Cannes and why do you think you guys won it?
It was amazing. We were only 20 strong at the time and we beat CP+B at the height of its powers into second.
In terms of why we won it? That year was just one of those lucky ones where we managed to make most of the ideas we wrote.
And that, to be honest is the difference between most agencies. Everyone has great ideas in their bottom draw, but if you don’t make them, they’re as good as thin air.
If someone wanted to pitch themselves to work at Lean Mean - where do they start?
Depends what the job is. With creatives, it’s simply getting their profolio in. If it’s great then they’re in.
Check out what Dave Looks like in the future.
You can follow Dave on Twitter @dbedwood and as usual keep up-to date with the latest advertising news @sickonthenet