How to crack a brief when you’re sleeping with the client?

The trickiest brief, to date, is being a creative director in my private life.

My wife Rene decided to open a fashion boutique in Brisbane. She turned to me with those eyes and I was done for, ‘no pressure, Andy’.

You see, I’m like the sparkie whose own house has wires hanging out everywhere. I have a brother in law in Sydney like that. Cracks me up. You all know one. An architect whose house is constantly under renovation. The painter. Even chefs that hate cooking when they get home.

I’m no different. I spend my day dedicated to my clients. Striving to create unreasonable ideas. Help with their pain points. Going overseas to produce amazing ads. But give me permission to create without parameters. To bring ideas to Rene’s dream? Well, that’s the holy grail of briefs.

To make her proud. To not let her down. To make it right – for her. 

So, what’s the brief?

For the first time, rather than selling other designer labels, Rene was branching out on her own; her own label, her own designs, her own fabrics. A month ago she saw an opportunity for a tiny shop. Good location. Visibility. Bingo. Jumped from her flight attendant job and went for it. Naturally, I helped with Sherpa duties, taxi runs to the airport, shop fit out, painting, lacquering, a second opinion for her latest styles. Easy.

The name. Leopard Cardi. Renes’ idea. Loves leopards.

Let’s face it, leopard print is the sexiest in the animal kingdom. Rene says every girl should have a leopard cardi in their wardrobe. Funny thing is, she doesn’t sell any in the shop. I told her if she’s ‘borrowing’ their image for her label, we should pay them somehow.

At Leopard Cardi, a percentage of every sale goes towards leopard conservation, through WWF. There’s as few as 4,000 snow leopards left in the wild. Every week, another 4 of them are killed. Rene and I are keen to pay it forward. 

Leopard Cardi 2019 designs

And then. That look. Creative brand concepts.

The logo. I’m happy with it. Font’s called Coco Gothic. Simple. A bit Chanel-like. Easy.
Signage. Photography. Shopify website. Bang. Job done, right?

Sort of. You see, that’s where I get uncomfortable.

When a creative does his own thing, or puts their name to a project, we try way too hard. And it can stifle us. I’m speaking purely from a personal view here. I even know successful artists who still throw up before every exhibition. Crazy when you think about it.

It’s why I don’t have a tattoo. It’s simply too overwhelming. Fonts? Size? Traditional vs minimal? Mono vs full colour? On trend? Size? Position? The reason behind it? It’s been done before, Godammit! It must be original! I need to have the best tattoo artist in town. Stuff it. Paris. Tin Tin Tatouges. Tin is awesome. I’ll let him do what he wants. 

I even designed a tattoo for my daughter Ruby recently, without my wife knowing. I saw what she was going to get done and tweaked it. Couldn’t help myself.

Creative ideas. It’s what I love, live and breath. So, you’d think ideas would come easily for Rene’s brand. It’s not as if I haven’t done fashion before. Indooroopilly Shopping Centre campaign, The Myer centre. Triumph Lingerie. Or websites. Sunny the egg Gonski campaign. Sunny Queen Chook Tracker. Bye-Bye Bank Rage campaign for Heritage Bank. Marine Protect. Award winning work.

Myer Centre, Shoetopia (2007)
Indooroopilly Shopping Centre, Everything That's In (2008)
The Myer Centre, Go Straight To The Heart (2009)

Fashion advertising should be amazing. Highly creative. Push the boundaries. An unreasonable idea even.

Brands from other categories playing in the fashion world, inspire me.

IKEA, Fitting Rooms (2019)

Ikea’s latest project, ‘Fitting Rooms’, featuring designer Virgil Abloh’s collection is an exhibition being launched at London Fashion Week. ‘Fashion you can’t wear’ is the slogan for the range. Offering consumers & fans, the chance to ‘try on’ the pieces, which is code for ‘touch’, ‘sit on’ or ‘walk on’. Rugs that are a giant Ikea receipt. 

Lacoste, Save Our Species (2018)

And as far as purpose, look at what Lacoste has been doing for a while. I love it. It’s simple stuff.

My point is anything goes nowadays more than ever before.

We’re in the golden age of ideas. Collaboration. Mash ups.

I noticed this campaign for a knitwear brand AGR recently. It’s an avatar-based campaign. The designer collaborated with Sensergy, a creative digital agency in the UK. They created avatars out of her friends, ending up with animations based on Sims-like characters all wearing the latest AGR knitwear. It’ll end up in Playstation’s first season of Playable.

Advertising creative has no boundaries as long as you are given permission to go there.

And I sleep with the client. Should be able to do anything, right?

As a creative director, there is a certain level of expectation for Rene’s brand to be amazing. No reveals here.

So I’ll end this shameless promotion. Check out my wife’s little new clothing shop in Paddington, Brisbane called Leopard Cardi. Opposite Merlo. Near Atticus Finch Café. (Great hang). Next to the wonderful Bizzels petrol station – they won’t rip you off. Old fashioned service – cheap petrol, compared to the Valley. See her latest styles. (Trust me, they’re not Paddington prices either. And you’ll be helping save leopards).

She’s yet to have a launch. Should be before Xmas. You’re all invited. And by then I may have completed an ad campaign for her, or at least a decent website. This blog is like giving myself a deadline. It’s the carrot I needed. I’ve put it out there and now have to go through with it.

Funny how that can be a motivator.

Our door is always open to share, create, connect.

For anything to do with Advertising, let’s chat anytime between now and nextThursday.


Creative Director, next Thursday