Carrick (Notepads December 2001, January 2002 & March 2002)

This is a campaign for Carrick Jewellery that I wrote at The Bridge. And it’s probably the oddest set of ads I’ve ever done.

When you think of most jewellery advertising it’s all beautifully lit shots of precious metals against silky smooth skin. High glamour, low concept puffery.

But with Carrick this approach wasn’t possible. Firstly, we didn’t really have much of a budget for decent photography. And secondly, Carrick jewellery looked like shit. From what I can recall all Carrick’s stuff was inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Tiffany it wasn’t.

Before we move on to the notepads, a little background. I only work in notepads when I’m out of the office, so the stuff you see here is only a fraction of the work involved in any project. Most of my notepad scribbling was done in pubs, cafes and on the train or bus.

Back to Carrick, then. I haven’t the faintest idea what the brief was, but I think it was probably ‘do something that gets noticed’. The media was already booked – quarter pages in Hello magazine, which I think was a bit more upmarket back then

One of the ideas I had was people wearing Carrick jewellery asleep at work. The line was simply ‘Nightwear’. For some reason both my scribbles feature members of the medical profession. Trust me, I’m as confused as you are. If I saw photographs of doctors and nurses asleep on the job I’d assume it was due to an 80-hour work week, not a penchant for clubbing in Carrick jewellery.

Next up ‘A Carrick’s been let out its box’. I think I was probably going for an attitude here. This was back in 2001, so 90’s ladettes were still on the prowl. A very dull and embarrassing attempt at edgy. I wonder if that’s my old mobile number?

Now, prepare for the notebook equivalent of Kubrick’s 4 million year jump cut.

Welcome to the glamorous, high fashion world of stick men.

At the time I was working with The Bridge’s Head of Art, Liz O’Connor. One day Liz showed me a picture of two stick men with speech bubbles above their heads. One stick man asked, “How much did that ring cost?” And the other replied, “500 fake orgasms or so."

Liz thought it was the funniest thing ever. I thought there was something missing. So I gave the stick men breasts. Liz laughed even harder. And from that point on that was our campaign and I was our illustrator.

Over the next weeks I filled an entire desk drawer with stick women drawings. It was the closest I’ve ever been to fulfilling my childhood dream of being a cartoonist. I created an entire stick world populated by weird and often disturbing stick people. I even had a little Charlie Hebdo moment, with my burqa-wearing Muslim stick women.

Below is the final campaign featuring my illustrations. Reviewing them in Campaign’s Private View, BMP DDB’s Larry Barker suggested that they might not have run. To prove they did I promptly posted him copies of Hello magazine. These ads ran, not just once, but weekly for a couple of months. Quite simply the weirdest campaign I ever did.  

And below is Larry Barker's review from Campaign.

Agency: The Bridge

Client: Carrick Jewellery

Art Director: Liz O'Connor

Copywriter/illustrator: Martin Gillan