Freelance Native English Copywriter



This one’s about regret.

It’s starts with a phone call one Friday afternoon in early 2006. RKCR wanted us to help out on a pitch over the weekend. We took the brief Saturday morning and by Sunday evening we were reviewing our work with the second R in RKCR – Mark Roalfe. It must have gone okay because we were asked back in on Monday, beginning what became a frenzied ten month blur of freelance work. And one of the most prolific periods of my career to date.

RKCR was a good agency full of big name teams doing award-winning work across a range of clients. Pre-Adam & Eve Ben Priest was ECD. They were taking food porn to a whole new level with their Marks & Spencer work. Their Virgin Atlantic posters won everything. And their print ads for Land Rover and Range Rover were instant classics. The agency was also right in the heart of Camden, close enough to smell the rum and fags on Amy Winehouse’s breath.

It was a great time. Dave and I were refreshed from a five-year hiatus in our partnership and were enjoying working together again. RKCR kept their freelancers busy. We were soon churning through briefs at breakneck – or maybe that should be break-pencil – speed. The agency was housed in the old Black Cat Cigarette Factory and at times it really felt like we were on a production line. But it meant we made a lot of work. We were always writing, re-writing, shooting, art directing, recording, editing, making, making, making.

This is just the stuff we produced that I can remember:    

1.   Worldwide print/poster campaign for Pulsar Watches featuring 8 shots by fashion photographer Sean Ellis.

2.   Range Rover print campaign.

3.   2 x Land Rover double pages.

4.   TV spot for Danone.

5.   National poster campaign for Lloyds TSB.

6.   Print ad for Starbucks.

7.   Almost weekly radio spots for The Times/Sunday Times.

8.   3 or 4 TV spots for The Times/Sunday Times.

9.   Print/posters for Visit London with illustrator Parra.

10.   Radio/print campaign for a Government Employment training initiative.

And, finally, the campaign tinged with a little regret. E-on.

It was a good brief. E-on wanted a print campaign featuring real case studies. They had some great stories to tell. We just had to create a campaign that told them.

This is how I remember it. As usual we were busy juggling umpteen jobs and I think at our first review with the CDs, instead of showing a few ideas, we only shared one. And because we were a senior team, it answered the brief and it was good and had the potential to make nice ads. Here are a few scribbles. 

Anyway, for whatever reason – timings were tight, maybe media had been booked – our first idea was presented to the client and they bought it. Job done. We brought in Kelvin Murray to shoot the campaign and went into production. Everyone was happy. Except something kept niggling away at me. I liked the visuals we’d come up with, but the headlines felt a bit, well, hacky. They were fine, but I know I can write better. And I should have. But sometimes when everything is ticking along smoothly, it’s all too easy to go along with it. Here are the ads. 

Paul Arden said: Blame no one but yourself, if you have touched something accept total responsibility for that piece of work. If you accept responsibility you are in the position to do something about it. If you are involved don't blame others.

I didn’t take full responsibility. I didn’t put my hand up. I didn’t push to rewrite the headlines and I didn’t dare to rock the boat. That’s why this perfectly adequate E-on campaign isn’t in my portfolio.

And there’s no one to blame except me.   

Agency: RKCR

Client: E-on

Art Director: Dave Lang

Copywriter: Martin Gillan

Photographer: Kelvin Murray

Martin GillanComment