Paul Mellor is the Master of Decibels (MD) at Mellor&Smith
He is a self-confessed certified pain-in-the-ass asker of difficult questions and creator of advertising that makes brands famous.
Paul's primary role in life is the direct opposite of a hostage negotiator – convincing people to take risks. He started the Ad Agency Mellor&Smith in 2009 amid the banking crisis and has been making sensible decisions ever since.
He is the founder of London's biggest creative event series #takefuckingrisks, co-author of 'The Bland Book,' partner at Series A, and has recently received 4 BAFTA nominations for his film "Boiling Point."
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Hello, I'm Roy Sharples, welcome to the unknown origins podcast. Why are you listening to this podcast? Are you seeking inspiration and industry experts looking for insights on growing your career? I created the unknown origins podcast to provide access to insights and content from creators worldwide with inspirational conversations on storytelling, about art, architecture, design, entrepreneurship, fashion, film, music, and pop culture. Paul Miller is master of decibels at Miller and Smith. He is a self confessed, certified pain in the ass asker of difficult questions, and creator of advertising that makes brands famous. Paul's primary role in life is the direct opposite of a hostage negotiator, convincing people to take risks. He started the art agency, Miller and Smith in 2009 amid the banking crisis, and has been making sensible decisions ever since. Paul is also founder of London's biggest creative event series. Take fucking risks. co author of the blind book partner at CDSA and has recently received four BAFTA nominations for his debut film, boiling point, Paul, welcome to unknown origins to help save the world from on originality by unleashing the power of creativity. So what inspired and attracted you to the creative industry and the fresh placePaul Mellor:
Nothing! I was just a pain in the ass. I mean, honestly, if I think back to what I was, like, when I was growing up, yeah, it was just a pain in the ass. And I just did whatever I wanted. And I you know, I was I was difficult at school. I was difficult to university. I mean, I had a lot of privilege in that if I cocked it up, I'm sure my parents safety net would have would have sort of set your sort of saved me maybe that was part of the the sort of appeal have just been a bit of a fucking pain in the ass like, so I can give you a bit of backstory as to how this kind of came about. I was at school, I was very happy. Being You know, being difficult and doing whatever I wanted, sport was a really big part of my life, art and drawing and design and design tech and all these types of things. But I just didn't really like being told what to do and never have and I don't think ever will went to university. Last around did the bare minimum the absolute bare minimum, I should probably argued more with my lectures and did any work, I was far more interested in arguing my point and having an opinion than I wasn't actually doing the work. And then graduated from university in just dust around in I mean, I probably spent four or five years having graduated, just tossing on mates, sofas, going to the pub at mid day, getting thrown out of the pub, having a fight with somebody, whatever it was, you know, I was, I just you know, I wasn't. I wasn't particularly I mean, I was probably quite a lot of fun to be around. But I don't think I was particularly productive in any way. And you know, yeah, a lot of sofa surfing. But ultimately, my sort of my, my light bulb moment came when I have in sort of got towards the end of my four or five years, whatever it was, I found myself in France, in the mountains in the Alps, and loved my time in the Alps, and had done throughout sort of, you know, I mean, I actually lived in Germany as a kid for a while. I used to go to the mountains all the time and met my now wife in France in the mountains. And she sort of said, Look, you know, I'm keen on this, but if you're going to be a bit of a dickhead, and fuck about like this, then then there's no future, you know, anything that we could have together. And that was the moment all right, well, best pull socks up. So we moved to London, and I held down a job for a year, and I was it was the longest I've ever held the job down for and up until that point, I probably had got the sack within what I think the longest I'd had was my record was two months had held the job down for most of the time, I would get the sack during that four or five year period for just getting the pub at lunchtime and and not coming back and and you know, as of last a couple of days before somebody kicked me out and gave me the sack and gave me the boot. But yeah, so I held on a job for a year and at the end of that year was really, like proud of myself. So I cannot believe I held down a job for a year. This is fantastic. So I'm gonna go tell the guy who ran the agency what I saw of him when An ounce in a ball of flames got passed in the pub, having burned all my bridges and told everyone while I saw them, and then woke up the next morning in my pants hung over. And I thought, well, I have, I've got to do it. Now I've got a setup. I've told everyone what I think of him. And I told everyone what I'm going to do. And I said, I'm gonna, you know, I'm going to create an agency that tells the truth and produces the best work you possibly can, and wants to drive people in and influence people and, and actually do the fucking job that advertising is supposed to do, which is get noticed. And that was that was sort of the rallying cry and the starting point for Miller and Smith.Roy Sharples:
Creative actions change minds, by rejecting conventions, constantly analyzing, questioning, and challenging the status quo in our everyday lives to provide an alternative and bring it to life. People who achieve greatness do not fit a formula or follow a structure, they break the mold by following their own path. True creators are always outsiders looking in rebels with a cause. They provide something new to the world we live in overturning the status quo by positively impacting people's lives and moving society forward. Paul, the work you do at Miller and Smith epitomizes this, combined with the punk ideals of do it yourself and provoking action to change means, take, for example, your aesthetics visual identity, and narrative on your digital assets, such as your website, as you go through that, even though an uneducated eye may interpret it as being somewhat whimsical. You can clearly see that the skill and the attention to detail that you have taken, and making every single word, color and image count, to evoke the expression that you desire, with your audience combined with a sincere confidence, energy, joy, and love for what you do.Paul Mellor:
That's all done on purpose. There is there is nothing about this that is done by chance everything is considered and agonized over. And isn't it? Isn't it a crying shame? That ad agencies all look the same, they all look the same. These are businesses that are supposed to motivate people change people move the public to do something. Yeah, if you look at the top 200 agencies in the UK, in the world, you know, it is a melange of vanilla bland bullshit, they're all interested in, sitting in the gray and nobody stands out. I mean, it's not difficult to stand out in the ad industry, as an agency should be one of the most difficult things to do. It should be really, really difficult for us as Miller Smith and ad agency to stand out in amongst the sea of 1000s of other ad agencies in the world. But it's not difficult, because they're all They're all the same. It's just homogenous rubbish. But you are a very kind of beauty say everything that we do is done for a reason. It's there's a, there's a rationale behind every decision behind every behind every word in the copy behind every piece of art direction and everything that we say. And it's all about being true to who we are because it's one of the easiest sell selectors one of the one of the big one of the quickest ways that any business but I think ad agencies in particular, can waste time and waste money is talking to prospects that have no interest there. There's no chemistry, there's no kind of cultural match. It's one of the it's the way that we talk about ourselves is one of the quickest sort of surefire ways of being a self selector. If somebody reads that and they love it, and they go, we're gonna leave it at that for us. You know, I'm a brand that does x y Zed. I love what Melissa Smith are about, then it's there in then they're fans of us before we've even spoken. Yeah, and it's any means that we you know, that I suppose you could even look at it from a commercial point of view, the business case is that we waste less time. We you know, we don't sort of make these sort of things that we're going to be working with somebody when it all kind of turns out that culturally it's not a good not a good fit it we only really attract the kind of brands that really want to work with us, which is fantastic. Yeah. But you know, that's the that's the commercial side of things from a purely creative point of view. Let's have some fun is supposed to be a fun job. I mean, like, it's supposed to be fun. Like, I cannot fathom how soul destroying it must be for creatives, whether they be copywriters or art directors, you know or designers. When whatever they are within the ad agency game, for them to work for an agency where they they don't feel like they're driving forwards. And actually the actually the work is fun, and that they jump out of bed every morning. That sucks. Yeah, that must really suck completely. I'm not saying that we're like, I'm not saying that we're like, you know, the happiest place in the whole bloody world to work. But I definitely think that there is, you know, the dial is turned up. And you know, we're everyone's on the same page. And we're all about trying to answer really, you know, difficult challenges for clients dealing with a smile on our face, being candid, being honest with the clients. I mean, that's something that we talk about. I mean, I'm right, or rambling on here. But like, we talked about being candid, rather than being honest, yeah, I just think it's a far better descriptor for the type of conversations we have to everyone talks about being honest, it's all bollocks. You know, just have a candid conversation. Just tell it. Tell someone exactly how it is. And it may be something they don't want to hear. And it might end the relationship. Maybe it maybe it does, maybe it doesn't, but they'll always know where they stand with us. Yeah. And they know that we're saying it from a place of truth. You know, so without fear or favor. So yeah, I mean, we Yeah, it's, it's good fun in it. You know, it's like, should be fun. There is no point working on stuff that you don't love. Yeah, I mean, it's like, What the fuck? I mean, we're crazy. You know, what? I mean? Like, just like, shoot me in the head. Honestly, that is the worst thing in the world. So I mean, you made loads of points, I can't even remember what you said at the start. Of that is sort of bit of pros. But what I would say is, we've no interest in being told what to do. Yeah, someone hires us, they hire us for our expertise. Yeah. And they have a challenge, they have a problem. And they come to us to, to fix it, or to be part of the piece of the putting pieces of the jigsaw that try and fix it. For them to try and tell us how to do it. It just, it's just never going to happen. And we'll just walk away. We have. I mean, if people are interested, they can search it out. I wrote a blog on LinkedIn, about three or four weeks ago called the rules of engagement. We have really, really clear rules of engagement of how we work with clients, what is expected of them, what is expected of us. And the delineation of duties. The boundaries, I've no interest in, in kind of out in being told what to do. The only thing that a client should be coming to us with is this is my problem. Yeah. And then they should start talking. And it's for us to find the answer. We're not, you know, we're not presenting three ideas for them to choose one. You know, we choose that here's your problem, here's your answer. They're not, you know, there's no such thing as feedback. I don't believe in feedback. That doesn't mean that I'm difficult to work with actually the contrary, I think I'm really, really easy to work with their job is to say yes or no to that idea. That is it. And if they say no, it tell me the reasons why. And then we will come back with another idea. The, but they've got to be on the game. Yeah, you know, there's none of this, none of this being able to walk into a meeting half baked. No, like, you've got to be on your gainer. And if you can sell this stuff is really, really difficult. You know, advertising, getting noticed in a in a massive sea of sameness, you know, gay knows when, when, you know, there are 7 billion people walking around on this planet, and they've all got an adblocker you know, upstairs controlling their body, and nobody wants to be advertised to. So this idea that it's a piece of cake is absolute bollocks. I mean it honestly, it is one of the most difficult things in the corporate world to do is to turn something out of nothing. And get noticed and you know, motivate people and move people so that they, you know, buy your product over. So over the competition's now, there are a number of frameworks and factors we use and a number of sub techniques, etc. But fundamentally, it's a really difficult thing to do. So for a client to turn around and say, I think you should be doing this or doing it like that. I mean, it just No, I have no interest in that. And that's what makes us it makes it sound like it really difficult to work with it makes it very, very easy to work with. Because we only work with people that want to achieve the challenge that they've set themselves to have no interest in with no interest in sort of making up the numbersRoy Sharples:
Treat your audience as intelligent rather than trying to patronize them, which so many companies do. And I especially find technology companies as an example, can have a terrible trait of doing this, combined with being waffle at communicating clear and simple and engaged. paging messages to the audience where many of the messaging or self serving product push posturing and geek Spiel being snide and really pissing on the fire of their competitors. I mean, who cares about that, and they're in the real world, as opposed to articulating anything experiential, that connects to the strings of the soul, and the heart of an audience or convening anything benefit lads, in terms of the messaging and the narrative, to their paying customers, when it's always about evangelizing and humming up that product features than the real solution that what they're providing to solve a specific problem for a customer. Also, your point on client engagement, and being intentionally selective on who you engage with, and the work that you want to do, versus who and what you do not. And so by deciding what you don't do is just as vital as deciding on what you do that takes strong instinct, skill, belief, and discipline, the fundamental role of a client is to provide a great brief by framing the idea or problem, and hiring the best agency to bring it to life, then, to get out of the way by empowering the agency to make the magic happen. And also, throughout the engagement is to remove the obstacles along the way to make great work happen. Clients that miss this and end up micromanaging the creative process, get the underwhelming outcome they deserve!Paul Mellor:
Arrogance of the process and arrogance of the problem. Ie like, yeah, I can answer this. It's dead easy. Yeah. And it shows contempt. In a day, the vast majority of brands treat the public with contempt. Yeah, they treat them certainly treat them so badly, they think was sort of training on Tosh out there. And that'll get their attention because it's not gonna work. I think one of the best things that that I heard from client side was Gareth Turner, who's the Head of Brand at Weetabix. He spoke at an event of ours, probably two months ago. And he said that once he briefs in an agency, and he doesn't work with us, he works with BBH. I think when he briefs in an agency, his job is just to get out of the way. Yeah, give them runway to get in and get out of the way that says that's his job. Now, it's that takes so much skill and focus, it takes a whole you know, it takes a good dollop of experience. Yeah, I need to be really good at what you're doing as a as a marketer to go that way, because the the easy thing, that the easiest thing that a client, you know, marketing in a client is just to get in the weeds. Well, most likely your job was the six months prior to that working out what the problem was, exactly, that's the job of a marketer, like working out what the problem is trying to find what the answers might be to some of those challenges. IE, you know, we might be a brand problem, it might be a PR problem might be an advertising might be a product problem, it might be a customer service problem, whatever the fuck it is, you know, that's the job of the marketer. And then it's once they've highlighted their challenge is then going briefing the person that's going to fix it, and then get the hell out of the way. I mean, I've got so much empathy for clients, you know, the marketers within within brands, because their job is really really difficult. And it's exceedingly difficult. They have almost no air cover within sort of the the the sort of the machinations and sort of political life within within corporations. They don't ever sit they often don't have a seat at the at the boardroom. They have their budgets slashed it's one of the first ones to go there the the others the other C suite within a business so the CMO has to fight for every every decision that is made and and everyone else in the C suite thinks that they can do their job which Fuck it. I mean, like I love getting into boardrooms because I fucking love me. I'm like, because they honestly they don't like your backup. CFO starts quizzing I might call let's have a proper debate me. Yeah. And what they what they're not used to unfortunately, you know that the the echelons of C suite they're not they're not used to debate but used to being able to to steamroller over other people. Like no man. Like, if you want to talk about marketing and advertising, let's talk about it. Yeah. Because because I probably know twice as much about it as you do the CFO. Right? Well, let's fucking talk about me. And that's not me picking a fight. I mean, sometimes it's called to pick a fight. But, you know, actually, what's far better about that is the rigor. There's someone coming into the decision that comes out of that meeting has been rigorously tested. Yeah, everyone's bought into it. And there's, you know, there's a solidity to the decision within the C suite of our business. And that, you know, I've got so much empathy for for Marketers, you know, within brands, because their job is really hard, you know, they're getting stabbed in the back by Susan who quite aptly chucked them under the bus. So again, like say they're getting their budgets cut, everyone thinks they can do their job, you know, they've the political capital is gone, like, there's so many challenges. And then on top of that, they then you know, they might choose bad agencies, or they might not get the word that they think they're going to get. And, you know, again, it's, it's really, really difficult. And I personally think that one of the best ways to build relationships with clients is to be really honest about how difficult I think their job is, is really difficult. And they can, they can wheel me out as well. And you know, one of the, one of the best ways to build trust with the client is they will be out to the boardroom to take over the C suite, and you might write spoken of it. And I and you know, suddenly the CMOS got let you know, somebody by their side fight in the corner, and that builds so much trust. And it's not the reason I do I mean, I want I want the business to sign off on the best work that's going to move people otherwise, what the hell's the point in meeting working with them? So my agenda is to get everyone on board. But if it means ruffling, a few feathers ruffled a few feathers, no problem,Roy Sharples:
Paul, what is your creative process/creative practice, in terms of how do you make the invisible visible by dreaming up ideas, developing those ideas into concepts and then bringing those concepts to actualization?Paul Mellor:
Wouldn't it be lovely, if we had a process that was so linear, that you could give it a name, and you could probably draw a diagram, and maybe you could even trademark the name of it? You know, you'd be like, this is the this is the creative process. 3000 TM. Anyone that says that there's this idea of a creative processes. It's just not true. You know, there is a process, of course there is, but there's this idea that it's linear. And it goes in a lovely straight line, you know, you go stage one, stage two, stage three, stage four, launch, or whatever it is, and, you know, I crikey I lose count of the amount of agencies that I've seen where they trademark their process, like, it's some fucking sausage machine. And I like, the creative process that I had the day I was born. Yeah, you know, I mean, like, every single input into, into my brain and into the brains of the people that work in any agency, started at birth, you know, and it's, it's a mindset, it's a skill set that you're born with, I think you can learn to be more creative. I think you can. But, you know, some people are born more creative than others. They just look at the world differently. Yeah. And so there's a, there's a skill set that's just inherent in certain people, then there's the mindset that you have, crave, people are curious, they're constantly looking at stuff and challenging the status quo and not accepting the norm. They look at things differently, you know, they're far more comfortable turning stuff upside down. They're difficult. They ask difficult questions. They're oddballs, you know, often, they don't fit into, like, a stereotypical kind of cookie cutter, sort of mold that people would love. So actually, this idea of creative processes is is nuts. You know, it's, it's started at birth, you know, I'm 40. I turned 40, a couple of months, a couple of months ago. So my creative process is 40 years old. And, you know, the, the older I get, and the more experienced I get, and the more inputs I've had over the years, I've become better at what I do. Yeah. You know, I'm better today than I was 20 years ago, I was pretty average. I was a rank amateur, really 20 years ago when I first started out. So, yeah, this idea that it's this sort of linear process in terms of giving something a bit more actionable in a go, guys, so people go well, which credit process how can i What can I learn from it? Why you should have been listening 30 years ago, was that helpful? I get it. It's if you want to get noticed, yet, yeah. You have to talk to people on a level that they get it instinctively it needs. Advertising needs a simple, timeless human truths, you know, to quote Bill burnback, one of the godfathers of advertising in the 60s in New York, simple, timeless human truths and insight. It's something that is almost like a shortcut to somebody's gut reaction. That is the absolute founding principle of, of advertising that is effective, because if you don't have a simple time, assume a truth. If you don't have an insight, then then what is it it's just meaningless guff? Because, like I said, the 7 billion people walk around the planet or with an AdBlock Correct. So, you know, they're looking for ways to ignore you. In fact, you know, their whole job is to ignore you. I mean, so for you to go, wow, I've got this cool idea. It's not really based on anything, it's probably just going to be wallpaper, there's going to be the odd exception. Of course there is. And people will choose the really extreme end. What about this thing? You know, and that had worked, and it didn't really have an insight? Yeah, there will be really extreme on the extreme ends, there will be examples, but the vast majority, you know, like, huge, huge majority, you know, 9998 99% of ads. For them to be effective. They need an insight that is the, you know, the direct line to someone's gut instinct or gut reaction to something. You know, there's the Howard corsage quote. So he's another American ad, man, I think he's, as she's been earliest, who's like, sort of 40s and 50s. People don't read advertising, they read what interests them. And sometimes it's advertising. You know, they're like, yeah, how, you know, this is why I go back to this point of view brands treat the public with contempt. Now they think, Oh, I just slapped my value prop on a on a billboard. That will be enough. Oh, no. Well, that's just, it couldn't be lazier. Yeah, it couldn't be more expensive because yet because of the youth, if you stick it on some sort of some sort of broadcast media, the very fact that it's on a billboard will give you some credibility because the public don't you know, sort of see well that's on that's on the telly that's on a billboard therefore, there must be a decent going concern. There's not a bunch of cowboys. But it's a really expensive way to get attention. And the the, the percentage of which you're getting attention is alarmingly shit. You think about the IPA research on quite a bit of research in our night, let's get going. Like the, the IPA research that's been sort of, say, founded about number of times over the last 20 odd years, the average Brit is exposed to or subjected to 1000 ads a day and this is the same in in any sort of westernized or developed country. Just research done in the UK. The average Brit sees 1000 ads a day, and 89% of them are forgotten. 7% remembered negatively. So 7% Remember negatively 4% Remember positively. So that shows you how much contempt brands treat the public with the fact that 89% of ads are forgotten shows you how difficult is yeah, it shows you how much wallpaper really expensive wallpaper is slapped all over the fucking country. And, and it shows how, you know, this, this stuff is really really difficult. Another piece of research to have as hot 100, which is done once a year by half assed media agency showed that the average Brit wouldn't care less if 84% of brands disappeared tomorrow. Yeah, that's how much the public don't give a shit about your product, if you think okay, so of the 84% that disappear that means a 16% that they quite like the look of anything right or which one you know, what's likely get inside that 60% were probably my bank, maybe my mobile phone network, maybe my mobile phone provider, you know, like whether it be Apple or Samsung you know, probably getting the you know, you sort of view utilities potentially you British Gas, you know, this kind of thing, you know, like the the idea that people are falling in love with brands and this is kind of this idea of brand love and and the public who is walking around, you know, loving the idea that brands with purpose, you know, oh my god, I can't believe this brands got purpose. Again, love it, I'm gonna buy everything from them. No, actually another piece of research shows, it's like a fucking machine gun, isn't it? Another piece of shows that there's a there's a sort of scientific sort of catch all term called sufficiency. And that is that people want to be satisfied with the sufficient choice. So that is, you know, you know, I think about my parents, they go on holiday in the summer and they go away for two weeks. They go to the same place every every summer. And that's not because they can't look at other options. They get the same place the same Villa same couple of weeks. And you might go well if I can up or your parents are really boring and actually they do have their moments where they are quite boring, but this isn't because they're boring is because they they know that they can have a good time is a sufficient choice. Yeah, I don't meet you I could if I really searched and I went you know, if they searched for a couple of weeks and all the different hotel providers and fillers and an Airbnb ease and whatever they might find a better choice that customer are a bit less money there might be a bigger place near the beach or whatever it is. But no, they, they, they're happy, and they're content to choose the least worst option. And brands don't consider that that's how the public view buying decisions. Another piece of research, Jenny remanent chew. So she is part of Byron sharps team at the Ehrenberg bass Institute in the Melbourne Business School. So one of the absolute sort of defining voices Byron sharp, one of the defining voices of ad effectiveness and how people buy and the like, and his research is really well sited, and really well backed. Jenny within his team, Jody Bremen, and she showed that the research showed that the when the average Brit is choosing a new bank, so new personal bank, business bank, anyways, a new personal bank, the average British, so 78% of Brits consider one brand because it a one bank before they then move a further 12% of Brits consider two brands. So 90% of people consider two brands, when they're deciding on something as pivotable pivotable. That's even a word Pivotal, and sort of ingrained and really important within their life as which bank do I bank with, and then you have to consider beyond that, we're going to come back to the importance of that people change bank once over 21 years. So the lifetime value of a customer is really good people are really sticky when it comes to what bank they choose. And they think so 90% of people consider two brands when they're looking to change bank and this is that she then further emphasizes that this extends beyond just banking, she just used that as a, as a piece of research, you know, sort of the, the control element of the research that shows that the public, don't sit at home that you know, the vast majority of people don't sit at home making Excel spreadsheets of the pros and cons of which brand they can get into. You know, I think have research showed that a crazy 1% of people considered seven banks. So they were 1% of people who consider seven. So if we're a brand that's like, yeah, I want to fight against seven other or six other competitors, then go ahead me go fucking go after the crazy person at 1% of the market, I'd be far more interested in the 90% of the market that consider two brands. And then I want to make sure the brand you know the brief on the vast majority of advertising, which should be get me inside that too. I don't care how you do it, just get me inside that too. Because then lower probability says you're going to win 50% Of so then you're winning 50% of the set of the 90% of the of the market. But how many times do I see a brief from a client saying get me inside the to and highlight in Genesis research? Fucking none. Because there's no interest in that's not sexy. That's not the sort of thing that gets a marketer or frothy which should do it should be right? Give me the shortest the quickest route to getting inside that too. Right? Well then, that we think about our creative process and the actualization coming back to your question is I need to have a an insights as simple, timeless human truth that is brought to life in an idea that punches people in the face. Yeah, you know, and it's slaps me in the face. And then you've got a really good chance of building mental availability, which is like, essentially like being on the tip of the tongue, when someone's in that consideration phase, because they might not be in the consideration phase. At the moment they see an ad, you know, shock horror, people don't see an ad and go straight to the shop and buy something, you know, it takes time. You've got to have good mental availability. So when they're in that moment, when they're considering that purchase, they buy yours, or they consider you as one of the two brands. And the one thing that everyone asks me, they put their hand up, you know, wherever they are from talking at an event or in a meeting or whatever. And they go well, of course, it's different with b2b and b2c, as of course, because like b2b people are robots. And they're not real people know, this. All of this research bears out. All of the things that I've talked about bear out whether it's b2b or b2c, the only difference being that in b2b land, people are spending the company's money not their own families, the only that's the only difference. All of those things around building fame, mental availability, being inside the two that 90% of brands consider all bears out in a b2b service as much as it doesn't A B. CRoy Sharples:
The moments of truth when it really matters, in that the brands that are critical to people, are the ones that add value to and help people through their everyday lives such as banks for money, utilities for electricity, heat and grocery for food, and our homes for shelter, sleeping and belonging. Everything else is a very distant second, and non essential to functioning as a human. So to your point, quit the BS and do something original, do something good, that actually matters as a brand. be candid, transparent and trustworthy about the reasons to believe in your product service, business, your brand, Paul, what are the key skills needed to survive and thrive as a creative leader?Paul Mellor:
Well, it leans into what you've just been talking about there and that is you have to be believable people have to people have to believe that you that your, your kind of the reason you're saying something is because you genuinely believe in it, you know, you've got to instill a belief that you're not just some snake oil salesman. So from a client point of view, you know, I'm not just some snake oil salesman that's trying to get the the to maximize the fee for the lowest amount of cost. So I can you know, really hammer my margin and really kind of maximize it by a fucking island in the Caribbean or whatever it is fucking mine. So that island, but you know, it all go to shepherds market minus cut that out because probably libelous. But, you know, the, the, the idea that, look, you know, this stuff is really, really difficult. And if you're going to convince a client to buy into what you're into what you're saying, and buy into your methods, then you need to be really well read. It's not as if for shorter choices, there's fucking billion agencies out there. And they're all they all think that they know it all. So for you to stand out from the crowd, obviously, we talked about that. But then once you're in the bloody room, you know, you need to be credible, you need to be, you need to be believable. And then you think on the other side of that, so think about the team that we have within the agency, if they don't believe that I'm stood in front of a client fighting for the best ideas for the best briefs, telling a client No, actually not just tailoring and running, when they say something actually standing up and debate and they're going to run through brick walls for us. And the mentality that we have within the business is that, you know, sort of, we're all in it together. And if they don't feel like I'm fighting for our work, then why the hell would they come up with the ideas? They do? They laugh I can't just give him the shit one, because he's not gonna sell it anyway, just gonna say well take what the client says. No, like, they're gonna give me the fucking red hot, fiery, you know, it's almost like spitting. Because it's, you know, spitting out the fire, they're gonna give me something like that. I'm gonna go fuck, right? And that's gonna get me pumped. Are you going to the client? Like, this is fucking good shit we got for you it. But we're only gonna get that from the team and the agency as it dries forward. If people believe that I'm stood in front of the client fine for the work and actually delivering on all the things that I say. So it has to come down to the belief in you is a and the things that we say. And it's not just all sort of smoke and mirrors. And sounds really that sounds. I'm sure there are loads of people that give far more complicated answers. I like things that are really, really simple. And if they believe in you, then the creative sort of environment is far more fertile. And yeah, he's sort of, you know, all for one and all for and all for one one for all, as it was at the Musketeers onRoy Sharples:
Paul, as you look back upon your career, and life to date, what are the lessons learned in terms of the pitfalls to avoid, and the keys to success that you could share with existing and also aspiring creators?Paul Mellor:
It's okay to be a pain in the ass. It's okay to ask difficult questions. It's okay to say, Well, can I Sorry, can I just ask some stupid stupid question coming, but that other day, whatever it is, it's okay to say those types of things. It's an unfree a younger person, it's okay to not have it all figured out yet. It's okay for you to get the sack. In fact, I would say that it's probably beneficial. It's okay for you to go to the pub at midday. It's okay for you to not have the you know, I think about what it was like when, when I graduated and all the other people that my cohort that I graduated with, there was a scramble for who's got the best job and who's got this than the other. And I'm so bollocks. I mean, it's all it's all like so horseshit. It's it was far more valuable and I mean, I didn't know this at the time, but the four or five years where I was getting a sack and get in the pub and being a bit of a dickhead and and just Dawson on my mates, sofas and sofa surfing and getting arrested and getting in fights and whatever. Like that was all stuff that feeds into how I think about work today. Totally. And, you know, there's a reason why our advertising talks to the man on the street. And that's because I don't treat them contempt because I got pissed with them so long, and I don't feel like I'm above them. I'm just fucking one of them. And how, you know, it's something that doesn't necessarily answer your question. But I think it's something that we pride ourselves on. When someone within the industry sees one of our ads, I want them to know, I want them to think that's a miller and Smith that I have no problem, I think it's one of the best compliments, you can be paid, that our ad is a Melara. Smith that obviously doesn't say Miller and Smith on is it's obviously for the client, but for somebody within our industry to go walk down the street, I fucking love that. That's another Smith that because it's not because we have a house style, per se, it's because it's good. And it talks to people in a way and it and it treats people with, like affection. And there's some wit and some charm and a grain of truth. And there's an insight and, and, and they can look at that. And they go that's gonna motivate people that's going to move people, you know, that is one of the best things that somebody could ever say to me that they were able to spot our ads. And that's because we fight for, you know, the, the sort of the ingredients that go into really good advertising, and a really good sort of creative process. I don't change regardless of the client. So yeah, like, don't have a problem with not knowing it all. And and, and it's actually one of the best pieces of advice I was always given. When I was when I was a youngster was choose like choose the Boss, don't choose, like, don't choose the eighth, you know, choose the agency, don't just choose fucking anything that comes along, like fight really hard for the type of work that you want to do. Don't just go well, I'll go work for WPP because they're massive, and they'll pay me a bit more fucking stupid thing to say, you know, if you're 2122 coming out uni, no, go and find out. Look at what ads you like, or what designs you like, if you're a designer, or whatever it is, what films you like it for a filmmaker, find out who made them, and then go and try and get a job with those people. And then, you know, you have to hound these people down, I get it that getting a job as a junior is really, really difficult. It's probably more difficult today than it has been. And there's a number of reasons for that. I don't you know, I think sort of a recession and COVID hasn't helped, you know, but ultimately, getting a job is really tough because you're fighting against it, you know, a plethora, there's millions of people, the amount of emails we get through from grads, you know, people that have just graduated or they've you know, they've done a bit of interning and they're looking for their first job. We're getting so many I mean, we you know, maybe over 100 a week, and they all say the same. Nobody stands out. Nobody can. Nobody gives a shit about getting a job or Melara Smith, only stressing just getting a job. It couldn't try any less to get my attention. And I think if they fired off an email, well that see or read that and I'm like, No, I'm not going to fucking meet under the emails. Like, I've got another time to do that. You've got to get my attention. And if someone gets my attention, and they've demonstrated that they understand what it is to make good advertising, you know, they've understood how to outrank the competition is another quote from Dave Trott. You know, a godfather of the London ad scene in the 80s 90s still is now and he's really well read and fantastic guy. Loved my time that I've spent hanging out with him. But you know, marketing is like a knife fight in a phone box. You know, you've got to take market share if somebody else so I've got to be able to out think the other guy in the in the phone box, who's also you know, they've have an iPhone, you know, so I want people that think like that, that they instinctively know what it is to do that and it probably doesn't come from you know, the someone that's just come out of high school, you know, it probably doesn't it probably comes from somebody when it comes from somebody with far more fight in, in fire in their belly, and a you know, in a real aggression, it trying to win and beat their competition to the job.Roy Sharples:
You never lose the ability to be creative. And fact. Creativity increases with time because we all gain more knowledge and insight as we experience more of life. And that's certainly been the case listening to your your story there, Paul that life events provide us with more reference points and the knowledge gained through experience in them combined with our own imagination and maintaining our childlike wonder and curiosity and throughout life. If underpinning the fact that insight truly knows no bounds, Paul, what's your vision for the future of creative agencies and the role that creativity plays?Paul Mellor:
Well, I suppose this is a bit of a topical point. I'm I mean, I've spent nigh on 20 years in the industry thus far. And, and I've had Mellor and Smith for now busy life for 14 years now we've been going something like that. And I've found myself being enticed. And, you know, and sort of looking over the looking over the fence and looking at is the grass greener, other creative fields. And I've wanted to get into other creative fields for a long time. And, and I think now, you know, we've established the agency has good credentials. And, and this doesn't mean to say that it's the, you know, it's a walk in the park, we start to work really hard. But, you know, it's a little bit easier than it was, you know, 1314 years ago. And so I've had my sort of head turned a little bit by other creative endeavors and other creative industries. And I recently was part of the team that made a feature film, called boiling points. That released in cinemas in the UK on the seventh of Jan. It was then released in cinemas during January, in the US it had, I think it has six week run in the US cinemas, it was in France, Germany, Italy, Australia, I think we sold it's about 30 countries. In the end, it was nominated for 11 differs, which is the British Independent Film Awards, just before Christmas, and then it was actually nominated for for BAFTA as well, in February, I went along to the rafters and always wanted to get the rafters walk down the red carpets to make some celebrities with my ugly mug. And, and sort of the reason why I mentioned this is the role of creativity in the future is not going to be one dimensional. And the role of creative agencies or ad agencies is not going to be one dimensional. I think it's one of the best sort of cross pollenization what we could be doing right now is getting involved in other creative disciplines. And so I've taken that first leap, being involved in boiling points. Fantastic. I mean, the cast was incredible, the team that were part of making it such a talented group. And you know, and it was a real eye opener for, for, you know, for how to make movies and how to make feature films, whet my appetite completely. And I'm looking at other projects now. But it goes back to your point, you know, the question you made is, you know, what is the future and I think it's that it's not being in silos, I'm a huge advocate for becoming a specialist and becoming an absolute becoming the the expert, the world expert in your field, and not you know, and being a one trick pony in that, you know, you know exactly what it is you're doing. But there comes a point where you need cross sort of fertilization, you need to learn from other disciplines. And that's, I think, going to be the future. Unfortunately, I don't think enough people really kind of understand that. In I think, I think back to what I was kind of what I was doing, as a junior I try, like, say I worked in loads of agencies and got the sack after a couple of minutes. But, you know, I was trying lots of different things. You know, and that's what people should be doing in their, in their, in those early years. In those early years, they should be trying to work in as many different places try and lots of different things, lots of different disciplines, once they found something they love, hone down on that and become like the world expert in that field. But you know, like, everything should be about how can I become the best person in the world at doing this thing. And that you do that for a while and then you know, hopefully you get to that point. And then I think you branch out. So it's almost sort of it isn't this sort of linear process where it's just getting like a pyramid where you get really wide at the base and you get narrower and narrower and narrower to a point actually, I think it's you know, really wide at the base, and then you get narrower and narrower and then you branch out, you know, sort of like I am you know midway through a career and learn from other people. You know, like you can't read a sports blog without listening to a manager say you know that they've gone and learn from other you know, think about like football managers. They're going over to the US and learning from NFL coaches and then going over to the cricket in other parts of the UK and, and learning from Cricket coaches, you know, that's the same principle is that, you know, they, they've, they've honed themselves, they're the top of their tree, and then they've gone right what can Learn How can I maintain my position at the top right? Well, I can go and learn from other people, I think it's really similar sort of analogy, really sort of similar mindset to that. So that's what I think the future is, is gonna have a really wide based sort of, you know, sample lots of things, then become the world expert in whatever field you're in, like, everything that you do should be aimed at becoming the best person in the world at that thing. And then when you kind of get nearer to that, then it's about branching out, and going wider and learning off other other creative disciplines. It's fun, it's so cool, like learning from other people and seeing how they do it. And I mean, lots of the things that, that I learned from getting involved in the boiling point, process and the project have already come back and have been sort of filtered into what we do as an agency. So that's what I think. Maybe that I mean, maybe other people might disagree, but they're wrong.Roy Sharples:
Bringing this all together: Do it yourself by doing it in your own style, and pace, embracing challenges, accepting failure, persisting in the face of setbacks, and learn by doing as the path to mastery. cross pollinating across multiple domains to seek inspiration and expertise across multiple disciplines or knowledge bases to force multiply innovative outcomes, follow your heart and do what you love. By falling in love with your craft and pursuing it with intensity and being exceptional at it. Everything you need is already inside of you. So free yourself from others expectations and walk away from the games and boundaries they impose upon you. Only you know your true worth. It means unleashing the power of creativity within you and channeling your creative horsepower and passion by prioritizing on doing and excelling at what you love. Remember, our outputs are the next generations inputs and that comes with accountability and responsibility to pass the baton to the next generation. By leaving the world in better shape than we found it. It is all about attitude, imagination, and execution. Do you want to learn more about how to create Without Frontiers by unleashing the power of creative pen consider getting CREATIVITY WITHOUT FRONTIERS? How to make the invisible visible by lighting the way into the future. It's available in print, digital and audio on all relevant book platforms. You have been listening to the Unknown Origins podcast, please follow us subscribe rate and review us for more information go to unknownorigins.com. Thank you for listening