ITIAPTWC Episode 6 – Paul Burke

Hi there,

The other day I had the pleasure of chatting to Paul Burke, the King of Radio© who is also many other things, all of which can be found on his excellent website.


He started in despatch at AMV via an awkward chat with David Abbott.

From there he embarked on an advertising career that… Hang on, I’m pre-empting this fascinating podcast.

For the ‘King of Radio’ he’s also been very good at TV (this contains one of my favourite lines: ‘Take over for a Bough will you moment?’):

He’s also written four novels, but we’re going to chat about that in a future podcast.

Just have a listen and you’ll find out about the following:

How Despatch can be better than the Creative Department (excellent article from Paul about that time here).

The real difference between creating radio and TV.

The consequences of advertising agencies failing to reward loyalty.

The pros and cons of working with John Webster.

What Frank Budgen was like as a CD.

How boredom can help you to keep your job.

Why happiness is gratitude.

Why radio is brilliant, and still very much alive.

Why radio ads are all about characters.

How to get a really good performance from an actor.

Two weird tips for making great radio (how’s that for clickbait?).

How to cast celebs.

Whether or not creatives are better than they used to be.

How to get past writer’s block and what it can teach you about life.

Why, as David Abbott said, there’s no output without input.

Here’s the chat, the Soundcloud link and a reminder that you can subscribe on iTunes (search ‘If This Is A Blog Then What’s Christmas’). I’d also like to offer a small apology in advance for a couple of small technical hitches. It’s 98% perfect, but I’m just going to cop to the other 2% now…

I’ve never seen the inside of a bar room or listened to a jukebox all night long, but I see these are the things that bring you pleasure, so I’m gonna make some changes in the weekend.

Film meets art (thanks, L):

Tammy Wynette slowed down sounds as good as Dolly Parton (thanks, T):

A fucking insane plane journey.

The five stages of inebriation.

Camera takes picture whenever dog’s heart rate goes up (thanks, G).

Famous album covers recreated with Star Wars characters (thanks, A).

Easy photography tips (thanks, G).

John Stewart on his twitter spat with Donald Trump (thanks, T):

Louis CK on the election:




ITIAPTWC Episode 5 – Jeff Labbe

Hi there,

For episode five I’ve left the UK to chat to a goshdarn, rootin’ tootin’ American.

Jeff Labbe actually started as a fine artist, hay deliveryman and rodeo rider. From there he became a graphic designer and sort of fell into a job at one of the best agencies in the world, working on Nike at W&K Portland. After that he ended up doing even better work at Chiat/Day in San Francisco, joining Leo Burnett Chicago for a short spell, and finally becoming a highly-awarded director.


During our chat we discuss…

How to get a job from a guy by telling him his business cards are shit.

How Jeff became a bullrider then nearly died, but not from riding bulls.

The best way to negotiate a salary increase with Dan Wieden.

What it was like to work on Nike at W&K Portland in its prime.

Why you should sometime paper your walls with old ads, work 20-hour days and go two years without a holiday.

How your home movies can almost become a Superbowl ad.

Why being a stallion is better than being a quarter horse.

How to create a catchphrase that lasts 17 years (and counting).

How proactivity can beat briefs.

How you can still get a lot out of a job that’s not right for you.

Which Def Leppard song to dance to if you want to meet your wife.

Whether or not you should have a directing style.

The pros and cons of treatments.

How advertising has become more dynamic.

And why he’s committed to the UK.

So check out the Soundcloud link, subscribe on iTunes (If This Is A Blog Then What’s Christmas) or click on this link and enjoy:

ITIAPTWC Episode 5 – Jeff Labbe

Here’s the early footage Jeff filmed at home before taking it to Dan Weiden years later and having him suggest it as Nike’s Superbowl spot:

That first spot that became a Superbowl spot:

Chicks Dig The Long Ball:

Nike Beautiful:

Spike Jonze/Levi’s:

Levi’s Badger:

Levi’s Crazylegs:

Beware Of Things Made In October:

Another ‘Beware’:

Nintendo ‘School’s Out’:

Jeff’s Levi’s ad, which I would describe as ‘cool’:

Barnado’s Break The Cycle:

KFC Rodeo:

Oh shit, mutherf***as step to the rear and cheer ’cause Tim Dog is here. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty and talk about the weekend.

Kanye West becomes Tracy Morgan (thanks, C).

Donald Trump/Halloween message stickers (thanks, J).

Tarantino masterclasses.

A whole bunch of goddamn amazing photos (thanks, G).

Business advice from Vanilla Ice (thanks, N).

Recreating classic reggae album sleeves (thanks, P).

The world in data (thanks, K).

Better names for animals (thanks, T).

Tom Cruise runs backwards for 30 seconds (thanks, A).

Blade Runner recreated on MS paint (thanks, G).

Make your own ambient music (thanks, G).

Sadness in film (thanks, A):

ITIAPTWC Episode 4 – Mark Denton


This week’s podcast is a chat with my good friend, Mr Mark Denton Esq.

He’s been (or still is) an art director, creative director, designer, director, owner of an agency, owner of a design company, owner of a couple of production companies, wrestling promoter, public speaker, President of the Creative Circle and a whole bunch of other stuff.

But really, he’s a creative – in every sense of the word. He designs his clothes, his home, magazines, books, his moustache and anything else in his life. And so many incredibly talented and successful people owe him their start that his industry footprint is like that of a Giganotosaurus.

So we could only scratch the surface. But at least that meant we could cover…

Art direction vs idea.

The merits of expensive, puerile visuals.

The significance of warm reds and cold blues.

The benefits of seeing a clairvoyant.

Becoming your own personal brand.

Why most people prefer unsubtle to subtle.

Why humour is often the difference between art direction and design.

How being ‘bloody awkward’ can help and hinder your career.

Why older people should surround themselves with younger people.

What creatives want from directors.

The pros and cons of treatments.

Why it’s OK for directors to ignore your ideas (if they’re geniuses).

Why a great account person is essential.

And why now is the best of times and the worst of times.

I hope you enjoy it. We’ll probably go a little deeper in a future chat…

You can subscribe on iTunes (‘If This Is A Blog Then What’s Christmas’), listen on Soundcloud or click on this link:

ITIAPTWC Episode 4 – Mark Denton

Here’s some of the work we discussed, and some other great stuff, including a small plug for the privates (sic) view of his exhibition:












Anyone can fall in love. Over the years it has to keep growing. Sun and rain, joy and pain. There’s highs – there’s lows; we’ve no way of knowing the weekend.

REVOLUTIONARY piece of exercise equipment (thanks, F):

A tour of the same LA streets 70 years ago and now (thanks, T).

Weather map goes crazy (thanks, G):

462 photos of communism (thanks, G).

Funny animal tumblrs (thanks, L).

Disproportionately common American names in certain professions (thanks, K).

Video game characters in traditional Japanese style (thanks, G).

Absorbing animated gifs:


Jolene is better at 33rpm:

ITIAPTWC Episode 3 – Vicki Maguire


Vicki Maguire is the joint ECD of Grey London.

If you listen to our chat you can find out how…

Working on a market stall and plying an older gentleman with alcohol can make you a better writer.

Paul Smith taught her the value of generosity.

Declining a placement can get you a job instead.

You can learn more from arseholes than good people.

Going to D&AD with a less ‘fashionable’ agency can have unexpected benefits.

Working at O&M is different to working at W&K.

The East End needs to stay shitty.

You can open a sweet shop.

Then tension between old clients and new ways of working can be a good thing.

Being a copywriter can literally save lives.

Lifepaint may not be as terrible as I thought.

My Moral Arbitration Ceremony is essential for the good of the industry.

Thanks, Vicki. I really enjoyed our chat, so if you’re ever in LA do pop round for a cup of tea or a kale smoothie.

(If any of you were hoping for Jeff Labbe, a technical hitch means that’ll happen sometime in the future. Next week:  the great Mark Denton.)

Amazingly, you can now just subscribe to this podcast, like proper podcasts, by looking up If This Is A Blog Then What’s Christmas on iTunes. Or, if you prefer, listen to it on Soundcloud.

ITIAPTWC Episode 2 – Vicki Maguire

Here’s some of Vicki’s best work:


We’ve got some half priced cracked ice and miles and miles of carpet tiles. TVs, deep freeze and David Bowie LP’s. Pool games, gold chains, wosnames, and at a push the weekend.

America’s most beautiful libraries.

Excellent writing advice.

And excellent food tips (thanks, T).

Intricate map of alt music history (thanks, G).

Scorsese’s career in movie posters.

Cool Jeff Back and Seal cover of Manic Depression (thanks, G):

Fucking amazing 70s haircuts (thanks, T).

People screwing up in infomercials, soundtracked by The Smiths (thanks, C):

The truth about the importance of an advertising creative (thanks, D).

Timeline of Republicans deserting Trump (thanks, G).

Fantastic psychedelic posters (thanks, T).

Scorsese’s list of essential foreign films (I’ve only seen 11. thanks, G):


Hong Kong in the 1950s, captured by a teenager.

Epic rap battles, Hitchcock vs Spielberg (thanks, G):

Little kid jumps like horse (thanks, G):



As someone with a keen interest in language, I wonder when the world ‘mate’ came to mean ‘arsehole’:


ITIAPTWC 2 – Simon Veksner

The second episode of If This Is A Podcast Then What’s Christmas is an interview with Simon Veksner:


Simon has been a very successful copywriter, winning D&AD pencils and a Cannes Grand Prix (back when there were only about five categories in which you could win one). So we discuss how he got to that position, the brilliant creative direction of Jeremy Craigen and Ewan Patterson, how the keys to success are making friends with the traffic department and reading David Hume’s take on idea generation, and how digital vs TV comes down to advertising creatives being ‘praise whores’.

We also have a good chat about his Scamp Blog. It might seem like a long time ago now, but that blog was essentially the creative mouthpiece for the entire industry (Simon reveals that it used to get hits than Campaign’s website). In fact, it was so big that when Google temporarily shut it down the situation merited coverage in the national press. So we explore its origins and the reasons behind its fame.

We end on a conversation about his move to Australia and his recent venture in setting up a social media company.

I hope you enjoy it. I’ll leave you with an apology for any points where the sound might get too loud or quiet, a downloadable version of the podcast (still trying to work out the iTunes thing) and a few of Simon’s best ads.

Next week: Jeff Labbé, director of the Barnados ad below.


(P.S.: in case you’re wondering if there’s any method to my choice of guests, I’m trying to vary things a little in terms of eras, backgrounds, geography and even – gasp! – gender. I will definitely get round to asking everyone you’re thinking of, but my order may not be quite the same as yours. Schedules are also important as I have to record most people under the cosh of an eight-hour time difference, which is a bit of an arse. As always, please suggest people and I’ll add them to my list.)