Category Archives: Advertising

Things for which I am grateful #364 – Miscellaneous.


When I first started doing Things for which I am grateful, one for each day of 2014, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it. Now, on the penultimate post, I have far too many. So rather than pick just one I’m going to give you a miscellaneous list of all the ones that didn’t make it – but could have quite easily. (Lucky you.)

The point I’m trying to make is that we are very lucky in the ‘west’. And, even though I gripe on about our Tory overlords, I feel very fortunate to live in England.

The sun. (The big orange ball of fire, not the newspaper.)

England. (So much history, beautiful scenery and towns.)

History. (I love history.)

Wind turbines. (I think they’re cool.)

Thai food.

Chinese food.

The industrial revolution.

The sea. (I love the sea. And would love to live by it once again.)

Manchester.

Leeds.

The Romans.

The Greeks.

South Africa.

Elvis Presley.

Schools.

Public transport.

Sri Lanka.

Australia.

Bali.

Hinduism.

Buddhism.

Taoism.

New Zealand.

Optometry. (I wouldn’t be able to see without my glasses.)

My ex-wife for having our children.

Evolution.

Monkeys. (I do love a monkey.)

My neighbours.

Garlic.

Penny sweet tray.

The Peak District.

Typography.

Architecture.

Sci-fi.

The dictionary.

Drawing.

Farmers.

Butchers.

Fishermen.

America.

Uilleann pipes.

Sub-atomic particles. (Where would we be without these little jaspers? Nowhere, that’s where.)

Martin Luther King Jr.

The BBC. (Kiddy-fiddlers aside, they’ve done some great stuff.)

The Guardian.

Snow.

Erik Satie.

The emergency services. (Police, fire, paramedics.)

So, as you can see, plenty for me to be grateful for. But the point is, not what I am grateful for – what do you have to be thankful for in your life?

Wonder what’s in store for the last one?

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Things for which I’m grateful #356 – Advertising.


Yes, advertising. Nike,1990s,UK It’s hard to think of an industry more vilified by the general public than advertising. With the possible exceptions of bankers and estate agents. Oh, and insurance companies. We’re all wankers in the public’s eyes. It’s true that I’ve met quite a few charlatans in my time but I’ve also met lots of lovely people whom I admire, respect and have maintained long-lasting friendships. Advertising has given me many happy years coming up with ideas for stuff. Then having them bludgeoned to death by account handlers and clients. I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with some fantastically talented directors, photographers, illustrators, writers and art directors. I’ve also had the good fortune to have gone on the odd exotic TV shoot. come-along-gentelman In my 30 years in the ad industry I reckon I’ve only had three decent jobs out of about – actually, I genuinely can’t remember how many jobs I’ve had. The three best agencies I’ve worked for were BRAHM in Leeds, Owens DDB and Chemistry, (both in Dublin). They probably account for about 10 out of my 30 years in advertising. That’s a long time spent working in crap agencies. Of course, young hipsters will think someone like me is past it. I’ve heard a few digital johnnies bleating on about how traditional advertising doesn’t engage in a dialogue with consumers like online media can. Bollocks. As soon as you get a customer thinking about your ad you are engaging in dialogue. Whether that’s via the medium of television, press or on a billboard. Think_Different_poster_billbernbach Just because you have the capacity for a customer to literally respond to your message on social media doesn’t mean you’ve entered into a dialogue with them. In fact, judging by the mass majority of offer/promotion-based ads on social media, I would argue that this is monologue, not dialogue. The key to a successful engagement with a customer is to have an idea that resonates with what’s going on in their life. Without an idea, you have nothing. And, what digital johnnies lack is the ability and experience to come up with big advertising ideas. Of course, there have been one or two great online campaigns. (Old Spice springs to mind.) But not enough. And ad agencies today need to go back to the old ways of doing things but with today’s media and technology. Is it just me, or is there a dearth of good advertising around? interbrew-sheep-small-51151 Advertising is very simple: A great idea should contain two things: An insight into your target audience and a brand/product truth that will match the consumer insight. For example: If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen.

  1. A) ‘If only everything in life…’ = Life is full of ups and downs (consumer insight).
  2. B) ‘…was as reliable as a Volkswagen’. = If all else fails, you can rely on your Volkswagen. (Product benefit).

A + B =     Ta-dah! (Told you it was simple.) It’s often overcomplicated by people using big words to make themselves look more intelligent who try to portray it as a science. Great ideas come from great propositions. Here are a few straplines from yesteryear, when advertising was great. See how many you can match to their brand. (And they’d all translate brilliantly to online media.)

  1. Probably the best lager in the world.
  2. The world’s favourite airline.
  3. Think different.
  4. I bet he drinks…
  5. Good food costs less at…
  6. It is. Are you?
  7. …refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach.
  8. Australians would give a … for anything else.
  9. Beanz meanz …
  10. The Ultimate Driving Machine.
  11. Just do it.
  12. Vorsprung durch technic
  13. Reassuringly expensive
  14. It’s a new toy every day.
  15. We try harder.
  16. Happiness is a cigar called…
  17. The cream of Manchester.
  18. Hello Tosh, got a…
  19. You know, when you’ve been…
  20. I smoke ‘em, cos my name’s on ‘em.

That doesn’t mean that every ad campaign needs a strapline. (The Economist being a good case in point.) What a great strapline does is encapsulate the client’s strategy, which each individual concept/execution has to fit into for consistency of message. cream-of-manchester   So my advice to any young whippersnappers out there thinking of a career as an art director or writer is, whatever you do, don’t rock the boat. Tip the fucking thing over. There are too many safe-sailor-suits and bland-brand-bosuns as it is. N.B. None of the examples of great work I’ve shown here are mine.

Addendum:

Of the places of work I have really enjoyed working, I would have included TBWA Manchester – a really great team of people and a cracking account to work on. But, as I was only there a wet weekend, it seemed a bit of a stretch to include it. For the all too brief period of time I was there, I enjoyed every minute of it.

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Shame on Sainsbury’s


The new Christmas ad from Sainsbury’s makes a mockery of the sacrifice of so many people during the First World War. It offends me on so many levels.

I didn’t see anyone with frostbite. I didn’t see any bodies on the barbed wire nor any shattered limbs in frozen shell craters. (If you want to see what it was really like in the trenches see my last post.)

This is schmaltz at its worst.

Obviously, it’s an ad that polarises opinion. Some people, like me, hate it for the reasons above. Others love the fact that it is on behalf of the Royal British Legion.

Well, let me tell you – it isn’t.

True, they may be donating all the profits from the sale of their retro chocolate bar to the Legion. (They’ll more than recoup their ‘charitable’ losses with sales of other products.) But, do you think that’s what the Generals down at Sainsbury’s had in mind when they first hatched their Xmas offensive?

Of course they didn’t. It’s just cynical piggy-backing. It was to get as many punters into their supermarkets as humanly possible to buy all their groceries in the run up to Chrimbo.

If, on the other hand, you think Sainbury’s are just being charitable with their advertising budget, then I suggest you go in and only buy the chocolate bar, then get your groceries elsewhere.

Some doubters about the idea of the ad are still raving about it as a ‘beautiful masterpiece’. I don’t even think it’s a particularly well made film. Whilst I can understand why we don’t see rotting horse carcasses or trees splintered by heavy artillery. Nor men screaming from having their entrails bayonetted out into the mud, or mown down in a hail of machine gun fire. There isn’t even a sniff of grime on their faces or uniforms. (Even the Lynx guys have stubble.) They all look like they’ve just returned from the Army Surplus Store in their brand new duds. And where the hell did all the barbed wire go when they came out of the trenches to meet each other!

It certainly isn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination. Nor do I think it’s beautifully shot. It’s a saccharin, sanitised, cynical piece of tripe that trivialises the horrors of WWI into a Saturday afternoon Disney matinee.

And, yes, the Jerries did win the match. On penalties.

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Things for which I am grateful #325-352: Photography.


My goodness, where to begin?

There are so many brilliant photographers that I could probably fill all 365 things to be grateful for with them alone.

I’ve had the privilege of working with some outstanding photographers during my 30 long years in the ad industry. Most of whom were artists in their own right. I’m not going to feature them here just in case I forget someone and invoke their ire.

Instead, I’m going to show some of the photographers whose work has inspired me over the years. Certainly not an exhaustive list. Hope you like them. Feel free to make your own suggestion.

We could argue the toss as to what makes a great photograph – composition, light, concept. But what I feel a great photo should do is tell a story or ask questions of the viewer.

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams

Eve Arnold

Eve Arnold

Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon

Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus

Cecile Beaton

Cecil Beaton

Brassai

Brassai

Henry Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Desiree Dolron

Desiree Dolron

Robert Doisneau

Robert Doisneau

Fan Ho

Fan Ho

Horst P. Horst

Horst P. Horst

Tom Hoops

Tom Hoops

Nadav Kander

Nadav Kander

Joey Lawrence

Joey Lawrence

Saul Leiter

Saul Leiter

Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz

Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe

Helmut Newton

Helmut Newton

Norman Parkinson

Norman Parkinson

Herb Ritts

Herb Ritts

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman

Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen

Harry Thuillier

Harry Thuillier

There are always more photographers who spring to mind as soon as one clicks the ‘publish’ button. Here are a couple who slipped through the net…

Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier

Sebastiao Salgado

Sebastiao Salgado

Don McCullin

Don McCullin

Bill Brandt

Bill Brandt

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The Boating Party with Sean Hayes


Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881. By Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The Boating Party is a series of interviews with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, illustrators, designers and the like.

In times of economic hardship, the Arts are usually the first things to be axed. But, in my view, the Arts are one of the most important aspects of our civilisation. Without the arts, we wouldn’t have language or the written word. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy. Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many artists view themselves as rebels to society.

To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.

And perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where’s the creativity that will solve the world’s problems? Including economic and scientific ones?

In this interview, I am delighted to welcome Irish creative director, Sean Hayes.

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Who inspires you?

People who have discerning minds.

 

What inspires you?

A belief that everything is malleable. Nothing is set in stone.

 

What was the last thing that inspired you?

Rupert Sheldrake’s banned TEDx talk on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKHUaNAxsTg – t=1088

 

What makes you unhappy?

Misunderstanding.

 

What makes you happy?

Understanding.

 

What are you reading?

‘Who Owns the Future?’ Jaron Lanier.

 

Who, or what, are you listening to?

The rain.

 

What’s your favourite film?

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

 

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

December 5th 1975. Bob Marley and the Wailers in concert at the Lyceum Theatre in London to witness the recording of one of the greatest live albums ever – Bob Marley and the Wailers LIVE!

 

What frightens you?

People who do not possess discerning minds.

 

What do you do to relax?

I take photographs. It’s a form of meditation for me.

 

What do you do when you’re angry?

Anger is fear in stealth mode. Deal with the fear and the anger vanishes.

 

What can’t you live without?

Oxygen. Family. Friends. In that order.

 

What’s your motto?

Say simple things in unexpected ways.

 

Where is your Utopia?

West Cork, Ireland.

 

If you only had one year to live what would you do?

Spend the year visiting and thanking all the family, friends and folk who have loved and supported me in life and apologize to those where I failed to return their love and support.

 

Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?

Sepp Blatter. (Swiss football administrator who serves as the eighth and current President of FIFA). Blatter represents everything that is perverse with the prevailing corporate culture of winner-take-all. He exudes a deep sense of unquestioning entitlement and is mindlessly corrupt.

 

Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?

Scarlett Johansson.

 

What are you working on at the moment?

Increasing my understanding of the world and everything in it.

 

What is your ambition?

To love and be loved.

 

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

Throw the Internal Combustion Engine onto the ash heap of history. It has stunted the development of cleaner and more sustainable energy sources because the Petrochemical conglomerates make vast fortunes from oil and actively suppress technologies that challenge their hegemony.

 

Which six people would you invite to your boating party?

Elon Musk (Business Magnate, Inventor, Visionary), Rupert Sheldrake (English author, lecturer, and researcher in the field of parapsychology), Scarlett Johansson (Elevator repair person), Graham Hancock (British writer and journalist), Linda Moulton Howe (American investigative journalist and ufologist), Nick Cave (Musician and author).

 

What would be on the menu?

 Ideas.

 

What question would you have liked me to have asked?

Hy-Brazil – a mythical island off the west coast of Ireland – appeared on nautical maps from 1325 until it’s disappearance from seafaring charts around 1865. Why? A great mystery.

 

Thank you, Sean.

To see more of Sean’s work click on any image to go to his Tumblr site.

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© Sean Hayes

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© Sean Hayes

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Sean Hayes’ biography:

I’m an advertising Creative Director with over 25 years experience of planning, creating and executing marketing campaigns for European, American and Japanese brands. In 2010, I started taking pictures of the world around me with a newly purchased iPhone. I haven’t put it down since. All the images in my gallery have been shot and processed using my smart phone. Preferred subjects to photograph are portraits and landscapes. My photographic work has been exhibited in galleries and exhibitions specialising in mobile photography in Brussels, Milan, Miami, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

I was a runner-up in the Landscape category of the global Mobile Photography Awards 2013 and was awarded 2nd place in the People category of the same competition in 2014.

Links:

http://seanski50.wordpress.com

http://seanmobilephotos.tumblr.com

http://seanmobileportraits.tumblr.com

 

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#231/365 Graphic Design


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Milton Glaser

To me, there are two schools of thought when it comes to graphic design: the Conceptual and the Aesthetic.

I’m a firm believer in the former. I studied graphic design at Jacob Kramer College of Art in Leeds in the early to mid 80s. Before computers were even invented! Well, maybe not invented. But certainly not in use in the industry at the time. We had to create everything by hand.

It is only with a concept, an idea, that we can engage the viewer’s neural pathways – which helps them remember the message you are trying to convey. Whereas, the purely aesthetic, is superficial.

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Herb Lubalin

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that conceptual design shouldn’t be aesthetically pleasing – it should have both. It’s just aesthetics alone are not enough. We need to create windows, not wallpaper.

Here are a few examples that contain the Smile in the Mind. Smile in the Mind is when the concept requires the viewer to complete the circle. To interact with the idea for it to have meaning for them.

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Graeme Cooper Photography

Graeme Cooper Photography

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Cycling poster

 

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Things I am grateful for #72-99 – Ireland.


Bray, Co. Wicklow.

Bray, Co. Wicklow.

Where to begin?

I spent 13 years of my adult life in Ireland72. From 1992 to 2005.

It’s the longest period of time in my life that I have spent in any one place.

So many happy memories.

Kylemore Abbey, Co. Galway.

Kylemore Abbey, Co. Galway.

A friend I know through blogging wrote a post asking what people loved most about Ireland, and I replied – the people73. She felt I was generalizing a bit. I understand where she was coming from, because it’s quite a predictable answer. But I hadn’t meant it to come across like that because, when it came down to it, when I reminisced about all the places I loved such as: Dublin74, Galway75, Connemara76, Westport77, Achill Island78, Carlingford Lough79, Cork80, West Cork81, Sherkin Island82,  Kinsale83, Bray84 (yes, Bray), Kilkenny85, Kerry86, Clare87, Bushmills88, Helen’s Bay89, Wicklow90, – I could go on. Then there’s the arts – IMoMA91, the writers92, the poets93, musicians94, filmmakers95.

Temple Bar, Dublin.

Temple Bar, Dublin.

Then, there was my career. I was lucky enough to work in some top-class agencies96, working with some of the best people in the industry, producing some not-too-bad work. It was the most productive and award-winning of my career to date.

Kinsale, Co. Cork.

Kinsale, Co. Cork.

Then there’s the pubs97! I did my level best to try as many of them as was humanly possible. I’d never drunk Guinness98 until I moved to Ireland – I was a Yorkshireman and I drank bitter. (Aye, ‘appen as mebby.) But their bitter tastes like pish, so I started on the Guinness. And, even though I’ve moved back to Blighty, I still drink it. (It’s ‘atin’ and drinkin’, as Oonagh used to say.)

Westport, Co. Mayo.

Westport, Co. Mayo.

After all of this, when I boiled it all down, the real reason I stayed in Ireland for all of those years, was because of my friends. Irish friends, who made me feel welcome, made me feel respected, made me feel protected, made me feel loved and made me feel at home99. (And, I’m classing non-Irish friends such as other English, South Africans, Australians and Americans, as Irish in this context.)

I’m sure there are a good few who hate my guts, as well. But that’s for a different post.

Co. Kilkenny.

Co. Kilkenny.

So, for the weekend that’s in it – Happy Paddy’s Day, everyone.

Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll.

Brian O’Driscoll (right).

River Liffey, Dublin.

River Liffey, Dublin.

Giant's Causeway, Co. Antrim.

Giant’s Causeway, Co. Antrim.

Temple Bar, Dublin.

Temple Bar, Dublin.

Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare.

Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare.

Glendalough, Co. Wicklow.

Glendalough, Co. Wicklow.

Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow.

Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow.

Achill Island, Co. Mayo.

Achill Island, Co. Mayo.

Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry.

Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry.

Dungarvan, Co. Waterford.

Dungarvan, Co. Waterford.

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Airfix – #62/365


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Seeing as though we’re on the cusp of a third world war, I thought it might be interesting to talk about toys that glorify war.

In the olden days, we didn’t have X Boxes or PSPs. We had to make do with eating coal and playing on’t road with plastic figurines for entertainment. I had hundreds, if not thousands, of these tiny Airifx soldiers.

Airfix Mountain Troops

But, unlike the meticulously crafted dioramas that you see in model shop windows, my battlefield was the living room carpet. Cushions for mountain ranges and my mother’s ornaments for barricades. I wiled away many an hour pitting German stormtroopers against American marines. Or Japanese infantry versus British paras. And sometimes it was a free-for-all with Napoleonic cavalry and American Union soldiers thrown in to spice things up a bit.

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My love of war wasn’t limited to reenacting battles – I was also partial to building second world war model aeroplanes too. When I got bored with them, or they got damaged, like when the props or undercarriage fell off, I’d “borrow” my mother’s lighter and set fire to them and throw them out of my bedroom window, imagining them in a dogfight during the Battle of Britain.

Airfix_He111H-20_cover

I thought it might be interesting to do an ad campaign that promotes these “old fashion” toys to a present day audience. What these toys lack in graphic depiction they make up for in the users ability to improvise and use their imagination. Not to mention the necessity to apply strategy – not that prevalent in your average shoot-em-up console game. Games that merely lead the user down a labyrinth of computer code rather than require said user to think creatively.

I used the illustrations that Airfix actually commissioned for their packaging, which I’ve always thought were brilliant, because that is exactly how you imagine it whilst playing.

Now, I know it’s not particularly PC to promote toys that glorify violence, but it was a large part of my childhood during the 60s and 70s and I derived huge amounts of pleasure from it. And I turned out okay, didn’t I?

I can’t hear you…

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Things I am grateful for #5, 6, 7.


Notebooks. Pens. Pencils.

In an age where everything has an electronic hardware alternative – laptop, smartphone, tablet – notebooks seem to be a thing of the past. I always make sure I have one or two notebooks on the go, depending on what I’m working on. A small one for my pocket and a larger one for the home/office.

I don’t know about you, but if I have an idea, and I don’t write it down immediately, I forget it. Which can be intensely frustrating.

I have scores, if not hundreds, about the place. Mostly filled with drivel. But, occasionally, I come across something that merits developing. A few lines of a poem, an idea for a script, a conversation overheard in a café.

I know for a fact that most ideas that have manifest, have generated themselves into something, from notebooks. If I hadn’t had one to hand, the idea would be lost. And so would I.

Sometimes, my notebooks are simple Moleskins. Sometimes, from Laura Ashley. Sometimes, they are from exotic countries I have visited.

Once, I had this ornately crafted, leather-embossed notebook I bought in Amalfi, Italy. I was too afraid to write anything in it. It was too beautiful for my incoherent ramblings. After a while, I realised that if I waited for ‘exceptional’ things to spring to mind, I would be waiting a long time before I put pen to pad.

So I dived in.

The notebook isn’t the beauty. It is what is contained within. Sometimes, it might not be ’til near the end. But at least it will be in there.

But what good is a notebook without something to write with?

Now, I’m quite particular about my writing implements. I absolutely abhor Biros and ballpoint pens. They are the work of the devil. I have to have a fibre tip pen. Probably has something to do with my 30 years in design/advertising. And, if there aren’t any pens available, there’s nothing wrong with the good old fashioned pencil.

So simple. So invaluable. (To me, anyway.)

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And no, these sketchbooks aren’t mine.

You might have gathered by now that I’m going to write a Things I am grateful for post for every day of 2014. Some will be incredibly simple things that we take for granted, such as water. Whilst others might be a bit more eclectic, like my obsession with art and tomato-based foods.

And why should you care about this? Perhaps you shouldn’t. It’s just my way of acknowledging that, despite all the trials and tribulations that modern-life brings, just how lucky most of us actually are. Whether that’s because we have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, or simply because we are loved.

Anyways, I might not write one every day. Some might come in an advance bundle, like this one. Others I may write in retrospect. But by the end of 2014, there’ll be at least 365 things that I am grateful for.

They’re not in any order of preference – apart from the first one. For them, I shall be eternally grateful. (And tired.)

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A little application required


This is a recruitment campaign I’ve been working on recently for the Careers Service at The University of Manchester which is being rolled out at the moment, both on and offline.

Shot by the wonderful Jonathan Oakes in his Manchester studio using real students, and ably assisted by Anthony Cassell. The shots were styled by the fabulously talented Lisa Westwell.

Special thanks too, go to my clients: Tracey Campbell-Monks and Anne Milligan. (No relation.)

The colours look a bit fruity on here and are better when downloaded.

Photographer: Jonathan Oakes

Stylist: Lisa Westwell

Assistant: Anthony Cassell

Image manipulation: Jonathan Oakes

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CAREERS2

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