Before They Were Famous

A creative team at Beattie McGuinness Bungay have launched a site showcasing the early work and student portfolios of successful ad creatives and agency founders.

A creative team at Beattie McGuinness Bungay have launched a site showcasing the early work and student portfolios of successful ad creatives and agency founders.

Before They Were Famous offers a glimpse at funny, dark and bizarre campaigns from creatives including Trevor Beattie, Real Mad Men author Andrew Cracknell and comedian Noel Fielding, who studied graphic design and advertising at Bucks New University before pursuing acting and writing.

Unusual ads include 4Creative’s John Allison and Chris Bovill’s ‘Make them earn it series’ for Alton Towers, which suggests making children pose as furniture and golfing props to earn a ticket to the Staffordshire theme park:

Wieden + Kennedy’s Sam Oliver and Shishir Patel’s Jelly Babies campaign, promoting the sweet as ‘much tastier than real babies’:

And a rather controversial series of TV spots from the pair, promoting Flora’s cholesterol reducing properties by highlighting the ‘inconvenience’ of heart attacks:

As well as a series of ads for department store Harvey Nichols by creative director and blogger Ben Kay (below).

The concept for the site was thought up by BMB senior creative team Lorelei Mathias and Nathalie Turton last year, when they took over recruiting for the agency’s placement scheme. The pair set up Before They Were Famous with help from advertising graduates Paul Clinton and Darryl Arthur.

“We wanted to inspire and encourage young creatives who might be struggling to get a job by showing them that everyone starts somewhere,” explains Turton. “These aren’t polished, perfect ads but what they show is how much people’s ability develops over time.”

“One famous creative we contacted admitted his student portfolio was more creative than anything he’d ever done in the real world,” adds Turton. “We hope the site will inspire students to really have fun with their portfolio as it’s the last time they’ll ever be that free. ”

The team contacted hundreds of creatives and says the response was mostly positive. “We were surprised that so many people had kept their early work – and most were humbled to be asked to take part. A lot of people were worried that their work wouldn’t be good enough but that’s the point – the campaigns aren’t supposed to be brilliant or flawless,” adds Mathias.

The site also offers a glimpse of projects crafted in the early days of the internet and before the invention of social media. Most are print ads or storyboards for TV spots, which Mathias says makes an interesting contrast from today’s multimedia portfolios.

“Nowadays, students are encouraged to build websites, social media profiles, presentations and lengthy Vimeo or YouTube footage, which has in many ways made the job more exciting, but it also means portfolios can now take a long time to explain and look through. These old portfolios are about simple, effective ideas that come across on one sheet of paper, which offer a nice shortcut to seeing how a team thinks.”

Mathias and Turton are hoping to add more famous portfolios to the site and have uploaded their own work for clients such as Smirnoff Ice, Random House and Wotsits, “to make up the female numbers”.

They have also launched a competition to imagine the early work of Don Draper (the fictional star of US TV show Mad Men) and are offering a placement to the team behind the best Draper portfolio. For details, click here.

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