Graduate special: Sam Mosley & Sarah Mullen

Salford University Advertising design graduates Sam Mosley and Sarah Mullen impressed us with their ideas mixing digital and real world techniques

It’s often tricky for advertising students to show off their ideas in a way that is as impressive and polished as the portfolio site of say a graphic designer or illustrator – for the simple reason that without advertising budgets to realise those ideas, graduate advertising teams’ portfolios tend to be full of hand-drawn, sketched-out storyboards and posters.

However, the ideas and thought processes on display in Sam Mosley and Sarah Mullen’s book show real potential – as do their university results (they both got firsts) and a commendation (one of only two awarded) for their response to a D&AD brief which had no winners.  

The D&AD brief in question was to “create an original and underground viral to drive a diverse and creative audience to clothing brand Fred Perry’s Subculture music website”. In response, the duo came up with a campaign which married music with clothes via an unusual use of technology that could be implemented online, using an iPhone app, and instore.

“I had spent a couple of days researching a lot of new technologies and ways that music can inform physical forms,” recalls Mullen of tackling the brief. “Then I stumbled across a mock prototype of a sewing machine that stitched soundwaves straight from the radio, and this inspired me. I thought having your favourite music stitched into your clothing could really appeal to the target audience.”

The film that Mullen created to express the idea shows an iPod linked up to a sewing machine. As White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army plays on the iPod,  the sewing machine’s needle moves in perfect synchronicity with the beat of the track, creating a kind of soundwave pattern on a polo shirt running through it.

“The basic idea of the online, 2 3 and core element to the campaign, is that you either upload a sound bite from your favourite song, or record and send your own,” explains Mullen. “You see how the soundwave of your chosen sound bite looks. You then select a Fred Perry shirt to view it on. You then have an option to buy your chosen item with your unique soundwave stitched onto it. Or you can arrange to send it as a gift to someone. You can also forward your design to friends via email or text, and you can upload your design to Facebook, where others can see it and where you can see your friends’ designs too.”

Another great campaign on the duo’s website is for radio station Key 103 – the main idea for which was informed by  the statistic that the station’s target audience is fun loving, predominantly female commuters. “Our idea was to spice up the commute with a bit of karaoke,” says Mullen. “Places like billboards and bus stops would be fitted with digital displays which could show the words to songs actually playing at any given time on the Key 103 station. This would get people to actively tune their radios into Key 103 so that they could sing along.”

Both of these campaigns perfectly sum up the pair’s attitude towards their chosen career. “To us, advertising is a platform for creativity, an opportunity to create something exciting, new, different and – if at all possible – entertaining,” says Mosley. “Creatives are privileged to be able to fill up every possible media space that the public comes across day to day,” adds Mullen, “so it really shouldn’t be just any old crap.”

The duo have been keeping themselves focused and busy since graduating earlier in the summer. As well as working on several briefs with Manchester agency BJL, they recently finished a placement at Cheetham Bell JWT, and have more placements lined up – including a stint at Newcastle-based agency, Different.

While they list BBH and M&C Saatchi among their “dream agencies”, the pair tell us that the name over the door isn’t everything. “To be honest,” says Mosley, “our ideal agency would be somewhere with a great working atmosphere as well as a great roster of clients. Somewhere we can grow and learn with support from talented colleagues. We just want an opportunity to prove ourselves and settle down with an agency where we can really develop our talents.”

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