Marketing Manchester chairman: creative director Peter Saville hired because he was cheap and desperate for work


By The Drum Team, Editorial

November 14, 2011 | 3 min read

At an MPA talk last week, Nick Johnson, chairman of Marketing Manchester, revealed that creative director Peter Saville, whose role was axed in February, was only originally hired because he was cheap and desperate for work.

According to a blog by Nigel Sarbutts of BrandAlert, Johnson “was unambiguous” on the fact, speaking about the man who had been hired following public dismissal of the previous ‘We’re Up and Going’ campaign produced by the body.

Sarbutts wrote: "Why was he [Saville] hired? What were his outstanding virtues? On this, Nick was unambiguous. It was because he was the cheapest and he was the cheapest because he was desperate for the work."

Johnson added that the ‘Original Modern’ line was an intellectual ‘construct’ and said that people ‘didn’t really understand the strategy behind it’, likening it to an architect sketching a broad plan for property development.

When asked by MC Michael Taylor, the editor of Insider magazine, if the I love Mcr campaign was the antithesis of original or modern because it was a copy of the I love NY campaign, Johnson replied that “it was simple, people ‘got it’ and they could if they wished, do something about it”.

Sarbutts stated his disagreement for these arguments in his blog: “Nick said he thought Original Modern was more an economic development idea than anything else but how? Stick it on an inward investment brochure and businesses will ask, what does this mean in terms of supporting R&D, or skills development or evidence that Manchester knocks spots off other cities in terms of the vibrancy of its informal cultural and intellectual exchanges?

“That was true once in the city in the Reform Club, the Liberal Club, the Portico but Nick is right in pointing out that these forums no longer exist.

“It is troubling that the chairman of the body built around the phrase was unable to say how Original Modern translates into actions rather than words.

“Ultimately Original Modern is an idea in search of substance. It is a hollow slogan and the truth of its weakness is that it was overshadowed overnight in August by a thousand flyers in shop windows, reproducing a logo copied from New York circa 1975.”

Nick Johnson declined to comment when asked by The Drum.


More from Branding

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +