Back Chat: SomeOne's Simon Manchipp on the 'embarrassment' that is WHSmith and why the internet needs more cats

The last page of each issue of The Drum is devoted to a chat with an industry figure to chew the fat and find out what’s pushing their buttons. In the latest instalment we drop in on Simon Manchipp, founder of SomeOne, who wants to see more cats and less of Nigel Farage.

SomeOne's Simon Manchipp

So, how are you and what’s keeping you busy?

We’ve just come back from Dubai shooting a luxury travel TV campaign. So we are all a bit jetlagged! I’m also working on the branding for a new central London museum, a tech start-up, a boating brand, and leading the Cancer Research UK brand team. It’s all adding up to a rather exciting start to the year.

What’s your biggest gripe at the moment?

The film ‘Boyhood’ — saw it, and really don’t see what the fuss is about. Love the idea of using the same actors over a very long period of time. Interesting, right? But watch it – very little happens. Script is yawn inducing. Lead character drab. Misses all the wonder of boyhood and centres on a dismal dullard. Oscars? You must be kidding.

It’s like being told to go and see an amazing wall that is three miles long and has been painted using eyelashes. Then you go, see it, and it’s just a yellow painted wall. The backstory is so much more interesting than the result. Disappointing.

Likewise, what are you loving?

Watches. They seem to be undergoing a bit of a revolution (pardon the pun). With the news of iWatches it feels the level of craft has stepped up a gear and the new tourbillon work from IWC is pretty incredible.

Tourbillons are often seen as the highest achievement in horological design. They are a watch within a watch that regulate the watch against gravitational forces, making them incredibly accurate. They are also complex. Hard to make. Oh, and they are made by hand. It’s astonishing really.

The gyro-tourbillon by Jaeger LeCoultre is unbelievable. It doesn’t just operate on one axis, it works on two and spins while it’s at it.

What would you change if you were prime minister and/or had unlimited resources?

Disabled parking spaces. They are always empty, there’s got to be a better way. The ‘printing and graphic design’ display at the Science Museum. It’s way out of date. Nigel Farage needs to be removed from the picture.

Introduce a more bistro-led approach to restaurants and pubs. Greater funding for Cancer Research.

Oh, and more cats. Obviously, more cats. They are the currency of the internet.

Which one project would you love to work on?

I wish we could work with WHSmith, because currently it is a car crash of up-selling chocolate bars with your rushed purchase of magazines for a long flight. I bumped into one recently in Heathrow and it was just awful.

The one in Balham is even worse and frankly it shouldn’t really be in business. I’d love to get in there and help turn around what is rapidly becoming an embarrassment for all involved.

Outside of the industry, who inspires you?

Pretty much anything by Zaha Hadid — we’re working on all sorts of things for the first European Games and her building in Baku is simply astonishing. I love the way that the buildings begin life as paintings.

Where else do you find inspiration?

Generally in liquids. Coffee is a good one, tequila is often more interesting. Truthfully it’s everywhere – every brand, every project, every organisation, product or service has something interesting about it – even if it is the fact that it’s awful, boring or slow. It’s our job to find that inspiring point and make it famous.

And finally, what’s your last word on the industry?

Entertainment. It’s where it’s going. Ads don’t make people laugh at the moment. They set out to tug heartstrings and make you feel all warm inside. The brilliant gags have gone to be replaced by the violin section. Branding can step up and help bring the entertainment back.

This feature was first published in the 4 February issue of The Drum.

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