Every now and then, someone comes along to rock the boat and push their ideas beyond the boundaries many industries try and set.
For the advertising industry, fifteen years ago, a surplus-to-requirements art director called Andy was chewing the fat with an in-between-jobs copywriter called Tony. Both were young, both were talented creatives, both had been made redundant from big ad agencies. And both were out to get even.
"I’d been made redundant twice in 18 months – first from BDH and then from Charles Barker. And although I was an art director, I’d never held a senior position in an agency," recalled Andy Cheetham, chairman of Cheetham Bell JWT. "Tony Veasey had been made redundant from JWT Manchester – a company which wouldn’t give me a job back then and which, ironically, I now own a piece of.
"We needed a break, wanted to do good work; the kind that would win us awards, which would get us noticed, which would land us decent jobs, so we could get on with our lives. To win awards, we needed a client.”
The pair got in touch with a few small businesses, the sort who wouldn’t in a million years have been able to afford their services, had they been with a large agency. And one of them was Cheetham’s mum.
She owned a chippie called Barnacles, up in north Wales, and had taken the odd ad in the local paper. “So how could she not accept an offer of an original, bespoke ad campaign, covering all the advertising bases, for funny money?” says Cheetham.
The result — press ads, bus shelter posters, bus sides and even a cinema ad. The original slogan was ‘Other Chip Shops Don’t Give a Fork’. “The ASA even got a complaint from a local resident who had been offended by our bus side ad – which was when we knew we’d arrived,” added Cheetham.
Nowadays a poster campaign might need a minimum run of 50 posters, the lads cheekily printed up a couple, with a few bus sides as there were only a couple of bus routes that went by Barnacles anyway.
Cheetham sold his house and sunk the £14,000 profit into the project, along with all his freelance earnings. And in the middle of all this, his car got pinched and the insurers refused to pay out for months.
From this, the duo’s luck changed. They entered the campaign into every award going. Strapped for cash, they almost missed their moment of glory at the 1991 Roses Advertising Awards, so they snuck in.
Ironically, Cheetham and Veasey win no less than eight awards for their Barnacles campaign and the company that made them redundant won four awards for work which he had executed prior to his departure.
By the end of that evening, Cheetham ‘rolled up’ all his awards trophies in a linen tablecloth and headed off into the night. But the story didn’t end there. The Barnacles campaign won a few more coveted awards, including two entries in the D&AD book.
The big brands and companies were quite pissed off that a chip shop had won so much and in the following years, many award schemes tightened their rules to stop this from happening again.
That is how The Drum Ship Shop Awards came about, we believed that the industry needed a platform that celebrates pure, unadulterated originality, allowing anyone to show off what they can do, without limits.
Cheetham’s story serves as a reminder that you cannot keep a good idea down. That is why The Drum awarded Cheetham the Lifetime Achievement accolade at the 2018 Chip Shop Awards, an awards scheme.
As well as the award, in his honour, we have introduced the Barnacles category which is inspired by the Chip Shop heritage and awards those new or upcoming in the industry. Myongji University, who also won Best Charity, created 'I'm Not a Robot', the world’s first human verification test that helps refugees.
The award ceremony took place on Wednesday 13 June 2018 at the Electric Brixton, London. For a full list of the winners, click here.
The awards will be back for 2019, register your interest now.
Partners of the awards are One Minute Briefs and UCGA