In December 2000, I handed in my notice to HHCL, sold half of my shares in the company and embarked on a good old fashioned adventure. I shipped my trusty 3 wheeled steed to Newark, New Jersey and began a 6000 mile odyssey across the USA. Joining me were my church advertising cohort, Trevor Webb, fledgling rocker Justin Hawkins and Becky Clarke, co founder of Idea-a-day.com. We had a lot of fun.
On my return, lots of people seemed keen to hear about the adventure. Here I am talking to the Big Breakfast and ITV London
Jim Bolton and I launched Arkwright Ltd in February 2001. The name was a reaction against the ultra modern naming of other companies such as Egg, Cake and Naked. Sir Richard Arkwright set off the industrial revolution and we wanted to set one off in advertising. Justin (The Darkness) Hawkins created our logo.
One of our first acquisitions was a van, half of which we gave to Justin Hawkins in exchange for him designing our website and masthead. 60 Minutes in the US had recently interviewed Razorfish who declared 'we create solutions which enable our clients to do business more effectively'. 'So does a trucking company' was the terse response from the interviewer. At this point the Darkness had just got together as a band, and as this shot from Dazed and Confused shows, the van was put to good use.
Sage: 'Making sense of ebusiness'
Back in 2001, conducting business online was still a very new thing for many companies. This book made it simple but writing it was a labour of love.
Rockingham Motor Speedway
We shared an office with Karmarama and while they picked up IKEA, we worked on smaller projects. Working with Media strategists M&B, we launched Rockingham in time for the UK's first ever Champ Car event in September 2001. Part of the launch was the Book of the Free and the Brave which had a US ring to it. Designed by Dave Jenner.
When we set up Arkwright we assumed we'd be working on big budget TV campaigns. Unfortunately we forgot to hire any account directors and so we soon became a creative resource for agencies who had no creatives and who seemed to want brochures. The only joy in this one was that we got to work with Jonny Voss again. Created with M&B.
Steve Chalke was keen to jump on the dotcom bandwagon and launched the website church.co.uk in 2001. Working with developers Fortune Cookie who were also behind Idea a Day, we created 'God's house'. The original designs have gone but they survive on the front cover of the church.co.uk Bible, illustrated again by Jonny Voss. Created with Martin Casson and Trevor Webb.
Despite not being up for anything or even having created anything other than brochures for six months, Jim and I dragged our sorry selves to Cannes in the Arkwright bus. It was only when we came back that we realised that we had actually won something for church.co.uk!
2001 was awful. While Karmarama thrived, we failed. Local youths would barge into the office until Karmarama paid them to leave. The year was filled with one-off projects for start-ups with absolutely no budget and Workthing was one of these. They didn't even have the cash to mock up a real paper for the guy to hold. Dispiriting times. Shot by Tomas Schelp.
This was a new low. Everyone was out of the office and the client rang up Arkwright with a project. Their budget? £250. The day rate for a good freelance creative in 2001 was £500. I told no one, gave eGain a headline and some copy and left them to their art direction. It looks like someone spilled coffee over our only copy of the finished ad which is what it deserved.
The FT article
Without realising it we were part of a movement where small agencies were taking business away from bigger ones. All we were actually doing at Arkwright was robbing brochure design companies of a few quid. Our entire raison d'être in 2001 seemed to be to support the rock band the Darkness in any way we possibly could.
Tango: 'Man pop'
Tango weren't convinced that the answer to their advertising needs was Justin Hawkins freestyling as a Tango delivery man. After seeing these spec ads that also feature the Arkwright van, they were sadly even less convinced.
Church Radio: 'Allo baby'
For some reason we felt the way to promote church over Christmas 2001 was to play these ads. The RACC who vetted all ads prior to transmission asked us if a client had actually commissioned these. A compliment. Created for the Churches' Advertising Network.
Church ad: 'Copyright'
Basically, it's not Christmas without a trip to church. We suggested that only such a Christmas as this is worthy of the © symbol. Created for the Churches' Advertising Network with Trevor Webb. Martin Casson and Nick Drummond.