Creative Profile: Marc Allenby talks art, fashion, self-belief and how we can all be inspiring leaders

Creative Profile: Marc Allenby talks art, fashion, self-belief and how we can all be inspiring leaders

In this new feature, Creative Moment showcases creative talent from across the industry.

We talk to new, young, up-and-coming talent, as well as established creatives who have a great story to tell, how they got to where they are today, and advice they might like to offer those starting out in the industry.

It's a chance to show off some of the outstanding thinkers, creators and makers who are shaping the creative industry of the future.

My Story

My Story

Marc Allenby, executive creative director, Chime Group

When I was a kid at school my best art classes, were in fact my maths classes! I used to look out of the window and daydream; forever sketching. These maths books eventually became my ticket out of Grimsby and into art college!

I’ve always done things my own way, gone with my heart, instinct and I guess the most important thing; I always believed in myself and worked bloody hard for everything. When those idiots at school told me I should perhaps look to work in a fish factory (and yes, I did my time in one on a few occasions as a student), I knew I had to do it my own way.

I actually started off in fashion. I loved it.

Making something from scratch; from 2D into 3D was pretty cool. Understanding the cut of the fabric, and the skills of putting it all together. One of my greatest buzzes was that of seeing a bunch of models strutting down the runway at London Fashion Week wearing my designs! I loved fashion, but, I soon realized the industry wasn’t for me; it was too cold and full of drama.

Luckily for me, a housemate was working at a creative lab in Islington and there was a job going as a junior designer.

He got me an interview and the rest was history.

My journey started at this point; working with a bunch of brilliant young minds, experimenting in this exciting new medium of digital interactivity, deep in a basement in Highbury.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing. I had many downs as well as ups. There were the recessions: no money, no work. In fact, I spent a few months working as a porter in a hospital to make ends meet. While it wasn’t what I expected to be doing, it was a valuable experience and one I’ll always remember. It taught me to never take anything for granted.

I’ve had quite a squiggly career and have worked across many of the creative disciplines, from digital to branding.

When I fell into ad land, initially as a designer but soon evolved into a ‘creative’, I knew I had found my calling.

I loved it and I excelled in this environment. It was full of some of the most incredible characters. It was glam, the offices were beyond cool and the creative opportunities it gave me were simply priceless.

Thanks to work, I’ve travelled the world, been in unimaginable situations, experienced incredible things and collaborated with the most incredible people. I have had the pleasure of creating big ideas and advertising campaigns for some of the world’s best-loved brands across all channels and mediums; from broadcast to digital, social to PR at some of the best creative agencies. I am forever humbled by this.

My role today is pretty amazing.

I am executive creative director, heading up the creative vision and direction for the tech specialist marketing and PR agency; Harvard – with a mission to help tech brands make their move. I also sit on the board (if only those idiots at school could see me now!). I love the freedom the agency has given me. I have grown so much and I am pretty amazed at how I have created a whole department from scratch; it’s amazing what we are all capable of if given the chance and more importantly believed in.

This year is going to be another transformational year with a new brand design proposition. It’s so exciting to be driving growth and pushing creativity even more within this sector (watch this space!).

What is the best advice you have ever been given, advice that you would give to others, and words you live by!

Advice I was given: We are all inspiring leaders. Be your true, brilliant self.

Advice I would give to others: We all have our own values, uniqueness, quirks, diverse and individual personas. We have different and eclectic mindsets. Use these to empower and influence everything and everyone around you.

Words I live by: Listen to your instincts, and treat people how you want to be treated.

Out of all the campaigns you have worked on, which one stands out as the most memorable and why?

There have been many moments.

One is walking into HMV and seeing my artwork on a vinyl, being part of the brand team who re-imagined McDonald’s, and the pioneering work we are currently creating for both Meta and Yoox Net-a-Porter.

But I guess the piece I will always hold close to my heart, is my first TV ad.

A fully integrated campaign me, and my then creative partner Nadia, created for the launch of the 4+ customer care package from Renault at Publicis London. Rather than creating a heavy-handed campaign toting the package’s benefits, the creative idea tapped into an emotional truth: a lot can happen in four years. The fully integrated campaign consisted of two TV spots entitled ‘Fate’ and ‘The Kid’, OOH, press, radio and social activations. Directed by Pete Riski through Rattling Stick. Now 10 years old, the spots stand up well, even now.

What piece of creative work, that you didn't create yourself, blows your mind?

The iconic ads of the past; Levi’s ‘Laundrette’, Honda ‘The Cog’, Guinness ‘Surfer’, Sony Bravia ‘Bouncy Balls’ and ‘Paint’; when ads, really were ads…

Right now, the stuff which always makes me creatively envious, is the 'tech for good' projects Google create. Tech really does transform everything we do, and the Google ‘Project Euphonia’ is a brilliant example of this.

Right now, what's the best/most exciting thing about the creative industry?

Creativity is a wonderful thing.

It allows us to change the way we view the world – and to think that little bit differently – so we can broaden our horizons, enrich our lives and solve problems great and small.

I really feel that right now anything is possible.

We have seen massive amounts of change to our everyday lives these last 2 years. For me, this has signified a massive change of mind from so many parts of life; both individually and as a society. It's liberating, freeing and empowering.

Creativity can and should always push this narrative, so right now I think that the best thing is that there are no rules or set way of doing things. I encourage anyone reading this to drive the change of new!

If you weren't in the creative industry, what would you be doing and why?

Definitely an airline pilot (if I had the right kind of brain), a train driver a close second! I love travelling and, my goodness, I’ve missed it these last two years!

Best strapline of all time?

Apple's 'Think different.' 

It’s timeless, iconic and beautifully personifies everything 'Apple'.

What advice would you give others wanting to make the move towards a career in the creative industry?

Don’t follow. 

Create your own path, do things differently and be creative in how you do it. Use it to your advantage! 

Creativity is one of life’s greatest gifts.

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