Behind the Cover: Thinkerbell takes on diversity cover

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 12 July 2019

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The creative contingent of adland is the beating heart of the industry. To fully embrace this, and with a mission to create awesome and inspiring covers, each month AdNews hand-picks an agency to work its magic.

To reflect this issue’s feature that looks at diversity we reached out to Australian hot shop Thinkerbell.

AdNews editorial consultant Pippa Chambers spoke with the thinkers and tinkers to find out more about the process of creating the cover.

What were your initial thoughts on the diversity brief at hand?
Our first thoughts were what an honour to do a cover on the most fundamental issue facing the marketing industry. Our second thought was everyone knows diversity is a good thing, and we are all on the journey towards it. However, part of the journey is uncomfortable for some and we thought this was an interesting point of tension to explore.

Post first brief chat, what went through your minds and what were the next steps you took as a team?
We wanted something that would add to the conversation. Something people could remark on, and explore. Our first two attempts at it were too wholesome and nice.

The cold fact is that currently there are too many white blokes holding the relatively few leadership positions in Australia. For that to change it will mean a large number of them, and people like them won’t be as relatively popular until we course correct. And we need to correct the imbalance. This is what we briefed to a core team of three (a thinker and two tinkers). This was the first idea we saw, and it felt instantly right. Instantly this is what we wanted to say.

It wasn’t long until someone brought up ‘Never Before Barbie’ from Clemenger BBDO. We think the existence of this idea just makes the AdNews cover even stronger. With all these amazing new Leadership Barbies there’s going to be less seats on the leadership bus for ‘Adman’.


The July cover

The one idea to rule them all – how did you know you’d landed on the best concept?
We wanted to say it with humour and a bit of a twist. It’s clear, and (we think) clever. Another idea of just focusing on a loaf of white bread going mouldy was also considered for a short period of time, but we think this gets the message across more clearly.

Who was involved and what were their roles?
The team briefed was Madi, Andre and Elsa. The idea was largely Elsa’s with other people contributing to it. Adrian Lander shot it for us and one of our designer tinkers, Marcus, tackled the retouching.

What were the biggest hurdles?
The biggest hurdle is making sure we are neither ‘man bashing’, nor are we trying to say ‘poor men’. It’s meant to be an objective commentary on the shifting sands of the industry as we strive towards diversity. The ‘excess stock’ sticker is particularly important as it’s meant to communicate that the reason male leaders are going cheap isn’t that they are not as good as female leaders, it’s just that there are relatively still too many of them.

Tell us about the actual creation techniques.
We found a little toy man, shot him and photoshopped the bejezzus out of it. The dark lighting is meant to communicate a toyshop after hours – little guy sad on the shelf.

Did anything keep you up at night?
Getting the balance right, as expressed above, was the hardest bit.

Best bit about the process?
Seeing the idea emerge from Elsa’s head.

Elsa Caruso – Creative Tinker
Andre Pinheiro – Creative Tinker
Madi McConnachie – Media Thinker
Ben Couzens – Chief Creative Tinker
Adrian Lander – Photographer
Marcus Byrne – Designer/Retoucher
Adam Ferrier – Chief Thinker
Margie Reid – Managing Partner

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