Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A Tale of Two Advertorials!

Okay, so there's loads of illustrations to be posted up, all of which i'll get around to adding, whether that be individually or as a massive round up of jobs.. it's been hectic here at McConkey studios for well over a month now, in fact at times it's been bordering on the ridiculous, on the other hand it's obviously great to have your services in demand.

I thought i'd post up these two advertorials to start with, just a recap for those who are not in the know as to what an advertorial is; an advertorial is an advertisement/promotional piece that runs in a publication, which promotes a client/product but is in keeping with any editorial feature that may run in the title.

It's a clever way of advertising, as it's more befitting the magazine it sits in, in reality this is brought about because the brand and the editorial team at the magazine work in conjunction to create the feature.

Which brings us to the illustrations above, this was an advertorial for Gillette Fusion Proglide Styler for  Empire magazine.

They came up with a clever way of advertising this beard trimmer, by creating a feature about beards in film, so I was given a list of film beard to draw; the General Zod, the Spartan, etc..

Now this should have been an extremely simple job for me, and for the most part it wasn't too much of a struggle, however there was a bit of a hurdle, in the sense that the portraits couldn't actually be of the actors who portrayed the characters, neither could they be 100% replicas of the characters from the films, so for instance our drawing of a Serpico style beard could not be a drawing of Al Pacino from Serpico... most of these ran smoothly apart from Gandalf/wizard beard.. you see every time I drew this it looked way, way too much like Sir Ian McKellan... which is probably down to how ingrained his performance is on my psyche, that I found it near impossible to shake off his representation of the character.

The middle set of illustrations shows my first drawing that moved away from looking too much like the actor, unfortunately to my eyes we lost some of the twinkly-eyed warmth that I associate with the character.. kind of looks like a hobo.. so I took another stab at it with the bottom set of drawings.. I think I got the warmth across, but unfortunately it's also on reflection a poorer drawing than the original, and it kind of breaks rank with the others in the series.

Not that there's any defense, but I think I was bit overworked at this point, so things didn't flow as naturally as they should have, anyway they ran the wizard from the middle set in the printed feature, which you can see with the top image... I just wish i'd have finished his hair on the right side, but as I didn't think this one was going to see print, It treated it as a rough.. still won't make that mistake again!

This was art directed by the lovely Jenna McRae, who was a treat to work with on this.

Now I've done my fair share of advertorials over the past few years, and I know from first hand experience they can on occasion be incredibly troublesome.

The main reasons being that not unlike a lot advertising work, there can be a lot of middlemen, also the suits at the top, haven't got a clue not only about what they want, but actually even about their brand.. to make things worse they expect you to yield to their every whim, regardless of how bloody stupid!

Which brings us to the drawings above, this was an advertorial feature for Nuts magazine for the DVD release of Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas.

Now I originally turned down this job, because I had too many jobs on and I also had a prior engagement for the weekend, however Si the Art Director of the mag talked me round, as he was able to move some of the deadlines around, so I could fit this in.

The original idea was that we'd draw a Christmas office party scene, with Harold and Kumar and Sean Patrick Harris (think that's his name, fella that played Doogie Howser MD!) and a robot that also appears in the film, the scene would also include some of the Nuts magazine's most well known models... brilliant I thought, sounds right up my street!

I was able to get my other commitments out of the way and sent off my rough (see top drawing) on a Tuesday or Wednesday, and awaited feedback.

On the Friday afternoon I got the all clear, at this point I did think things were running a little too smoothly, and I was proved correct, i've got a sixth sense when it comes to these things... actually that's a lie, in reality a lot of these advertising types are such a pain in the arse, that they've become predictable to me.

Last thing on Friday night I got an urgent email from the lovely Lizzie Hempshall who was overseeing this project on behalf of Nuts, and it turned out the suits at Warner Bros in the US had asked for some significant changes.

They wanted me to remove the likenesses of the actors who appear in the film, so with just the weekend to go (final artwork was due Monday) I was asked to draw generic men with the same ethnicity of the lead characters... I was also asked to remove the marijuana leaf from the tree.. despite there being references to the same thing in the DVD cover.. in effect we took away the very things that made this essentially Harold and Kumar!

Monday came around and I did just that (see second drawing) so that this was a kind of Harold and Kumar themed party drawing.

Then came more changes, now getting to the level of idiocy, I was to change the guy's hair bottom right to brown so he couldn't be confused with the Doogie Howser actor, which was an easy thing to do, then could I also change the person on the left to a blonde, at which point me, Lizzie and Barney the Art Editor are asking which person?

It transpires they want me to give the guy with the Oriental/Far Eastern features blonde hair (?!!) At this point, you've got to shrug your shoulders, as you get the feeling they are just asking for changes for the sake of it, the concept had moved away from the original brief almost completely, in fact it doesn't really make any sense.

I should point out this is not a reflection on Nuts, in fact far from it, as I believe everyone fought their corner on this, The Nuts team I believe wasn't too happy, because from an editorial point it had lost it's way, from my point of view I was sick of re-drawing and re-drawing for the sake of it, and poor Lizzie was stuck in the middle on this, as she had to deal with not only the magazine's concerns but with another two parties, one being a London based company (more middlemen!) and the suits at Warner Bros US, who let's face it have never probably seen a copy of Nuts magazine.

Wednesday came, and first thing in the morning I get an email from Lizzie asking me to phone her, it turns out the final alterations would be probably the stupidest; they wanted every male character's race/ethnicity swapping (see fourth drawing)

The guy with the Far Eastern features became a white man with brown hair, the Asian guy became a bearded ginger man (Scottish?!) and the white guy became a black man.... ridiculous, i'm not sure the suits at Warner Bros US could explain why or how they came to this decision.

Anyway, much to everyone's surprise they gave the greenlight to the final drawing and it went to print, see bottom picture.

I've actually seen this in print this morning, and I have mixed feelings about it, because I think it's actually a very nice clean drawing and it printed really well, it was just a case of it being compromised at every turn by "the suits"... Ha, I imagine these are the same kind of suits that are responsible for book jackets looking so bloody awful at the moment, you know what I mean they all use stock photography, and genre by genre they all look the same, hideous!

A lot of advertorials are super smooth (the Empire one for instance) but every so often you get one like this, anyway it's at this point I should use this space to thank Simon, Barney and Lizzie at Nuts who despite the involvement of the third parties, kept me sane and for the most part level-headed during this particularly tricky job.

Despite it not making too much sense, it's a nice drawing right?! (third one's best though methinks) plus I got to draw some of those gorgeous Nuts models... every cloud has a silver lining and all that!

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