Hi Nick. I know you’ve got more hats than Mr Benn but thanks for taking the time to answer some questions on you, social, creativity and whatever else we throw at you.
For those not in the know, Nick Entwistle is a creative polymath. Still shy of his 30th, he’s held down agency Creative Directorships, helped get the NHS Choir to number one (beating Bieber in the process) with the #LoveYourNHS campaign, as well as thrown his weight behind dozens of charity causes. Any more awards, and his mantelpiece’s going to have to extend to the length of the great Wall of China.
He also runs the hilarious @AgencyQuotes and highly influential One Minute Briefs – a creative playground for nearly FIFTEEN THOUSAND followers that get involved with a daily brief and ‘compete’, sometimes for fun, sometimes for prizes, and sometimes for brands and amazing causes.
First question: Was your creativity nurtured at school, or did it come later? What did you want to be?
I have always been creative from a very young age and enjoyed art & design. Although I was always better academically. This continued in secondary school as I was pushed down a more academic route and selected as part of the gifted & talented group that were sent on trips to Cambridge University etc. However, the tutors would find me playing football in the back playground instead of going to the meetings! I took Graphics, PE and Art as 3 of my 4 optional subjects. Against some of the advice of my tutors. But I loved playing sport and I loved being creative so why not.
I ended up getting good grades in my GCSE’s across all subjects and I was advised to go on to do my A-Levels in academic subjects. And, my work experience was at an architect’s company. This was something that interested me at the time, and as part of the experience I went to help survey the building work they had designed at Bonis Hall (home of McCann Manchester). So, I was looking at this amazing structure set beside a country hall and swimming pool, but rather than looking at the glass, I was looking through it at all of the creative ads, scamps and work on the walls. It was then I realised I don’t want to do architecture. I wanted to go into advertising.
So, I went and enrolled on a Graphic Design BTEC course, to the shock and dismay of some of my tutors. I enjoyed the course and decided to move onto an advertising degree at the same college. One problem, they cut the course that year due to budget restrictions. I went onto the Graphic Design course instead. Luckily, they really pushed you to come up with ideas and there was plenty of chance to do advertising briefs whilst gaining valuable design, typography, film and animation skills. I would really recommend a course like this as a lot of advertising courses don’t teach you how to bring your ideas to life and are very set in their ways.
We were also pushed out of our comfort zone and encouraged to contact agencies around the world and show them our portfolios to gain real-world advice and do work placements. I did my first placement back at McCann. Some people I see leave their course after 3 years… and THEN go out to find portfolio crits. It’s too late. You will be left behind. Also, I teamed up with my previous creative partner James at uni and we worked on lots of award submissions and took on a lot of extra work. This was against advice from tutors in case we neglected our major project and at one point we had 9 projects on the go when we should only have been doing 2.
It was risky but I think doing this has really helped us adapt to the reality of a fast-paced industry. In fact, having 7 weeks on a brief is why One Minute Briefs was created. We were procrastinating and not actually doing anything for weeks before pulling something out of the bag last minute. James actually did his entire final major project on the night before the deadline. True story.
One of the placements we did led straight into a job at Driven and our career went on from there, with a return to McCann, before separate freelance stints. I then took on the role of Creative Director at Magnafi and brought James in as Senior Creative working on some great projects together.
I recently left Magnafi to take over the Creative Director role at Trunk as we are looking to become celebrated for amazing content as we grow the business.
A key concept I’ve heard used in schools today is ‘resilience’ as society, the world, and the way we all communicate is changing so rapidly for our young. What does resilience mean to you? What would you say to school pupils, sixth formers, graduates… thinking about entering the creative industries?
Have no fear with your ideas. Share them. If you think too much about it…you’ll get overtaken by those who are prepared to take risks to stand out. It’s important to have a brand to stand out from the thousands of students you be up against for the best jobs. Rather than being called Nick Entwistle on social, I am the Bank of Creativity and started Agency Quotes with Vikki Ross, as well as One Minute Briefs. This has no doubt helped me get noticed in the creative industry. The portfolio of work has to match but it’s important to get yourself out there and get that portfolio seen. No point having great work if no-one sees it. The word ‘resilience’ is important. Creative Directors will give great advice. Some of it won’t be nice as they might tear apart your hard work. But it will be worth it, to improve your portfolio and help you understand the standard your work needs to be at to make a difference in the industry. The people who let things like this affect them won’t make it in the industry. It’s important to pick yourself up and move on with even bigger and better work. I’d also say work harder than you already do. If you think you’re too busy. You’re not.
Also, don’t ignore people’s advice. Take it on board and let it help inform your decisions. Stand up for what you think is best for you and your career.
What does social media mean to you, & how important a platform is Twitter for creatives, brands & businesses in your eyes?
It’s a place where creatives should be. I was at D&AD New Blood recently and I was absolutely astounded that a lot of the graduates weren’t on Twitter. It is the perfect place for research, keeping on top of current trends, networking and making yourself known within the industry. Instagram is no good to a creative unless you’re an artist. It’s a place where people and topics can be instantly connected in conversation which makes it the perfect place for brands too. One Minute Briefs is a place where creatives are connected with these trends, topics and brands and it has grown from strength to strength as a result. Not other platform can match that.
What’s the biggest benefit you’ve delivered to a brand directly or indirectly through OMB? Do you look at the metrics?
The analytics of One Minute Briefs daily takeovers show big engagement levels. Although they don’t always show the bigger picture of just how massive the reach is every day. This is because the followers are tweeting us too. So if we receive 100 entries from people with an average amount of followers of 250 each. That’s 250k potential reach straight away. All of which are shared with our 15k followers. That’s 1.5 million potential on top. And when our followers start retweeting…the potential reach is endless. This huge reach was best shown when we were the social catalyst for the campaign that helped the NHS reach Christmas Number 1. Taking the NHS from outsiders to the top very quickly.
Favourite OMB brief?
My favourite brief was one I didn’t actually set. And, I feel it shows the power and amazing sense of community that OMB has.
In 2015, at the age of 26 I had a heart attack. I was in hospital for a couple of weeks and as news filtered out of what happened I received many kind messages. But on Monday morning, one of the followers set the brief with the hashtag #GetWellSoonNick and the brief continued from there. Not only did this show how amazing Twitter and the OMBLES can be, but it made me feel so much better and no doubt helped me with my recovery.
The OMBles are a fiercely loyal, proud, helpful and talented community. What would say to any brand trying to build something so positive?
Stick to your values. Don’t go into something to make money. Do something that will make a difference or that is different. And try new things. Some may work, some may fail but if you get it right, the rewards will come.
The way you live on social seems utterly organic, but it’s obviously a lot of hard work, and you’ve achieved a lot. Do you consider yourself an influencer?
I don’t consider myself as an influencer, however it is great to be able to host talks, events and run a social media community that is helping to improve people’s lives and careers. It’s something that is really rewarding and if people feel I influence that then brilliant. But it is just a platform for others to be able to exert their own influence. And, as a collective, we can all achieve great things. It is a lot of hard work and takes up a lot of my time. However, it’s worth it to meet such amazing creative people and brings with it some incredible opportunities.
Do you think training for advertising should still fall into distinct AD/Copywriter roles, or (as proved on OMB) a more creative ‘hybrid’ model, where you can do both?
Coming from a design background, I am able to sell my ideas in quickly by mocking them up as well as using copywriting to communicate ideas. I think it’s good to have a reasonable level in both but it isn’t vital. Idea is king and if you can come up with great ones, there are plenty of people out there who can help you realise them.
One of this year’s Cannes Lions topics was diversity. OMB has amazing female creatives contributing every day, and you’ve worked with Creative Equals on a brief that saw an outpouring of ideas. What would you say to female student creatives, and the male leaders at the top of the tree? What would you change, right now?
This is a topic I want to work with Creative Equals with a lot more. I have a lot of thoughts on this subject as well as stats on the involvement and interaction with OMB from the female community. I believe in equal opportunities and pay and I want to help females gain the confidence to achieve this and get more women to the top of the industry. Again, ideas are the main thing here. They have no gender or race. Great ideas will always win and get you to the top. It’s important for us all as an industry to give everyone the belief that they can achieve great things no matter who they are.
There’s a hell of a lot of talk around ‘digital disruption’; tech is influencing business, ushering in big change but do you think the OMB model could be (is?) as disruptive to the advertising industry?
It is a very different model that gets mass reach quickly with lots of mentions for a brand. It is a much more effective way to get a huge spike in your social media interactions than working with a typical social media agency. So, although not intentionally disruptive, it probably is.
Offline, you seem to have a rudely healthy social life (football, music, gigs…) that’s balanced with online (Twitter accounts, publishing, training & industry talks, The Day Job…) … any tips on how to achieve a good work/life balance?
I wanted to get back into football for confidence and build back my fitness after being in hospital. I’ve always loved playing it too and I feel it’s important that you make time for things like this rather than working all the time. A few friends are musicians so I like to get involved with music videos and enjoy music myself too. I think combining what I do in my own time with social really helps. So they are not always separate. I also really enjoy what I do. I don’t see work as work and the social media I do is chatting and having a laugh with an amazing community. I get to write silly ideas and go and film them for a living so I feel that everyone as a creative should feel like there isn’t a work/life divide. If there is. Quit.
How key is working/living in Manchester to your creative ethos?
I’ve been lucky enough to have opportunities to go and work in Dubai, London and Australia, however I feel you can produce great work anywhere. And I am happy here in Manchester. There is a thriving creative community with lots of agencies in the local area.
The cost of living allows for a good quality of life which is important outside of your work and there is a relaxed lifestyle here that suits me. With social media, you can reach anywhere and I have the opportunity to visit a lot of places on shoots so I feel that Manchester is the perfect place for any creative. I also live 90 seconds from work.
What drives you every day? What fires you up in and out of work? Do you sleep?!
Ambition. Giving yourself a goal and not letting up until it’s done. Projects that make a difference to people’s lives and projects that are enjoyable and allow you to be creative are something that I motivate me. That’s why I feel people should move on if they ever feel demotivated because, as creatives, we need to have the desire to do something amazing to make things happen. The NHS campaign is an example of this. I spent all of my spare time trying to make it happen. My mates must have thought I was mad when I said the NHS will be Christmas Number 1 this year. But I believed. And it happened. And yes, I get my 8 hours. Usually.
On a lighter note, music on/off at work? What do you listen to?
RnB, Hip-Hop, House, DnB and Trap.
Lastly, what’s in the pipeline for OMB? Will there be more Father Critmas?
A new website will be coming soon. We are taking our annual event to London in November too. We’ll be doing more campaigns for great causes and giving our followers some great prizes. And yes, Father Critmas is returning, bigger and badder than ever.