'I'm fully clothed when I answer briefs now' - Creative Q&A

PRWeek grills creative comms figures on how they got where they are, their career highlight, solving creative writer's block, and more. Today we speak to Lewis Davey, founder and creative director at Idea Farm.

'I'm fully clothed when I answer briefs now' - Creative Q&A

How did you get where you are now?

Frank PR was a pretty amazing place to kick off - I'm really grateful to Andrew (Bloch) and Graham (Goodkind), who I keep in touch with. Then a stint in sponsorship at Synergy (now Engine Sport), working on massive brands like Guinness, and MasterCard. I think Paddy Power was the making of me. Having so much creative freedom to get stuff out the door with the backing of people like Ken Robertson and Rory Scott. It was a dream job. At all these places I guess I carved a little niche for being handy for an idea or two. I moved out of London in 2018 because I was struggling with my mental health, and it was the best thing I ever done because it gave me the space to think about what I wanted to do next. I kept in touch with all the people I'd worked with and then I started getting the odd email for some white label support on ideas. It basically started answering the odd brief whilst sat in my boxers at home, but I quickly realised I could make a business out of this, so I set up Idea Farm. I'm fully clothed when I answer briefs now - most of the time.

What's been your creative career highlight?

I've got two. I'd been at Paddy Power a couple of weeks when the video of Wayne Rooney getting knocked out in his kitchen by his mate Phil Bardsley went viral. I got us to offer £50k for a charity boxing rematch and it landed front page of the Daily Star. I couldn't sleep when the editor emailed me to say we'd got the splash. Then I guess getting Meat Loaf to rebrand to 'Veg Loaf' to launch Frankie & Benny's new vegan menu. It came with lots of challenges, but it was pretty rock n' roll and the first big piece of work from Idea Farm. And it got another splash with the Star.

... and lowlight?

There was a big purpose-led idea on the table for an Australian bookmaker for the last Rugby World Cup in Japan. It was so close to sign-off I was nearly on the plane. I emotionally invest in some ideas far too much so the lows when things don't come off are sh*t. We might actually repurpose the idea for the Tokyo Olympics so if anyone's interested...

What's your favourite campaign of the past three months?

The best thing I've seen is the Canadian burger joint that renamed its menu items to stationary products so people could expense them. It was genius.

How do you solve creative writers block?

I have bi-polar disorder, which can be a blessing for churning out ideas when I'm feeling great, but I've definitely experienced the creative writers block when I'm not feeling it. Ideas tend to come in quick bursts, so I try and create lots of positive thoughts - looking back old work that did well, a great email from a journalist or client, that sort of thing. Creating a team culture of sharing random sh*t, a celeb story, a video doing the rounds - a lot of reactive ideas that don't get off the ground can inspire thinking at a later date.

How should PR grow its creative prowess?

Collaboration. Our white label work teaming up with other agencies is the best part of the job - challenging each other, sharing ideas with people from different backgrounds with different perspectives. Taking on lots of briefs from a diverse group of brands and sectors - the variety keeps us on our toes creatively. And reactive ideas: spotting an opportunity and having the b*lls to pitch it out of the blue. We've built a lot of new relationships this way.

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