'We need to charge more for ideas' - 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 Dan Lambden, creative director at Red Consultancy.

'We need to charge more for ideas' - Creative Q&A

How did you get where you are now?

I lied to my parents about wanting to be a teacher, so they would let me go to university. Neither of them had been to uni before and neither was keen on the prospect of me getting into so much debt. But I convinced them by making a PowerPoint plan of all my university options – including a full budget for the three years, based on my student loan and expected income working part-time at a Slug & Lettuce.

While at university in London, I used every opportunity to bunk off and gain work experience in the glitzy world of “media” that I had always fantasised about working in.

I did running for TV production companies, stuffing CDs for music PRs, DJing at greyhound racing tracks, being an extra in a music video... you name it, I tried it. All I knew is that I did not want to go back to my small village in Hampshire.

Thankfully, all that hard work paid off and I started on the BBC Creative Traineeship straight out of university. As that finished, I was invited to join Cake - where I spent my first week in PR managing photographers and media in a Staffordshire field at V Festival.

Since then, I have worked at Freuds, House PR, and then switched to a creative planner role at Red Consultancy. I have been there for over six years and have worked my way up to be its first creative director.

What's been your creative career highlight?

This past year has been the absolute hardest but also most rewarding of my career.

Seeing the PlayStation 5 take over at Oxford Circus go from a 'thought-starter' I presented on an A3 board in a pre-pitch chemistry meeting to the streets of London and then fly all over the media and internet was insane. There is nothing quite like that feeling. I still get butterflies every time I see a picture of it.

... and lowlight?

I have an idea which I love and have pitched three times. But no client has had the courage to sign it off. It combines a sex shop and food waste. That’s all I’ll say. I still have hope someone might buy it... (call me!)

What's your favourite campaign of the past three months (not one that you or your organisation were involved in) and why?

As a sustainability fanatic, I loved the ‘Mount Recyclemore’ sculpture of G7 leaders. It was culturally relevant, genuinely meaningful, and a brilliant story-led visual – a rare but perfect combo for a successful picture stunt.

How do you solve creative writer's block?

When I can’t see through the fog, I ground myself in the real world again. So, I play with my cats, Rizzo and Harley, or read old X-Men comics.

How should PR grow its creative prowess?

The PR industry still undermines its creative prowess and allows the big ad agency boys and girls to speak over us. We also need to charge more for ideas. That way we will be taken more seriously. We give them away too easily because we are people pleasers.

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