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Rock the Boat, Creative Agency, Bournemouth University

6 min, 16 sec read
9:45 AM | 19 February 2016
by Adam Oldfield
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Rock the Boat is a creative partnership of four aspiring advertisers, each fulfilling different agency roles. Formed as part of a final year advertising project at Bournemouth University, Rock the Boat hope to make waves with high-energy creative communications.

The crack team is made up of Annabel Laity (Media planning), Samuel Jones (Insight), Callam Atwal (Client Relations) and Chris Shearer (Creative).

Briefly describe your path to university

Annabel: I come from a small town on the South East Coast, and attended the same small school from the age of three to eighteen; I always knew that university was something I definitely had to do. As the second youngest of 5 children, I had watched my three older siblings all go off to university, and this gave me the ambition and drive to go achieve what they had done.

"I saw university as another playground that I wanted to explore."

Samuel: At school I thrived off familiarity and comfort - I didn’t have to try. I wandered into university with a naive desire for more of the same. The reality was very different, but I resolved to persevere and adapt. Bournemouth University has given me a solid grounding in the pace and process of the real world. The stakes are higher and the mentors are less forgiving. I have learnt how to humbly welcome praise and consider, as well as learn from, criticism. University is a far cry from school and if I’m to succeed in advertising, that’s a bloody good thing.

Callam: My creative desire has always led me in different directions in the past. From designing and running my own clothing range at the age of 13, to overseeing set design at the local theatre; I have never been too far away from a creative playground. I saw university as another playground that I wanted to explore. Whilst I always knew that I wanted the challenge of studying towards a degree, it was a choice of where rather than if, and after deciding to leave the big smoke, I found myself down on the south coast in Bournemouth.

"Challenging situations motivate me, shunning the norm and standing out is one of the reasons I chose to indulge in university."

Chris: Since drama in secondary school I always strived to stand out. Challenging situations motivate me, shunning the norm and standing out is one of the reasons I chose to indulge in university. It is a pleasure to be part of something that we are so lucky to have in this country and a privilege to study within such a prolific education system.

Why in particular did you want to study advertising?

Annabel: The honest answer is, I didn’t. I originally joined University on an entirely different course. My natural ability to understand both the theory and practical elements behind Physical Education led me to an Exercise Science degree. It wasn’t until the end of first year whilst helping a flatmate revise for her advertising exams, that I realised I actually quite enjoyed it. I was unaware of any strategy involved, I thought you had to be able to draw; something I now know was a very misguided belief!

Samuel: Being able to captivate people is as close to a superpower as I’ll ever get without the influence of radioactive waste or genetically engineered insects. Advertising is a bit like theatre, except brands are the actors, and the world (or even universe – see Red Bull’s space jump) is the stage. There is such vast scope and the funding to make truly extraordinary ideas into a reality.

"Being able to captivate people is as close to a superpower as I’ll ever get without the influence of radioactive waste..."

Callam: If I were to say that I found advertising, I would be lying. I mean of course, we live in a world where it's near impossible to ignore it, but the way in which it was magnified to me was somewhat crazy! For work experience I found myself working for two companies at opposite ends of the spectrum. One was a marketing communications agency that had a roster of tech and data heavy clients, and the other was Europe's largest creative advertising agency, where I had the pleasure of completing their summer school programme. The time that I spent there was a clear eye opener to the grand scale of campaigns and the complexities of the creative process. I guess the visits to various production houses and a trip to Facebook's HQ was just the icing on the cake.

Chris: Advertising is a fine art, the ability to create emotion through such a short piece of film or print is something that some of the best artists strive for. Advertising is for the brave and bold, it is something whereby the abstract is considered wonderful, simplicity is adored. There is a thin line between failure and success, the industry excites me how one day you can be called a genius, the next day you are on the verge or catastrophe. Who wouldn’t want to be part of this crazy environment?

How did you guys come to be a creative partnership?

Our partnership as Rock the Boat came about through networking on the course. Rather than relying on existing friendships, we reached out for group members based on our own strengths and weaknesses. We’ve discovered that forming an agency from three guys and a girl is the secret to harmonious team dynamics. Well, it could be, we’re not too sure whether it’s that or our shared love of 90’s disco music. Either way, we have stumbled across a combination that truly works.

What do you want to achieve with your agency?

We want to prove that a calculated creative risk is worth the reward. We’re bored of playing it safe, because safe doesn’t sell anymore. We want people to see Rock the Boat as an agency that makes waves with bold work that stands apart from other clutter. And looking beyond that? Well, we don’t want to tempt fate.

What’s the best work you guys have been part of?

As a newly formed team we are just beginning our collective endeavours. Between us, we have placement experience across Leo Burnett, VCCP and Ogilvy, to name a few. Our agency and its visual identity is an achievement in itself, we’re pretty proud of our brand.

Tell us your best joke?

QR codes. Ha ha ha.

If you could each share a desk with anyone from the past, present or future, who would it be?

Annabel: Jesus. I have many questions and it would be pretty cool to see him in person.

Samuel: My grandfather, Ron King. As an artist, and a human being, he taught me the importance of taking risks, thinking bold and standing for great ideas.

"Jesus. I have many questions and it would be pretty cool to see him in person."

Callam: Virgil Abloh. He is the Creative director at Donda, and has managed to cement his position within both the fashion and design world by consistently innovating and pushing creative boundaries. His distinctive imagery used within the Off White brand has been recognised globally and has been a clear influence to the way in which design can be manipulated to serve a greater purpose than just aesthetically pleasing the masses.

Chris: David Jason. A true comedic legend and just having him in the vicinity would brighten up my day.

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