Tom Harman is an award-winning Creative Director at TMW who specialises in direct and digital advertising. Alongside his partner-in-crime Mr George Bell Esquire, they have run a decade-long spree of notching up industry awards, including Campaign Big, Revolution and DMA accolades.
What was your first ever job?
My first job was as a Saturday Library Assistant. I got paid to sssssssssshhh people and put books back in their rightful place. I’m now a book-geek with OCD.
What got you into advertising?
I didn’t have a grand plan or anything. It started when I popped into the careers library at uni. In those days, they arranged careers by A to Z in these whopping great big box files. So I picked up the A file and started flicking through the pages… ACCOUNTANCY. Nah. ACTOR. Meh. ADVERTISING. Hmmm, looks interesting. And that was it. The chance to be creative every day was all I was after.
How did you clinch your first job?
It was a long and slow process which involved lots of poorly paid placements at ad agencies around London. It took over a year before we impressed on placement at TEQUILA. I remember the day the executive creative director called us into his office. He was dressed all in black and had this huge axe on his wall. I admit it didn’t look good, but he took a gamble on us and offered full-time employment.
How do you feel about the traditional copywriter/art director relationship?
The lines are more blurred now. I’m a writer but that doesn’t stop me thinking visually. The best creative partnerships are the ones which are flexible enough to allow people to do both. I still recommend to students that they pursue a particular discipline, but these days you need to be a hybrid thinker with a curiosity about everything going on, especially in terms of tech solutions and new media opportunities.
Would you recommend young copywriters find a creative partner?
Hell yes. It’s much more fun working in a team.
What's your favourite advertising tag line?
Eeerugh, I hate this question. At the moment I like the Aussie shampoo line: ‘There’s more to life than hair but it’s a good place to start’. Most tag lines are short and snappy, but this one’s more unconventional.
What are your thoughts on long copy?
Long copy is dead! Long live long copy!! Everyone talks about long copy being irrelevant in the digital age, but that’s a myth. As long as stories need to be told, long copy will always have a part to play.
Take us through a day in the life of a Creative Director.
Check emails. Meeting. Meeting. Meeting. Squeeze in some work before next meeting. Penultimate meeting. One last meeting. Home.
What inspires you to make brilliant work?
Failure. If your work ever feels like it could massively fail, then it’s more than likely to be original and game-changing.
If you could share a desk with anyone, who would it be?
My art director George. He puts up with all my bad habits.
What advice do you have for aspiring copywriters?
Writing is rewriting.
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