Matty Burton and Dave Bowman got their first jobs in advertising together at TBWA, Sydney nearly 10 years ago. But now, after a creative marriage that's seen stops at Saatchi & Saatchi, Auckland and Droga5 in New York, the two are back in Australia, but not as they left.
Burton has traded in Droga5's Manhattan office for its Sydney operation and his most recent work is for Aussie beer brand VB Gold. Bowman landed in Oz as a creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi, Sydney, where the workload includes the shop's Toohey's beer brand work.
"Everywhere we've worked we've had booze accounts of some kind or other," says Burton. "Just by pure chance it all worked out this way. Honest."
While Bowman says the new working arrangement hasn't changed the two, Burton has other ideas. "On the outside it's still all high-fives and man-hugs," he says. "But underneath it's a burning river of hate."
For Toohey's, Bowman's led a beer relay around the world and exported carbs to America. The relay series of spots was the result of an online poll where users where asked to vote between three possible creative ideas. "We thought it would be funny," says Bowman of the relay films. "And as it turns out, it is still illegal to freeze a man in beer over here in Australia. So we were left with no choice but to run the world's coldest beer across the earth."
Burton and the folks at Droga5 enlisted the directing and comedic talents of Ric Cantor to adapt the popular "Sshhh" sketch from the BBC series Man Stroke Woman for VB Gold. "Nobby (CD David Nobay) had the DVD and we were watching it having a few VB's," says Burton, of how the idea came about. "Ric's a genius comedy director and if he wasn't onboard we would have done something else, but he thought the idea was really good. We worked with him quite a bit to make it relevant for Australia, just working with talent and finding the right kind of guy stereotypes."
Even though their work obviously hasn't suffered from their creative split, it's clear that Bowman and Burton's usual pub time has taken a hit. "Matty and I still drink Tooheys New -- or Tooheys New White Stag or Becks or any of the other fine stable of Lion Nathan brewed beers -- as we always have," says Bowman. "We occasionally cause a scene. Then we stumble about a bit. Then we order kebabs. Then we repeat the process the same time a few days later."
Burton, however, has a slightly different take. "Working on rivalry beers only affects our time in the pub due to the enormous workload," he says. "But that said, by the time we get to have an icy cold VB we don't talk shop, we just sit back and both enjoy the refreshing taste of the VB and marvel at how it quenches our thirst. It's really very moorish."
Asked to apply a beer tagline to their former workmate, each walks the fine line between sentiment and slander. Says Bowman of Burton, "5% smaller, 100% more genius."
While Burton opts for the tad more cryptic, "The beer former president Gerald Ford drinks when he goes to town."
The rivalry continues.