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Ben Priest, founding partner and executive creative director at Adam & Eve/DDB, quietly surprised the industry this year with his agency's accomplishments on the awards circuit. The shop's holiday campaign for Harvey Nichols, "Sorry I Spent It on Myself," took home four Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, helping it earn the title of Agency of the Year.
Mr. Priest's career spans 25 years at shops such as Ogilvy & Mather, CDP, Lowe Howard-Spink, TBWA and Rainey Kelly. In 2008, he teamed in 2008 with James Murphy, David Golding and Jon Forsyth to open Adam & Eve, which sold to Omnicom in 2012 and became Adam & Eve/DDB.
Despite his creative success with clients ranging from Harvey Nichols to John Lewis, to Save the Children and Wrangler, Mr. Priest is not one to boast. "I've made the best of a modest talent," he insisted. "I was lucky I started doing creative direction; it comes easier to me than writing."
But that's not the only thing that comes easy to him, as you'll find out in this week's installment of Six Things.
1. He lives in the middle of nowhere. Really. In a house between two woods in West Sussex, an hour and a half away from work. It's where he grew up, so he's surrounded by friends from primary school. "During the week I work at 100 mph. At home no one cares what I do and no one talks about advertising. I live with real people who go to the shops and drink tap water. It's a contrast I really enjoy."
2. He started as an account man, but he knew after one week at Ogilvy & Mather he knew that he was in the wrong job. When he finally quit, his colleagues sent him a photo of a potted plant they had placed on his desk, followed by a letter a few months later saying that the potted plant had been 50% more productive than he had. Mr. Priest spent six months putting together a portfolio, and then got rehired as a copywriter by the same agency.
3. His dad was the client at Volkswagen -- now one of Adam & Eve/DDB's biggest accounts. the elder Mr. Priest left VW to join Mazda when Ben was eight, but the house was always full of creative people, and he got work experience in different agencies every summer for years.
4. He cannot put headphones in without checking that the left is in the left ear and the right is in the right. He knows it makes no difference to the sound. He's tried to be more relaxed and random but he can't. Sometimes he tries to rush himself by putting them in quickly, but it's never worked yet.
5. He makes a mean crumble. Rhubarb, apple, plum, pear. You name it, if it grows in his garden he can turn it into a great crumble, served with homemade custard.
6. He has the world's best collection of interesting colored trousers: peach, sky blue, pink, mint green. In the summer, his lower half is colorful and difficult to ignore.
Contributing: Alexandra Jardine