Cannes Lions

Creatives You Should Know: Tim Vance & Paul Knott, Adam&Eve/DDB London

Creative Directors Are the Masterminds Behind Honda's 'The Other Side'

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Paul Knott, Tim Vance
Paul Knott, Tim Vance

Creative Directors Tim Vance (right) and Paul Knott were seven months into a new gig at Wieden & Kennedy London when they arrived at an idea that went on to become one of the most talked-about Cannes contenders: Honda's "The Other Side."

The deceptively simple interactive film allows viewers to toggle back and forth between two parallel storylines -- an easygoing tale of a reliable dad and a more sinister one about an undercover cop -- simply by pressing the "R" key on their keyboards.

The project's brief had been to showcase the racing heritage of the Honda brand, specifically tied to the launch of the new Civic Type R model. After three months in play, the pair got called in "at the eleventh hour," said Mr. Knott. After working on it for a couple days, "at one point, Tim suggested, what if you did something when you type 'R'?"

Despite coming up with the initial idea, the pair attributes the success of the campaign to the entire team, giving props to creative technologist Jim Hunt, who was able to turn around a prototype of the idea within 24 hours after they conceived it.

As for the double story, initially they had talked about "a guy driving through suburbia, and he would go to a race course, but there wasn't really any jeopardy in that," Mr. Knott said. In creating the dark, crime-filled world, "the idea was to add a bit of intrigue and move it toward being more a piece of content."

One of the most interesting curveballs on the job was also the fact that the car hadn't even existed when they shot the campaign. "We tricked out a regular red Civic by augmenting it with 3D-printed parts, secured in places by duct tape," Mr. Knott explained. It was meant to provide a lighting reference from the effects team at the Mill, who created an entirely CG car for the final film.

The campaign had nearly wrapped when Adam&Eve/DDB tapped them as creative directors on Sony and Google. Recently they oversaw a campaign that allowed viewers to search for the Loch Ness monster on Google maps and a Google film for the Mobile World Congress.

The Honda campaign and their current job reflect the pair's passion for technology. South African native Mr. Knott, a copywriter, 39, and the U.K.-born art director Mr. Vance, 37, originally paired up nearly 10 years ago at LBi London and then went on to become one of the first digital teams to join AMV BBDO, where they worked on campaigns for Mercedes, Guinness, Doritos ("Dip Desperado," "King of Ads") and The Economist ("Thinking Spaces").

In their current gig, they're hoping to remain close to the work but currently spend about 80% of the time running their accounts and steering teams. Recently they oversaw a campaign that allowed viewers to search for the Loch Ness monster on Google maps and a Google film for the Mobile World Congress.

As for their thoughts on leadership, they believe it's about balance. Although you need to push your team to create the good work, "you've got to be fair," said Mr. Vance. "I think people can sometimes be too harsh, not nurturing enough to juniors. There aren't enough people doing that. You have to be as honest and caring as possible."

See more of the 2015 Creatives You Should Know.

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