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Stewarts Have It - A Blast from the Past.



Let’s be honest. The new boss at BPA, replacing my Dad, was not convinced that I should be there. Nepotism was my door into the job, and there was no denying it. The matching surnames and me calling him Dad was the giveaway.

So I had something to prove.

We were pitching to Stewarts Supermarkets on Friday. The biggest account in Northern Ireland. It was Monday. We hadn’t got a campaign. We had a name for the butchery department, and the fruit and veg, but a campaign idea had eluded us. The brief was simple, Stewarts had a wider range than anyone else. Sell that as the reason to get people into the store, more choice.

I sat at my desk in 13 College Gardens and doodled. Thinking. Wondering. Drawing faces badly, writing the same band names that I doodled at school in classes. I wrote – “Stewarts for One Stop Shopping”. Boring. Everyone else would have that.

Then is wrote another line.

“Stewarts Have It”

I stopped and thought. Does that work? If you’re looking for cheese, Stewarts Have It. If you want the best value, Stewarts Have It. I doodled some more and realised that I was getting quite excited.

I headed down the three flights to the Boardroom where the new boss was set up. I went in.

“I have an idea”He looked up.“Stewarts for One Stop Shopping”He thought.“But I don’t really like it, it’s too obvious.” I continued. “So I had this other idea.” I was nervous. I still get nervous presenting a new idea. What if it was terrible. It seemed to be too simple.“Well, what is it?” he asked.“Stewarts Have It!”.He looked up. I started to rationale it.

He reached across to the buttons on the white intercom system.“Dave, John, can you come down here!” They were the creatives, the designers, the ones that made ideas come to life.

They arrived in.“Tim has had an idea. Tell them”“Stewarts Have It – The best range of vegetables, Stewarts Have It. That sort of thing.”

Then it happened. It doesn’t happen often in an advertising career, but everyone started writing lines. Creating images.

Cheeses of all descriptions made into a smiling face, with the line below it. Say Cheese, Stewarts Have It.

We worked all night. Hand-drawn visuals. More lines.The next day David wrote a jingle. The guys were designing ads. TV Scripts were written and storyboards artworked. John’s ability to sketch was put to 24-hour use.We booked time in Charlotte’s for Colour, the colour copying shop, that all the agencies used.The pitch was at 11 am on a Friday. We picked up the creative presentation books at 10.45, and then broke every speed limit on the way to the Castlereagh Road. David and the media team had already arrived. We were late. David was singing the jingle when we walked in at 11.15. The pitch proceeded. The Stewarts people were engaged, enthralled, and somewhat entertained by the managing director of an ad agency putting on the Ritz.

We won.

We got the call. A £1,000,000 account. The team had taken a line all the way to a win. Stewarts did Have It for the next two years. And I had made a mark that was not there just because I called the old boss Dad. The business lesson? Simple works. There is often a feeling that complicated is automatically better, but creativity is the art of clarity. The downside, there is little recognition for simplicity. Stewarts Have It – sure anyone could have written that. Yes, but they didn’t and we won.

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