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5 minutes with... Neil Harvey - Group Brand

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Tell us what you do for a living and who you work for?
Executive Creative Director at Group Brand

What does that involve?
A mixed bag really. We work with clients large and small to help solve business, marketing and communication challenges. I'd like to think that we're part of the strategy as well as delivering compelling and creative digital work at the end of the process. It's always good to feel like you've had a hand in the concept design from a commercial sense to then be rewarded with bringing it to life and measuring the results. Lovely.

How did you get started in the industry?
Well when I realised that the boy band idea was a non starter, and that my degree from Falmouth Art School was more likely the key to a good career, I applied to my very first London job from an ad in the back of Campaign. Park HR now known as Work Communications had me sat in front of Vodafone with a pile of foam board within my first six months... scary but I've loved pitches ever since.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing that?
Did I mention the boy band? Yeah, well not that... I think I would've ended up doing some form of acting or theatre job, supported by working part time in a bike shop. Cycling is a big part of my life and few people ever experience the excitement of tinkering with a 'cold forged aluminum brake caliper'... Still do the odd theatre production every now and then... hence the picture.

What's your all-time favourite piece of creative work?
Tricky one. Once the 'visual coincidence' years had passed (loved those rugby sponsorship Guinness ads by AMV BBDO' c2000), my taste in good design and communications went from the visual, to the experiential or 'the stunt' as it's often called. So I guess I'd go for the 'Do not call/text Jason Donovan, that Virgin Mobile ran in 2005. Loved how social networking and online communities stirred up the media frenzy. I like a good story behind a piece of work and if it gets on the 6 o'clock news, then even better.

What do you love about your job?
Talking to clients and thinking on their behalf is the best bit. There's something so magical when a client chucks their pen down, leans back in their chair, and says to you 'that's exactly what we've been struggling with'. Its such fun to jump from one industry to another and still share the same thought process and back yourself that it'll work. The ideas business is more like a hobby than a job.

What do you hate about your job?
Time. There's never enough to do all what you'd love to do.

Tell us your favourite website
Facebook. When in my lifetime has something delivered a function and content that has become such a huge part of everyday life? (well maybe when I first became aware of the Radio Times as a kid... To see what was on telly in 3 days time was bloody witchcraft) But I guess saying Facebook is sad in a way, because the functionality and user experience has taken over from the aesthetics and the design. I'm seeing this more and more in what my clients want of a website too. (sigh)

If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?
Be 'user-friendly'. I was labelled that once as a criticism by a previous creative director. It was a dig at my 'non-aggressive, you will run that ad or I'll go mental' approach to account handlers. I think you have to pick your creative battles carefully. Not every ad will win a gong, but be consistent and fair with your approach and one day you will.

Where can people follow you online?
Follow us on Twitter: @groupbrand
Follow me on Twitter: @ndharvey
LinkedIn: /ndharvey
Visit company's website

Article written by Andy Saunders, Marketing Manager, Creativepool

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