Edge was asked to create a cover for the Autumn 2023 cover of AdNews magazine. Their brief? Bring to life the theme of 'commercial creativity'. As told to AdNews.
Thoughts on the brief?
We experience commerciality vs creativity every day at work. There is an unquestionable tension between creativity and commerce, but often things are best when the two are working in harmony. Tackling this brief involved quite a bit of self-reflection and expressing our thoughts about the way Adland works was at points even cathartic.
How did you know you landed on the best concept?
It was a close call between several ideas - some explored the theme in more nuanced or unexpected ways, but often it’s the simplest ones that work best. Collectively, this felt instantly relatable even without a headline. We’re all being squeezed - budgets and timelines are shrinking, and commercial pressures are getting tighter each day. We wanted to create something that grabbed people by the throat - and grabbing them by the brain was close enough.
Who from the team was largely involved?
The whole creative department and management team were involved in the collaboration and concepting phase. Once the concept was chosen, Creative Director - Ben Smith and Art Director - Callum Foot collaborated with Louis & Co Executive Producer – Louis Molines, Producer - Luke Della Santa, and Photographer - Steven Popovich to shoot a real brain, with James Lucas from Limehouse doing the retouching.
What were the biggest hurdles to making this a reality?
We wanted the image to look real and visceral but not unnecessarily gory. We explored CGI brains but were not convinced it would have the same impact. We took the risk of not knowing if a real brain would work.
Tell us about the shoot. Who shot this and how did it come together?
We were lucky to work with Louis & Co and photographer Steven Popovich. Steven was perfect - bringing his attention to craft and fashion background to somehow make the brain look fresh, graphic, and dare we say beautiful? Cow brains were the closest size to a human brain we could find, and Producer Luke Della Santa sourced three cows’ heads and arranged a butcher to cut the brains out (a first, even for the butcher). Everything was shot in-camera with James Lucas from Limehouse beautifully compositing and retouching the final imagery.
Biggest challenges with the whole process?
Getting a real brain to look instantly recognisable in-camera and getting the right amount of squeeze was a challenge. You would imagine brains to be perky and rubbery, however, in reality, it is sloppy and hard to manipulate. Our Creative Services manager, Jeri Raya-Maneze, had her hands full for 6 hours as we shot lamb’s brains (too small), then cow’s brains (too big). Eventually we deconstructed a cow’s brain and rebuilt it around a piece of foam, stitched together with metal wires. It was the perfect Goldilocks brain, and in this moment, Andy Parkes became Sydney’s first ‘brain stylist’.
Best bit about the process? any funny stories?
‘A vegan goes to the butcher asking for brains’ sounds like the start of a bad joke. Callum Foot, the token office vegan, did a test shoot with his poor girlfriend squeezing defrosted lamb brains in the shower. She was not happy. He’ll take her out for dinner to make up for it (probably somewhere vego).
Creative Agency: Edge
ECD: Ben Smith
Art Director: Callum Foot
Hero Hand Talent: Jeri Raya-Maneze
Production Agency: Louis & Co.
Executive Producer: Louis Molines
Producer: Luke Della Santa
Photographer: Steven Popovich
Finished Artist: James Lucas (Limehouse)