The conception of ideas for B!RTH

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Lou Shipley is Creative Director at Havas Lynx and has 19 years’ experience as a creative copywriter in the advertising industry, having worked in several integrated agencies in both London and Manchester.

When the brief from the Royal Exchange landed in our creative department, the excitement was palpable. We’d been tasked with designing the promotional materials for a set of truly remarkable plays. And it was the subject matter of these plays that really struck a chord with everyone here at Havas Lynx. Everything we do is driven to bring about change in healthcare, raise new topics, find new initiatives to change lives and even change the way healthcare is viewed by both professionals and patients.

So no wonder the themes and topics of B!RTH really caught our attention. Not only will the plays open up interesting debates and raise serious issues, but they will also be recorded – with the intention of using them in debates and teaching long after the plays have finished. They will spark conversations with medical students. Provide learnings for healthcare professionals. And give people all over the world an opportunity to have their say on such important issues.

Thinking about healthcare on a global scale is something we do every day here at Havas Lynx, and to have the opportunity to play our own part in telling the world about these debates, well that was exciting. Very exciting. Especially as the plays are fascinating, disruptive, controversial…and basically contain all the ingredients for great creative work and a fruitful collaboration with The Royal Exchange.

After an initial meeting with the team from the Royal Exchange, we walked away feeling excited. Our Chief Creative Officer Tom Richards knew that most of our creatives would be falling over themselves to get involved. So he threw the initial brief out to all creatives in the building so that we could see a wide range of thinking. With big briefs, it’s always good to get lots of creative brains involved.

The raft of work and ideas we received back from all corners of the agency was astonishing. And Tom spent the best part of a day poring over everything in the creative department to evaluate the collective thinking. It was a huge job in itself because there was simply so much great thinking and a mountain of clever ideas.

After several more meetings, more crafting, more refining, the end result of the look and feel for each individual play was actually surprisingly simple. We wanted our audience to feel uncomfortable when they looked at the posters. Just like the plays themselves we wanted to provoke a reaction, stop people in their tracks, make people think. So the use of the exclamation mark disrupted the title of the play immediately. And then a very bold use of imagery within the title created a look and feel for each play. We paired the visuals with very simple copy to set the tone and a feel for each play. We just wanted to give a hint of the debate, and also raise the point of each issue being raised. That way our visuals could themselves be the starting point for a debate.

It really was a huge team effort within the agency, and it was a fantastic project to be a part of. Knowing that we had helped to raise such important issues, provoke a global debate and of course encourage people to visit Manchester’s much loved Royal Exchange Theatre, felt like a huge achievement and certainly something to be proud of.

After all, we know better than most people that to make progress, you have to challenge the status quo, right? Tackle subjects that no-one else will? It’s sometimes the only way to influence better outcomes for all.