One of the most recent speakers to grace our PassTheSalt talk series was advertising creative, Walter Campbell. Whilst the name might not be familiar to most outside of advertising circles, dropping the titles of his work would conjure up instant memories.
With a film reel that’s won him more than 23 D&AD Pencils, including 3 Black, Walter is a rare species in the industry. Self-deprecating and charming, Walter guided us through his work and the stories behind them. Occasionally straying off topic to quickly cover side-stories and details, his energy and enthusiasm for the industry is unmistakable.
Mentioning the words ‘Guinness’ and ‘surfers’ together in the same sentence was enough for most of us to recall his infamous 1998 ad. Briefed to not reference the length of time it takes to pour a pint of Guinness (officially 119.5 seconds, if you're counting), the advice didn't reach far. Walter explained how he used Hawaiian surfers waiting for the ultimate wave to reflect anticipation for the perfect pint of Guinness. Ultimately, “Good Things Come to Those who Wait.”
Dishing up the unexpected seems a common theme for Walter who chatted through his attempt to subvert the image of Volvo. How do you shake up the image of a car simply known for being comfortable, reliable and possibly slightly dull? By filming it in a high-octane scene driving through a tornado, of course.
One of Walter’s more recent works is indie film, Under the Skin. Staring Scarlett Johansson as a predatory alien, she roams the streets of Scotland preying on men. True to character and open to risk, Mr. Campbell refused to read the book but chose instead to read between the lines. With Johansson trolling passing men incognito in the streets, the film is unsettling and as Walter describes: "I think what's interesting about it was this lie - a person who's a beautiful woman, but not a beautiful woman."
Whilst his approaches may be unconventional to some, his philosophy to advertising and film is rational and simple. If we place aside the huge imaginative strength and talent required to build an ad, ultimately it all boils down to problem solving. Once you can identify the core of the problem, you can identify the solution. “Everything is there, you’ve just got to see it. You’ve just got to look into it and see it.”
Under the Skin trailer: