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‘You can only have so much fun with a turtle’

Matt Campbell was design and digital director at BBH NY for Sir John Hegarty in a former life.

matt campbell design and digital director

Now he’s back on New Zealand shores, and the artist/creative/designer has worked on the Telecom ads featuring Boris the turtle, among other commercials. He’s also turned his hand to creating a delicious little creature – Lemmy, of Allgood Organics fame. Here, he lets us in on the brief for Lemmy – and tells why you can only have so much fun with a turtle.

What was your brief for creating Lemmy?

Special Group and Allgood Organics gave me a great little brief like an equation: lemons + idiot savant + punky attitude = Lemmy. They were looking for an interesting stylistic approach to capture the unique sweet and sour character of a lemon, a combination of cute but punky, Hello Kitty meets punk rock.

They also wanted to portray Lemmy as a cruiser, no matter what life serves him up, he keeps on trucking – he’s a lucky lemon. So I just started drawing potential Lemmys like an imaginary casting call and through multiple rounds of sketches, poses, stubble, no stubble, hats, whistling, looking here and or there, monobrows and you name it, the real Lemmy emerged – we all recognised him when we saw him. I added a little custom typography and the job was done!

What’s your dream gig?

Feature film director – well, I say that, but then I’ve never directed a feature film – the longest piece of content I’ve ever made is about five minutes.

I’ve always been into storytelling, though – I started out as a comic artist, which is like making little films where you’re the writer, director and all the character actors as well.

But that’s a very solitary business. Lots of time spent in a room alone painstakingly creating. So what attracts me to film is the inherent collaborative nature of it. It’s exciting and unpredictable, because no matter what you start with it’s going to be interpreted and expressed by all these other interesting people and will take on a life of its own which can (hopefully) be really rewarding.

If Boris the turtle and Spot the dog went head-to-head in an ad-off for the love of New Zealanders’ hearts, who do you reckon would win?

There’s only so much fun you can have with a turtle, so maybe Spot the dog, but I reckon the real star of those ads is Eddie, the boy.

He is a genuinely interesting and intelligent kid who brought a lot to those ads – his natural character shines through –
it’s not acted or feigned.

What do you get up to in your spare time?

When I’m not hanging out with the family in one way or other, which might be anything from scoring cricket, arguing about screentime versus other activities, or DIY house projects, I fill in all my spare time with art making and wannabe film projects. I also produce and direct an online cartoon series Underworld with US comic artist Kaz

You were design and digital director at BBH NY working with Sir John Hegarty – what’s something about him nobody else knows?

Apparently he’s an amazing golf player and before he got into advertising, seriously considered going pro – but to be honest

I can’t remember who even told me that. John is one of those guys where once you meet him you completely understand why he is so successful – charming, decisive and whip-smart.

How does the creative scene in New York compare to here?

Well they’re vastly different scenes in everyway and for pretty obvious reasons if you think about it – massive international city versus tiny country and all that. NYC tends to be very brand- focused and New Zealand is quite retail driven for the most part. But creatively I think they’re very different cultures and there’s good and bad on both sides. 

See more of Matt Campbell at areyouexcited.com and spanko.com

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