First female Creative Circle President Vicki Maguire unveils ‘angry, anarchic’ graphic identity ahead of Circle Ball 2017

When Vicki Maguire became the first ever female President of advertising awards and education body The Creative Circle last year, her mission was straightforward: to disrupt this ‘pale, male, stale’ industry and to bring in more ‘outsiders’.

She set out a bold new manifesto for the organisation.

We will never be like them

We will never conform

We will never roll over and have our bellies tickled by the global giants

Even if they throw shiny awards for us to chase

We will never chase

The points

The awards

The money

The glory

We will never forget that it’s talent, not tin, that is the lifeblood of this industry

And we’ll never say industry

It makes us sound like car giant

And we aren’t

We are the champions, the gatekeepers, the mothers of British talent

Talent that leads the world in film, art, music, swagger

We are home grown

And we grow our own

We give back

We stick together

Taking on all comers

We are the risk takers

The trouble makers

We don’t give a shit where you live

Where you’re from

Or who your dad is

We are the outsiders

And it’s us against them

It’s time to decide whose side you’re on.

“In UK advertising, women make up just 30% of leadership positions and less than 11% of ECD roles. That’s embarrassing. How can agencies say, hand on heart, they are in touch with the consumer if they keep rolling out the same old boys? It’s absolute bollocks”, spits Vicki in her Leicester brogue.

As the oldest — and one of the most prestigious — advertising and marketing awards bodies in Europe, The Creative Circle is an important and influential platform through which to address some of the industry’s shortcomings.

And the new anarchic graphic identity that Vicki has overseen reflects the organisation’s desire to disrupt the conservative, po-faced and increasingly corporate persona of the industry’s award programmes. Designed by Grey London’s Matteo Alabiso and George Goldsack, the 2017 Creative Circle Annual — of which no two are identical — embodies Maguire’s angst and dissatisfaction with the current state of the industry.

It looks angry.

Many pages in the new annual come pre torn and screwed up. The photograph of The Creative Circle’s new president and other jurors have been defaced with luminous green paint, ink deliberately splashed over the pages and type blocks petulantly positioned on ugly angles. Indeed, it looks like an awards annual that has been kicked around the floor rather than preciously stored inside an agency’s boardroom cabinet.

“This book isn’t about pretty, shiny awards. It’s a message to all of the odd ones out in this industry. With this in mind, our design ethos was to disrupt award category norms and the tired format that’s been built over the years. No shiny paper, no big picture. Each category page made by hand — some burnt, some walked over, some sprayed with paint. Some ripped, some folded, some scrumpled — but no two the same. And paper stock that doesn’t even represent the work in the best way, but disrupts it with little grains and imperfections. It’s something akin to old punk zines, where the outcome wasn’t as important as the message”, says designer, Matteo Alabiso.

“The Creative Circle has always had its own distinctive visual language, often satirical and irreverent. It has long had an instinctive ability to read the mood of the creative community and fuel the conversations that are taking place. That community is becoming frustrated, and we wanted to reflect that in the design. This is a more aggressive approach, because it’s an issue The Creative Circle is passionate about”, says designer, George Goldsack.

A painstaking attention to detail belies its beleaguered appearance. Details including gold, silver and bronze foils printed onto individually bound cloth jackets, hundreds of paper hole punches carefully placed between pages and the spine traditionally stitched with hand dyed thread are telltale signs that each one of the limited 300 editions has been handcrafted by Grey’s meticulous design practitioners. No two are alike, each torn, crumpled and customised in a unique way.

An additional series of numbered posters were individually silk screened at East London’s Print Club and feature the original handwritten prose from Vicki Maguire’s notepad.

The Creative Circle is a literal circle.

A cycle, encompassing all the creative talent in the UK’s communications industries.

It rewards the people at the top and encourages them to help the people at the bottom.

It does this in two ways:

Firstly, as an awards body, run and judged by creatives — recognising and showcasing great ideas, fresh thinking and craft.

Secondly, as an education body, run and developed by creatives — with inspiring workshops, enlightening talks, and initiatives for those starting out.

Eventually, the people at the bottom become the people at the top.

Regardless of their background.

With the circle complete, the cycle continues.

Out with the old. In with the new.