A trip to the drycleaners

Old washing machines in a laundromat

Twenty years ago I sat in a D&AD lecture hall listening to Bob Gill. Fresh out of University I was hanging on his every word. I thought he was one of the most smart, funny and inspiring creatives I’d seen. Still do. However there was one valuable piece of advice that stuck with me:

“When you get a job – say an ad for a drycleaner – many images come to mind, we all have preconceptions,” Gill said. “My suggestion is to forget every image that comes to mind, forget everything you know about drycleaning.

“Instead of sitting at your computer, and looking at books, go to a drycleaner, and sit there. The way to get an interesting idea is to go to the source. Stay there until you have thought of something interesting about drycleaning. Then, listen to that idea and it will design itself.”

This month GOOD have been out and about working with the brand team at Cancer Research UK and photographer Patrick Harrison. Our aim – to build on the Cancer Research UK image library and truly represent the diversity of the UK. Accurately depicting the diverse nature of their audience is vital to the effectiveness of the brand. Every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer and it certainly doesn’t discriminate.

As part of our work we wanted to capture life on the charity shop floor, but would the volunteers be happy to participate? Would we be able to persuade a few of them to come out from the stock room and in front of the camera? Imagine our surprise when we arrived at the Wimbledon branch to find 30 volunteers. This group (aged between 15 and 85) comprised of people undergoing cancer treatments, survivors, the bereaved, young students and more. Their willingness and enthusiasm was overwhelming.

We were welcomed into the shop with open arms and the conversation flowed. Many stories were shared, there were some tears, lots of laughter and plenty of tea. The atmosphere was uplifting. So much more than just a shop – a community support network, one that raises vital funds and brand awareness at the same time. And once we had met our wonderful models we set to work. Creating lots more images for Cancer Research UK to use that truly capture the passion that goes into the cause. At the end of the day we felt sad to leave but truly inspired.

I’m a great believer in embracing new ways of working but among the myriad of choices nothing beats stepping out of the office and visiting the proverbial drycleaner to find inspiration and really understand your subject.’