Pirate Radio, Trevor Robinson OBE and Dad: What ignited this duo's creative spark
Peigh and Jules, Creatives at NCA, tell us about their creative heroes
08 August 2023
Winning your first Cannes Lions is really the start of something. Suddenly you're not just a great creative, you're a Cannes-award-winning star. But when Jules Middleton and Peigh Asante won a Lions in Cannes this year for their Alzheimer’s Society film ‘The Ultimate Vow’, it wasn't just their own creative reputations they were sealing, it was that of the agency they work for. Middleton and Asante won New Commercial Arts its first ever Lions, and put the agency itself on the global creative map.
The creative duo have been part of NCA for a little over a year now. Previously at BBC Creative, the pair first started working together on BBC News' 'The Future's not Cancelled' and ads for EastEnders.
But what drew them to the creative life in the first place? Creative Sparks is a new series by Creative Salon to shine a spotlight on the rising creatives who are delivering high-performing, award-winning work, exploring what first ignited their creative passion. So we talked creative heroes with Peigh.
“Peigh & Jules’s enthusiasm, positivity, work ethic, and hunger to learn makes them an absolute joy to work with. They have just won NCA its first Cannes Lions. And from what I see from them on a daily basis, I am certain it is the first of many.”
Ian Heartfield, Founder/Chief Creative Officer, NCA
Peigh Asante: It’s an interesting one for me because if I think back to my first creative endeavour, it’s music that is at the forefront. That’s where I really cut my teeth and explored my creativity, and was fortunate enough for it to have been my full-time job at one point in my life. So, if I’m to cite my creative heroes, I would have to start there. In my mid-to-late teens, I would listen to pirate radio and hear the likes of So Solid Crew, Dizzee Rascal, and Wiley. Those were the people I aspired to be, especially So Solid Crew. Like me, they were from south London and they took the music to heights we had never seen before - daytime television, Top of The Pops, the UK charts, you name it! It was super inspiring to witness.
When I eventually ventured into music myself, with my very own grime collective, it was clear what my role in the crew was; I was the visionary, the one with the eye, the ‘art director’ - of course, at the time I had no idea what an art director was, but directing the art came naturally to me. I would design all of our CD covers, posters, and promo material. Which leads me nicely onto another creative outfit that I admired at the time - Pen & Pixel, a graphic design duo based in Atlanta, Georgia. The design duo, who happen to be brothers, had a super distinctive, eye-catching style and would design mixtape covers and album artwork for artists that were dominating the underground rap scene in the USA from the 90’s-early 2000’s. Everyone from Lil Wayne to Snoop Dogg had their covers designed by the duo.
One of my creative heroes in recent times would have to be Trevor Robinson OBE. I loved the Tango ads growing up and it was ads like that that made me consider a career as an art director in advertising. Those ads felt fresh, progressive, and interesting. And having someone that resembles me reach the heights Trevor has, really is remarkable.
Jules’ father was a writer and an investigative journalist. Having worked with, and got to know, Jules over the past 3 years it’s super clear and apparent that her father was a creative hero of hers. She would often tell me stories of how she would spend time with him in the studio situated at the bottom of their family garden, and watch him work for hours on end. She would also occasionally go with him on his international journalistic endeavours. So it’s no surprise that she went on to become a copywriter in the industry.
Jules’ father sadly passed away from Dementia in the spring of last year. It was tough for both Jules and her immediate family. But it was this lived experience that was the inspiration and starting point for our Alzheimer’s Society film, ‘The Ultimate Vow’ which went on to win a Lion at Cannes - a true honour to her late father.
Peigh Asante and Jules Middleton are Creatives at New Commercial Arts.