Campaign Brief Q&A with Sunday Gravy: Wild and unconventional campaigns that ignore most delineations between advertising and content
“Don’t make ads.” It’s an unusual mantra for an ad agency, but Sunday Gravy is somehow proving out the thesis. Since their founding 18 months ago, they have launched a lengthy slate of wild and unconventional campaigns that ignore most delineations between advertising and content.
There’s a video about inflatable swans for Catch.com.au, and a music video for Nando’s that puts people in the mood for chicken. There’s a Hunt and Brew documentary about how animals hunt for coffee, and a short film about self belief for Nike. They’re also developing a true crime documentary, and soon-to-be monster tech platform that allows people to make their own ads. It’s called Cuttable, and just remember the first time you saw that word.
But Sunday Gravy’s work is a byproduct of its people. They’ve worked with some of the biggest directors in the business, including Jeff Low, Michael Spiccia, Sanjay De Silva and Matt Devine. They’re also working on a short film with Nash Edgerton, while the ex-VICE editor and creator of Byron Baes (Netflix) was recently hired to run their content.
Jack and Ant White are the founders around which the agency is in orbit. They’re brothers, which explains the shared name, but they’re also best mates and sibling rivals, which sets up a competitive and somewhat obsessive leadership environment. Both of them have sleep problems and like to send impassioned 2 AM emails about ideas to each other.
To truly understand their burgeoning Willy Wonka-style agency, Campaign Brief spoke to the boys’ mother, Leonie White. She watched them learn the ropes beneath their father, ad legend Tony White, who founded Thomson White/FCB in the 1960s. She talks about her sense of the boys’ creative process, and what she thinks of their work.
Campaign Brief: So what do you think about your two sons starting an agency together?
Leonie White: It’s been a dream come true. Obviously their dad was in advertising, so you could say it wasn’t a complete surprise. They used to clean his office and they always looked up to him, so I thought they might follow his footsteps. When they were really young they’d both go to work with him. Jack would be there lighting up people with his smile, and Ant would grab a big pad and get to work drawing concepts for Grant Rutherford, who worked for Tony at the time. I’m very proud of them both.
CB: What indications did you see that they’d get into advertising?
LW: They’re both very creative and independently minded. Ant used to convince Jack and his oldest brother Jesse to take their father’s car keys and underage-drive him down to the bottle shop.
CB: Yeah, they’ve both got a rebellious streak.
LW: Very rebellious, although Ant was also very creative at school. He actually pursued art so intently that he missed out on going to Schoolies, which wasn’t very Anthony to skip a party to work on his portfolio.
CB: They’re quite different personalities, don’t you think?
LW: Yes, Jack is a people’s person, whereas I think Ant’s more creative. Jack’s got a creative streak too, but I think he’s the people’s side of the business. I swear that boy was born with a smile on his face. Everyone loves Jack.
CB: So what do you think of their work?
LW: I think it’s incredible, but I’ll be honest, I don’t always get it. I just think advertising has changed so much.
CB: How has advertising changed?
LW: It used to be about the product but now it’s more often about the mood. You used to be able to understand it straight away, whereas now I sometimes don’t have a clue what they’re on about.
CB: Ok, let’s watch some of their videos together. What’s your favourite?
LW: I think this one is for Catch. Where all the people are outside in their shoes, the matching shoes, and then a woman goes to the door. Yeah, I like this one. It’s just so imaginative.
CB: Ok and what did you think about this one for Hunt and Brew?
LW: I didn’t quite understand this one. Because it’s not true. Animals don’t really hunt for coffee so what’s it about?
CB: [Laughing] That’s what’s funny about it. It’s just so obviously not true that it comes across as fun and irreverent. But we’ll move on. Ok, so you just saw their latest ad for Nando’s. Did you like it?
LW: Yes I did.
CB: What did you like about it?
LW: I love that song. I’d never heard it until I saw the ad but it’s just so catchy.
CB: Yeah it’s a great song.
LW: What is it?
CB: Ah, I believe it’s called ‘Professor 3’ by Professor Rhythm. It’s kind of old, like 90s but it’s still a banger. So what do you rate that video out of 10?
LW: I’d give it an eight.
CB: That’s pretty good. Ok so the company is called Sunday Gravy because it’s a family business run by two brothers. It’s as warm and familiar as gravy on a Sunday, which is presumably something you helped influence by making them gravy as kids. And I want to know what your gravy recipe is.
LW: Well, I have a very dear old friend of mine and she told me that when you’re cooking a roast, you put an onion into the roasting tray. Just a small onion with its skin on. Then when the meat’s cooked and you’ve got all the juices, you just squash the onion into the gravy with all the skin on and it gives you a lovely tasty brown gravy.
CB: That sounds delicious. And you’ve brought us scones today. What’s the secret to baking the perfect scone?
LW: Well, I’ve tried different recipes, but I like to make them with lemonade. Lemonade, cream, flour, and a pinch of salt. That’s it.
CB: Nice. And on the topic of recipes, I was wondering something. So you’ve got two very successful sons, and maybe some other mums might read this article. So do you have any advice on how to raise successful kids?
LW: I just think that you just have to love them and be there for them. I don’t think I’ve done anything exceptional to make them who they are, aside from giving them a good education.
CB: Thanks Leonie. You’ve been great.
LW: No, thank you.