Behind the Headlines with Fever’s Jo Chappel

Jo Chappel, creative director at Fever, on finding those eureka ideas during the most menial of tasks, launching a “Culture Vulture” programme to enhance creativity at the agency, and growing to love pitching to the press.

Fever PR


Before I reach the office in the morning, I’ve already…
Had a cup of builders tea and fed my cats. We’re lucky enough to work flexi-hours at Fever so some mornings I run up to Primrose Hill (the bottom), do some yoga or switch off my phone and do something calm like tidy my flat or cook. Giving myself time to let my mind wander away from work is an essential part of the creative process; I’ve had some of my best ideas mid hoover.

You’ll mostly find emails about…in my inbox.
Our new creative toolkit Imagine, which we launched across Fever earlier this year. I’m on a mission to empower everyone in the agency with the right tools and confidence to be creative so I’ve invited everyone to respond anonymously to tell me what they really think of the toolkit. Happily, they love it so far.

I know I’ve had a good day if…
The energy in the agency is buzzing. A big part of my role is to foster a creative culture so we recently launched the Culture Vulture programme – a bursary to fund everyone to go and experience everything from the latest bit of immersive theatre to an adult only bouncy castle. The premise is they bring their experiences back into the agency to use as stimuli to come up with ideas that tap into interesting cultural trends.

My first job was…
A paper-round which my lovely dad accompanied me on every morning at 6.30am – my first foray into media relations.

I can tell a campaign is succeeding when…
After we have set it free it starts spreading socially under its own steam. It means it’s got that all important ‘contagiousness’, which we believe isn’t accidental but comes from ideas built on genuine insights.

I eat…when nobody is watching.
Cheap crisps. Tangy Toms and Petrified Prawns are a favourite. The rest of the time I’m pretty healthy, but it’s a reaction against being brought up on Hedgehog organic crisps and a fig roll as a treat.

The first time I pitched to a journalist…
I had a word-for-word script including ‘Hello I’m Jo’. I think the journo was kind enough to give me eight seconds to waffle before he cut me off. Once I got my confidence, made some good contacts (some of which I’m still friends with today) and got the knack of pitching a story in a sentence I grew to love it.

The worst thing anyone has said to me is…
“You’re just a dreamer.” My biology teacher at school meant it as a put down but it’s ended up serving me well. The ability to dream, wonder and be constantly curious is essential to creativity. But the reality is that we’re usually coming up with ideas that have to work within set parameters – such as a tight budget – so we do also need to be practical.

The last book I read was…
I’ve just finished two, pretty much simultaneously – Ty Montague’s brilliant True Story on the need to move brands and businesses from ‘storytelling’ to ‘storydoing’, and Man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgaard, who I went to see talking about his writing last week and have a bit of a crush on (his books are gripping as well).

I’ve never really understood why…
In the past we had to bribe people to come to brainstorms with the promise of ‘free sandwiches’ or ‘chocolate’. Surely coming up with ideas is one of the best parts of this job.

If I could go back and talk to my 10-year-old self, I’d say…
Don’t get that perm! I actually think my ten-year-old self could tell me a lot now. We need to be silly, have fun and explore our imaginations in order to free us up to be creative. We play games like Bananagram and charades at the start of creative sessions to get us out of grown-up work mode and into that gloriously uninhibited ten-year old open state.

This time next year, I’ll be…
Hopefully celebrating a raft of award nominations off the back of all the great creative work delivered as a result of our new toolkit.

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