Everyone in adland seems to be talking about content. It’s last week’s buzz word of the week.

But in most cases that’s all it seems to be, a lot of talk.

So to put our money where our mouth is we’ve launched a brand new company to sit alongside COY! Communications.
We’ve called it COY Content.

It seems obvious that in this age of punters watching the telly with a laptop on their lap, remote in one hand and a smartphone in the other, a different approach is required.

Our first big project is the production of a play ‘SEX CELLS’.

The programme that we’ve designed for it feels more like a magazine with proper articles and adverts in it and everything.

We’re running poster campaign courtesy of Dave Dye at Hello People to advertise it and you can view the trailer online (see how we’re mixing old stuff and new stuff up there?).

We’ve got lots of other projects in the pipeline from books to films and exhibitions, some with sponsors and partners and some completely self-initiated.

“But are COY! Communications still available to produce commercials, photography and print I hear you ask?”. You Betcha.

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Yes, you read it right.

We’re now up to our eyelashes in show business (there’s no business like it apparently.)

To be precise, we’re putting on a play.

It’s called “SEX CELLS” and it’s on at the Riverside Studios between the 1st – 27th October.

It was written by my missus under her nom de plume ‘Anna Longaretti’.

It’s her first ever play, but I always knew she was an imaginative writer (you should see some of her shopping lists.)

Now, outside of a good farce or stonking musical, I’m not a big fan of the theatre. So when Anna asked me to read “SEX CELLS” I might have groaned a bit.

I read it, and it was good. Really good. I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion.

I said, you’ve got to get it made, but not in the local church hall or over a pub. It has to go on at a proper theatre.

Aim for the top.

And she did. She approached most of the top theatres around town and got turned down by them.

There was a lot of positive feedback, but no one seemed to want to take a risk on a brand new writer.

So, never being one for taking no for an answer, I very wisely suggested that we produce it despite having no previous theatrical experience.

And what an education it’s been.

Anna has ended up being a first time theatre producer as well as a first time writer.

I’m doing my bit by sorting out the poster, programme and trailer (shot by our very own Miss Fern Berresford.)

And, following my long-term policy of getting more talented people than myself to help, I’ve enrolled my mate Dave Dye at Hello People to do the advertising.

So here we are, with three weeks to go, and almost five thousand tickets to sell.

I’m so nervous/excited, I want to puke.

So, if you fancy an entertaining evening in October please buy a ticket. In fact, why not rent a minibus and bring all of your friends and family.

Let me know which night you’re coming and you’ll find that I won’t be mean with the maltesers.

Stay tuned for more exciting news and theatrical updates as they happen.

Yours feverishly,

M Denton Esq

“Sex Cells” Trailer from Coy Communications on Vimeo.

Trailer Credits: Director – Miss Fern Berresford, Director of Photography – Miguel Ragageles, Music – Simon Bass, Sound – Pure Soho, Post-Production – MPC, Editor – Sacha Szwarc at Speade, Typographer – Kate Henderson, Make-Up – Angela Amelia Sellar

Poster Credits: Photographer – Miss Fern Berresford, Designer/Art Director – Mark Denton, Typographer – Kate Henderson, Retouching – Oliver Carver

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Who would have guessed the reaction that we got for my article in Campaign last Thursday. We’ve had responses from all over the globe – from Bangkok to San Francisco. It was just a little reflection about the state of the industry. The bottom line is, it seems we’re all in it together, up to our necks in it to be precise. Anyway, here’s the article for anyone who hasn’t read it yet…

Hello, Mark Denton speaking. How can I help? Yes, you mentioned that there’s not a lot of money on this one in the pre-pre-pre-pre-prod. No, don’t worry about it. It’s not that unusual nowadays.

So there’s a script change? The tiger is now appearing on a snow-covered mountain top? No. That’s fine. But, obviously, when we were talking locations in the pre-pre-pre-prod, we didn’t know that.

Sorry? And there’s no budget to go abroad? I see. You do know it’s July now, don’t you? In England?

Of course I’d be happy to attend a client get-together before the research results are in. Oh! So you need a new treatment seeing as the script has changed? Right, great. When do you need it by? Tomorrow! That could be a bit tricky. Milton Keynes by 8am? It’s doable. In a leather-bound treatment folder? I’m sure we can find one of those somewhere.
Just out of interest, why do you need that? Another director produced one? Well, that’s understandable. And should I write my own treatment or get a bloke with A-level English and a book on Film-Making For Dummies to write it for me?

Oh. You’re not judging the director’s vision, you’re still trying to make your mind up who the treatments are for exactly. Well, what are the choices? The team, the creative directors, the account group or the client? That must be tough. And how many directors did you say are pitching now? Six? No, I don’t mind repitching. It’s good to know that you’ve whittled it down a bit.

Reference? Well, I thought I’d, er… sorry? I’m in a contest for who can find the best reference pictures on Google? I’m not sure that will necessarily tell you who the best director is – more like who’s got the best researcher. I see. You want something original? I’d be happy to. But you want me to show photographic evidence of it? That might be a bit awkward, since it hasn’t been done yet. OK, I’ll see what I can do.

What about the storyboard? You know that I draw my own? Not make it too cartoony. Any special reason? The client might think it’s animation. Does that mean you don’t think that the client can tell the difference between a storyboard and the finished article? Well, yes, I suppose it is best to cover all bases.

By the way, your colleague mentioned that you didn’t want to pay the first 50 per cent of the production budget on time? Yes, I completely understand.

So we’ll bankroll your multi-squillion-pound company and wait three months for our money, after the event, because the client won’t have paid you yet? Great!

Oh, just one last thing. On our last job, when we went to visit your client in Edinburgh, there wasn’t so much as a sandwich laid on. Nothing. Not even a biscuit! Which was just as well, really, cos there wasn’t even a cup of tea to dip it in.

What? You have to create a purchase order in order to get tea? Right. No problem. See you tomorrow morning at eight. Bye.

Sara! Wash out the thermos, we’re going to Milton Keynes.

This article was first published on


Series 2 Episode 9

It’s July 4th, that makes it 25 years (or A QUARTER OF A CENTURY!) since I started an agency with four other blokes.

Being quite creative from the outset we had the idea of calling it Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow and Johnson.

Snappy eh?

In the past people have asked me “was it a hard decision to start up on your own?”

Actually it was very easy given I had no say in it. It was all decided by fate.

The seeds were sown on my first day in a new job at BBH back in 1984.

To give you an idea about how long ago it was, I remember that there was only 30 people on the internal phone list.

BBH was small, but that didn’t stop them being the hottest hotshop in town, with a fearsomely great Art Director in command in the form of  (pre Sir) John Hegarty.

And there was I joining from the extremely unfashionable Leo Burnett (I know they’re good now) with a portfolio full of rejected scamps and one TV commercial.

I was cakking myself.

My new copywriter was someone that I’d only met a couple of times previously….Chris Palmer.

He’d been at BBH for six months and although it was his first job in advertising (from being a despatch rider) he’d fallen on his feet and found himself as John Hegarty’s writer.

That bit of good fortune (and a bit of talent) had resulted in Chris winning six D&AD pencils in his first six months in the business.

No pressure on me then.

So there was only one thing for it. I did what I normally did when I felt a bit nervous about my immediate future.

I booked a session with my Clairvoyant…..Madame Claire of Catford.

Chris overheard me making the appointment and was somewhat intrigued.

I explained that it was an extremely good night out; you nip down to Brownhill Road Catford and put yourself in Claire’s hands.

With her supernatural ability she then predicts forthcoming events in your life with uncanny accuracy.

And then you go out for a curry and a pint or two of lager.

How could he resist? So the pair of us ended up heading down to the Deep South the following Friday night.

Of course I went in first because it was my idea.

I was led into Claire’s dimly lit room by her brother who looked like an aging ‘Lurch’ from the Addams Family only with greasy dyed black hair.

Claire was there behind a small table topped with a black velvet cloth covered in dusty chalk marks.

She resembled a short heavy-set version of Diana Dors when she was well past her pin-up days…..but I wasn’t there because of her looks.

She offered me the seat opposite and handed me a deck of tatty playing cards which she asked me to shuffle and cut.

Then she picked up one half of the deck and dealt them into the different chalk marked sections around the table.

The reading began.

I was told that I’d just met someone, it was a good thing.

She saw a great partnership.

She could see me in front of the camera and behind the camera.

…. Yes, it was going to be an extremely good partnership, we were going to have our names over the door and she bunged in fame and fortune too for good measure.

Well, when it came to the curry afterwards the pair of us were struggling to get a word in, we were that fluffed up. You see she’d given Chris the same reading.

….fame, fortune, in front of the camera, behind the camera, NAME OVER THE BLEEDIN’ DOOR!

So when we were at Lowes a couple of years later and a stranger named Paul Simons called me to ask if we were interested in starting up an agency, I just cupped the receiver and said to Chris ‘it’s that phone call we’ve been waiting for’.

What a roller coaster ride that turned out to be.

We did pretty well (creatively at least). I’m pretty sure most of the creative department won or got nominated for a pencil (or several in some cases).

There’s one small detail that Claire forgot to tell us.

Just over six years after we set up shop we got fired.

….But that’s another story, and apparently I still have to have a solicitor present when I tell it.

NIKE ‘kick it’ from Coy Communications on Vimeo.

wrangler DJ from Coy Communications on Vimeo.

TNT hopping pecker from Coy Communications on Vimeo.

samson batteries from Coy Communications on Vimeo.

Greenpeace from Coy Communications on Vimeo.

Thanks to everyone who helped make me look good for that six and a bit years.

Paul White, Trevor D’Silva, Andy McKay, Tim Riley, Keith Bickel, Adam Denton, Sean Doyle, Paul Diver, Keith Courtney, Warren Brown, Chris Bardsley, Gary Martin, Mark Goodwin, Tony Barry, Paul Silburn, Tiger Savage, Guy Moore, Tony Malcolm, John Tisdall, Barry Brand, and Dave Dye….not forgetting Ben Priest, who got his first ad into D&AD while on placement….and of course Chris Palmer (whatever happened to him?)



Mark Denton Esq (our esteemed leader) likes the sound of his own voice.

So much so that he shares it with the rest of the creative community in the form of his talks.

They seem to be going down quite well as they’re starting some very interesting conversations.

One in particular resulting in COY! taking on an exciting new(ish) photographer – PAUL BURCH.

Paul’s not exactly ‘new’ insofar as he’s been in advertising for a couple of decades as a successful Creative director / Art director.

He’d been keeping his photography under wraps and was only moved to show Mark after he saw his talk at Publicis earlier this year.

Paul made it clear that although he was passionate about photography (having worked with some of the greats like David LaChapelle, Albert Watson and Paolo Roversi), he had been happy to beaver away at it on the quiet.

To be honest Mark says he wasn’t expecting much given Paul’s modesty.

As it turns out he had nothing to be modest about.

The work was fantastic.

No one would have guessed that he was completely self taught and didn’t do the normal kind of apprenticeship.

His work had the polish and sophistication of someone who’d spent a lifetime perfecting his craft.

What made it even more remarkable was the majority of it was shot on film with minimal retouching.

He’s even created his own Collodion wet plates!

So to cut a long story short, Paul is now a COY! photographer with a bunch of exciting new projects to sink his teeth into.

We’re convinced that Paul is not going to be able to operate under the radar for much longer (even if he wants to).

Paul’s Portfolio

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…just a snapshot from our ‘Evil’ Exhibition that went up at JWT last night.

We were going to stick this one in but we pulled it out at the last minute.

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Say hello to Ellie Botwood, our nearly new rep (call 07585 686 360 NOW!)

But she doesn’t just look after us, she also represents our animating chums at A LARGE EVIL CORPORATION.

Tradition dictates that as an Evil hired hand Ellie had to have her photo taken (just in case she ever makes Employee of the Month).

And of course who better to take the photo than our very own Miss Fern Berresford.

What a laugh.

We were telling Andy (McAnaney) and Christian (Sewell) of DLKW/Lowe about the forthcoming photo session over a very pleasant lunch and they immediately volunteered their services as additional Evil faces.

Who were we to turn down such a generous offer?

It just so happened that we had a meeting the next day with the lovely Mandy (Gould) and Laura (Harrington) of JWT… and before we knew it, we were shooting Evil Ellie, Evil Christian, Evil Andy, Evil Laura and Evil Mandy.

We’ve got a sneaky feeling that’s not the end of the project (not that we’re complaining).

Many thanks to all involved, especially Art Director – M Denton Esq, Photographer – Miss Fern Berresford, Hair – Anna Longaretti, Make-Up – Louise Constad, Wardrobe – Anna Oldham-Cooper, Graphics – the ‘far from Evil’ Kate Henderson, Chief Wrangler – Karin Christensen, and Her Satanic Majesty – Miss Sara Cummins.



A few weeks ago Mark bounded into the office all excited.  And when Mark bounds, you know something big is on the horizon.

“I’ve been asked to be the face of the new Penhaligon’s moustache wax campaign!”, he exclaimed.

Now, anyone that knows Mr D, will know that he’s a bit of moustache wax connoisseur and he’s also not too shy in front of the camera, so he was thrilled to be asked to put on his best suit and tweak his tach ready for his close up.

And the news just kept getting better and better, they were looking for a photographer to shoot the poster and obviously I jumped at the opportunity.

Dave Dye over at DHM had come up with a lovely concept, Mark sporting, an over-sized moustache that is creatively styled into the words ‘Control It’ with the aid of his favorite Penhaligon’s moustache wax.

But as this was a charity ad specially for Movember, we had to figure out how to make a giant moustache, on a tiny budget.

We wanted the tach to look as realistic as possible, so we thought we’d go the old fashioned route and get a model made and luckily we knew just the girl, a talented, young model maker called Carmen Mueck.  We gave Carmen the brief and set her to work.

1 week later and we had our wonderful model tach. We borrowed a bit of studio space from DHM and set up our backdrop and lights.  Mark was preened and powdered and then the crucial moment arrived, we had to surgically attach his famous tach to the huge model one.  Tensions were high as our model maker and make-up artist got to work, not wanting to damage Mark’s pride and joy.  A few minutes later and the two taches were seamlessly intertwined.

For the rest of the afternoon we worked through Mark’s entire repertoire of poses and here’s the end result…

Client – Penhaligon’s/Movember. Concept – Dave Dye (DHM). Model – Mark Denton. Photography – Fern Berresford. Photography Assistant – Russell Warren. Model Maker – Carmen Mueck. Make-Up Artist – Emilie Yong. Producer – Sara Cummins.

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I’ve been talking a bit lately.

Not just the odd chat but actually pitching up to various agencies and putting on a proper lecture.

And not only in blighty. I’ve also chewed some ears off at DDB and TBWA in New York.

It’s not overly formal though, to me it’s felt like sharing 35 years worth of creative fun with a few mates.

But I must be getting the hang of it because I keep getting invited to do more.

On a couple of occasions I’ve found myself talking to around a hundred people.

And even more surprisingly (to me) I’ve recently been asked by two different CEO’s and a planner to do one for their clients.

I genuinely thought it had more appeal to a creative audience but it seems that a lot of different people are getting something out of it.

Unexpectedly it’s all turned into a snowball that’s gathering a fair bit of momentum.

Just as an entertaining side project I try to produce a new poster for each talk, and if time permits I send the brief over to the host agency a few weeks in advance.

I’ve started to gather a bit of a varying collection now even though essentially it’s the same talk every time.

Actually, that’s not entirely true, because I always seem to wander off piste and recall different stories along the way.

There is a definite overall plot (which I don’t want to reveal for fear of spoiling the experience for those who haven’t heard it) but several different themes seem to get repeated throughout.

    1. I’ve been doing advertising a long time.
    2. I’m not scared of self-promotion.
    3. I don’t like people saying NO.

I’ve enjoyed every single talk but my favourite is the last one I did at Leo Burnett.

Not only did they produce a poster for my collection (thanks Anna, Becky and Lance) but they also let me put on an exhibition.

It’s the first time I’ve seen a big bunch of my creative stuff together in one place and it gave me a funny feeling in my trouser leg that was most pleasant.

Burnett’s ECD Justin (Tindall) delivered the most flattering introduction I’ve ever had in my career and throughout the talk everyone seemed to laugh in the right places.

…and then we went for a beer and a kebab.

It really doesn’t get any better than that.

Big thanks to all those involved especially Lance (Crozier) who had the idea in the first place and to Head of Art Buying Leah (Mitchell) and the rest of her fantastic team.

Dave Dye and Andy Dymock.      Guy Moore and Don Bowen.

Anna and Becky and friends.

James Long and Adrian Britteon.

There was an exhibition too.

Everyone seemed to laugh in the right places.



A few months ago I got a call from D&AD…. they said, ‘don’t let us down, where is it?’

I said, ‘pardon?’ (Or something like that).

…You see there had been a bit of a mix-up and the brief for the 2012 D&AD cover had gone to the wrong Mark Denton (or maybe Mike Denton, or Marc Danton).

Their plan was to have 50 different covers to celebrate D&AD’s 50th anniversary realised by some big knobs in Design and Advertising like Ridley Scott, Sir John Hegarty, Paul Smith, Dave Dye, etc, etc, etc, etc and very flatteringly yours truly.

The trouble was, once the mistake had been realised I was starting 5 weeks after everyone else and 3 days after the official deadline.

Ordinarily I like the challenge of a tight deadline but at the time of the phone call I was in New York picking up a big design, TV and print brief from DDB and I was already in the middle of a print project for Leo Burnett London.

I remembered a piece of paper that I’d pinned to the wall behind my desk about a year earlier. It was a scribble of an idea I had for my gravestone.

It originally had no reason to exist, there was no brief for it, it was just one of the things that regularly fall out of the end of my pen.

So I thought ‘that’ll do’ and a few phone calls later we had a sculptor and a model-maker on board and a photographic session booked.

…Cheers Sean, Carmel and Steve. You did a brilliant job.

I’m dead pleased (BOOM, BOOM!).

Client – D&AD. Concept – M Denton Esq (that’s DENTON). Photography – Sean de Sparengo. Photography Assistant – Joe Giacomet. Sculptor – Carmel Said. Model-making – Steve Dring. Producer – Miss Sara Cummins.

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