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1999. London, England.

The German advertising agency, Jung von Matt, were hiring.

Liz Harold, the London headhunter, was contacted to find talent.

The brief: Find a native English creative team. 

The agency’s creative director, Herman Waterkamp, was coming to London. 

He'd seen a stack of portfolios and selected a list of candidates.

Our portfolio was amongst those shortlisted. 

Too many candidates. We needed to stand out.

The internet was in its infancy.

I found myself in an internet cafe, researching "Jung von Matt". 

The agency website was written in German.

My vocabulary reached its limit at Gesundheit and Kindergarten.

A tiny section was written in English.

I discovered two things:

• The agency's work philosophy was based on the Wooden Horse of Troy. 

• The agency's logo was the Trojan horse. 

A picture showed a large Trojan horse inside the agency reception.


That's when it hit me.

I had an idea that would make our portfolio stand out from the crowd. 


I would build a hand-made wooden horse. 

It would stand waist high. 

It would roll on wheels. 

Inside its belly, our creative work would be hidden. 


The day of our interview came. 

The agency CD Herman Waterkamp sat in one room. 

We sat in another room. 

We waited.

The headhunter called us in.


On meeting Herman, we introduced ourselves. 

We exchanged some small talk. 


On my lap sat a black, A2 size portfolio. 

Herman asked us to present our work to him. 

I opened the portfolio.  

To Herman’s annoyance, there was nothing but blank sleeves. 

The work was missing. He wasn't impressed.

“I’m so sorry, we’ve left the work in the other room”.

I excused myself and left the room. 

My copywriter sat nervously but played along brilliantly. 


I returned, pushing Dobbin in front of me. 

Herman was gobsmacked!

I opened Dobbin and handed Herman our work… 

We were invited to visit JvM in Hamburg. 


If you do your research, understand your customer and then tailor-make

your product to surprise them, the results speak for themselves.

Dobbin was made out of 2 sheets of MDF.

Cost: £26 

It took 2 days to design and assemble together. 

This started a six-year stint of work in Germany. 

A very good return on investment.

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