Fresh from his interview with the Thinkerbell co-founder, CHRIS TAYLOR spills the beans on the behind the-scenes torture of dealing with Adam Ferrier.
The first thing you need to know is that Adam Ferrier is intensely shy. Like most people in advertising, he doesn’t like talking about himself, and hates drawing attention to his considerable body of award-winning work. Ferrier rarely gives interviews or makes public appearances. If you think you’ve seen him on television, or holding court on a panel at an industry talkfest, it was probably one of the many body-doubles he’s been forced to deploy to cover for his crippling fear of the spotlight.
My interview with the real Adam Ferrier only came about after months and months of delicate negotiations. On five separate occasions Ferrier walked away from the discussions, anxious that the interview would turn out to be “just another B&T puff piece” and a “goofy lightweight piece of filler that didn’t hold Thinkerbell up to the rigorous scrutiny it deserves.” In the end, this most private of men agreed to sit down with me on three very strict conditions:
1. I wouldn’t ask about his past
2. I wouldn’t ask about his present
3. I wouldn’t write an article afterwards, talking about the whole process
On the day of the interview, Ferrier arrived punctually at the secret bunker location where the filming was to take place. Sprightly, clean-shaven and impeccably dressed in an Italian three-piece suit, Ferrier was virtually unrecognisable. Alongside him stood Clayton, a professional makeup and visual effects artist who apparently travels everywhere with Ferrier, and who is responsible for creating the ad man’s signature “look”. It’s quite a thing to watch unfold. For hour upon hour every morning, Ferrier sits patiently in the makeup chair as Clayton applies prosthetics to his face and body, before painstakingly painting on thousands of individual whiskers of salt-and pepper stubble. Ferrier’s natural fine blonde locks are then pinned down in a hairnet to make way for the dirty, unkempt wig of hair that completes the transformation.
“Tell anyone about this and you’re dead,” Ferrier hissed at me, as he pulled himself out of the chair and stepped into a pair of black jeans, custom-fitted with frayed seams and ramen broth stains.
The interview itself raced by in a blur. I recall Ferrier making a fuss at one point about the framing being too flattering, and there were several calls for emergency touch-ups by Clayton as the “stubble” started to fall off under the hot lights. I also remember umbrage being taken when I accidentally let slip the secret of Ferrier’s past, as a highly sought-after underwear model for Calvin Klein. We agreed to bury this fact in favour of a more palatable origin story about the young Ferrier being the stand-in body double for Billy Connolly: completely implausible, but much more on brand.
There were many things I wasn’t allowed to ask Ferrier, but wished I could. For instance, why the big ruse? What is he hiding from? And is it really worth getting up at 4am every morning to spend 5 hours in a makeup chair, just to cultivate an air of disheveled indifference?
But then I realised: deception and artifice is at the heart of advertising. The entire industry is built on illusions. The only thing that distinguishes Adam Ferrier from all of his peers is that he actually walks the walk: applying the dark arts of the industry to his own public persona. There’s a type of genius at play in that. But, sadly, Clause 4(ii) of our interview agreement forbids me from using that word to describe him.
So I won’t.
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