Ministry of Sound: capturing the moment
D&AD, May 2013

Group Creative Director, Dan Moore, explains how a photographic campaign for the Ministry of Sound took the club truly underground in this extended interview for D&AD.

For the first time in their 22-year history, Ministry of Sound outsourced the promotion of their club brand ‘underground’. We’ve been working with Ministry for 9 years, so due to the size and longevity of this campaign, it was our biggest profile piece to date.

Most people associate the brand with house music compilation CDs and their associated television adverts. However, Ministry of Sound the club is different, so the campaign needed to get across the raw nature of the venue, the experience and the people.

This was the first time Ministry had advertised on such a large scale, so the campaign needed to work for the wider brand, as well as the club audience. The final outcome was a series of six posters, displayed on sites at over 100 London Underground stations.

We knew from the off that we wanted to use photography, but we didn’t feel that typical club photography was a true reflection of clubbing life and in particular, what a night at Ministry of Sound has to offer.

Contemporary nightclub photography tends to look the same across every club in the world, and generally looks overly glamorous and colourful; we wanted something timeless and raw.

Getting the tone right was a vital part of the design process and integral to the overall concept. It had to bring the energy of the club across to the everyday world, giving the public a peek into what goes on behind the famous doors.

We wanted to show the club and the clubbers themselves in a real light, but with a filmic quality that would capture personal moments. With that in mind, we eschewed the use of ‘beautiful’ people shot in a predetermined, glossy environment.

We worked with street photographer Paul Bence, who on previous projects had introduced us to his more personal street photography style. We had wanted to work with Paul on a project that would really complement his black and white gritty style, and this seemed a perfect match.

For five weeks Bence spent every Friday and Saturday in the club to really understand what the Ministry of Sound means to the people who go there, and to capture off-the-cuff, personal moments that others could relate to.

The massive bank of images he shot ranged from intimate moments between couples and nervous first time clubbers, to the club going wild at four in the morning and the lonely walks home at the end of a long night.

We spent a few weeks on different edits of the images, working to an original selection of 15, before whittling them down to the final six. Throughout the edit stage we played around with different copylines and how they might work with the images and add to the narrative. We also wanted to balance the personal and communal moments.

As a nod towards the club’s rich history, the final posters balance Bence’s photography with bold typographic slogans taken from classic house tracks.

Each of the posters include a time stamp, helping place the slogan and image within a fictional night out. Seen together, the posters have a loose thread of this night out and read like flashes of memory, both big and communal (like the crowd shot in ‘Who Needs Sunshine’) and small and private (like the girl lost in music in ‘Sweet Dreams’).

The campaign has been extremely well received. Ministry of Sound have had a lot of interesting feedback from clubbers, fans, press and DJs, both old and new. It’s been a really interesting way of people reconnecting with the brand and has helped others see it in a different light.

The challenge with this project was always going to be trying to balance the different parts of the Ministry of Sound brand in one piece, and this honest and authentic campaign seems to done this in a most harmonious way.

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