Icons+Innovators

Trevor Robinson OBE

Founder, Executive Creative Director & Partner, Quiet Storm

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We think we could start and end our reasoning for Trevor Robinson’s iconic status at him being one of the creators of Tango’s seminal 1992 spot, Slap.

Robinson, while working as an art director at HHCL, was one half of the creative team (with partner Al Young) which brought the Orangeman character, the scourge of early 90s playgrounds, to life. As justified as that decision might be there are, however, many more strings to Robinson’s bow.

Since opening Quiet Storm in 1995, the UK’s first company which combined a creative agency with a production offering, Robinson has been at the heart of work for brands including Haribo, Yakult, Moonpig, Pinterest and, of course, Tango.

In 2007 Robinson and Quiet Storm also launched Create Not Hate, a not-for-profit, community interest company that works with young people to co-create campaign work addressing different social issues that affect them. In 2020, Create Not Hate’s film, Check Your Prejudice, achieved over 500m online impressions with zero media spend and an avalanche of media coverage.

In 2009, Robinson was awarded an OBE by the late Queen Elizabeth II for his services to UK advertising and, over the following pages, he tells us the work, both new and old, which inspires him, and why there’s still work to be done when it comes to diversity.

What’s your favourite piece of work from the last 12 months?

Yorkshire Tea/Skipton Alfie, Pack Yer Bags stood out for me as different, funny and fresh.

How long have you been coming to Cannes, and what’s your fondest memory of the festival?

I’ve been coming to Cannes on and off for 30 years (scary number when you see it written down). Being a judge and becoming President of the Titanium jury was a great honour, and an achievement which stood out for me, for sure.

Are awards important?

Awards felt quite important when I was young and starting out in the industry. Back then, it was crucial to get recognition for your work - it’s much harder to get fired if everyone wants to work with you.

But, nowadays, it’s far more important to grow our clients' business and enhance their reputations.

If there was one thing you could change about the advertising industry, what would it be?

Although there seems to be great strides being made in the area of diversity, I’d love the advertising industry to be more accessible and alluring to the non-middle classes. There’s a lot of talent not being utilised out there. Both young and old.

Who or what has most influenced your career?

Tom Carty and Walter Cambell were very impactful characters. Their hunger and drive to achieve great things in advertising really rubbed off on me. The most important person to influence my career would be my old creative partner Allan Young. We made some powerful work by pushing each other and making each other cry with laughter. Being hired and fired made us a powerful team.

What piece of work makes you think, ‘I wish I’d made that’?

Still to this day, the epic Guinness Surfer commercial fills me with envy. With its powerful black-and-white visuals, pounding track and poetic voiceover, it still makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know.

One thing people might not be aware of is that I once was a court artist. I drew Jeffery Archer in his much publicised trial.

Icons+Innovators

Over the course of this week we will be celebrating some of the people who are at the heart of advertising's creative landscape, those who - whether creatives, directors, producers or other craftspeople - have made a lasting impact on the business.

Alongside specially commissioned portraits, taken by photographer Julian Hanford, we will be asking our subjects about the work they most admire, both new and old, what Cannes means to them, and what they might change about the industry if they could.

This interview series was created with

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Icons + Innovators. Trevor Robinson OBE, Founder, Executive Creative Director & Partner, Quiet Stormshots
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