Back in 2017, I applied to take part in The School of Thought Industry Programme. As the course itself says “Only twelve people will be offered a place based on the quality of their thinking.” The programme is an intensive twelve week course and creative competition for people who work in the creative industry.

Luckily, I was selected to take part. Me and 12 other creatives visited leading Manchester agencies over the next 3 months to challenge and develop our creative skills. The big catch with School of Thought is that only pen and paper are allowed. On big ideas matter here, so there’s no snazzy software to cover a dodgy idea here.

Here’s a selection of my ideas from the course.

Media: Billboards. Idea: What would it be like if the TV license didn’t exist?
Media: Print. Idea: Hello Fresh’s delicious recipes are so good, they’ve put celebrity chefs out of business.
Media: Direct Mail. Idea: An oversized computer box to help Google show business owners that they don’t need traditional desktop software to run their business properly.
Media: Any. Idea: The UK needs to build 250,000 new homes every year. Meanwhile 200,000 homes stand empty up and down the country. So in 2018, IKEA aren’t going to launch a catalogue at all. Instead, they are going to prove their commitment to bringing warmth and happiness to any home by renovating an entire street of derelict houses.
Media: Radio Ad. Idea: Guys leave present buying until it’s way too late. Invariably, that’s when things go wrong…
Media: Activation. Idea: The super honest supermarket

Overall the School of Thought experience was absolutely amazing. It was great to go behind the scenes to hear how top agencies and top creatives work. I arguably learned more in those 12 weeks than I had in the previous decade as a designer. On top of that, I reaffirmed my belief that design has to be about more than just pretty pictures and nice fonts. Ideas are still king.


"I was lucky enough to spend three intense months getting to know Steve while he was in the School Of Thought programme in 2017. He set out to challenge himself creatively and he did that in a really big way. Steve has a way of looking at briefs from an unexpected angle - one of the best traits in any creative.
School Of Thought forces you to step away from the computer and present ideas in the purest form. Some designers find this quite uncomfortable, but Steve embraced it and used it to his advantage. The result was some really big ideas and exciting presentations.”

David Campbell Course Director - School of Thought