At the end of 2019, FCB’s Stickman won its first award while the mascot celebrated a whole decade in advertising. We sat down with comedian and voice actor Paul Ego to talk about creating longevity in an uncertain market, the effort of creating something simple and who would win in a fight against Suzanne Paul.
On being one of the most distinct voices in advertising
Well it happened by accident to start with. I was just messing around in the sound booth where I used to do radio for the Breakfast Show. Foodstuff approached me after hearing it, at the time they were working with FCB to create this new campaign, and while they were making decisions for the sound they said to me why don’t you use that nasally voice that you’ve been doing. And from there I basically became Stickman, it was a nice little accident that they had heard me in the first place. Now, I have people coming up to me in restaurants and asking me to say things in Stickman’s voice, mostly people ask me to say ‘It’s Meat Week!’.
I probably am more recognisable as Stickman more than anything. Recently I went to see Star Wars on my own as my sons had already seen it. I just happened to pick a session where I was the only one in the cinema. It was the middle of the day and I’m sitting right in the middle of the cinema and a Pak’nSave ad came on. So it was just me sitting in the centre watching myself and I thought, ‘this is really weird.’ If somebody had come in at that point, they probably would’ve gone, ‘Oh, look at this dick, hired an entire cinema so he could watch himself in a private screening.’
On Stickman’s longevity in the market
I think it’s great he’s remained an ageless figure. The fact he’s survived as long as he has comes down to the simplicity and the fun of it. We don’t talk about him getting married or anything as that would just muddy the waters. When people see a Stickman advert they know it’s going to be a short simple thing with a bit of a laugh at the end. There are no hidden messages and it’s easy to understand. As far as the actual Stickman role goes, when we first started I acted as the Narrator, but as it evolved it made more sense for me to become Stickman, which Foodstuff and FCB have also done to be able to make it cross platform. From then he’s become this great little character, if it wasn’t for the quality of the actual animation and vision that FCB have it would be different. We make sure everything fits and that its relevant to the audience, from there we play around with the voicing and reaction times.
On who he works with
I do love doing this work as everyone involved with the creation is fantastic. From the factory studios to the creatives at FCB, they’re all so good. There are days when I come in and the vision is just right, they’ve written a cracking script and I don’t even need to do anything. It can be hilariously funny, and to be honest most of the time it’s like that. Only on seldom occasion do I have to pipe up and say ‘I don’t think Stickman would do this or that’, but they’re good at altering the vision and it’s a huge team effort. There is an unrecognised amount of effort that goes into those ads to make them look so simple and work so well. It’s definitely a process that the whole team have nailed after 10 years.
On taking credit for FCB’s 2019 Effie’s win
I take all the credit for that win, I should think so. But no, it really is a team effort in reality and everybody is just doing their job so well to the point where I can walk in do my stuff and leave.
I know that when I walk in there, I’m not going to be saying, ‘why isn’t this like that? Why isn’t this finished? Oh, this is badly written’. It’s all done. I just need to go in and just, and just put the spice on top of it, really.
It feels like Stickman isn’t going away anytime soon, so the Effie award was very much the judges seeing we weren’t about to bugger off and just being like, ‘fine, have the award.’
On who would win in a fight
Stickman would definitely win in a fight against Suzanne Paul. In saying that she’d be probably quite slippery and quite hard to get a hold of with all those Natural Glow products. It would be like trying to pin someone down in a jelly wrestling competition, like soap in the shower. Have you ever tried to grab soap in the shower, it’s not easy. So it would be tough in that respect. But Stickman could bring his whole team, from the dinosaurs to the cows and anyone else who has made a cameo appearance, a whole raft of co-stars who could pin her down.
On consuming his own media
I’m a huge fan of the Born Free insurance ads, they’re really great and incredibly well done. Except these days I don’t really watch a lot of TV, so I don’t get to see many ads. We watch a lot of Netflix. We have a home Cinema so it’s quite easy to just buy a movie on iTunes and watch that as a family. I tend to stick more towards books, so I don’t watch too much TV. We do generally have a couple of series that we keep up with, such as Shitts Creek which is hilarious. But in terms of normal viewing, it is limited. If we hear something is due to be on we’ll figure out how to plug in the normal TV again and watch that, but that is only on occasion.
On TV dying
I don’t know if TV is dying, they said it would happen to local radio about ten years ago and now its stronger than ever. I know I work in the industry, but I really don’t pretend to be an expert on what is going to happen to it. I’m sort of at the point now where nothing surprises me. This is a crazy industry to be in and things are changing all the time. It’s clear that already technology has had a huge impact on it, both positive as well as negative, but those in the industry are just riding the wave and seeing where it takes us.