Gavin Richardson, one of the judges in the Food & Drink category of the Spotlight Awards, shared with us some interesting points about creativity, shifts in food photography and more. Gavin has worked for a variety of clients and is currently a creative lead at Tesco. Read the interview to learn more!

Production Paradise: Please tell us a bit about your background and how you came to be a Creative Lead at Tesco.

Gavin Richardson: I’m a designer by trade and have worked in the industry for over 25 years. 12 of those years were at easyGroup with Stelios, the founder of easyJet, and during that time I designed marketing and online content to support the numerous ‘easy’ brand ventures we launched such as easyHotel, easyCruise and easyInternetCafé …let’s just say some were more successful than others. But it was a very exciting environment and it gave me the opportunity to work in markets across Europe and the US and, with that, a wonderful insight into brand building. The role gave me my first experience of authoring brand guidelines which is something I remain closely involved with in my current position.

Eventually, though, I decided I had done just about everything anyone could ever do with the colour orange so it was time to move on and for a couple of years I contracted from job to job working with a variety of agencies and some great clients such as Porsche, Häagen-Dazs, and Ziffit, which gave me rapid exposure to other brands and different ways of working.

My role at Tesco came about a bit by accident if I’m honest! Ten years ago I started simply as a contractor to cover maternity leave for the then Head Of Design for As so often happens what started out as a temporary role became permanent, and in 2015 I joined Tesco as Creative Lead, following a restructure that consolidated digital customer comms into the UK Marketing team. It’s fast-paced and an ever-moving feast but with the recent launch of our in-house Creative Studio, it remains a fantastically exciting place to work with a huge heart.

Production Paradise: Could you share some of your favourite projects that you had to work on?

Gavin Richardson: Where do I start? With dozens of wonderful campaigns in flight at any one time it’s hard to pick a favourite but I can say with confidence that I never felt prouder to be part of Tesco than in our response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Our presence at the heart of British society never felt more critical and the volume of reactive briefs that came in for us to respond to an unprecedented national emergency was staggering – we had to think and move fast to produce customer communications at all touchpoints in-store and online that both assured and helped everyone through the toughest of times.

Yes, we have produced richer and more creatively inspiring work before and since but at that moment our contribution in being there for our customers never felt more rewarding.

Production Paradise: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Gavin Richardson: The team we have in the Tesco Creative Studio. We have an extraordinary group of designers, copywriters, web publishers and operations managers who are supremely talented, imaginative and committed. The diversity of our backgrounds and career experience is so broad that it constantly feels like a hothouse for ideas and creativity. Plus they’re a lovely bunch to work with!

Production Paradise: Given your expertise in both digital and print media, how do ensure the images translate effectively across different mediums?

Gavin Richardson: Everything comes down to briefing and art direction. If there isn’t clarity upfront on how and where imagery will show up it won’t be fit for purpose, no matter how talented a photographer is. We do everything possible to ensure that technical and creative requirements are captured upfront when briefing our photographers – absolutely essential in the world of responsive design and dynamic content.

Production Paradise: What were the most significant shifts in Food & Drink advertising in recent years, and what changes do you think are still coming?

Gavin Richardson: The current cost of living crisis in the UK has shifted the goalposts for everyone in retail. Whilst conveying food quality and provenance remains vital, giving value to customers is paramount and is threaded through everything we do. We know making ends meet is a struggle now more than ever and, sadly, I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Production Paradise: What are your expectations as a Food & Drink Category judge of our Spotlight Awards?

Gavin Richardson: Difficult to answer. I’d prefer to approach this without too many expectations – more of a hope to see inspiring work that will have me licking my lips! Without giving the game away on my judging criteria I am always more impressed by imagery that feels relatable and real… but there are plenty of innovative ways of doing that which I hope I’ll get to see here.

We thank Gavin for the talk and are looking forward to seeing your images in Spotlight Awards 2023 edition!