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A British 'Mad Men'? Hegarty Sets Pic in London’s ’70s Ad Scene

Commercial Break contains 'sex, drugs, and a lot of advertising'
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The characters in Sir John Hegarty's new film project would probably consider Don Draper a bit of a wanker.

Set in gritty 1970s London, Hegarty's Commercial Break is a coming-of-age story: A blue-collar kid busts up stuffy corporate culture with radical ideas. The revolution "didn't reach the boardroom until the '70s," he says. "This product contains sex, drugs, and a lot of advertising."

A rock star of that scene, Hegarty, co-founder of global marketing giant Bartle Bogle Hegarty, worked with the Saatchi brothers as they launched a new shop whose rapier edge drew instant and intense attention.

"It was coming from the street, coming from youth, coming up from a world that this old world didn't understand," Hegarty says. He went on to help launch TBWA London in 1973, and in 1982, his namesake agency.

Commercial Break–now in its second round of treatments with a studio lined up–was born over lunch with longtime friend and fellow advertising veteran Jerry Judge, who last year founded entertainment unit Artful Dodger. Lee Garfinkel, chief creative officer at Euro RSCG, is Judge's partner in the production shop.

"All artists are trying to sell something," says Hegarty, who is still running BBH. "I always say to people: I work in advertising. I don't live in advertising."

Beyond Commercial Break, Judge is also launching a new agency with the bold handle of The Fearless Group with mates such as Robin Kent, ex-CEO of Universal McCann. At the onset, the shop—which Judge describes as a "capitalist commune"—offers guerrilla marketing, channel planning, brand bartering, brand management, advertising and digital media. Judge is scouting for more digital creative depth.

Their motto? "Safe advertising isn’t." Gird your loins.