Friday, August 31, 2007

Musings on Talent and HR...

If only there was a magic database that handled recruitment. Picture via chrisweb99. Usual rules etc.

Before I begin my usual foray into things I don't fully understand, I'd suggest you read this post by Anthony Goh, aka Dead Insect.

Bloody brilliant, eh?

Well, I was particularly drawn to it, because (as you'll have read), Anthony is in a similar boat to me - he's doing a spot of freelancing at the moment. Albeit projects requiring more experience. And I share his frustration at certain agencies' recruitment processes.

While I like to freelance (it's great fun, and you get to work when you want, which is handy), a greater part of me wants to go back on board as a full timer and learn, and be part of a great team to boot.

Where this falls down is the convoluted recruitment processes that some agencies employ - personally, I've had the most success through going straight to the source, in the most part, and just having a coffee and a chat with people I admire, and would like to work for/with. The idea of a HR 'gatekeeper' is another of those reasons why I'm proud to help contribute to Ad Grads.

Bluntly, I'm terrified that the weapons advertising (and indeed, the wider communication field) has, that of variety and a good working experience, have been eroded over the past twenty years.

No, the marketplace isn't the picture Sam Delaney paints in Get Smashed. 80's decadence has long since passed. But the ability to have fun, to mix with a diverse range of people, and get paid to be involved in something which has the potential to be as much of a pursuit as a job at times is one which the ad industry needs to cling on to.

And, let's be honest, parts of the industry are shooting themselves in the foot.

I'll give you an example of how it should go. I email someone, either off a blog or through working out their email address. We meet for coffee. There is/isn't a vacancy, and the conversation either continues in a non-work capacity (they become my friend or somesuch) or it takes on a more work related spin, and I get freelance/a job.

Now, flip that. I set up a meeting with someone through someone else. I get briefed on what they want, the meeting goes well (let's assume). I get told good things...then nothing. Nada. Zipski. I can't do much, because I didn't initiate the meeting. Finally, I get a call from someone in HR, telling me I wasn't a 'cultural fit' or somesuch (the ultimate, ultimate cop out answer).

I'm deeply concerned that the obstinancy many agencies adopt will kill the next generation of potential ad men. God knows that I've heard and spoken to enough senior agency people that lament how recruitment was put on the back burner in the mid/late 90s, and now, they're suffering for it.

But things like Ad Grads, Ant's post, the Rise of the Ronin, and some of my own recent experiences seem to paint a better picture for the future; that agencies realise they have to wise up if they are going to nuture and cultivate the best talent.

Indeed, the best HR people/Global Talent Managers are fantastic; they keep you informed about what's happening, and will go out of their way to make sure you are the right fit. It's the phone calls from someone I've never spoken to and general hands off approach that makes me cross.

And God knows, bonuses in the City are large enough to dissuade a lot of the best at the moment, so now, more than ever, agencies have got to fight tooth and claw to get the cream.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Why a little swagger's a good thing..

Liam Gallagher - model for graduates? Picture via freschwill. Usual rules, etc.

This was sort of inspired by something I wrote on Ad Grads and a bit of thinking, so bear with me.

Despite claims of having eclectic tastes in music, I do find myself listening to very similar stuff after a while - there's a lot of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Smashing Pumpkins and Manics on there; check my Last FM out.

And perhaps it's no surprise that indie music, and obviously, Britpop has had a bloody big influence on my musical tastes - I was 11 when What's The Story came out, after all.

Of course, being that age, and having that album as one of my first 'proper' musical purchases meant that I fell head over heels in love with the image conveyed by the music - the links with football, the look, the way of singing; even the North/South divide that went on at the time - to this day I still can't understand how Blur were ever seen as being a rival to the mighty Oasis. Truly, What's The Story was the album of my generation - I don't think I know someone of my age who can't sing along to at least one song from that album, right from start to finish.

Now, I grew up, and shed a lot of this. And, being honest, I think Liam Gallagher's a bit of a plonker. But there's still something in me which makes me want to buy their next album, however rubbish it may turn out to be.

And I was thinking about this the other day, asking why this is. Well, barring happy nostalgic memories of that time, I think a lot of it is to do with the unbridled confidence and swagger that fills that album and Definitely Maybe before it.

Now, I've written about passion in another post before this, but this, to me, is somewhat different.

Passion, to me, denotes wanting to do the best you can - and it's an admirable trait in whomever possesses it. It's why, I think, advertising tends to be a young profession, because when the passion dwindles, there's only so interested you can be in selling various products/services, and having to be 'up' for the next pitch or new business.

Now swagger is something which, if you believe the reports about Generation Y, my g-g-generation has. And it's not, necessarily, a good trait to possess in the eyes of many. I've written about this before, about how we, as a generation, are bloody demanding.

Whilst not being an pompous, swaggering arsehole is obviously very important clearly pace of change is increasing, and brands are being made (and broken) on the basis of what they believe in. And damn, gen Y knows what IT believes in - its own opinions, and ability to take matters into its own hands.

And, though I'd never suggest that people who read this blog turn into little Liam Gallaghers, the point of this post is simply to suggest that music like this is what an awful lot of my generation were bred on; it's a damn good cultural signifier as to how they'll behave. And I think marketeers and advertisers would have a better time of things if they realised that they, and their products and services need to have a little bit of an Oasis-like swagger, a declaration of intent if they want to be around for years to come.

This declaration of intent is very similar to what Mark says in Herd - people, and brands should begin by stating what they believe in.

Don't believe me? Well, consider this. Be Here Now was the biggest selling album in UK chart history. While not the defining album What's The Story was, it's telling. If you can get people to believe in swagger, you'll do very well indeed (of course, the cautionary tale to all of this is that critically, it was a massive flop - it seems that believing the hype about your own swagger is bloody dangerous).

I'll leave you with some lyrics from D'you Know What I Mean. They are telling...

Look into the wall of my mind's eye
I think I know, but I don't know why
Questions of the answers you might need

Comin' in a mess, going out in style
I ain't good lookin', but I'm someone's child
No one can give me the air that's mine to breathe

I met my maker, I made him cry
And on my shoulder, he asked me why
As people won't fly through the storm
I said listen up now, we don't even know you're born

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Helicopters and how you see the world..

Look, a Chinook. Via SierraHiker. Usual rules apply.

One of the great mysteries of this business is how management speak infiltrated the ad world. Mostly bollocks, of course (drilling down, to me, still sounds like some peculiar sexual deviation), but there's one term I actually quite like, and thought I'd write about.

Namely, taking a helicopter view of something.

For those who can't be bothered to click on the link, it relates to a 'general outline or an overview' of something - say a brand, a positioning, and so forth.

For those of you choking on your bourbon (or ginger nut, if you go in for that sort of thing - and I do, mmm), bear with me.

I love nuanced brand thinking. I loved, absolutely adored the Rayban 'Never Hide' virals (one found here), which was shown to me by Messrs Frith and Law, via the wonders of t'internet. And yes, it was phenomenally successful for Rayban. But that's not to say it'll be enjoyed, much less adopted, by the vast majority of the population. Nope.

What I want to contest is that for all the nuanced, brilliantly crafted thinking in the world , there's a place for the more generalised, 'helicopter view' work, and just thinking in general.

I mean, look at the way I see big, global, worldwide brand ideas. I may not see them precisely in the same way as Fredrik does (though I love the last three diagrams), but instead more like this analogy.

Good big, global brand ideas are a lot like painting by numbers. The framework is there, but they don't make sense until they are reinterpreted by whichever agency is trying to do the work in the local market (and why would they? The best work is almost always local - I can't remember the last bit of global work which made my jaw drop).

I think the point Rob makes in the comments of Fredrik's blog is telling..agencies shouldn't try to reinterpret the 'outline' of the idea - that is, mess about with what should be set in stone.

No, they should take the (aha, it links!) helicopter view of the problem. Realise that there are certain lines of protocol (read - brand guidelines) which shouldn't be broken. Honestly, at times, I can't say I blame clients for getting pissy when agencies want to tweak their global brand positioning - by all means slap local interpretation on top of it, but don't mess with a globally aligned bit of thinking which is essential to the whole worldwide campaign making sense.

And the 'helicopter view' is true of job descriptions and employers, it would seem. I hate the terms strategist (how can you be a strategist when, as Rory notes, your grand strategy is binned after 18 months?), comms planner (isn't EVERYTHING comms?) , channel planner (ah, so I don't plan in channels?) and integrated planner (if a planner wasn't integrated, I'd worry about his/her job).

I'd steadfastly refuse to be put into a box when it comes to that sort of thing - speaking personally, I am a planner. I plan. It doesn't matter which channel - headhunters and employers note; if I've done work on digital campaigns, or ATL, it doesn't mean I'm going to be that for the rest of my career.

It may be a bit of a broad brushstroke, but Christ - the helicopter view, in my opinion, is right when it comes to my job description. I will specialise in something (and we all know I don't like the abuse of the term creative generalism much), but I'm sure I can be trusted to plan in other disciplines - in much the same way as 'traditional' creatives can work on a digital campaign.

Phew. Got a bit ranty there for a second...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Money, Money Moooney...Moooooney..

I'd quite like one of these when I grow up. Courtesy of Mat Skull. Usual rules apply.

Or, otherwise titled 'When cashflow goes bad'.

Ahem. Anyway...when I was in University, one of my flatmates decided that he wanted to be an Actuary. Given that he's probably the brightest mathematician I know (and this includes a chap at Merrill Lynch), it seemed to make sense. His overall life goal was to - I kid you not - to own and swim in a Scrooge McDuck esque Money Bin.

A pretty fair ambition, if a little bit fantastic. You're probably wondering what this has to do with the post. Well, yesterday, I had a couple of financial realisations, and how they impact on my behaviour.

1) I'm pretty poor at the moment. Sadly, freelancing doesn't quite cover all of my living expenses (yes, I really needed that goldplated bookmark). And as you may or may not know, you need money to live - especially to truly experience a great city like London. So this lack of funds is a bit of a pest, to be honest - especially when I'm poorer than I was as a student.

And yes, it does impact on what I do at the moment. Which I detest. Still, I'm reminded of the Fight Club quote "It's only after you've lost everything that you're free to do anything". I may not have lost everything, but this period of my life has certainly helped give me perspective.

I hate being beholden to anyone, hate being in debt, and hate feeling like I'm one shopping trip away from living in someone's pockets. It could be argued that I'm living the plot of Keep The Aspidistra Flying, which would be hugely ironic, as it's my favourite book ever. It has helped strengthen my resolve - I'm not going to get sucked into any truly bad financial situations, and hear me now, I'll make a success of things. Just you wait and see.

2) Being 'close to the money' is damned scary. Marcus's post about this really resonated with me. You see, I have another confession to make. From a comparatively young age, I've had an idea of the financial rumblings at my father's agency. And after having a conversation with him yesterday, to say it put my own worries into perspective would be pretty fair.

This really strikes a chord with me, and this kind of financial osmosis is why I'm so happy to be a part of Ad Grads (apparently we got into Campaign today - woo hoo!). If I can impart on graduates the importance of having an idea of just what financial pressures are at play in an ad agency, well, then the blog will have partly have done its job.

Advertising is not just London (much as I love the London ad scene). And in some ways, being aware that London is a little bubble, with clients willing to spend big on the latest ad/social networking trend, and that, if you get in, you're damned privileged...well, that should be said to everyone. Realising that cash is the deciding factor behind everything is a lesson everyone should learn. Bluntly, we are all here to shift product.

Essentially, money breeds cold hard reality. But it also breeds unreal expectations, and the sooner those are kept in check, the better.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

It's funny, the more I practice, the luckier I get...

The great Gary Player, possibly the best bunker player ever. The picture's from justaregularbloke. Usual rules, etc.

Regular, or astute readers will know that I hold golf very dear to my heart (yes, I'm actually 55, just masquerading as a 23 year old). I think only Dino and myself play the game on the plannersphere. The above quote is from one of the greats of the game, Gary Player, and it came about when a journalist asked him how he was so good out of bunkers.

It's a classic. And very true, and relevant to a lot of how I think people should be generally.

I'm crap at drawing. But I bet you that if I practiced (yes, Zero, I'll get round to it eventually), I'd get much much better. It's that fear of failing (and not having a lot of time at the moment) which keeps me from doing more.

And that's a nonsense, when you think about it. How the hell can I talk about something, say discuss creative thinking, when I've never ever really tried to do it myself? I mean, I can talk with some reasonable authority on the topic of web design and HTML, as my belaboured efforts in the mid 90s (now happily lost in the mists of AOL Press and Altavista) show. I might not be able to code properly, but at least I can root my thinking and discussion in something.

Now, I'm all for people trying for integration in agencies (even though, at times, it risks being a massively overused buzz word, up there with viral and web 2.0). But for God's sake, don't try and tell me you're an integrated planner/account handler/creative if you've never ever done what you claim to be integrated in yourself - knowing the mechanics of DM, being aware/having tried coding of some description, and most importantly, knowing how businesses work. Most people are culpable of this. Indeed, I think planners (and junior planners, in particular - I include myself in this critique) spend too much time in the theoretical and not enough time in the practical.

It's why I praise artists, account handlers and people who have to physically deliver the goods. Sure, I can spout Barthesian theory, come up with convoluted theories about twitter, or debate, ad infinitum, about where the agency model is going. But it matters not a jot if I've not done the legwork beforehand. Physically gone and seen how different cultures live, act and are, along with people in different jobs. No, I'm not contending that I should spend a year learning the intricacies of, say a job clientside which is wholly different to what I'm going to do in my job.

But I completely reject the notion that a simple factory visit, say, is enough to get under the skin of how a product is made - it's like me watching some Spanish language TV and claiming to be able to speak fluent Spanish on the back of it. No, no no. Just not true.

Ultimately, you have to be able to do more than empathise. You have to be able to have done, or at least attempted things. And keep doing them. THAT'S what makes a good planner, or indeed 'Wannabe Ad Man', whatever the stage in their career.

It's partly why I want to play a big part in Ad Grads, a blog I'm helping co-author. I don't want a generation of ad folk to live in the theoretical, especially those who look at planning and think 'ah yes, that sounds pretty hands off - I could do that'. Getting your hands dirty and learning from a wide range of sources should be prized like never before, especially given media's divergence. If you can actually say 'oh, I've coded x' or 'Yeah, I can illustrate Y' as an account handler, say, it should be oh so useful. And THOSE people will change the industry. Not some cliche driven, marketing buzz word ad wannabe.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Here's to you, Account Handlers...

Max Clifford: The ultimate account handler? Thanks to ijazphoto, usual rules apply.

Frankly, I'm a little tired of hearing/reading about how planners are the next rock Gods, saviours of the agency world and generally, would end world hunger if they just produced a big enough pie chart.

No, today, I want to focus on those who represent the agency, the account handlers.

In the digital landgrab that is blogging, twittering and other such mediums, they've been curiously silent, or so it would seem. Well, why's this a surprise?

And no, it's not what the more cynically minded would have it - 'they've got nothing to say'. Bollocks. Absolute toss, in fact. That sort of view makes me angry. Unlike we planners, with our occasional ivory tower world view - hell, we're paid to think, for the most part - account handlers have to ALWAYS be on the go, multi-tasking constantly. It's no surprise not many of them are blogging (barring the indefatigable Nicola Davies - her blog's great).

I know this, partly because I was a damnably awful account handler. My worrying nature meant that even when I got the job right, I'd still be concerned that it was wrong, and occasionally the opposite would happen - I'd not get the job right because I wasn't worried about precisely how it would look.

But I'm so glad I had that experience. Because it makes me realise just what a skill it is to be a good account handler, and makes me more empathetic when they've got to deal face to face with a very difficult client. Sure, planning has to meet clients - but not to the same degree as account management.

And the job is hard, hard work. Especially, it seems to me, at junior levels. At it's worst, you get shat on by all and sundry, and have little to no input into the strategic direction of the campaign. And God knows, I know enough bright account handlers who have become planners. But I'd like to try and stem the tide, at least slightly.

For the best account handlers (and believe me, the job gets more strategic as you become more senior) are the rocks on which new agencies are founded. CHI and DLKW both have been phenomenally successful, due in a large part to their account handling prowess (yes, the strategic and creative departments have had a lot to do with it as well). If you can sell, are charming (and know what's going on all over the place) there's always a place for you, at any agency.

And it's a fantastic job if you like meeting new people, challenging clients, representing the agency's interests, and generally being a bloody good salesman, able to paint pictures in clients' minds (hopefully without overpromising, the cardinal sin). You'll go very very far.

I just hope we as in industry don't paint a picture of account management as a glorious pipedream - surely, by being honest and saying 'yes, you do have to do a lot of photocopying in the beginning' is the way to approach matters; some naive stereotype is not the way to go about things.

NB: I've always preferred the term account handler - I don't quite subscribe to the belief that accounts can be fully managed; real life is always too chaotic for that. Heh.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Everyone Loves Music (And Podcasts)

There may be violin. I just don't know. Thanks GBST Ron, usual rules apply.

Eh? Don't you?

Well, you can't say that this blog doesn't live to give from time to time.

Yes, it's that time when I bore you with music (or excite you?).

Anyway, happy Wednesday, because here are all of my podcasts for you (including the newest, the 7th):

Oh No Cucumber Sandwiches 1

Oh No Cucumber Sandwiches 2

Oh No Cucumber Sandwiches 3

Oh No Cucumber Sandwiches 4

Oh No Cucumber Sandwiches 5

Oh No Cucumber Sandwiches 6

Oh No Cucumber Sandwiches 7

You can, of course, just scroll down and click on the little men who drum to listen to it from this webpage, if you'd like. But if you want one to take home with you, click on the links. I think there's a limit on the amount of downloads you can make in a day - but hell, surely too much music means you don't appreciate it? Heh.

Also, if you want to know the tracklisting, here it is...(but it is a little like finding out what you got for Christmas, eh?)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Craft skills and a man named Smithy..

A Matthew Smith original. Used by permission.

This is going to be a bit of a rant, a bit of a thought..(aren't they all?)

Right. Craft skills. People talk a good game about these, but really what I think they're trying to say is that advertising, branding and most things in life should be about having actual talent at things - people who can write well, draw, make things, are technologists etc. I'm going to talk about drawing and visualisation.

I have no talent at drawing. None whatsoever. It's worse than my legendarily bad handwriting (which looks like a combination between a drunken, half blind spider, a spirograph and a seismograph). Whilst I'd like to think that I can think vaguely visually, I'm a wordy person at heart. That said, I know that being able to actually draw is going to become damned important.

Not just being a photoshop wizard (though that's obviously damned important).

And I'd like to draw your attention to two people who are pretty damned fine at drawing, visualisation, and all the bits inbetween.

One is Cookie (Simon Cook). Cookie works at Poke London, and is fantastically talented. I urge you all to subscribe to his blog, just to see (in addition to what new work he uncovers on a daily basis) his work. I'm a big fan (especially the Alexisms - pure genius). someone I went to school with, actually. He's an illustrator called Matthew Smith. His blog is here, and some of his work can be found here and here. Like Cookie, he loves nothing more than finding new pieces of work, which he posts to his blog. Damned brilliant - especially for a muggins like me, who knows nada about comics really.

Also, unlike Cookie, I know Matt in real life (he was a 'real' friend before blogging - good lord). Matt was one of those fantastically talented guys who drew great illustrations as an aside during Sixth Form English lessons, in addition to reading the odd bit of Shakespeare.

It's these kind of skills that I'm particularly envious of...and those I hope, won't leave the wider advertising world - we need people like these two. Having a way with words, I think, won't ever leave the business; but people who can draw....well, they are worth their weight in gold.

So yes, whenever I talk about craft skills, I'm really looking at people who can draw with green-eyed envy. Keep it up gents.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Congratulations, a Good Luck, and a New Venture..

Thanks to Narunaka. Usual rules apply.

This is going to be short and sweet.

Nina (of Too Small To Be Big) has just got herself a new gig. So congratulations. Lauren (of SheSeesRed) has had a successful viewing of her installation at Spinach. Very well done to you - I also have a photo of the sweary artist addressing the audience, which will be up on my Flickr at some point..

Good luck to Marcus Brown in his new venture, The Ides of March. Anyone who reads this blog who doesn't know Marcus (not many, I wouldn't have thought) should know that he's incredibly perceptive, a fantastic writer, and a very, very bright. I think he's going to do really well.

Finally...a new venture. I've begun to co-write a blog for grads, which can be found here. Sam & Anton from the Ad Lads are helping, along with Jack Bauer from the Brand Republic Forums. We'll be detailing our experiences, and asking some other people (yes, you) to help contribute and guest post.

You can find it here.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Rise of the Ronin....

Thanks to BettyBl. Usual rules apply.

No, not the bad film with Robert De Niro in it (though it does have one good car chase); more the term itself.

Stolen from Wikipedia, it refers to "A masterless samurai during the feudal period (1185–1868) of Japan. A samurai became masterless from the ruin or fall of his master, or after the loss of his master's favor or privilege." These chaps roamed the land, offering up protection to people who could afford it.

Russell has already blogged about this pretty extensively (yes, he even won the 'Battle of Big Thinking' with some thinking on the topic), and is living it with the OIA.

And I've been thinking about it myself a bit recently. Given that I've been through the demise of an agency, with people scattered to the four winds, I've only now been able to get a rough idea of just what everyone's up to (yes, Facebook helps).

What struck me is how many people are freelancing at the moment; whether they are experienced or not, whether they are planners or not...and how many seem to have either founded little businesses or already owned them. Russell's words kept ringing in my ears - but it took living through what I've done in the last few months to truly appreciate it.

People living lives on their own terms - it's very easy to SAY you are going to do it, or pick a brand which seems to suggest you are doing it (but often is complete lies - like choosing a branded coffee or water to claim exclusivity; and yes, I buy 'em too), but DOING it is quite another thing.

Even just into my planning career, I seem to be doing bits and bobs as well. Which is great - it's always nice to be wanted. But why should this be?

Well, people always value outside help. Rob @ Cynic's post about making pitches and client presentations above and beyond expectation seems to chime here. Bring in an informed outsider/expert, and you can simultaneously get a series of valuable insights whilst keeping overheads and margins down.

And with all the current confusion over just how planning is evolving (notably by Mark Earls, Mark Hancock, Gareth Kay and Zeus Jones), and whether it should still be called even be called planning, makes this Ronin debate even more interesting. If these experts have such doubt - and Stephen King himself was amazed planning was still same some 30 years on - then perhaps we need to re-evaluate.

I don't think the core message the communications/marketing disciplines are trying to get across has changed that much, but the vehicles for delivery are massively, massively different. As you'd expect.

I'm willing to bet that I multitask online to a far, far greater degree than my father say, and lightyears ahead of his father. It's not just being bombarded with messages - the rate at which change occurs is driving this fragmented landscape. It shouldn't be surprising that how we process information is accelerating with ever-increasing rapidity. So, the old model for planning does look a little dusty in that regard. But does it need changing?

Personally, (and this does have relevance, honestly) I'm enjoying having a basic, pay as you go phone at the moment - no pressure on me to ring someone (and not everyone knows my number; both a blessing and a curse). It'll change when I get another contract phone through my insurance - the pace of life will up again. Perhaps advertising can be accused of increasing this pace of life.

Certainly, ads can be seen to be urban graffiti nowadays- just legitimised by big companies...and that point of view is interesting, because it changes how and why you advertise. WCRS's new mega spot for Sky illustrates this point. Advertising is not an immediate 'go to' for agencies - nor is it championed by the Ronin - simply because it doesn't have to be; there's no network bottom line to support, or agency to fund.

Coming back to my point about Ronin - nowadays, we must not lose sight of our core skills, or core competancies; I fear that the rush to ever newer 'mobile phones'/shiny objects/planning techniques could lead to the discipline being irrevocably damaged, and very hard to take seriously. 'Advertising for Advertising's Sake' is hopefully dying a quiet death somewhere.

The WCRS spot seems to indicate that advertising is beginning to realise just what's what, and how people value a bit of peace and quiet and above all - to have the choice to tune out or in, right down to their employment decisions.

And yes, being self aware is oh so important, now more than ever. To know what you are good at and what you can do in these roamin' Ronin times. It's why I think the next great internet company may be on the verge of re-evaluating/reappraising how we work, and reformulating our job descriptions.

Some form of more practical content aggregator, something like Huddle, I think. Imagine something like Facebook, only a Facebook that your employer, client and various other freelancers had work on, could view your work, approve it and so forth. You could even customise them to suit the client (making a client portal). It's like having an online creative services assistant, which I think is very clever.

I've just been playing about with it and it's very interesting, especially in light of the recent San Diego Account Planning Conference, my former agency colleagues and my own situation.

Counter to all of this of course is the notion of the 'virtual agency', and how it could become reality. Well, I don't think the agency in its current form will die - I still think the best advertising work happens in bigger teams; with one person taking responsibility for the strategy, one for the client and one for the creative.

BUT....I think the convergence of all of these things is incredibly telling, and I think that whomever can harness this Ronin movement (as Huddle may yet be able to - try it for free here) will do very, very well indeed. We shall see.

Thoughts, readers?

More PSFK - Get It While It's Hot....

Hello there. Regular readers will recall me writing a missive about the PSFK London Conference, writing about the first 3 people I saw (prior events stopped me writing the rest up - let me know if you'd like to read my thoughts on the rest) and so forth.

Anyway, it has been brought to my attention that there's going to be another one going on. Here is the blurb, if you can't be arsed to click the above link:

"It happens 18th September in West Hollywood. Here's the scoop on who's talking:

We have celebrated street artist Shepard Fairy talk about his art and commercial work, we have Missy from Suicide Girls talk about the rise of her empire, we have Blair Witch co-creator Mike Monello talk about the future of content, LA Times digital director Jason Oberfest talk about what the hell a newspaper's supposed to do is this sea of change, we have a bunch of superb LA journalists & bloggers talk about why LA culture matters to the rest of the world, we have the founder of Fred Water explain the birth of his brand, we have folk from Nokia, Starbucks, Sony BMG, Yahoo! talking, we have lots of others - and - we have George Parker bringing up the rear."

Would you like to attend? Well, if you would (and sadly, I can't), but would like a discount, get this early bird special (a bloody good deal that runs out in about two weeks time). However, if you miss that bad boy, try this one (which also seems to be valid for a similar length of time).

Never let it be said that I'm not attentive to my audience. I can't make it, but I hope one or two of you can make looks cracking.

Monday, August 06, 2007

It's a bit special (and I don't like Pullman much)..

Thanks to Ascetic Monk. Usual rules apply.

Well, I'm no massive Philip Pullman fan (despite his obvious love of Paradise Lost, a book which I wrote my dissertation on).

But the film of the first book, Northern Lights, looks like it might be halfway decent (even if it shouldn't be called the Golden Compass).

What's even more impressive than the trailer is the work that's gone into the microsite. It's damned brilliant.

Something that makes it even better is that you can answer questions to find out which creature (or Daemone) you are. Here's mine:

The clever bit is that you can amend mine (and I can amend yours, if you put it on your blog or MySpace/Facebook).

As a result, I can find out what animal my friends think I am, and what personality traits you think I have (or don't have, as the case may be).

This is a great example - along with the Simpsons avatar generator - of an infectious, relevant, interesting bit of digital work. Does anyone know which agency did the work? I couldn't find out.

Whomever it was, congratulations - it's the first 'branded entertainment' site in a while that I've stopped and played with.

Waking Up...

Well, it's been a few days. Getting back into some form of routine now - doing some freelance, arguing with insurance companies (one thing I've learned is to read the small print..sheesh) and so on.

What is perhaps most marked is my attitude to my things. The realisation that, just perhaps, it is just stuff after all. All the branding, and all the values my things convey - well, they are just that - held in my mind's eye, and can be forever changed.

I keep coming back to the notion that things could have been a lot worse, and the reactions of other people - asking whether I was ok and so forth, and all I was thinking about was 'who cares? My stuff's been pinched'. Small minded? Yes, probably. In hindsight I should have been worrying more about myself, but it's not in my nature to do that (and yes, it's still a pisser my watch and mobile have gone).

Essentially, the title of the post alludes to the fact that no, I'm not going to be quite so short-sighted any more. I'm going to focus on what matters in my life - health, friends, and my happiness. Really place it at the centre. No, I'm not going to adopt a strange religion or abandon advertising, but I am going to re-frame how I think about the world.

If it does nothing else, it completely banishes a professional trap plannery folk fall into - believing the rest of the world values the brand as highly as we do. It's nonsense - people value things that they've always valued...desires and wants, sure, but friends/family a lot more.

Normal half baked nonsense will resume with the next post. Just needed to get that 'un off my chest. (I'm still after a cane though).

Saturday, August 04, 2007

What a mug.

Suffice to say, it wasn't as pleasant as this. Photo by Yogi, usual rules apply.

As you may or may not know, I've had a reasonably traumatic last few days. Tweets probably explain things better.

So yes, to say I'm moderately distressed at the moment would be a bit of an understatement. After going for a few drinks/a spot of cheeky networking at Mark's bash (and talking a reasonably large amount of rubbish - it was great fun), I decided to catch a bus home.

Got off, wandered home, down a side street to cut a bit of time off the journey. I don't remember much of what happened next, but I was kicked to the floor and my watch was wrenched from my wrist, £15 and my mobile were taken. No cards were taken, happily. I think the people were just looking for an easy target and for stuff they could sell.

I don't know how long I lay in the street, but I got up and wandered home, getting in at the small hours of the morning.

I then got in touch with the police and 3 mobile (who, despite negative publicity I've been reading, were bloody brilliant). Filed a report (and that was odd as well - you never think it's going to happen to you) and I'm just about to commence talking to my insurance company to try and get cash back for my possessions.

The oddest thing about it all is how much of it I don't remember, and how bits and bobs keep coming back to me. Like how, whilst on the floor, I tried to stop my watch being taken (I've got a lovely set of cuts and bruises on my left hand). And how that watch means so much to, even when incapacitated, I kept thinking about my family traditions and how important those were.

And then you stop and think about things - I could have been bloody killed, or be really really hurt. That all I have is a limp in my left leg (note to anyone I'm meeting this week, I'll try not to be late, but I'm not used to restricted movement), and that I could have been brain damaged or whatever. It doesn't bear thinking about, to be honest with you.

So what've I learned? That my friends and family really look out for me. The number of Facebook messages, calls, tweets and various other things has been amazing. One of my flatmates even came to the police station with me. Thank you all.

I've also realised that the police are brilliant. At least in my area. They are great at covering off the angles and generally getting things done.

I've learned that my health is far more important than any watch, mobile or any possession. It's woken me up to myself. And, yes, I'll get a taxi at 3 in the morning from now on. It was damn stupidity to do otherwise.

Going forward, I think my natural optimism may be irrevocably changed. But that might not be for the worse; not everyone is sweetness and light, and nutters will prey on people they think are easy marks. I'll be more careful, and be a bit more self aware. Also, I have a temporary mobile number for the next few days. Email me if you want it, or check my Facebook page.

On a lighter note - does anyone have a cane? I've always wanted one, and now I can make use of one. At least for the next week or so...heh.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Do you like Digital Advertising?

Thanks to hopskipjump. Usual rules, yada yada.

Well, do you? If the answer is yes, no, probably or only on Tuesdays, you owe it to yourself to read this, the 7 Deadly Sins of Digital. Good advice for marketeer, advertising bod or normal person alike.

Brought to you by Iain Tait's blog. Read it, if you don't already. Go on.
Google Analytics Alternative

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner