Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Review of 2009

Real Men Write Long Copy has never been one to lazily spout out a few half-baked thoughts on a topic two weeks after everything that could possibly be said about it has been said.

But I know you’re all hankering after my carefully considered opinion and insights on the decade’s most self-absorbed year. So here goes.

Best ad

The Facebook Whopper Sacrifice thing.

Best sandwich

Rare roast beef with melted cheese from Make Mine.

Best place to hide from having to do work

Disabled toilet/shower on the ground floor. Warm, roomy and with a lock on the door, you can comfortably spend all day in there safe from the clutches of Traffic.

Best moment of the year

Just now when Carole came round with mince pies and I made a nice cup of tea.

Best waste of time

Choosing between blogging and tweeting for this award is possibly the hardest decision of all. But I’m going to go with blogging, just for the spectacularly pathetic way I hit refresh every three minutes hoping someone’s left a comment, even when I haven’t posted anything for a week. Then, on the rare occasions someone does comment, my euphoria is immediately punctured when I see it’s only another one from snoxishere.

Best moody Campaign shot

It's been another storming year, with so many strong contenders. But this guy’s got it all: the steely gaze into the middle distance, the chiselled jaw and, just to send him over the edge, a fantastic name: Ringan Ledwidge. Mind you, I s’pose you can get away with a pose like this when you’re really good.

And with that whimper, I’m signing off for 2009. See you all in 2010 for more of the same. Or possibly even something good.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Will they never learn?

“Hey guys, I’ve got a great idea for the agency Christmas card!”

The guy doing pelvic thrusts while standing on his chair at 2:10 is a probably the low point, although it seems churlish to try to pinpoint one.

I'm embedding this but I know it'll be disabled within hours when common sense invades one of their tiny minds.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Away in a manger (that's manger as in the French for 'to eat', see?)

Sorry I haven’t posted much lately. My stupid colleagues keep winning new business. I don’t mean that in a look-at-us-we-keep-winning-new-business way. It’s not me that’s won it, it’s them. Stupid colleagues.

In the nanoseconds snatched between working with our noses to the grindstone whilst keeping our heads above water yet below the parapet and buried under an avalanche of work, we’ve begun to put together this nativity scene.

Now those of you who know me will know I’m a big fan of Jesus and genuine a God botherer.

“So why the heresy?” I hear you cry.

Well, not only is the baby Jesus not there, but in the place of his manger is a plaster cast of Mrs Realmenwritelongcopy’s teeth.

It is a biting comment (HONK!) on the commercialisation of Christmas.

I’m well pleased with the golden rabbit as the angel Gabriel and the donkey as the, er, donkey. But I’ve not decided yet whether the dudes on the left are wise men or shepherds.

I’ve still got some spaces to fill as we’re running out of stupid crap that creatives keep around their desk. So please feel free to send in any additions.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holding the scalpel are 110 politicians who are spending too long having lunch

Last weekend Mrs, mini and myself went along to The Wave, the biggest climate change protest EVER.

It was baby RMWLC's first protest. (It turns out that taking a little 'un to an event where you're hemmed in by thousands of people and trying to push a buggy isn't as good an idea as it sounds. There wasn't too much peace and love among the beardies by the end of it I can tell you.)

Today I happened upon this rather good blog-for-the-week by Andy Cato from Groove Armada (they're a rock band I think). He writes very well and scarily about the summit in Copenhagen, I liked his tailpiece:

So humanity is on the operating table in Copenhagen, with 13 days left to save it. On one side of the operating theatre there are all the worlds’ experts, united in their call that to save the patient requires decisive, immediate action.

On the other side, there are the Saudis, the Dubai delegation, Niger, the new Canadian Oil Barons and Fox News urging us that we’re fine, we haven’t got much of a temperature yet so we should go out and enjoy ourselves. And here’s a pack of cigarettes on us.

Holding the scalpel are 110 politicians who are spending too long having lunch.

Watch this space.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How to be creative

There are lots of ways to kill time at work, from making a collage of cuttings from the lingerie section of the BHS catalogue, to doing actual work.

Whatever you get up to, it’s important you’re doing everything you can to nurture your own creativity.

Some do this by taking a walk, or reading award annuals, which is all a bit desperate. If you can't even get inspired in an original way, what hope do you have of having an original idea?

So, to help you all be more successful, I've compiled my top 5 ways to foster creativity at work:
1. Strip down to your vest and run up and down the stairwell pretending you’re John McClane in Die Hard. (The last thing Realmenwritelongcopy wants is to be a hero. But he doesn't have a choice.)

2. Read Campaign. It’s so dull, it’ll make you want to make a paper cut clean through your own jugular. Which is a pretty creative way to end yourself.

3. Challenge everyone in the agency to an arm wrestle.

4. Spend time around creative people. It’s unlikely that their creativity will rub off on you. But they might have a good idea you can steal.

5. Strip off in the toilet and spend several minutes gaping at your own nakedness in the full-length mirror. I for one find this an extremely inspiring sight. For an added rush, leave the door unlocked.

Hopefully these tips will help you become more creative. Why not give them a go? Then share in the comments how I’ve helped you produce groundbreaking, award-winning creative.

Friday, November 27, 2009

My special friend

As the regular readers of this blog will know (or would-be regular readers if I still regularly wrote), I have a special friend.

We began blogging around the same time and have developed a ‘special relationship’. A relationship built on mutual respect and admiration that has at times bordered on the homoerotic.

His name is Adland Suit.

Now everyone knows that account men spend all their time gadding about in tight trousers and pointy shoes talking loudly about how marvellous they are.

So it comes as a massive shock to see one doing something worthwhile.

He’s decided to give up his anonymity. And, worried that unveiling his true identity will be a crushing disappointment (and rightly so, I know who he is and he really is eye-wateringly dull) he’s decided to at least make some money for a good cause from it.

So here’s the plan. We all donate a couple of quid to Marie Curie and in exchange he’ll reveal himself. And buy us a beer. Plus, the biggest donator gets taken out for lunch (charged to one of his clients).

So come on people of adland, don’t delay, donate today!!!!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chowder sales are up

Now this is clever.

Ivar’s Seafood Restaurant in Seattle released a story about how its founder anchored billboards in the Sound back in the 1950s, in anticipation of people one day travelling by submarine and seeing their ads.

They then announced they were going to haul up the billboards (cue PR madness).

I guess the moral is, it’s okay to play a hoax on folks. Just make sue it's as clever as this. Apparently, chowder sales have quadrupled.

(I actually had this same idea, but with ads being written on balloons and released into the sky because people would one day travel by plane. I can see how maybe billboards underwater does work a bit better though.)

Found this story on The Denver Egotist.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Creative cleansing

Is it just me or is anyone else finding it increasingly difficult to get work through?

Presumably this is a result of the recession and clients being more cautious with their budget. Whatever it is, I’m finding I have to do increasingly demeaning and sordid things to sell stuff in.

It’s got so bad now that Mrs RMWLC always knows when I’m presenting work because I’ll leave the house in tight shorts and a low-cut top.

Which is fine except I’m beginning to wonder how much further I can go. Even as I type this I’m sat at my desk in nothing but a negligee and it’s well draughty I can tell you.

But those I present to are constantly baying for more, licking their lips then dropping pens on the floor and demanding I slowly pick them up going “oooh ahhh”.

So what’s the answer?

The more I think about it, the more I believe that this is a time when our industry needs a new breed of creative. One that is less focussed on the work and more focussed on pointing at it seductively and pouting.

You can see things are already going that way. Junior creatives today are at least 10% better looking than their counterparts from a couple of years ago. And students now are generally expected to include a few glamour shots in their books. Otherwise, how does the CD know what you’re capable of?

But is there an ugly side to the beautiful creative department?

Of course we're told there’s still a place for the old-fashioned ugly, talented creative in the modern agency. What they don't mention is that that place is generally dark and windowless.

Here at Partners, we use the bike storage facility. Briefs are simply slipped under the door and scamps are passed back a few hours later. Then, the more aesthetically-pleasing creatives can present the work and our creative Quasimodos can do their job without scaring clients or small children.

But I can't help worrying there's a price to all this. Once I lose my youthful good looks and my firm thighs have begun to sag, will I also be cast into the darkness? Anyone?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

If you like laughing at humour, you'll love this

I like having fun and laughing at humorous things. Maybe you do too?

I found this on Think Chimp which is also humorous.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Don’t flatter yourselves, Mortimer Street girls

Actually I was just looking out of the window because I was thinking and you happened to be in front of my eyes when I was staring.

Anyway I can still see you. Especially you on the right. I call you Phoebe because you're the fun, kooky one (like in Friends, gettit?)

Friday, November 6, 2009

How to get your brother in trouble

I came up with this little trick after one too many dead arms.

Whenever my brother did something to upset me, I figured out a way to make sure any punishment meted out by mum could be magnified tenfold.

Instead of running to mummy, I would actually HIDE my pain from her. (I know, it’s a little counter-intuitive but stay with me.)

I would go to the end of the garden and weep at the grave of Betty the hamster. (Betty my soul mate. Betty, the only one who ever really understood me. Betty who was snatched from me so young WHY?????)

I lurked at her graveside, knowing only too well that mum would see her little Davi-dums in distress and come to find out who had upset her special boy.

A little “Oh it’s nothing really” or “I’m sure he didn’t mean it” was all it took for mum to not only open an enormous can of whoopass, but shake the can violently beforehand.

Now I’m not saying I owe my brother anything.

But I would like to point you to these rather nice pictures he’s done on his iPhone.

Here are a couple of my favourites. See his new blog here. (I'll take 15% on any commissions, thank you.)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Where this industry went wrong

Yesterday, because I had an awful lot of words to write, I decided to leave my glasses at home. As a result, I spent the day squinting at my computer screen as if it were the actual sun.

Oh how I yearned for yesteryear. You see there was a time, a happier time, when hacks like myself would simply handwrite their chosen clichés for that day and give their scribblings to a secretary who would then type it up.

Which made me wonder, whatever happened to these typing angels? Were they all made redundant with the advent of the personal computer?

Well, a little research was very revealing. What in fact happened was, once their typing skills were no longer needed, these secretaries were increasingly asked to draw up the writer’s ideas.

Over the years, this role slowly evolved into what’s known today as Art Director.

‘So how did we end up with the shower of prima donnas and halfwits we have today?’ I hear you cry.

Well, as the first generation of secretaries retired, new art directors were recruited from art school under the misguided assumption they’d be better at drawing.

This had many drawbacks. Not only did this new crop bring with them massive egos and mediocre drawing skills, they also lacked the basic skills required to do their job – namely, making tea and answering the phone.

Which goes a long way to explaining the current malaise in the London ad industry. Whereas in other countries, industry institutions have addressed the issue and retrained art directors to make decent tea, D&AD has persisted with these ridiculous ‘art director workshops’ on typography or whatever.

As if that matters! Art direction really isn’t that complicated. Just get the photographer to take a nice picture then stick the headline in massive in a nice readable font like Times New Roman or Arial. Done.

Now go and make the tea and get it RIGHT this time.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Join me in the world’s most audacious cybersnub

I know you’re as dumbfounded as me that I was overlooked at this year’s BIMA Award for best blog.

I managed to steal their special ‘vote for me’ button though.

BIMA 2009 - Best Blog: Vote for me!

So I’d like to ask you all to click through to the site, shake your fist at the screen to register your displeasure, then close the window really fast so you don’t help their traffic stats.

That should do it. They can’t ignore me forever!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Real men have died writing long copy

Long copy is a very tricky thing.

Because it’s a horrible fact of life that the more words you write, the more there are for people to disagree with.

Before you know it, you can find yourself embroiled in rounds of amends so endless and dispiriting, they make the Hundred Years’ War look like a small spat with the in-laws.

The copy goes back and forth back and forth until you can no longer remember what you're writing about or why.

Then just when you've become really disillusioned with the whole thing and decide you can’t write a single word more, they ask you to do a complete rewrite.

The client asks for a rewrite not because you’ve lost the original energy and direction of the piece.

It’s because it’s been going on so long, all the people who first briefed you have died.

A whole new generation of people have since grown up and begun working on it. And they have no idea what their forefathers first intended when they began the project.

I have a job like this going on at the moment.

Records suggest that when my great-great-grandfather was first briefed, it was a letter to aristocrats and dandies launching the first ever brand of moustache wax.

But over the years, through endless drafts and redrafts, it’s slowly evolved into an email and microsite for a leading brand of anti-virus software.

What’s most galling about this particular job is that at several points we’ve been so close to seeing it run. Then, each time, something’s come up at the last moment. Apparently at one point we had sign-off from all the clients involved , but then World War II started and the whole thing got put on hold.

Some people could get depressed at the thought their work will still be going on long after they’ve ‘passed on’.

But I realise my project is in good company. Raphael's Transfiguration. Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Tupac’s R U Still Down?

I take great comfort in the thought that some small part of me will live on through these endless rewrites.

Or at least it will if they don’t change every single fricking word.

Friday, October 23, 2009

We are all Ian

Wondering what this post would read like if it were written by someone intelligent? Read the new Planningplusone.
Here are some things that anger me on the underground:
• People looking at me funny
• People breathing wrong
• People looking at me funny whilst breathing wrong
• People looking miserable
• People smiling but sarcastically
• People walking in front of me but 0.00001mph slower than I like to walk

London is the angry capital. And I would be the King of Angry, if it weren’t for the fact everyone else seems to be angry too.

Which is why I’m not too sure about the campaign to get that tube worker sacked.

Yes he is a horrible little person. But aren’t we all?

I am, at any given moment, only one elbow nudge from throwing an innocent old man under a train. I mean, let’s be honest, who hasn’t at one time or another deliberately tripped a nun who pushed past us on the escalator? Or at least thought about it?

There's something about the underground that brings out the worst in people. Like firearms. And the 80s.

My worry is, it feels like the twitmob is out of control. My twitter feed is starting to read like the letters section of The Daily Heil.

Sure, twitter is for protesting. But that means real issues like free press and democracy. Not, ‘he’s got long hair and an annoying face and shouts so let's get him sacked’

The problem with being involved in a campaign against someone mean is that it’s mean, no?

Principally, tweets should be a force for all that is funny and dumb.

For example, here are some which have made my world a better place recently:

@adlandsuit: When faced with a dilemma, just take a breath and ask yourself the all-important question: What would Atomic Kitten do?

@Elika: Hang on... Wait... No. Wait... Ah. There it is: my hangover.

@SandwichRich I wish there was a Shewolf in MY closet.

Not to mention following the hilarious trials of @realnickgriffin getting caught with stolen cocktail sausages in his pockets at TV Centre yesterday.

Ridiculing fascists. Now THAT'S what twitter should be about.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Is this the most terrifying thing ever screened?

Someone here just mentioned The Wheelers from Return to Oz and I came over all queer just thinking about them.

I had a little quiet sit and a cup of tea and was feeling okay again. Then I watched this.

Fetch me a very large a cup of camomile somebody.

Why would they put something like this on telly? For kids?!

It’s not lunatics with guns or flesh-eating monsters that really scare you. It’s men with wheels for hands. And things like Chocky. Remember Chocky? That weird green floating nipple thing in the kid’s room? Chilling stuff.

Mum, dad, why did you let me watch this?

Friday, October 16, 2009

I've been to J R Hartley's for lunch. Have you? Didn't think so.

If you’re pregnant, I heartily recommend attending an NCT class.

You get to spend a few hundred quid learning how to say helpful stuff to your partner like “Push”, none of which is useful as in the end they decide to make a neat cut and just pull the baby out of her tummy (why didn’t they just do that in the first place?)

On the plus side, you get to meet lots of nice people.

You go bowling with the other men and give one another hilarious birth-themed names on the scoresheet, like Forceps and Perineum.

Then if you’re really lucky, you have a get-together at your friend Emma’s parents’ house. And it turns out to be the home where they shot the classic Yellow Pages J.R. Hartley ad!

I know!

Sadly, JR wasn’t home. So I got a photo of myself in situ instead.

And here’s my friend Emma playing the part of the daughter.

I’m thinking of turning this into a regular feature and going round other famous ad homes. Here’s my wishlist.

The Ferrero Rocher Ambassador's house.

Flake girl’s house – the nice one in the garden, not the one on the windowsill who in my opinion was a bit slutty.

Gold Blend couple’s house. Although I’d probably feel a bit of a gooseberry, like this poor chap. I can’t stand it when a couple’s all luvvy-duvvy right in front of you. I’d have to shout “I am still here you know”.

So if anyone knows where these guys live, please get in touch.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It’s raining babies

As a child I was told all manner of tales regarding where babies come from. But now I think I've finally got to the bottom of it. Babies come from a recession.

It makes perfect sense. The lack of spare cash to spend on going out means people are left with no alternative but to have sex with their partners.

Since the recession, people here at RMWLC Towers have been falling over themselves to procreate.

In the creative department alone, we’ve had two kids in the last two weeks!

It has to be said that, taking a long term view, having children is not a great way to save money. The average cost of having a child from birth to 21st birthday is said to be £186,032. (That can’t be true by the way. If it is, my parents owe me at least £185,500.)

Simon, the art director wot sits behind me, was so sensitive about costs he actually delivered the child himself. In his bathroom.

Now I’ve said some pretty mean things about art directors in the past but that is IMPRESSIVE. Congratulations Simon and Vicks on baby Sonny.

I’ve shot him here in baby-catching action pose. Apparently the cuddly dolphin here actually bears very little resemblance to his baby. But the look of surprise on his face as his firstborn popped out is pretty much spot on.

And secondly, anyone who reads the comments section will be delighted to hear that Katie the copywriter, who posted under such pseudonyms as Workman 2 and A girl near you, had a baby girl named Lorelie on Monday. Well done Katie!

One of the pitfalls of parenthood is that you can become incredibly boring. You lose all perspective of what is and isn’t interesting for others and just ramble on endlessly about your child.

This isn’t a problem for me, as I was boring before. But the rest of you who are thinking of reproducing should watch out!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bryan is on holiday. Permanently.

Well there’s a nice welcome back.

Not a single, “Did you have a nice time?” or “Missed you”.

Just a lot of, “I read your blog while you were away – Bryan’s really funny” and “Can he do it every week?”

I wouldn’t mind if people were saying it to wind me up, but there’s a horrid ring of sincerity in their voices (you can tell when someone’s being sincere here because everybody turns around and stares).

Yes Bryan was very entertaining. FOR A WEEK. Anyone can blog for a week. He’s a flash in the pan, don’t you see? Like Right Said Fred. Or Stiltskin (remember them?)

Me, I’m U2. Consistently producing the goods. Churning it out. Admittedly the routine has got a bit tired lately – basically the same idea re-hashed over and over. But you're compelled to keep coming back for more because you remember it was good once.

Maybe it'll get good again. Maybe it won't. The point is, Bryan’s gone now and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Not so Rude Tube

If like me you like nothing more than driving over to your girlfriends on a Friday night, only to land in a traffic jam at Wandsworth on the way, sack it off and turn back after an hour of the car overheating, grabbing a MacDonalds on the way to sit and eat on your own in front of the TV, then you may have caught Rude Tube on Channel 4 last night. If not, then this was the best video you missed :-

Hey, Hey it's Friday

Grunders is still giving it some.........

When I lived in Oz in the 90's, the TV there really was a big pile of steaming.................well....... let's just say, it wasn't very good. Nothing typified this more than their Saturday night prime time show 'Hey, Hey, It's Saturday'. It ran for 27 long years.

I see it is back in the news again. TV wise, this really is about as good as it gets in Australia.....................

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Reach Out and Touch Dave

RealmensupportSpurs is back soon. Grunders is still blogging 'til then.

As this is generally a creative blog, maybe I need to write something a bit more arty than what I just eat for my lunch. I was planning on going to the Tate Modern tonight but that shut at 6pm. I was going to blog about that but instead I want to share with you info on a documentary movie that is having a limited release in the next month or so. It is 'The Posters Came From The Walls'.

I was lucky enough to see this film at the NFT early this year and being a slightly mentalist Depeche Mode fan myself, loved every minute of it. It charts peoples obsession with fandom and how their devotion to the synth pop band from Basildon has shaped their lives.

Jeremy Deller and Nicholas Abrahams do a fantastic job, trawling the world to interview Depeche fans and see how their tunes have affected a wide range of individuals. From a homeless guy who was saved by his cassette recording of '101', to Eastern Europeans who equate the Berlin Wall falling with 'Violator', all the way to the fans who dress their whole family up in Depeche costumes. Poignant, surreal, funny and, even sad at times, it showed me that just one song, video, concert, or even a glance from the lead singer at a gig can change someones world forever.

It is showing at the Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Place (inbetween Chinatown and Leics Sq, London) next Saturday 17th October at 10.30am (yep, that's am, not pm). If you are unable to rise that early, it will be rolled out to 15 other sites on December 1st at 6.30pm. Check the website for details :-

Until then, here's Depeche at their peak. They were a big band, you know............

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I love Pret

Realmenholidayinwales is still away. Grunders is still blogging until he’s back.

Gwen Guthrie said ‘Ain’t Nothin’ goin’ on but the rent’ but she obviously didn't have the kinda day I had. First I got Jay Z tickets, but better than that - I went to Pret-a-Manger for my lunch. Crazy.

Here are some Pret facts for you :-
- To get a job at Pret-a-Manger you have a one day trial and then the staff actually vote if they like you or not. A bit like Big Brother – but in reverse. And with sandwiches.

- Today’s soup was Carrot and Coriander. I gave it a miss.

- Pret-a-Manger literally means ‘ready to eat’. I mean, how more direct do you want it ?! It’s like calling a toy store something mental like ‘Toys R Us’. But in French.

- The name ‘Pret a manger’ is slowly being phased out and your local one might actually now be just a ‘Pret’. Please check on your next visit. For this reason the rest of the blog I will adhere to this and they will now only be referred to as ‘Pret’ only.

- I’ve heard in London you are only 3 feet away at any time from a rat. The same could (probably) be said for a branch of Pret in London. If you see a rat in Pret, please let me know.

- Whilst the movie Pret-a-Porter might have gone down well in the States (2 Golden Globes), Pret didn’t. US expansion losses made the company as a whole turnover a loss in 2003.

- Pret sold to a private equity firm for £350m in 2008. The only thing of similar value I could equate this to was Liverpool FC’s debt of the same amount.

- Be careful. The company name PRET could also be confused with a company called ‘Peace Research and Education Trust’. They do tons of good stuff about stopping wars and tanks, so don’t go to them for a sandwich.

- My favourite sandwich is tuna and cucumber. I’ve read reports that tuna fishing is unsustainable but I’ve heard nothing about the cucumbers? I hope they are not under threat also.

- My lunch (pictured above) cost £4.20.

- Also, their website advertises jobs by saying :- ‘We wear jeans, we have legendary parties’. They ain't lying, man. Check this out :-

Ice Cube : then and now

He came 'Straight Outta Compton' and told us how he was going to do something unspeakable to tha Police, but how he's changed. Sweet.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Clowns are funny

Realmenwritelongcopy is on his holidays. Grunders is the guest blogger this week.

Growing up in the 80’s I was at the tail end of Star Wars and space exploration seemed a tiny bit exciting. Space shuttle launches were live on TV, I knew where Cape Canaveral was and R2D2 was my homeie. These days are gone and I no longer care but it does seems that NASA are getting ever more desperate for the public to give a hoot about what they are doing.

First was there plans to put N*SYNC on the moon (not quite true), then Blur lost their Beagle on walkies on Mars but this week’s effort to grab the public interest is the best........ they’ve sent Krusty the Clown into orbit.

Now, if you were a NASA employee and had devoted your life and career to the cosmos, would you really want to be locked in a space station with this bloke Guy Laliberte ? Look at his brilliant quote from his press conference :-

"I'm a person with a pretty high spirit, who's there to crack jokes and make jokes to those guys, and while they're sleeping, you know, I'll be tickling them"

I am assuming that space exploration is a fairly technical exercise and takes a certain level of concentration. So I guess when approaching re-entry / docking / landing on Venus etc, you really could do with some extra fun. A squirt of water from a flower or a balloon animal always lightens the mood.

Whilst I have found this space clown story pleasantly funny, I bet this lady didn't :-

Thursday, October 1, 2009

RealMenWriteLongCopy has gone to Wales for a week

While I’m away, I’ve asked Bryan 'Grunders' Grundy from Finance to ‘guest blog’.

I have no idea what he’s going to write. Or indeed whether he can write. Maybe he'll just post Excel spreadsheets. Whatever happens, I feel confident I've set the bar at a height no one can fall below.

Anyway, don't get used to him. I'll be back before you know it.

Inspiring indifference in my readers

Go on, give in to the hate

Yesterday I read with interest the blog of some young upstart from the States.

Alex Bogusky, or whatever his name is, wrote about success, how you define it and how you go after it. It’s a pretty nice post if you like that sort of thing.

That’s not my point.

Something in his words made his fellow countrymen so furious they almost choked on their collective cheeseburgers and immediately began waving fully-licensed firearms around willy-nilly at anyone daring express an opinion in the land of the free.

The anonymous bloggers bravely accused him of being arrogant, smug and shallow. And having long hair.

Now I couldn’t give two hoots whether he’s arrogant or not. What really upset me is the vitriol he managed to provoke in his readers.

This guy's only been blogging for a month and he’s already upset scores of people. I’ve been at it nine months now and have had virtually no insults in my comments section. Those that have come have been half-hearted at best.

It’s a well-known principle in advertising that our number one challenge is to get a reaction – better to be loved or hated than ignored.

But this is me. The Magnolia of creatives. The plain boiled rice of writers. Not great. Not bad. Just there.

I know there are people in the industry who hate me. They’ve told me as much on several occasions. But even they can’t be arsed to comment. Whereas this Bogusky chap has angered people who’ve never even met him.

Where’s the fairness in that? Come on guys, show me the hatred.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A really deep post about the mysteries of the human mind

The human brain is a true wonder of God’s creation.

I only have one quibble with it, really. Why does it tell me my crap idea is brilliant, when really it must know it’s rubbish because it tells me a bit later?

The upshot is, I end up arguing with my art director about whether it's a good idea or not and then, when my brain finally does tell me it's rubbish, I have to concede the point. Which is a huge black eye for me.

It’s not just work either. The same applies to having ideas in a social setting.

I remember as a youth, my friend and I were invited to play a song in school assembly. Moments before we went on, I decided to jokily dedicate the song to the headmaster.

The song was called Married with Children.

My brain didn’t tell me he’d recently left his wife and kids for the deputy head. Not until I sang the line ‘I hate the way that even though you know you’re wrong, you say you’re right.’ and everyone was staring at the floor looking embarrassed. Oh yes, then it reminded me.

Why doesn’t your brain tell you immediately? Why does it wait?

Well, I asked a clinical psychologist. Her name is Mrs RealMenWriteLongCopy (that’s right, I'm her long-term project). Our conversation went something like this:

Why doesn’t your brain tell you immediately that it’s a rubbish idea?

You could be in a certain mental state, maybe you’re hyped or tired and that affects your judgment.

Like maybe you really want it to be a good idea so that part of your brain convinces the other part of the brain it’s a good idea?

Ummm… maaaaybe.

Can’t you give me a scientific answer with neurons and stuff?

There is no explanation for that on a neuron level.


Maybe one neuron was firing really well and then later you realised it was firing blanks?

Seven years, dear reader. Seven years training plus two in the field and that psycho-babble was the best she could do.

All I know is, until we find an answer for this, I’ll be arguing with my art director and he'll turn out to be right. And that is simply NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Don't be too humble

A couple of years back, I was at the least debauched stag do ever (the groom was a bearded vegetarian Quaker).

During basket weaving, I asked one of my fellow skinny square stags what he did for a living and he told me he'd recently been published. I didn’t hide my admiration. He then went on to explain that the only reason Bloomsbury had published his novel was they were basically rolling in it from Harry Potter and were taking loads of risks.

He continued in a self deprecating vein and by the time I’d completed my raffia flower decorations I’d decided not to bother reading his book as it obviously wasn’t very good.

A couple of years later my dad lent me a novel with the recommendation “You need to read this.” So I knew it was serious.

And he was right. I did need to read it. It was the best thing I’d read in ages. And halfway through I realised (you guessed it) it was my fellow weedy stag’s book.

He’d neglected to mention he’d been nominated for the fricking Booker prize (the longlist, but still).

It’s a peculiar British affliction, putting our own work down and assuming others will contradict us. We ought to sell our stuff. Because often when we breezily say ‘it’s no big deal’ or ‘the idea's not bad’ people believe us.

Unless my dad sets them straight. Which he can't always do, you know.

You need to read this.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Today is my birthday. Oh, it’s no big deal, you know, just another year

We like to celebrate birthdays here at RMWLC Towers.

Usually it’s something of a damp squib with just another employee that no one’s really bothered about celebrating their ‘special’ day.

Now as far as I’m concerned, I’m just like everyone else. There’s nothing special or wonderful about me.

So you can imagine how embarrassed I was to see the guys had pulled out ALL the stops for me! Just because I’m such a fun and popular guy around the place!

Because I’d insisted on – I mean someone had decided on – creating a three-tier cake for me, and because I’m sharing my birthday with a suit (happy bithday too Ethne) the whole thing took on a strange wedding theme.

Sharing the limelight (which totally isn’t a problem for me)

Anyway, that’s all. Please don’t make a fuss. And PLEASE don’t post your congratulations in the comments section. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Be Nice To Suits Week

What if suits had a soul? What if, like us, they took pleasure in things like music, a beautiful sunset, or the sound of children laughing? What if they could love? Or feel pity?

I’ve been thinking about suits a lot lately. I’ve always believed we should show compassion for our fellow humans. So why not suits as well?

After all, no matter what some people say, they have it tough.

For example, just this lunchtime a nice account man named Matt was sent out in the pouring rain to deliver a laptop and broadband stick to some senior suits and clients. What was so important? Well, they were on a lunch jolly and they fancied looking at their website.

And that’s the way the bitter little suit cookie crumbles.

So in honour of Matt and the thousands of poor saps like him, I’m making this ‘Be Nice To Suits Week’.

You can mark it in whatever way you want. Here are a few suggestions to get you thinking how you might show suits some love:

• Give them the work before the deadline.
• Let them finish their sentence before you laugh disparagingly.
• Read the brief before you begin criticising it.
• Try not lying to them.
• Look in wonder at the things they do in Excel and admire them.
• Look in horror at the things they do in Powerpoint and feel sorry for them.
• When you talk to them, keep saying their name at the end of every sentence – they think that's how genuine people show they care. Mirror their body language too.
• Smile at one of them.
• Make them a cup of tea. Actually, scratch that. It’s going too far.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, try being nice to a suit today. They’re people too, remember?

By the way, if you’re a suit and were made to carry out some menial and humiliating task, please share your pain. Stick it in the comments section so we can all have a good laugh.


Hello dear reader.

I wrote the above guff over a year ago.

I thought it was just another unfunny post singling out and ridiculing colleagues.

But then a couple of months ago, Blogger provided a stats function and I discovered it’s my most popular post. By a country mile. It gets ten times more views than any other (that’s over TWENTY views!)

So I was wondering if you could solve this riddle for me and tell me how you got here?

There’s no obvious term that’s coming up in searches and sucking people in.

And no it’s not because I put it in Most popular posts in my gadgets on the right. I only just did that.

If you could let me know in the comments section, I'd be much obliged.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why writers make the best lovers

In the comments section a couple of weeks ago I counselled a nice young lady to ditch her art director boyfriend for a suit.

It’s not that suits make great partners, far from it. It’s just that, let’s face it, anyone (or thing) is better than an art director.

This got me wondering, why exactly is it that writers make the best lovers? It didn’t take me long to come up with some pretty compelling answers.

For starters, writers are masters at using words to woo an audience. Who could resist me leaning over and whispering into their ear, “You are so optimal”? Or the killer line, “Your combination of contemporary style and effortless performance makes you the obvious choice”.

And of course when it comes to clinching the deal, a writer really understands the value of a strong call to action e.g. “This offer [I normally point as I say this] is exclusive to you because you are a valued partner”.

Secondly, writers are used to accommodating others’ wishes (suit/planner/client comments), often when they are at odds with their own.

For example, I may have in mind the missionary position while singing along to Jason and Kylie’s classic duet ‘Especially For You’ (we just cuddle for the second half of the song).

While my partner may have in mind the double-kangaroo scissor kick position, quickly followed up by the Angry Pirate, then the Backward Death Dive, all performed to a soundtrack of Faith No More’s ‘Everything’s ruined’.

In that case, it’s my job to help us both come to a solution where we both feel happy, fulfilled and ‘listened to’.

But mainly it’s the glamour of being a writer that makes us so attractive. We are the ultimate conquest for anyone: just imagine being able to say you’ve done it with the guy who wrote the line, ‘Premium Hotels, for when luxury is all that will do’.

So there you have it. If you’re looking for the ultimate lover, I suggest you find yourself someone with zero dress sense who writes spam for a living.

(It’s only right to point out, before you start falling over yourselves to proposition me in the comments section, that I am actually taken. I’m so sorry.)

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Perfection of Imperfection and My Dad is Kato

When I was at college some bloke had written a rather clever dissertation entitled The Perfection of Imperfection.

He was led to write it by, of all things, the death of Peter Sellers. While obituaries mourned Sellers' wasted comedy genius, he felt that there was something strangely wonderful about the fact he had all that potential but never really fulfilled it.

It's a funny concept to get your head around. When you think about it, there are a zillion instances of the perfection of imperfection. It's in the wobbly beauty of a Jeff Buckley demo, the mad energy of a Constable oil sketch, or the strange allure of my unusually flat butt.

I started to write a thoughtful treatise on the power of perceived imperfections in a piece of writing or design. But it started feeling a bit too much like hard work. And anyway you wouldn’t read it would you?

You’d skip straight down to the Pink Panther clips, right?

Let's do us both a favour then and just imagine it's here:

(I know I know it wouldn't actually be that long.)

On a separate note, my dad had a Kato-like penchant for hiding in cupboards in his dressing gown and pouncing out and scaring the crap out of my brother.

Just one of the ways my dad is a comedy genius.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What do you look for in a shoe?

When I buy shoes I might ask the assistant questions like, “Will these keep my feet dry?” or “Are you sure these are for men?”

What I feel I shouldn’t have to ask the shop assistant is “Does the sole grip the floor?”

For me, that should be a given.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I stepped out in a snazzy new pair of trainers and found myself Bambi-on-ice-ing down the pavement. It was basically unsafe to wear them if it had rained in the last 24 hours.

These are some everyday surfaces they did not grip.


Like gripping a greased eel with soapy hands

Guaranteed neck-breaker

I had chosen these particular shoes because they’re made by ethical company Vegetarian Shoes (I think these particular soles were made of Quorn).

As I tip-toed gingerly down the road (literally, I had to walk on the road as tarmac was the only surface I could stand on) I would find myself yearning to have bits of dead cow on my feet, stitched together by children working in terrible conditions, getting paid three buttons a week.

The moral to this tale is that it’s good to be ethical and use that as a selling point. But even in these days of organic-this and responsibly-produced-that, you still need to pay at least some attention to the quality of your product. In this case, if you’re making shoes, make sure people can walk in them.

(In the interests of fairness, I should report that I just got some new trainers from the same company and they grip the floor very convincingly. Well done guys, you’ve cracked it!)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Oh to be mysterious

I sometimes wish I could be anonymous.

Obviously I’m anonymous when I post that self-congratulatory stuff in the comments section. Or when I leave notes for that girl in Boots about how nice her hair smells. But what I’d really like is to blog anonymously, like adland suit or not voodoo.

For starters, I’d be able to find out what my colleagues really think of this blog. At the moment they all say it’s crap, but I reckon if they weren’t trying to be polite they might say otherwise.

Also, there’d be less pressure on me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really nice getting high-fives from strangers as I walk down the street. Or when exotic women from marketing departments throw themselves at me. But every time someone calls out from a car window “Gosh that was an insightful and thought-provoking post! Looking forward to the next one!” I come over all shaky and queer. I worry where the next post is going to come from. And wonder how much longer I can keep up these lofty standards.

But I guess more than anything, if I posted anonymously I’d be able to make fun of people without worrying they might duff me up.

Graham smells of wee!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Social relevance of an Audi ad

Today you could run this ad without the last five seconds and it’d make perfect sense.

Do you remember the first time you noticed the change? Some hair-gel-and-braces type cut you up, a smug grin spread all across his irksome chops, and as you looked down for the obligatory BMW badge, you rubbed your eyes and exclaimed, “Hang on, isn’t that an Audi?”

I suspect it’s not that they all suddenly switched. I just think the next generation all bought Audis because they weren’t told to do otherwise. You see, during the 90s this ad basically functioned as a public service announcement – ‘Okay I’m the kind of guy people don’t really like. It says here I should drive a 3 series. Got it.’

Once they stopped running the ad, ole smug chops was left to figure it out for himself and just picked the nearest shiny thing. Next thing you know a classic ad has lost all relevance.

It’s interesting how culture can shift and make an ad ‘of its time’. For example, The Royal British Legion’s great line, ‘Give a damn. Give a pound.’ also no longer works. These days, if you want to show you give a damn, you retweet it:
RT @daz @royalbritishlegion I wish dat dey had more money
On the other hand, some ads are unquestionably timeless. People will always love or hate Marmite. Stella will always be expensive. And Cadbury’s Flake will always look really nice when being eaten by some bird biting it provocatively and going “ooh”.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A town by the sea called...

This weekend we popped down to my homeland, Devon.

Ah Devon. A place so beautiful, everyone married their sister to stay there.

But be warned, nature will always right an imbalance. Beautiful landscapes may seem appealing but bear in mind 'the mother' will make you pay for it elsewhere. In this case, in-breeding has ravaged the area to such an extent that I can categorically state I didn’t see a single good-looking person all weekend (excluding my family of course).

We were visiting because my folks have moved from the sprawling metropolis of Ottery St Mary and retired to a quiet town by the sea imaginatively named Seaton.

It's actually not a bad name. At least it's short. If it were being named by a brand they'd want to call it something like Super Seaton 3.19® SmartPebble™ Ultra Edition. Something that means nothing to anyone except some product guy in Croydon who insists you use the full name. Then when you point out how ridicuous it sounds, they'll soften and say you must write it in full in every instance except when it's already been used twice in one paragraph, in which case you can abbreviate it to simply Super Seaton 3.19® SmartPebble™ Ultra.

That name then sits in the middle of your copy, like a turd in the middle of your living room floor. So no matter how flowing and well crafted the copy is, all you can see is this stinking name.

Sorry, I just had to get that rant in once I'd thought of it.

Anyway, Super Seaton is actually a very happy, friendly place. Here are some bits that caught the eye:

Local undertakers

It was all going so well until…
“Hang on Clive, don’t elephants have ears?”
“Oh bugger.”
“Don’t worry, I think I’ve got an old satellite dish in the garden.”

This is the sea

For all your panic-designing needs (I have no idea).

The only thing the town lacks is a few pretentious London types. If you're interested in moving down and spreading a little glamour, get in touch. Maybe we could start an agency? I'm sure they'd be delighted to hear from us.

Friday, August 21, 2009

How do you know if you’re giving a good cat massage?

"What may seem excruciatingly slow to us is SO appropriate to a feline."

"Caution: a whisker watch alert is in effect here."

"A cat’s tail is his badge of honour, so let’s not neglect it."

Thanks Chris

A gentle word of warning

I took Mrs RMWLC out for our monthly date on Wednesday night. We tried this new pancake place that’s just opened near us.

Everything was following our usual pattern. She happily recounting my failings of the past month while I play a game staring at the spotlights then shutting my eyes and counting the coloured dots I can see.

I was thinking the pancakes were a bit pricey until three waiters came out bearing the weight of this culinary behemoth!

It’s hard to communicate the sheer girth of the thing, so I shot it next to a blue whale to give a sense of proportion.

See what I mean?

As a result, I spent the whole of yesterday with terrible stomach cramps, along with clamminess and a general sense of foreboding.

I assumed the feeling of doom was a result of the cricket rather than the pancake. But then THIS dropped into my inbox at 5:29 from the MD:
do not leave the building - we need to chat

Now there’s an email guaranteed to give anyone the willies. I ran to the toilet to... gather myself, the cold hand of DM death firmly clamped to my shoulder.

As I sat quivering there was however one thought that brought me solace.

I’ve often heard it said that, paradoxically, it’s always the talentless arseholes who keep their jobs and the decent people that get sacked.

Sure enough, he breezes over an hour later (by which time I was a gibbering wreck) to ‘chat’ about some client amends.

So let this be a warning to those of you considering eating a giant chocolate pancake. Just think on. IT COULD COST YOU YOUR JOB.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


We’ve got a natty new display in reception.

The powers that be chose a hundred or so minions and asked us to stick up our favourite book, including a few words on why that book has been so influential in our lives.

I assume they picked me because they wanted a highbrow literary number amongst the art directors’ picture books and suits’ countless copies of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Unfortunately I forgot and had to opt for the only book lying on my desk when The Man came round demanding my entry – Franny and Zooey by J D Salinger.

Actually it's worked out rather well. He's a ‘cool’ writer, but it's not his most obvious work (choosing The Catcher in the Rye would have been so crass and cliché).

Also, it has this absolutely killer dedication. I think this is the best dedication in a book EVER.
As nearly as possible in the spirit of Matthew Salinger, age one, urging a luncheon companion to accept a cool lima bean, I urge my editor, mentor and (heaven help him) closest friend, William Shawn, genius domus of the New Yorker, lover of the long shot, protector of the unprolific, defender of the hopelessly flamboyant, most unreasonably modest of born great artist-editors, to accept this pretty skimpy-looking book.
Nice, eh?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday round-up

Creepy sense of enjoyment

Yesterday was the Partners’ summer jolly. Unfortunately, it was a very well thought-out and enjoyable day out, which doesn’t make for a good blog post. I always feel my strength is in whinging.

However, there was a tiny fly in my ointment, provided by Marx Brothers' Coach Hire. Instead of a coach, they sent our group of window lickers this joke-on-wheels, complete with matching driver who I guess typed ‘Thorpe Industrial Park’ into the tom-tom.

When we finally did pull into the coach park you could hear the snickering of schoolkids. It was very humiliating.

The real lowlight came at the end of the day when I found myself looking around at my colleagues and actually feeling something approaching affection for them. This has never happened before – with these or any others. Really unnerving. Let’s hope the first amends brief that comes my way knocks me back into my usual state of loathing and disrespect.

Agency’s token smart person leaves

An account exec leaves today to go write a PhD on James Joyce (who?). Can’t wait for her to go, I’m so sick of her looking down her nose at me and my shelf of Jilly Coopers.

Good luck Millie.

And I’m ending on a comedy high

Surely one of the all-time-great TV comedy moments?

Monday, August 10, 2009

How to write feedback for someone's appraisal

Appraisals can be a thorny one. On the one hand, it’s a great opportunity to vent your spleen – not just about your colleague's failings, but about your dissatisfaction with the world in general. On the other hand, these things do so often have a habit of turning round and biting you on the ass.

After a couple of incidents involving what you could call bad karma, I came up with this simple equation to help me judge the correct tone for any appraisal. I’ve reproduced it here for your benefit.

Chance they’ll be asked to give feedback for YOUR appraisal __%
Chance they’ll one day be your boss __%
Random luck rating (how often do these things blow up in your face?) /10

Then simply multiply the three numbers to find out how to approach it.

Lower than 10. Really go to town. Keep on about the smallest thing they've done wrong until it takes on account-losing proportions. It doesn't even have to be a mistake that they've made, it could just be someone who sits near them. Don’t be afraid to get personal too. Do they have an especially pointy chin, for example? Or an annoying habit of breathing funny? Stick it all in there.

10-500. Keep it to strictly vague platitudes e.g. 'Enjoyable to work with', 'competent', 'displays a singular willingness to do their job'. You may find it helps to have in mind the person conducting the appraisal. If you've got it right, when they feed back they should have absolutely NOTHING to go on.

500+. I don’t like to compliment others. It just doesn’t sit well. Brown-nosing, however, when it has a clear self-serving goal, is just plain common sense. So when an opportunity to flatter someone in power comes along, don’t hold back. Think big with your accolades: ‘genius’, ‘visionary’, ‘best in the business’ etc.

So there you have it. Some appraisals are an opportunity for advancement, others for putting someone else down. And most are an annoying admin task to be given the minimum of thought.

My method may seem a little crude but then, isn’t the whole process?