Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Thankfully, I was spared the same horrid fate thanks to a flu jab arranged by my agency.
Not so Mrs RMWLC who, despite being an NHS professional, was left jab-less.
This is as it should be.
Say what you like about the Western worldview, when it comes to esteeming those roles in society that deserve it most, we’ve got it pretty much bang on.
After all can you imagine what would happen if, in the event of a pandemic, marketing types were unable to work? It doesn’t bear thinking about.
With no one to produce a steady stream of pointless communications persuading people to buy stuff they don’t really need, our society would surely crumble.
Douglas Adams covers this theme with aplomb in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
The Circling Poets of Golgafrincham decided to rid themselves of the useless third of their population (including hairdressers, telephone sanitisers and, yes, advertising folk).
So they concocted a story that their planet would shortly be destroyed by a 'mutant star goat’ and sent them away in a giant spaceship, B-Ark, promising to follow shortly.
The other two thirds of the population of course did not follow and ‘led full, rich and happy lives until they were all suddenly wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone’.
Now, I'm aware that Adams mistakenly lumped ad folk into the ship of useless people. But my point is this.
As another year draws to a close, let’s take a moment to salute how marvellous and important we all are.
And be thankful that, should a plague wipe out most of our population, we’ll still be around to propagate the human race with a new breed of shallow, self-obsessed halfwits.
Merry Christmas one and all!
Friday, December 3, 2010
Behold, earthlings! My snazziest ever snazzy Christmas jumper.
If you think you can rival my Christmasjumperness, I’d love to see what you’ve got. (Although I should warn you, the nose ACTUALLY SQUEAKS and the antlers have real bells on.)
If you'd like to challenge me to a Christmasjumper-off, please take a photo and send it to realmenwritelongcopy at gmail dotcom
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
So I thought I’d begin spouting out my vast knowledge, in a new series cunningly titled How to freelance.
As we all know, more important than the actual work is how much you can get away with charging for it.
However you must resist that urge. This is the time to play hardball.
Whatever they say, double it and add a nought or two. Make sure you maintain eye contact and try to add some menace to your voice. If they dare to hold your gaze, don’t be afraid to bare your teeth.
(If you’re not actually negotiating in person, no problem. You can achieve the same effect over the phone by shouting. Or, if you’re communicating by email, simply write in all caps.)
At this point they may ask you to justify your fee.
This is nothing to be fazed by. If you think about it, there are all kinds of reasons why they should pay what you're asking. You might make excellent tea, for example. Or, like me, have a cute ass.
The only rule when it comes to justifying fees is that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU MAKE PROMISES ABOUT THE QUALITY OF THE WORK YOU'LL PRODUCE. Trust me on this one. It will lead to all kinds of difficulties down the line.
Once you’ve agreed a fee, you might think that's the end of it. But there are still a few cunning tricks you can pull.
Hopefully that’s enough advice for you to be going on with. I’ll be spewing out more wisdom on the actual work of a freelancer just as soon as I successfully negotiate my first job.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
To some, it's a way to pass those annoying last minutes before 5:30. To others, a mine of information on how to undermine and belittle your colleagues.
But what it has never attempted to be, nor indeed succeeded at being, is a source of humour.
Or so I thought.
Upon visiting my sister-in-law at the weekend, she informed me that she had found it humorous.
[Only my own literary snobbishness prevents me from inserting a massive smiley face here.]
Rach's compliment was especially gratifying as she is currently undergoing chemotherapy, which apparently isn’t as much fun as it sounds.
She told me she’s spent many of her feeling-ill-est hours reading from these turgid cyber-pages.
Although she didn’t actually say so, I think it’s fair to say that this blog is a single shining beacon of hope and joy in her life.
It would also be COMPLETELY accurate to say I inspired Rach to write her own blog, Rage against the lymphoma, chronicling the non-stop-fun of fighting Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
However, I must warn you: DO NOT READ IT.
I don’t say this because I’m intimidated by someone daring to take on a challenging and weighty subject and carrying it off with genuine wit and warmth. That’s not it at all.
I forbid you from reading it because she has TEN TIMES more readers than me.
Ten. Ruddy. Times.
Things like this make me wonder what’s the point of it all.
If people are more interested in reading an honest account of someone’s hopes and fears rather than banal observations on the shallow world of agency life, then I for one feel like giving up.
On the other hand, let’s not forget it’s ME that inspired her.
Which means they’re really my readers anyway.
Friday, October 29, 2010
But today a sombre mood has settled on the agency, as reality of my departure hits my colleagues like a sledgehammer of unhappiness wielded by a burly man of misery.
I may not have been the most popular person at Partners. Or the most talented. Or the least annoying.
But what I’ve always had is spunk. And if there’s one thing the modern agency needs, it’s spunky individuals.
I’m sure that Messrs Andrews and Aldridge are looking at one another right now and wondering where the spunk is going to come from.
Things are just as uncertain for me. I have no idea what the future holds. Apart from death and taxes. And the ridicule of my peers.
But whatever comes my way, I shall face it with the same cowardice and self-loathing with which I’ve faced everything in my career.
I know you can't wait to hear all about it.
P.S. Thanks Chris for the headline. Thanks Rich for the video. Thank you everyone else at Partners for loving and accepting me for who I REALLY am.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
You discover a common vision. They help you to be the very best at what you do. And, in some small way, you help them to be better too.
That kind of office chemistry is a special and rare thing.
Which makes it all the more upsetting when the powers that be decide that person is deemed surplus to requirements. Over the hill. Redundant.
I'm talking about my friend, Barney.
Barney is a printer here at Partners Andrews Aldridge. Or at least he was, until recently.
For he has printed his last copy doc.
As a tribute, I've created this video of our final moments together, set to James Blunt's stirring vocals.
Perhaps you've had someone like Barney in your life? A stapler. A ring binder. A laminator. If so, this video is for you.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
That’s right, I’ve decided to go freelance.
Given the way the UK economy is stuttering along like an Austin Allegro on a cold Winter’s morning, and the fact I’m soon to be flattened by the financial haymaker of having a second child, I thought this would be a super time to cast aside all financial stability.
As you’d expect, everyone here at Partners is distraught at my departure. Although I must admit they’ve managed to mask their disappointment extremely well.
My art director in particular has been so supportive about the whole thing. Right from the moment I first floated the idea he’s been incredibly enthusiastic and helpful.
He's left articles on my desk about how great freelancing is. He even started posting encouraging motivational notes, like ‘Who dares wins!’ and ‘Be all you can be!’
Equally, my CD has tackled the toughest brief of his life with a passion bordering on relish. These are enormous shoes he has to fill. Shoes so big, they could almost be described as clown shoes. And yet, the way his eyes light up when he talks about ‘getting the upgrade’ is a sign of a man unfazed by the gargantuan nature of the task.
Now, you might be wondering why I’d leave a brilliant creative place like Partners. These are some reasons why I’m going freelance:
• I want to meet lots more people and experience loads of different stuff.
• It’s good to be scared. Sometimes.
• It feels like the right time in my career to do this.
• I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky.
• If I don't get any work, I might finally get around to painting Baby RMWLC’s room.
This has never been a very comment-y type blog. Mainly because no one cares enough to comment. But this seems like a good topic to collect your thoughts on.
So tell me blogosphere, how should one behave on freelance? How do I stay employed? And what’s the etiquette with eating the staff biscuits?
And by the way Yes, leaving was my idea and No I wasn’t fired, thank you very much.
P.S. Why not have a look at davemance.com and tell me what you think of my work? Because I really could give the first one about your opinion.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
During these dark pre-Cowell years, people were instead served up dodgy quiz shows hosted by middle-aged men in velour sweaters.
One such show, called Child's Play, featured megastar contestants such as Christopher Biggins, Jeremy Beadle, Lulu and Suzi Quatro, along with nauseatingly cute children.
The premise of the show was that the aforementioned cute kids would describe a word, but without saying it. The contestants then had to guess the word.
With hilarious consequences.
You won't be at all surprised to hear I was one of those cute kids.
Even at that young age, I was pretty ‘gifted’. As a result, they rarely featured me in the main part of the show. Instead, I was confined to the little bit before the ad breaks, known as the 'this is what happens when the kid's a bit simple' slot.
To put it bluntly, I was a figure of fun. To six million viewers.
This week I have finally had the celluloid footage converted to electro-bytes and stuck it on YouTube.
I realise there’s no reason why you should find these clips remotely interesting but I’m sticking it up here anyway.
Enjoy! (Or don’t, I don’t care.)
To explain, I’d seen a model of a baby in the womb and when I asked my dad what the umbilical cord was, he said, “That’s how they eat”. Thanks for that, Dad.
Monday, September 27, 2010
That’s right. My local Sainsbury's is the latest to turn from a shop into a MACHINE.
Look on in horror friends, for this is how it begins.
One moment, a till is politely asking you to insert your card.
The next thing you know, a T-800 is pointing an Uzi in your face and asking if your name’s Sarah Connor.
These machines don't feel pain. Or remorse. They are relentless. And they WILL NOT STOP until you have scanned your item and placed it in the baggage area.
I remember a time when humans would serve you. They would exchange items for real actual money you know.
But a day is coming when my little girl will ask me "Daddy, what's a human being?"
And I will answer, with a tear in my eye, "They are extinct, my child".
Monday, September 20, 2010
Because I am so insanely popular, my colleagues insisted I have a few lunchtime drinks to mark my special day.
It was pretty mad. Here are some pictures.
Actually, if I’m honest, the turnout was a little disappointing.
In fact, it’s possible not all these pictures are really from my birthday.
Naturally, this is my art director's fault.
I had asked him to invite people for me. Unfortunately, this basic task proved too tricky for him.
First of all, he emailed just the creative department. I had specifically told him not to do this, as they’re too boring.
Regrettably, the eighth or ninth time I slowly and loudly recounted these instructions, my creative colleagues overheard.
As a result, there was a departmental boycott of the event.
Although he did eventually manage to send an invite to the whole agency, it seems I’m not as popular among other departments as I’d hoped.
The upshot was the kind of attendance you'd expect if you were hosting a three-hour brainstorm without snacks.
I can't complain. I always knew that being FANTASTICALLY SUCCESSFUL would involve sacrifice.
But I guess this moment really brought home just how lonely life is at the top.
Look on the bright side though. Here is a video of a dog riding a bike.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Last week RMWLC Towers hosted an event starring none other than VP Al Gore.
I first met Al on the campaign trail back in ‘88 (he was just a kid back then, wet behind the ears and crying for his mommy every night). So I was looking forward to hooking up again and reliving the glory days.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I turned up and found myself denied entry by one of Al’s burly bodyguards.
It seems the powers-that-be didn’t want me there on account of I am too edgy and dangerous and also I have offensive body odour.
Big Al did a talk, followed by Q&A, covering topics like The use of interactive media in the democratic process , the role of the media in the fight against climate change, Why Americans talk funny, and How to lose an election to an autistic cowboy.
It seems his latest mad-capped scheme is to run a TV station where he gets other people to make programmes for him. For FREE!
He's obviously had enough of misconstruing data as the basis for wild speculation (I think he used to be a planner). He’s now pedalling reality TV.
It. Will. Never. Fly.
Personally, I always had a lot more time for that other fella – you know, the funny one with the cowboy hat. I just loved the way he seemed to really hate terrorists, especially EVIL terrorists.
Anyway, I digress. The point is, I had Al Gore in my building last week. Did you?
Didn't think so.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Good cop/bad cop
In my experience, most teams fit this mould. Generally because the art director is so deeply unpleasant, the writer is forced to try to compensate.
Art directors may not be the sharpest scalpels in the studio, but they do have one rather cunning trick up their sleeve.
I'm talking about the one where they pass off their fantastically irritable temperament as ‘really caring about the work’.
So what is in fact an almighty sulk because they couldn't have Coco Pops for breakfast, or because someone moved one of those stupid little action figures on their desk, they manage to pass off as a passionate crusade for creativity.
“Aggghh! Can’t the client see this will completely ruin everything?!” they rage, pointing to an amend in the kerning or leading or whatever that is invisible to the naked eye. Of course the poor hapless suit is obliged to stand there passively nodding until his little art director spleen is fully vented.
I must confess a certain grudging admiration for their little ruse though. They get to let off some steam AND look really creative. It's ingenious.
And of course it’s a trick that writers, in their timid-voiced bespectacled puniness, could never pull off.
Instead, we good cops are stuck with the role of trying to make light of their latest hissy fit, grinning and rolling our eyes in a 'don't worry about him, he's always like this' kind of way.
The wacky one/straight one
This second archetypal team dynamic follows in the footsteps of great double acts like Morecambe & Wise and Cannon & Ball.
The wacky one is creative and demonstrates this by wearing T-shirts with muppet characters on. The straight one is the foil – the solid, workmanlike type that never lights the place up, but gets the job done. Think David Batty for Leeds circa 1990.
Now you may be wondering which profile my art director and I fit. Well, we’re a variant on the wacky/straight formula.
You see, I’m wacky. But I’m also very sensitive. I may look like a bristling hulk of masculinity, but beneath this rough exterior is a little scared child who just wants to be accepted and loved.
The result is what I like to call the fragile flower/patient gardener dynamic.
I see myself as an orchid or perhaps a very rare variety of pansy. I must be nurtured and encouraged by my art director in a warm glasshouse of love and unconditional acceptance before I feel able to express myself fully.
Once I feel the warm sun of validation beating down on my delicate stem, I open my leaves, bud, then bloom with creativity.
Then the flowers drop off and that’s it for another year.
And so, dear readers, I’d encourage you all to take the time to study the teams around you. You’ll find they each fall into one of my two categories.
Of course, as I said, the categories are broad. Within each one are many other variants – Beauty and the Beast, Dumb & Dumber and Torville & Dean to name just a few.
Which one are YOU?!!!!
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I have now returned my nose to its customary position on the grindstone while keeping my head above water yet below the parapet.
With all the stresses and strains of being a butch copywriter AND blogger, you may wonder what this real man does to unwind.
Well, the reality is, this real man spends seven days sitting in a gîte, eating his bodyweight in cheese.
I did go out once. Some local Frenchies took a day off from striking to have a market so I went to check it out.
Looks like someone needs to grasp the concept of ‘broadening your target market’. What’s the French for ‘diversify’, anyone?
I could post more stupid pictures but you don’t read this blog to find out about my holidays. You want a witty and acerbic account of agency life. And there's about as much chance of finding that here as there is of a Frenchie saying “Excusez moi” as he elbows you on his way to the front of the cheese queue.
Ooh, before I go, let me offer belated congratulations to Grunders, our resident guest blogger, on the birth of his daughter Amber last week. Beautiful.
Friday, August 20, 2010
I’ll tell you why you should be so nauseous with happiness.
Last night, the mystery singer made another of his little visits outside my home. He performed an original composition that actually managed to rhyme “black coffeeeee” with “Do you want meeee?” which, as far as I’m aware, is a lyrical first.
Unfortunately I couldn’t quite muster the strength to get out of bed (it was 3am) to record any of his ONE HOUR set. But of course, once the stork delivers my latest miniature insomniac, I’ll be up at that time anyway and able to record this nocturnal one-man-talent show. All for you.
In the meantime, you can make do with an excerpt from this fantastic article wot says having kids is good for art.
Reading it made me cry. Except I didn’t, right, cos I am a REAL MAN.
We were still students when we got married and had our first baby. It must have been hard work. We didn't have a washing machine and we couldn't afford disposable nappies – but mostly we were drugged with happiness. Our only conversational gambit was: "Isn't he amazing?" Friends were mostly delighted, but also slightly appalled. From the first they'd take me aside and commiserate. "That's it now, Frank, the pram is in the hallway."
The full quote – from Cyril Connolly – is: "There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hallway." In fact, we didn't have a pram or a hallway, but in the dark watches of the night I would sometimes look at the Maclaren Dreamer buggy in the corner of the tiny kitchen and think, is that it then? Will I have to go and get a proper job and never write again?
Happily, I had married a woman of terrifying courage who, the day I was offered a proper job, said: "Don't do it, Frank. Go to the library, write something for us." I didn't produce a work of precocious genius, but I did get myself started as a TV hack. Ever since then, fatherhood and writing have been inextricably intertwined for me.
I'm not the only one. The most commercially successful British writer (JK Rowling) and the most ferociously inventive (JG Ballard) were both single parents. Edith Nesbit had three children of her own, and then adopted the two that her feckless husband had with his mistress. She founded the Fabian Society, precursor of the Labour party, and still had time to write 60 novels, among them the most purely funny pages in the language.My children have been a crucial part of my work in ways that I find hard to account for or anticipate. If I need to go on a research trip for a book or a film, we'll usually go as a family, and I find that – apart from the fact that it's useful to have extra eyes and ears – people and places tend to open up to you more.
It's worth reading the whole thing.
On another note, they've finally done a great follow-up...
to this, one of my favouritest ads ever
Right, that's it. Sorry for banging on.
I'm off on my holidays.
Zut alors! Mange tout!
Monday, August 16, 2010
On top of this, I’m going to France next week, effectively making it a glorious two-week break from him.
I bustled in at 8:30 (it turns out the doors are open at that time) whistling 'Happy days are here again'. However, my chirpy tune came to an abrupt and off-key end as I caught sight of next week’s workflow.
There has been a horrible holiday-booking mix-up. It turns out THE ART DIRECTOR AND I HAVE BOTH TAKEN NEXT WEEK OFF.
That’s right, I could have had the same enjoyable break by staying at my desk. Instead I have thrown away a week's holiday.
And this is only the tip of the horror-iceberg.
The art director has gone to France, THE VERY COUNTRY I’M HEADED FOR. He is in fact only a few miles from me, a realisation that made me do a sick in my mouth.
Mrs RMWLC is dead against cancelling the trip even though the travel company said we could get some of the money back.
This just goes to show that no good ever comes of getting to work before 9.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Then relive this awesome programme intro and let the trickle of tears turn into a flood until you are a blubbering bawling wreck and have to be led away from your desk.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
It’s always a big date in the agency calendar. Last year we went to Thorpe Park, so expectations were high. And we weren’t disappointed, as we rolled up at a lake in Milton Keynes.
Bryan ‘Fun’ Grundy, Head of Fun at Partners and erstwhile guest blogger quickly made us at home with bacon sarnies and cups of tea all round.
But even with this aficionado of fun at the helm, it’s only fair to say things got off to a rocky start.
That’s right. Team building exercises.
Every team building exercise I’ve ever come across is carefully designed to make you cry tears of frustration at your colleague’s inability to perform the simplest task like tie a knot or outmanoeuvre a traffic cone, causing you to snap at them childishly. These were no exception.
Our first challenge was The Matrix. Clearly the organisers have picked up a few tricks from the suits when it comes to the old ‘give it an exciting name and they’ll think it’s brilliant’ strategy.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you… The Matrix.
To be fair, I'm not sure this photo does it justice. It's hard for a single shot to convey the drama and excitement of stepping on office carpet tiles that have been laid out on an astro turf pitch while your boss directs you on an imaginary course. The final ignominy was being laughed at by some passing schoolchildren.
But then things brightened up considerably with Blindfolded Giant Jenga, an opportunity to get felt up by colleagues under the pretence of ‘finding my team’. I still haven't managed to identify Mr/Mrs Roving Hands in my team but whoever they were, they certainly spiced up my day.
From here it was brilliant fun all the way.
culminating in a drunken dragon boat race. As you can see, Carole here won at both drinking and racing.
As if that's not enough to call it a successful work excursion, casualties were also down this year, with only one member of the studio walking into a metal pole and cracking his head open.
Although I also sustained a hurty elbow in Dragon Boat racing.
By the way, me and a couple of other lonely people have decided to play Blindfolded Giant Jenga here every Friday lunchtime. If you fancy it, please get in touch.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Someone recently stuck this up as a case study.
It’s the dispiriting tale of how a company dramatically reduced the number of cases of men weeing on the floor by painting a fly onto the urinals.
While I respect their achievement, I can’t help feeling humanity is poorer for this story.
It's depressing on many levels. Not least that men can’t manage to hit what is, after all, a pretty big target without a carefully reproduced insect to focus on.
Also, I feel sorry for the poor bloke who had to paint them all on.
But worst of all, that faintest of nagging memories that I too, guided by some primal fly-dousing instinct, have aimed carefully at that fly. I seem to recall vaguely wondering why it was there and why I couldn’t stop aiming at it.
I wonder how far they went in testing the efficacy of a fly above all the other options? For example, did they experiment with other insects, a wasp or bee perhaps? Or even an invertebrate? I for one would welcome the opportunity to wee on a millipede.
And of course there's no reason to restrict ourselves to small creatures. Why not stick a picture of ITV's World Cup pundits in there? Or the entire cast of Hollyoaks? The mind boggles at the glorious weeing possibilities.
Friday, July 2, 2010
As luck would have it, my art director was also off so I went and sat in the Head of Copy's BIG SPECIAL CHAIR next to the Head of Art.
It's hard to describe the feeling as my butt nestled into that hallowed leather throne. But let's just say that I now know how Bilbo Baggins felt after he'd worn the ring of power.
I've had a taste and I want more. I just can't get the thought out of my head. The way account girls spoke to me with a straight face. The nod of vague acknowledgement from my creative peers. A heady mix indeed.
Not that it was all Champagne lunches and celebrity status. If there's one thing Spiderman taught us, it's that with great power comes great responsibility.
For example, when an account person asks the Head of Copy which side of the 's' the apostrophe goes, they expect you to KNOW. That kind of pressure is terrifying and takes some getting used to I can tell you.
But I like to think I bluffed my way through it with aplomb.
So it's pretty hard to take that I find myself back at my wobbly desk in the cellar, stripped of my position and cast aside like a piece of rubbish.
A lot like SuperTed before he got his special powers.
Sometimes it's only SuperTed's example that keeps me going.
I yearn for the day my own Spotty man will arrive from outer space to sprinkle me with cosmic dust and transform me into the heroic Head of Copy I know I'm destined to be.
When will you come, Spotty?
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Bryan ‘Grunders’ Grundy, our man from finance, took my place while I had a week off to recover from the strains of writing the fourteenth most popular UK-centric long-copy-based blog written by a hirsute man in a wrestling outfit.
I’ve got Bryan to crunch some numbers on last week’s stats. The results made for some sobering reading.
It turns out he is 29% more popular than me. And 307% funnier.
Whatever. I’m back at the helm now to steer this blog back into the impenetrable fog of my inane and humourless babble.
Here are some things I can tell you right now:
- While I was away the guy who replaced me lowered my chair and also lowered the left armrest. But not the right. Curious.
- Today I’ve been asked to edit a pub menu. This is not a joke. Has anyone been asked to do a more humbling writing job than this? If so please let me know in the comments.
- On my holiday (near Bath) I went to a country park and saw some llamas. I hate llamas because touching one as a child triggered an allergy to ALL animal hair. Again this is not a joke. Has anyone else experienced or heard of this phenomenon (your experience might not be with a llama but another animal)?
- I think that is all.
Ah well. Only 8 weeks to go til Grunders takes over again.
Friday, June 18, 2010
I realise RMWLC is not a football blog but as the World Cup has yet to fully start motoring, let's re-visit the best moment from the 1994 finals in the US of A instead.
In fact, this is possibly the best moment of any World Cup finals.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I've noticed before that one of the ways that RMWLC has got his weekly Campaign mentions has been to blog about scintillating subjects such as his journey to work (or something).
I intend to follow this tradition, and blow it to pieces with my star celeb spot on my District Line train this morning. Baron's Court has never seen anything like this before.
Being a fan, I was naturally too nervous to approach them but did get a sly shot on my iPhone of them minding their own business. Can you work out who this TV legend is ??
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Realmenwritelongcopy is still away on his hols
Monday, June 14, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
They sense I’m destined for big things. They've spotted my potential.
How do I know this? In short, they asked me to write a post for the company blog.
As you can imagine, I jumped at the chance – an opportunity to put my skills to use in order to promote the company was just too good to pass up. Also they made it very clear I had no choice.
You can read the post here.
Obviously they were delighted with what I wrote. Phrases like ‘destined for senior management’ and ‘rising star’ have been banded around freely in recent days. Which makes such a nice change from the usual murmurings of ‘offensive body odour’ and ‘gross incompetence’.
I’m just trying to keep my feet on the ground and remember the principles that have served me so well up until now: hard work, diligence and brazen brown nosing.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
- Rise early thanks to early morning wake up call from the Mystery Singer (see previous post).
- Head to DIY store to buy screws and thingey that stops Baby RMWLC opening cupboard doors and pulling all manner of deadly kitchen implements on her head.
- As I walk in, try to ignore burly staff member rolling his eyes at my chinos and hush puppies.
- Feign a ‘working class’ accent and ask for wood screws. Going on instinct, decide not to ask why wood screws are not made out of wood.
- Scurry out of DIY shop clinging to last shreds of masculinity.
- Begin work with an indefatigable spirit of optimism.
- Read fitting instructions for thingey. It requires FOUR screws. Feel spirit of optimism draining away.
- Drill four holes.
- Drill four more holes.
- Drill more holes.
- Working on the principle that if infinite monkeys sat in front of infinite typewriters one of them would write the complete works of Shakespeare, continue randomly drilling holes in the hope that eventually four will be in the right place.
- Mrs RMWLC marches in to ‘see how things are coming along’. Cower while she rains down all manner of deadly kitchen implements on head before storming out.
- Return to task with renewed sense of purpose.
- After two hours, become hysterical and start dressing the tools up like dolls and giving them names.
- Mrs RMWLC calls Bob from around the corner. Bob comes round and completes the task in around 4 seconds.
- Note Mrs RMWLC gazing wistfully at Bob.
- Long for the bank holiday to end so I can return to being a monkey at a typewriter.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Well I've waited two years to capture this.
And at 4:30 this morning, my patience finally paid off.
Many times in the last couple of years I’ve had the genuine pleasure of being woken by this man singing and dancing opposite our home.
At first, we assumed it was someone on their way back from the pub. But it’s too late/early for that. And anyway, look at those moves. Here’s a man in total control of his body.
I can’t tell you how hard he was to capture. Countless times, he’s stopped performing just as I got there with the camera. Or it was too dark to show up. Once he even spotted the camera flash and scampered away.
Even now I have to say I’m a little disappointed I didn't get any of his singing. That’s where his real strength lies.
When I do you can be assured I'll post it.
In the meantime, can anyone identify this man? Perhaps he’s performed outside your home? Or at your wedding or Bar Mitzvah?
Any information leading to a positive ID will be richly rewarded.
I’m disappointed with my camera work on this one. I had too much zoom on it
and was trying to hold the camera with one hand so I could stay out of sight. Sorry.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
Little did I know then that a major high street retailer would soon produce a new line of fragrances based on a character even more manly and desirable.
That’s right, ME!
Behold, Next’s new line of man scent, which goes by the snappy moniker of Performance. (For the slow/art directors among you, my surname is Mance, see?)
Here’s what it says on the label:
Performance cologne is masculine to the core, combining the refined sensuality of bergamot, jasmine, and starfruit with the powerful virility of cedarwood, men’s changing rooms, cobra venom, mace, the SAS storming the Iranian Embassy and sheer musk. Performance is a potent blend that draws you in and envelops you, like a ninja on a dark night.
CAUTION: use sparingly.
Douse yourselves in the stuff immediately.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
- Read the manifestos.
- Read what a variety of papers have to say on the different parties’ policies.
- Read about the situation in your constituency and who’s standing this time.
- Watch a debate or two.
So instead just use my simple guide, which helpfully shows you who to vote for according to agency role.
Suits. What you want to see is change. Changes to copy. Changes to artwork. It doesn’t really matter whether those changes actually makes things better or not. Change in and of itself is good.
Your vote: Conservative.
Planners. I know I know, after doing all that research and listening to all those focus groups, it does seem rather unfair to have to limit the proposition to a single thought. Far better to ram 3 opposing ideas in there.
Your vote: tick all the boxes and assume it'll sort itself out somewhere down the line.
Board members. Given Labour's plans to tax earnings over £150,000 at 50%, I'm guessing there’s going to be a lot of “Hmmm… that David Cameron’s got some interesting ideas” and “I’ve always been a fan of Big Society”.
Your vote: Conservative.
Art directors. I once had a neighbour called Jimmy (this is a bit of an aside but stay with me here folks). Jimmy was a lovable benefit-cheating ex-con who lived upstairs. I once had the pleasure of appearing as witness in a case of racial harassment against him.
What’s brilliant is, Jimmy was cleared of all charges on the grounds he couldn't be racist because he hated everyone.
Which is kind of like you guys. Shouting at suits. Shouting at planners. Shouting at your longsuffering writers. So because you guys have so much hate, I've decided the BNP is your ideal party of choice.
Of course it’s a little unfair to compare you to the BNP. They do after all have the decency to discriminate between those they hate and those they don’t. But it's what Jimmy would do.
Your vote: BNP.
Copywriters. Sadly, there’s not a party in the world lefty enough for writers who are, to a man, a sorry collection of lilly-livered bleeding heart liberals.
Your vote: Lib Dem (admittedly they're not that liberal, but they are the anti-Tories and also Clegg has that weedy nerdy writer look about him).
So, according to my calculations, if everyone follows my recommendation we'll end up with either a Tory majority or a hung parliament with an uncomfortable Tory-Lib Dem alliance.
It's exciting to think that this blog is now so influential it can determine the outcome of a general election!
Monday, April 26, 2010
I thought this might be a good way to start the working week.
Now I'm no movie buff, so I think it's safe to say that if I feature a movie you haven't seen, you should probably take a long hard look at yourself and the direction your life's going in.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
A while ago I began the bellybutton fluff chronicles. This thought-provoking series logged my bellybutton fluff, with the aim of finding meaning in the seemingly random volume of fluff gathered from day to day.
Anyway, this morning I discovered this in my back pocket.
For those of you who can’t make out the fuzzy image, it’s actually a raisin coated in fluff.
So that just goes to show, it’s not only bellybuttons that attract this stuff.
Please add your thoughts in the comment section. It’d be great if we could have a decent debate about this.
Friday, April 16, 2010
A pitch is coming. The traffic guys look over. Then quickly look away. They start MURMURING.
Getting asked to work on a pitch is like premature ejaculation. You know it’s coming but there’s nothing you can do about it.
The traffic bloke wanders over casually and softens you up with a few hopeful words about a big TV job coming in a few weeks.
Then just as he leaves, he drops the news, “Oh there might be a pitch coming in for you guys”.
He’s gone. But the news lingers long after him, as if it had been farted out.
Now you know two things. First, you won't be socialising, seeing your family or sleeping for the next two weeks. And second, at the end of it you will almost certainly be hated.
Because chances are you won’t win. Success or failure depends on a zillion possible factors, only three of which you actually have any control over.
It's not all bad though. There’s a wonderful sense of camaraderie with a pitch. Everyone mucks in with an opinion on exactly what you need to change, or what the client might be thinking. Right up until the last minute they’re offering suggestions for changes, or even completely new bits of work.
Thankfully this is one deadline that doesn’t move. Finally the day comes when the people with the expensive clothes totter off with their bodyweight in foamboard and you step out blinking into the daylight.
You remember grass. And trees. And friendship. And beauty. And love.
Then a few days later you find out that you lost the thing.
No one in management looks you in the eye for a week. You carry the stale stench of failure, which at least guarantees you won’t be asked to work on another one for a while.
It's back to business as usual for you. Ah yes, business as usual. Now we can go back to baulking at even the client’s most reasonable request. “They want me to write an introductory paragraph? In three days? Can’t be done.”
Good old current clients, with their low expectations.
Friday, April 9, 2010
That’s right, I’ve written a book.
A few other bloggers have boshed out books lately so I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon.
I had no idea just how easy it is.
Admittedly it pretty much wrote itself once I'd come up with such a clever concept. It’s basically this: If Andy McNab worked as a copywriter. And was published by Mills & Boon.
I’m understandably pleased with the cover.
Although our hero should, in my humble opinion, have a beard. (The press have speculated wildly about who my main character, Dave Mans-man, is based on. I’m not giving anything away but let’s just say everyone who reads this blog has heard of him and he is typing RIGHT NOW. That’s all I’m saying.)
As my loyal blog audience, I can exclusively give you a sneak preview below:
Dave Mans-man strode powerfully yet sensually into the agency. All talking stopped as every jaw dropped open with deep yearning.
“Dave, Dave!” panicked the voluptuous titian-haired young account girl “The client’s got a change to the copy and every other writer’s tried to crack it but no one can because it’s impossible.”
His smouldering eyes fixed her with a penetrating stare that said “I want to tear your clothes off and ride naked with you on a stallion across a meadow in the moonlight.”
He sat down steamily and began writing.
His bicep rippled with every word, the account girl involuntarily quivering and shivering with excitement as he wrote.
“There” he thundered masterfully, handing her the words. She gasped as she began reading. It was everything she thought it would be and yet every word was imbued with a raw masculinity that thrust itself powerfully into her mind.
Just then, loads of Johnny foreigners armed to the teeth stormed the building.
Dave Mans-man dived for cover whilst pulling the girl to safety and pulling a grenade launcher out of his trousers.
"Brainstorm this, terrorist!" he screamed, mowing down a dozen foreign-looking baddies with a single bullet.
TO BE CONTINUED...
You can pre-order it today.
Friday, March 12, 2010
A post that’s nice about a planner yet is IN NO WAY a climb down from last week’s post that was mean about planners
Whatever. Mr RMWLC is his own man, not the type to pander to the murmurings of the masses just because he is terrified of losing readers.
It just so happens that I was going to write a nice post about a planner anyway.
The fact is, today I am genuinely sad at the departure of a guy by the name of Sameer. Because in an industry that seems to be losing its share of crazies, he is one of the precious few oddballs left.
This is a man who, in my early days here at Partners, re-briefed me by handing me a Philip Larkin poem, reciting a few lines, then ambling out of the office. A man who can weave quantum physics, Gershwin and the Bernoulli Principle into a brief to sell frozen peas. A man who once tore up ten pound notes in front of me to illustrate his point (it was about one of our clients so I guess I shouldn't say who).
Most crazy of all, here's a guy who doesn’t actually tell a client something unless he believes it. I know! Mad as a fish.
In recent years there's been an alarming trend of agencies increasingly hiring sensible types. Awful people who have made us more efficient, productive and businesslike and generally done all they can to ruin the industry.
What so many people fail to understand is that without Sameer and people like him we’re just an accountancy firm with a snazzy reception. We’re just salesmen in jeans. Estate agents with marker pens.
So it's with a heavy heart I watch him pack up his pie charts and collection of wacky striped jumpers and head off to Mindshare. Good luck to you Sameer. We hope to see your kind again (but we doubt we will).
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
"You know that DVD we watched? It ain't broke. It's something called a 'flashback'."
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Following the success of my recent campaign to ‘STOP hiring art directors. FULL STOP.’ today sees the launch of my new movement, to MAKEPLANNINGHISTORY.
Planning is a shameful stain on our business.
Every year around 10% of an agency’s wage billings is wasted on planners. This is money that could be spent on biscuits or toilet roll.
Enough is enough!
Join my campaign where we say “No!” to brainstorms. Where we cry "No more!" to briefs being held up for weeks while they research things like 'the target market for electricity' or 'what kind of person drinks water'.
Here are some ways you can get involved in the campaign:
Add the MAKEPLANNINGHISTORY twibbon to your twitter pic (no I have no idea why either).Please join my campaign today and help create a better future for us all.
Buy tickets for the MAKEPLANNINGHISTORY benefit gig. It's going to be at the Wetherspoons in Leytonstone. Already confirmed are Lloyd from X Factor and local church tribute act Nuns 'n' Moses.
And most importantly, give money:
- £2 will pay for a planner to have a meal with normal people to get some ‘insights’ into the fact that none of them give a monkeys about brands.
- £20 will retrain a planner as a childminder or an academic, so they can babble away harmlessly without troubling anyone.
- £200 will buy a goat. Goats are cool.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
You know the one I mean. That endearing one when they’re focusing every last brain cell on the task at hand (colouring in without going over the lines) and they stick their tongue out of the corner of their mouth and narrow their eyes in concentration. Yes, that face.
I couldn’t believe it. A child of mine an art director?! Talk about a cruel twist of fate.
Thankfully, a few soothing words from Mrs RMWLC coaxed me out of my despair.
She explained that behaving like an art director is a developmental stage that all children go through at around 12-18 months.
In fact, as a child matures they at one time or another possess the mental capacity of all agency types. It goes roughly like this:
Art director (12-18 months). Responds to simple instructions. Babbles 2 or 3 words repeatedly. Demands constant mothering.
Studio (18-24 months). Can put on shoes.
Account Director (2-4 years). Joins 2-3 words in sentences. Feeds self with spoon. Can count to twenty.
Account Exec (5-8 years). Speaks in sentences. Constantly asks questions.
Creative Director (8-12 years). Knows right from left (in most instances). Fluent with few infantile substitutions in speech.
Planner (teens). Awkward in social settings. Worry about being ‘normal’.
Copywriter (20+). Full cognitive development.
Pretty enlightening, huh?
You may be surprised at how developmentally advanced planners are supposed to be, but they do tend to be pretty smart. The point is they actually choose to say those things.
I'm just hoping Baby RMWLC grows out of this art director stage quickly – it's a bit much having to wipe away someone else's drool all day. Then come home and have to do the same.
By the way, if anyone has an Account Director that they've successfully potty trained, please do leave any tips in the comments section.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Yesterday, as I donned my muffler and balaclava to brave the trip home, a colleague joked that I looked like a soldier in the SAS.
He wouldn’t have been laughing if he knew the dark truth.
I've seen things that would make your irises pale in horror. Ooh the stories I could tell if I wanted (but I don’t talk about it because I'm the strong silent type).
Although my days in the special forces are now far behind me, it got me thinking about the similarities between my former and current profession.
Sure, I did some terrible things for Queen and country. I murdered men with my bare hands. And killed a wild pig by jumping out of a tree and stabbing it with a spear whilst wearing a bandana. A bit like this.
But that’s nothing compared to the things I’ve done since.
Unspeakable acts that haunt me.
I guess we've all done jobs in the past we're not proud of. But I just can't seem to get them out of my head.
Often I wake in the night screaming “Only 34.9%APR” or “Head along to our showroom now for your last chance to get low low prices!!!!”
Mrs RMWLC is understandably worried about me. She’s tried to get me to talk about it but how could she understand? I never want her to know about the things I've done to keep a roof over our head.
Occasionally I still see some of my old comrades. Copywriters who did some jobs with me back in the day. Men with dead eyes. Men with consciences so seared, they’d write a leaflet selling North Korean arms to the Myanmar government in UV ink on heavily bleached un-recycled paper as soon as look at you.
We nod silently at one another. A nod that says ‘Ooh the stories we could tell if we wanted (but we don’t talk about it because we’re the strong silent type).”
Sometimes I kid myself there might be some redemption for me. That maybe if I could write enough ads for lost puppies or endangered monkeys I might atone for all the wrong I’ve done. But I know it’s pure fantasy.
I should go back to killing. At least I was fairly good at that.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
BY KEVIN BRADY
(ROSCOMMON, IRELAND) A drunken unemployed plasterer who was found urinating on the French loaves section of a large supermarket in protest at the infamous handball incident in the France vs Ireland World Cup qualifier, was this week given a suspended sentence, fined and bound over to keep the peace.
Frances “Smokie” Larkin, The Meadows, Killareagh, Co Roscommon pleaded guilty to the incident at Maher’s ValueStore supermarket, Killareagh, one week after the match which Ireland controversially drew after the French goal was deemed to have scored despite a blatant handball by French striker Thierry Henry.
Gardai Anthony Flanagan told the court that he had been called to the store at 11.15 on the morning of November 25.
“When I reached the shop, I was informed that Mr Larkin was causing a disturbance in the bread section and when I got there, he was urinating on the French bread section and stamping on a loaf. I later ascertained that the loaves were brioches, a sort of French bread.
“When he saw me, he tried to run away but I apprehended him and grabbed him by the arm. He said ‘that’s for Thierry Henry, guard. If you have any pride in your country, you’ll let me go.
“Then he said ‘that’ll teach them, the cheating French bastards.’”
I love the way the Gardai later ascertained that the loaves were brioches.
If there are any French readers out there, please could you confirm whether or not this did indeed 'teach you'?
Friday, January 29, 2010
On the whole, I can honestly say that being in Best of the Blogs hasn’t changed me.
In fact, the only really tangible difference you could point to would be the small addition to my morning get-pumped-up-for-the-day routine.
It still consists of the customary striding around my bathroom in just my pants slapping myself repeatedly whilst singing along to Craig David's seminal album, Born to do it.
But since my 'moment' I now allow myself a five-minute victory dance, where I hold last week’s Campaign aloft whilst vigorously fist-pumping into the mirror shouting “You da man!”
You may wonder why I'm making such a big fuss about all this.
After all, Campaign’s mention didn’t exactly overwhelm this site with new readers. In fact I reckon I could have got the same bump in readership stats by whispering the URL at a crowded bus stop.
I have, however, noticed a real difference in the way my colleagues regard me. Just take a look at my Victim-of-bullying-incidents stats.
Now it's fair to say that there's been no marked change in the number of Chinese burns and bogflushes since last week.
But just look at the way nipple tweaks plummeted. That’s a drop of 40% (although admittedly, much of this could be attributed to Steve ‘Clamp hands’ Aldridge being away pitching most of the week).
And of course, what these graphs don’t tell you is the non-bullying stats. The number of Cursory Nods Received from Colleagues rocketed up from 1 to 3!
So to sum up, you could say I’m something of a bigshot at Partners now. But I'm not going to let this new-found popularity go to my head. Instead I shall knuckle down and keep working hard (on the blog I mean). So the real beneficiary of my moment of fame is actually you.
And if that doesn't make you whoop and fist pump for a good few minutes on a Friday afternoon then there's clearly something wrong with you.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I’ve commented on the bizarre nature of copywriter-art director relationships in the past here and here. And here.
So rather than come up with any fresh ideas, I thought I’d just rehash that old gag again.
This week we look at how to foster a healthy long-term relationship.
Most copywriter-art director relationships operate like a loveless marriage – poor communication, constantly looking for ways to undermine and humiliate the other, and a practically non-existent sex life.
There are however a few exceptions to the rule. Beautiful, loving relationships where each values and encourages the other and they both flourish in a beautiful garden of burgeoning creativity.
After a couple of painful break-ups I’ve been wondering what these couples have that we don’t? So I conducted a little research into these unnaturally amicable and productive relationships. The results were very revealing.
Almost 100% of teams surveyed chose to look at one another.
As you can see here, I always place my computer monitor in the centre of the desk, directly blocking my view of my AD. I figure that this way I’m not distracted from work. What’s more, I only have to look at the annoying top of his stupid ugly head.
But in every case of happy relationships, teams actually prefer to move their monitors to one side so they can see one another!
Take for example Jon and Rich here.
They’ve been working together since they met at Watford College back in 1938 and are as in love today as when they first met. Look at the eye contact there. It’s beautiful.
One team here at Partners even goes a step further and lunches together every Friday. Like a sweet old couple going out on date night.
I find this kind of behaviour baffling. I want to say “But what about when he does that thing when he sniffs his marker and stares into the middle distance instead of thinking of ideas? Or what about when he nods at a line you give him, then actually writes only about 80% of the words you said plus a couple of his own swapped in, all of them misspelt?”
The only logical answer is that in these functional relationships, the art director is simply not too annoying.
So, to conclude. If you want a healthy long term relationship, you have to find a not-too-annoying art director. And those, dear reader, are rarer than rocking horse doo-doo.
Friday, January 15, 2010
So as a gesture of goodwill towards all the suits I’ve made fun of on this blog, I’m giving you my TOP SECRET-super-classified-insider-tips on How to get a creative to do their job.
May I suggest you adopt what I’ve dubbed 'The Ronan Keating approach to account management'?
Now, the Boyzone star and Women's Institute pin-up may have the least sincere smile in pop and a voice so middle of the road it makes cat's eyes jealous. But beneath those twinkly Oirish eyes lurks a mind of fiendish cunning.
Quite simply, it’s all in how he phrases it.
He wrote the following about his wife: “You say it best when you say nothing at all”.
Think about it. He doesn’t say, “Shut up, I’m trying to watch the telly”.
Instead, he comes up with, “You say it best when you say nothing at all”. It's genius. The guy's an utter genius.
Now. Let’s apply that to what suits do.
You’re briefing something in. You want the team to put in that extra 10% (so that’s 12% then). What do you do?
Here are my top tips:
· Tell them how brilliant they are.
· Tell them another team couldn’t crack it, so you’re coming to them because they’ve got a reputation for always coming up with the goods.
· Tell them there’s a massive budget on it and it’s a really exciting opportunity – but could they also do some low-budget solutions, just to show a ‘range of ideas’?
· Give the job an exciting name like ‘Project breakthrough’ or ‘Awards job’.
These are almost guaranteed to give you the desired effect.
If, however, none of the above work, and you feel the situation warrants it, you can go for The slightly scary brooding Ronan approach.
This is where you THREATEN TO GET THE PLANNER TO COME AND PROVIDE A BIT MORE BACKGROUND.
The prospect of a couple of hours of 'insights' and 'brand essences' will, I promise, put the wind up any creative. Just watch them scuttle back to their desk more anxious to please than, well, a suit.
Ronan and I look forward to hearing how these tips have boosted productivity in YOUR creative department.