Monday, September 27, 2010

Rise of the Machines at Sainsbury's

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

Damp squib

Last week I celebrated my birthday.

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

Snubbed by Al Gore

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 (writer)/bad cop (art director)

Although we creatives like to think we’re unique and a bit special, the reality is that all teams fall into one of two basic categories.

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

Panic over. I'm back

I’m feeling refreshed from my time away, thanks for asking.

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.