Thursday, May 7, 2015

My new blog

Behold! A tumblr I made recently, called Freelancers on Phones.

I thought it would be helpful, for those considering a switch to freelance, to provide a window – a literal snapshot, if you will – of that lifestyle.

As we all know, that life is essentially chatting on your phone, invoicing then leaving early. 

I’ve tried to capture this life in a series of portraits (there's also a bit of blurb to give some context but I can't be bothered to include that here, just go there okay?)

Please be part of this project. Submit your snaps of freelancers on phones, along with any additional information you want (time of day, location, who they’re on the phone to, who you imagine they might be on the phone to, what they were thinking about the moment you took the picture, what they like to get up to at the weekend – anything you fancy really).


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The terrible sadness of planners

I have this theory, which I’m pretty sure is an actual fact, which is that all planners are wasting their lives.

Planners are the ones your teacher loved. They sat in the front of class. They spent lunchtime reading Robert Frost while the rest of us were pressing body parts against the classroom window and competing to see who could make the loudest fart noise by sticking their hand in their armpit (it was me – I was totally awesome at that).

Planners are the ones about whom your mum said “I wonder what she’ll be when she grows up.”

But then they became planners.

They could have been doctors, scientists, business leaders. They could have made medical breakthroughs, fought injustice, brokered peace deals.

Instead, they chose to channel their intellect into selling dog food and car insurance.

One of the saddest things is that, often, they’re not even aware something has gone wrong.

They talk with enthusiasm about the latest exciting revolution in hair care or toothpaste. But beneath it all, you just know they don't belong in an agency.

It's in the way they reference some obscure 1930s French film in a brainstorm and are met with blank stares.

It's in the way they quote Chomsky in their feedback and have to watch while we google him.

And it's in the way they spend lunchtimes reading about behavioural economics while the rest of us press body parts against the studio window and compete to see who can make the loudest fart noise by sticking their hand in their armpit (still me, I'm so awesome).

I know I shouldn’t really care. It’s just that, sometimes I look at them and feel a bit sad. Nothing remains now of that bright-eyed boy or girl who once dreamt of taking the world by storm.

Of course, you might wonder why I'm going on about planners so much. What about all the other agency folk? Couldn’t they be doing something better with their lives too?

Not really, no.

Most client services people would be equally happy as estate agents or working in Carphone Warehouse.

And most creative are still dumbstruck that they’re even allowed into the building, let alone paid.

But planners really have no excuse. And that is so terribly, terribly sad.

Friday, January 30, 2015

I’ve been promoted!

Yes I know it’s been 3 years since I’ve posted anything and no one’s going to read this but still I just had to share the news!

For some time now I’ve been telling The Man that I want more responsibility. Possibly even a title of some kind.

Well, it gives me enormous pleasure to announce that I’ve been handed a role with authority, responsibility AND kudos.

That’s right, I’m the new Fire Warden.

I know what you’re thinking, I used to think that too.

Yes, this role is traditionally handed to the kind of pedantic jobsworth who’s desperate for even the smallest sense of authority. But ask yourself this: if that were still the case, why did they ask me?

Plus, I can tell you this job certainly has its perks.

You know how chicks love firemen? Well, it's almost the same for Fire Wardens.

Not only that, when a fire alarm goes off and you march about in a high visibility vest barking orders, everyone has to notice you (why did no one tell me this sooner?!)

My lifesaving role doesn’t end there. Once the alarm has been triggered, I have to sweep the floor (this is ‘sweep’ in the figurative sense, no actual brush is used) for stragglers.

Occasionally some bigshot might decide he's too busy for a fire drill. Maybe he’s on a client call. Or he needs to get ready for a big presentation.

Well, I’ve got news for you, punk.

I will not hesitate to bring the full weight of workplace Health & Safety directives crashing down on your stupid, ignorant head.

First, I warn him. Then I warn him a second time. Then I leave him – if there’s any justice, he'll die a slow, painful death, his flesh being licked by flames over the course of several pain-racked days.

But if he does survive, I will give him a written warning that he must take part next time.

That’s right, not looking quite so ‘busy’ now, are we?

Spiderman was right. With great responsibility comes great power.

And I’m loving it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Guess Whose Loos Round Two

Get ready for Round 2 of this challenging yet immensely rewarding quiz!

Guess Whose Loos is already proving to be one of the most popular agency toilet-based quizzes around at the moment.

In the past week it’s cost clients untold millions, as adland’s finest minds have stopped thinking up straplines for mince pies and eggnog and instead focused their faculties on my fiendishly difficult facility-related quiz.

Gird yourself – here comes your next instalment!

Question 1

This agency is one of my old haunts – in fact it's the last place I held down a permanent job (the last place with a working toilet, anyway).

I spent many hours locked in these cubicles, hugging the toilet and sobbing because I couldn’t face going back to my desk and staring at that idea-less layout pad.

Do these toilets belong to:
a) Lowe and Partners?
b) Partners Andrews Aldridge?
c) Goodby, Silverstein & Partners?

Question 2

Not surprisingly for such a widely read blog, we've attracted our first overseas contributor!

Connor is from the glamorous and exotic country of Dublin and has taken the time to set the scene with some very evocative copy, which I've published below.

Welcome to the salubrious surroundings of the gents bathroom, *********, Dublin.

Nestled in the basement of a four-storey restored Georgian house, this communal facility plays host to the rich and powerful of Ireland's advertising cutting edge. Occasionally they let us copywriters in too.

Luckily, I managed to snap these before the post-breakfast digestive rush had kicked in. It's a much less attractive prospect under those circumstances.

The standard three stall / three-person urinal layout is applied. It's by no means the closest facility, located as I am on the third floor. But if you want to stretch your legs and make a real occasion out of the visit, you'll find it hard to do better than down here.

Let's hope that whatever gentlemen was in residence in stall 1 wasn't put off his business too much with the sound of the iPhone shutter clicking. That explains the soft focus on the second shot - I felt a quick exit was appropriate.

Do these toilets belong to:
a) Ogilvy & Mather Dublin?
b) Adam and Eve Dublin?
c) O'Malley's Dublin?

For your chance to win a signed toilet brush, add your answer in the comments. Thank you and good luck!

And remember, if you want your toilet to be featured (and frankly, who wouldn't?) then just send your images to dave[at]davemance[dot]com

Friday, November 30, 2012

What I’ve learned from freelancing #2, 3, 4, and 5

Welcome back to the second post in this gripping new series (told you I'd do more than one entry).

I’ve decided to stick a few in the same post as they’re not really interesting enough for one post each.

Here are some more things wot I’ve learned.

2. There is NOTHING WORSE than turning up at a place and realising you’ve forgotten your headphones.

3. Meeting twitter/bloggy friends in real life is nice.

Sometimes you can be working together for a bit before you even realise.

It’s like meeting a long lost brother who has lived in Australia all your life and then suddenly turns up one day on the desk next to you. Except obviously it’s nowhere near that good. But it’s still quite nice.

4. The goodbyes don't get any easier. Just as you’ve got the person next to you to make tea just the way you like it, you have to leave.

5. Timesheets are horrible wherever you go.

No matter where you work, timesheets are always a nightmare. No agency has figured out a simple way to do this.

In the agency of the future, set aboard a starship where concepts are beamed directly from digital layout pads into consumers’ minds, we’ll still spend Friday afternoons thumping a keyboard with frustration and trying to get hold of account people who stuck a three-year-old job number on the brief because they couldn’t be bothered to get the system to spit out a new one.

If your agency currently uses a simple system, enjoy it while it lasts. It will soon be updated with a bigger, more expensive and fantastically complicated one.

Considering what a small amount of data timesheet systems have to handle – putting hours against a certain job – we have designed some fantastically complicated ways of doing it.

So there. These are things wot I’ve learnt. What have you learned? Stick it in the comments innit.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Guess Whose Loos

Welcome to another exciting new series!


Guess Whose Loos is the exciting new industry–wide quiz that tests both your powers of deduction and industry knowledge.

Every few days I’ll feature new toilets, along with clues as to the agency it serves. (I’ll make some of them multi-choice so it’s not too difficult.)

You post your answer in the comments. Everyone who gets it right will be entered into a draw to WIN a signed RealMenWriteLongCopy toilet brush.

So here we go with our first loo. I’ve made this first one easy.

Note the industrial feel. It’s obviously not a new building and with that many stalls, it’s clearly not a small agency. Also, although it’s not really coming across from the picture, there’s an odour that makes me suspect someone’s had a curry.

Loo two is multiple choice.

This toilet is one of the big names and has lots of crazy stories of its glory days. Is it:
a: Saatchi & Saatchi
b: Wieden + Kennedy
c: Y&R

Over to you, loo-choosers!

Would you like your toilet to be featured in Guess Whose Loos? (Answer: Yes)

It’s great to finally have a use for all the photos of toilets I have on my phone. However I don’t have an infinite supply so if you’d like your agency toilet to be featured (which I know you would) then please send a high-quality image to dave[at]davemance[dot]com

I'm particularly looking for female contributors, as there is a slight gender bias here. Also, it'd be great to have contributors from overseas – let's make this thing go global people.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A couple of nice Christmas bits on my way to and from work yesterday

I know this campaign is still finding its feet a bit but I really like this execution. Because it is a truth. And truth is hard to find, particularly in the grubby little world of advertising.

And while we're on the subject of truth in ads, Marmite's love/hate campaign is the truthiest of them all.

That's right, it's an elf barfing into Santa's hat. Lovely stuff.

I feel like I should be upset that even Christmas lights are ads, though I'm not sure why.

The commercialisation-of-Christmas ship sailed a long time ago. And the Christmas lights over shops flogging people stuff they don't want or need at Christmas should be the last thing I'm worried about. I'm such a worrier.

Monday, November 19, 2012

What I’ve learned from freelancing #1. Time passes slower.

Welcome to this exciting new series!

As my regular reader will know, any series I start rarely makes it past the first entry. But I’ve a feeling this one could run and run.

Because, having spent two years freelancing, I’m full of wisdom. Backed up, in fact. I’m hoping this series will provide a much-needed wisdom suppository for me to clear myself out of all the nuggets and pearls that are clogging up my system.

My first little plop of insight is...

When you're a freelancer, times passes slower.

This is because our memory only logs the experiences that are different.

So if you go to work at the same place every day, sitting in the same chair and working on the same clients, time will seem to pass very quickly.

You’ll be drawing up scamps one day and suddenly realise your hand is horribly withered and you’re wearing incontinence pads.

On the other hand, if you work at a different place every few weeks, your brain has lots more experiences to remember. So time passes slower. Which means you live longer.

So there you have it. Freelancing is the secret of everlasting youth.

Obviously I have nothing to back this up. And the stress of worrying about work, looking for work and chasing payment means freelancers age twice as fast.

But still.

Friday, November 16, 2012

FREE Turn Up Late For Work Kit

Simply download this pic onto your phone and show it to your boss when you amble in at 10.

That’s right, a plastic bag has somehow shrink-wrapped itself around some poor soul's gear cassette. What are the chances of THAT happening!

(Apologies that the picture is a bit blurry. My hand was quivering with rage at the time of shooting.)

TIP: for added excuse authenticity, a nice touch is to get a bit of oil onto your hands. Just ask any cyclist.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Jon Stewart gleefully ripping into Fox over their election coverage

The best thing I've seen on that election thing that happened over there.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Working from home today

Dunno about you, but I write much better without trousers.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Happy Guy Fawkes night day!

 This is what folks in my home town will be getting up to.

This video conveys a little of the unique excitement of a drunk farmer running towards you with a flaming barrel on his shoulders.

The explosion at 23 seconds was not planned – not that a couple of people losing their hair seems to have affected the event in any way. Those lunatics will be burning one another again tonight, according to our fine traditions.

Meanwhile I shall be 200 miles away, safely tucked up with a cup of Ovaltine watching re-runs of The Golden Girls.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Where you sit matters

Trends will come and go. Agencies will rise and fall. Martin Sorrell’s jowls will become saggier and saggier. But this one indisputable truth will remain.

Where you sit matters.

Whether or not you're aware of it, colleagues judge your worth almost completely by where you're sat.

Next to the CD? This guy looks like a real go-getter, an ideas machine!

On the broken table next to the fire exit? Who’s the loser in the corner? No one’s gonna miss him when he’s gone.

Not only that. Your proximity to certain colleagues can have a big impact on your productivity.

Being around fun, smart, energetic people is stimulating. And the opposite is also true – sitting near designers can be extremely demotivating.

And of course more than all these, when it comes to seating plans, one factor eclipses all others in terms of importance: your proximity to the kitchen.

Twice I've left a job with great prospects at an agency I've loved, purely because I was too far away from the kettle.

It upset my whole balance. I’d have to plan cups of tea into my weeing routine just to save my legs.

I got so fed up with the trek at one place, I took to keeping my own personal kettle under the desk. But people got really funny when they noticed my steaming crotch.

Please can we address this?

Careers are built or destroyed and cups of tea are made and not made because of seating plans. And yet they are at the whim of a traffic person, or based on whatever involves the least work for the Office Services guy.

Let’s put our best people on this from now on.

And if I come to your place anytime soon, make sure you stick me near the kitchen, okay?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Sparrow

As many of you will be aware, I celebrated my birthday over the last year.

My favourite gift so far was this.

It’s a while since I’ve been really gripped by a book. There’s nothing quite like a good old fashioned page-turner that leaves you dreaming up ways to get out of work early or avoid your family so you can devour a few more pages.

If you’re considering taking a holiday or even just pulling a sickie, I heartily recommend picking this up first.

It explores faith, linguistics, mental illness and a man with funny hands, all wrapped up in sci-fi (a genre I try to be snobbish about but can’t). And its characters are more complete and human than anyone you’ll ever meet in an agency.

Here's the blurby bit:
After the first exquisite songs were intercepted by radio telescope, UN diplomats debated long and hard whether and why human resources should be expended in an attempt to reach the world that would become known as Rakhat. In the Rome offices of the Society of Jesus, the questions were not whether or why but how soon the mission could be attempted and whom to send. The Jesuit scientists went to Rakhat to learn, not to proselytize. They went so that they might come to know and love God's other children. They went for the reason Jesuits have always gone to the farthest frontiers of human exploration. They went for the greater glory of God. They meant no harm.

I dunno if you picked it up but that 'They meant no harm' line is actually rather ominous, if you know what I'm saying. As in, it all goes a bit wrong. What I'm suggesting is that they do harm. Anyway.

I’m about 3/4s of the way through. I’ll let you know if the ending turns out to be a massive disappointment. Otherwise, get it.

Here’s to page-turners.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Running on empty

I enjoyed Tim Lott’s bit in The Guardian today on How I write.

I identified not just with finding it hard to knuckle down, which is par for the course, but also the way his digestive system dictates his working day.
Come around 2pm I have an energy slump – especially if I have had a glass of wine. This has been happening to me since I was a teenager, but in those days at school I was in no position to do anything about it. Now I have a bed in my room, I take a nap. I never wake later than 45 minutes on. 
It seems that God has seen fit to give me a tiny stomach, like that of a sparrow. Which means I share the same post-lunch slump (but not the bed in the office, sadly).

My solution is to eat such a paltry lunch (e.g. a one-slice tuna sandwich) that I’m still gnawing my desk with hunger by 2. At which point I have another cup of tea and this keeps me going and a bit on edge until around 4, when I have lunch part two (e.g. a second sandwich).

In this way my little body stutters along throughout the week. I've been creatively running on empty, so to speak, for most of my career and it certainly works for me.

Does anyone else have a staying-fairly-productive strategy to share? Other than the simple fear of being found out for the talentless hack you clearly are, of course?

Btw, the rest of the How I write bits are very good too. Although the Lionel Shriver one has a picture of a woman at the top. Oops!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Holidaying for real men

I had a lovely holiday, thanks for asking.

I’ve come to the point in my life where a holiday’s success is not measured by cultural sites visited or tan accrued, but by how well I prevented parenthood standing in the way of self-indulgence.

I was made particularly aware of this dynamic on a recent break at a caravan park in Devon. (That’s right, a caravan park. The freelance budget only extends so far you know.)

The whole park was designed in such a way as to allow you to freely consume alcohol whilst technically still 'watching over' your child.

This is a random woman from the interweb and not Mrs RMWLC thank you very much

Pub and playground were seamlessly integrated. The soft-play area even had its own bar. The stools were padded for the child’s safety, but also tall enough to deter children from seeking comfort in their parents’ arms.

Those wishing to put more distance between themselves and their offspring could sit on the pub’s balcony some 30 feet above the playground.

If their child should fall from a zip line or become tangled in the machinations of a roundabout they’d be in the perfect position to observe this and even holler first aid tips at any nearby children.

If you're looking for a way to avoid engaging with your children, I really can't recommend it highly enough.

Anyway, I'm back to work this week. Well, back to looking for work.

Well, okay, I'm back to sitting on the park bench feeding the pigeons. At least they don't answer back.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Got the passport!

I'm as happy as, well, as a pig eating an ice lolly.

See you all in a week or so.

Via the poke

Monday, August 20, 2012

I'm back, and badder than ever

Sorry, that should have read 'worse than ever'.

It’s a long time since I blogged. And, the longer you leave it, the harder it is to get back in the copy-saddle.

For some reason, I feel like I need to come up with something really interesting. Perhaps the passage of time makes me forget just how desperately poor my blog posts usually are.

Fortunately, a quick recap of previous posts is all it takes to reassure me I can just write any old guff.

So I thought I’d write whatever's in my head right now.

Which is that I’m meant to be going on a big extended-family holiday to Brittany on Friday, paid for by my generous in-laws. Except that my son’s passport hasn’t arrived yet.

And I bet you can guess whose job it was to get the passport, can’t you?

The enormity of my blunder only hit home in a call to the IPS on Friday afternoon.

As a result, I spent the whole of this weekend sat on the kitchen chair with my head in my hands, gently rocking. This was punctuated only by short trips into the bedroom to scream into, and punch, a pillow.

I know you’re thinking of all the lastminute measures I can take. Getting an emergency passport. Telling them it’s urgent. Getting on my hands and knees and begging. Don’t you think I’ve looked into it? There’s nothing.

All I can do is wait. And pray. Which I am doing a lot.

Stay tuned to find out whether I get the passport in time. Or whether my father-in-law takes a pick axe to my skull.

Monday, April 30, 2012

How to be popular (with the right people)

You may have heard this popular maxim floating around the corridors of your agency:

“Work hard and be nice to people”


This is the most laughable myth since the Loch Ness monster. Or the female G-spot. Or the female orgasm.

Everyone knows that if you want to get on in this world, you need to kiss butt, bully, cheat, connive, steal, murder, commit tax fraud and commit grand larceny.

Which is one of the reasons freelancing is so tricky. Every time you arrive at a new place, you have to figure out who’s who.

How else can you know whose butt to kiss and whose butt to bully? Or commit grand larceny against?

If you’re not careful, you can spend far too much time sucking up to people who turn out to be unimportant.

I’ve wasted whole precious minutes of my life being nice to people, only to discover there was no material benefit in it for me.

Other times I’ve elbowed someone aside or thrown scalding hot tea in their face to stop them taking the last biscuit, only to discover they are in fact a ‘somebody’.

To be honest, I haven’t really found a short cut to this conundrum as yet.

Is the answer making people wear badges which display their job title? Or uniforms which signify rank?

We need to find a solution soon people because I'm doing a lot of unnecessary smiling at strangers at the moment and my face is starting to hurt.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

MFEST. The music festival for people who've given up on life.

It can't be. Can it?

They wouldn't, would they?

Of course they would.

MFEST. The music festival brought to you by Morrisons supermarket.

That's right, MFEST. Proof, were it needed, that this is the END OF DAYS.



Every time you say it, another piece of your soul dies.

And it's brought to us by Morrisons, those trusted purveyors of the finer things in life.

So far, the line-up includes such illustrious names as The Levellers, Texas, Bob Geldof and Inspiral Carpets.

Acts that wouldn’t look out of place in the ‘Reduced to clear’ section of any supermarket.

Headliners, The Levellers. To be fair, even in their heyday they didn't look great.

“MFEST will be a unique addition to the festival market with not only a glittering array of entertainment for all ages, but a brand new, reinterpretation of festival food”
- droned a corporate flunkey who long ago made a deal with the devil, exchanging his soul for a tin of Morrisons spam and some money-off vouchers.

Can brands just take everything that is cool about life and churn out their own soulless versions?

What next? The TESCO Value Holiday? The Walmart Wedding? Your first love, brought to you by McDonalds?
“We are incredibly excited to be the lead sponsor with such an incredible line-up planned and thrilled that our food will be keeping the crowds going at the inaugural MFEST experience."
Come, friendly bombs and fall on MFEST.