A week’s a long time in advertising

The popular image of someone in advertising is that of a b*stard who will probably make a lot of money, lose a lot of money, get divorced too many times, pay high-end call-girls to snort cocaine off his p*nis  and end up getting treated for sex addiction while trying to pretend that a burst of Pilates in middle-age when his back went proves that somehow he was really deeply spiritual all the time.

But in reality they’re all sweethearts.

(Well, not all. Let’s leave the 7 genuine bastards out of this. I’ll get onto them in another blog.)

I’m gonna sound  like an old-fashioned gossip column, and namecheck a few of these wonderful people while telling you what I’ve been up to in the last week.

(It should get the hits up anyway, as the self-Googlers get to work.)

Back from Cannes, I went to a wedding in Scotland. I travelled up with Warren Brown, who set up BMF, agency of the decade in Australia. While he was in London,  Warren was fired from virtually every agency in London including BBH, mainly for telling the creative directors that they didn’t have a sense of humour.

Compared to Warren, they didn’t.

Compared to Warren, nobody has. He’s the funniest guy I’ve ever met. Even breakfast at the hotel became known as “hitting the haggis”. And when we saw the size of some of the guests, Warren declared that he felt like he was at a keg-eating contest.

Back in London, I hooked up with Simon Labett and the guys from Hometown. I’d put serious money on those guys.  Then I gave a speech to Iris and had a lovely lunch with Tom Crossley. Followed by tea with Tim Ashton, who is always doing interesting things at Antidote.

Lunch at the Ivy Club next day  with Tim Hipperson, who’s galvanising G2 Joshua,  and Camilla Honey – who lives up to her name every time.

Then I was filmed by Marc Shelkin at a new recruitment agency called Twist or Stick, giving advice to people going into the industry.

My advice was “don’t”. As Raymond Chandler said about something or other,  “It’s the biggest waste of talent outside an ad agency”.

Ad agencies are full of incredibly bright people. They put the TV and publishing industries (which I’ve also dabbled in) to shame.

It’s just a pity virtually no good work gets out the far end.

Then had a lovely tea with two guys who’ve set up an IP-driven ideas factory called 1DA – Tom McJennett and Simon West.

They’ve got an idea which will revolutionise the music industry.

It’s pronounced “wonder”, by the way, not “Ida”, as I kept calling it.

Then coffee with a fascinating blogger called Cila Warncke at WARC, who’s drifted into marketing but who has the best idea for a book I’ve heard in years.

Breakfast with Katie Lee from Leo Burnett was on a wet and sticky morning in Chelsea – but Katie is everything a woman in advertising should be – late, taking off layers of clothing because she’s too hot , funny, bright, charismatic, energetic and of course great-looking.

Mid-morning I had a power-coffee with the relentlessly energised Guy Phillipson at IAB, who invited me to speak to 700 marketeers at their conference in October.

Things wound down for a lovely chatty lunch with Jason Cobbold from Publicis – although I’m a bit disappointed he didn’t tell me the schtick on Publicis buying BBH which broke the next day – cos I was having lunch with Nick Kendall the next day.

But before that, breakfast with Michael Sugden from VCCP. If I was a client, I’d give him my account within 10 minutes of meeting him.

Where do all these nice, charming, intelligent, friendly people come from ?

God knows, but in terms of what happens to them later on, my next appointment helped to clarify.

It was lunch with the newly-minted Nick Kendall of BBH. He was assessing the marble floor of the restaurant for his planned new bathroom. In his planned new house. In a planned new country. Gerry Moira and I could only mutter about the clearance sale at John Lewis while Nick costed up putting a 30-foot picture window, like the one at the front of the restaurant, into his planned new downstairs toilet.

I dashed off to do a spot of mentoring at the SCA, where Marc Lewis has built an amazing brand in 2 years. Marc’s trousers may not be to everybody’s taste, but one of his teams just won top team at D&AD New Blood, and you always see fresh thinking there. Chatted to the fascinating Rod Banner who was also mentoring  there.

Then off to Camden to watch an opera singer called Olivia Safe, the event being set up by Daryl Fielding. As most of you know, Daryl was the woman behind Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty”, so she will always be a heroine to me. Very interesting group of people there including a lady who’d left adland to join the police (it takes one to catch one) and Alex Conaway, ex-Wiedens now running The Mill.

I went there with Steven Hess, who is one of my best buddies in the business, and who’s set up WhiteCap, a radical new model for the marketing industry.

A lot of the smart people, it seems to me, are setting up something new right now.

As some of you will know, I helped set up Decoded, teaching “code in a day”, and just last week I was approached by Luke Johnson, the serial entrepreneur and VC, to talk about it.

It’s going gang-busters.

And on Friday I had lunch with the journalist Louise Jack who helped David Jones in the writing of “Who Care Wins”, a book which finally attempts to bring ethics into proper commercial focus. She also writes for Fast Company – but used to work at Davidson Pearce a few years ago.

Adland really is a breeding ground for incredible talent.

Younger readers won’t remember Davidson Pearce but the agency got sold to BMP.

Actually, younger readers won’t remember BMP because it got sold to DDB.

Readers of the future may not remember DDB (although in my view the “B” was the brightest guy ever to work in advertising), because in London they’ve been subsumed into Adam and Eve.

What do you mean, you don’t remember Adam and Eve ? Get serious.

They did the John Lewis ad with the boy counting the days till Xmas. If I had the time (which clearly I don’t) I’d redub the ad to have the little boy saying “where the f*ck are those b*stards from John Lewis” because I wasted one morning last week waiting for them to deliver a new TV set and even though I’d paid for a 2-hour slot, installation and for them to take away the old one, they didn’t show, didn’t ring, couldn’t contact the driver, and didn’t return my call when I rang them.

And people think advertising is full of bastards.

It’s a good thing the boy in the ad started planning for Xmas a long way ahead, or he’d have just walked into his parents’ bedroom with his dick in his hands.

(Before any of you get upset at that sentence, please bear in mind that it’s a reference to a very famous line from The Godfather.)

(Then, get upset.)

  • Lindsey Clay



    I’ve held off commenting for as long as I could in order to be appropriately late. I also used the time to re-read your blog to check if
    there wasn’t some irony I’ve missed.


    I wonder if by sharing your view on women in advertising you
    are cleverly showing us one of the reasons for the persistent advertising glass
    ceiling (only 13.5% of chairmen, chief execs and MDs at IPA agencies are women;
    Campaign, 6 July): there simply hasn’t been enough focus on the “great
    looking” part of “what every woman in advertising should be”. We must redouble
    our efforts in that direction. I shall put WACL on high alert.

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