If you have one, send it along.
This made me wonder exactly what mine might be…
Is it the time my art director thought it would be a good idea to send around that little film (they didn’t have Gifs in those days) of a woman sucking off a donkey (they didn’t have YouPorn in those days)? He accidentally hit ‘send all’, and before he knew it the offending film was winging its way to the inbox of every single person in Britain’s largest ad agency. He quickly realised what he’d done, explained it to me and I suggested he get on to IT ASAP. We knew there would be no chance of success, after all, emails just arrive the second they’re sent, don’t they? Well, IT was able to stop it in its tracks, and David Abbott and Peter Mead were spared the sight of Dobbin getting his rocks off.
It might be the time we got taken to lunch along with another team, waited till the suit paying the bill was in the loo, then ordered the most expensive bottle of booze on the menu. We’d finished much of it by the time he’d come back, so he was absolutely entitled to react in an explosive and angry manner. Instead he took us all to the Trocadero, where we played arcade games for the rest of the afternoon.
Not that one either…
I think it was the time we were on a shoot that had so much money sloshing about that we were given a parting gift of $2000 and business class flights to anywhere in the world. I won’t name names, client or locations, but those were the days…
When I was at AMV there was a bloke whose job title was something like Head of the Studio. So he was in charge of the group of specialist designers who were tasked with improving the looks and layouts of our print advertising.
Reader, that bloke was Nils Leonard.
After a while he went off to Grey, when it was still the punchline to all jokes about British creative advertising, to (I think) be the CD on Hugo Boss where (I think) he made some ads with Sienna Miller.
After that happened, I kind of stopped keeping track, although I’d occasionally read that he was still at Grey and seemed to be getting promoted on a regular basis.
Then one day he became the ECD.
Grey had become a bit more interesting by that stage, presumably somewhat thanks to Nils. They were now housed in an interesting building in interesting Farringdon, and were no longer the butt of the industry’s jokes. (To be fair, I think lots of other agencies had simultaneously become much, much worse, accentuating the improvements Grey had made, but also demonstrating that Grey’s improvement wasn’t simply a case of a rising tide lifting all ships. Doing well in an overall climate of crapness is even harder; after all, you can’t show a reel of all the great stuff happening across town in order to inspire/guilt your client into commissioning similar work.)
And now, if my cursory flick through Campaign’s end-of-year round up in WH Smith is to be taken seriously, Nils is the cats pyjamas of London creativity. I was already aware that Grey was the UK’s most awarded agency at D&AD last year, or the year before, and that they’d won a couple of Cannes Grand Prix (OK, for a campaign I have a lot of problems with, but, hey, this is a nice post and this is the last time I’m going to mention how awful I think Life Paint is).
So Nils has done something very impressive: he took a dreary, crappy dinosaur and turned it into the hotshop of London, and one of the most awarded agencies in the world. And he did it through a pretty unusual route; I mean, how many studio designers do you know who have risen to be ECD, let alone taken a moribund agency and turned it round 180 degrees? I’m going to guess that the answer is none. In fact, I can’t remember anyone taking on such a derided agency and making this much of a success out of it. He’s now so respected he gets to write ‘call to arms’ articles for Campaign, and, gosh darn it, he writes them well.
So hats off to Nils, not just for getting to the top, but for doing it the hard way. And for being or not being a cock.
When the world is getting you down there’s nobody else to blame (way oh!), raise your middle finger to the sky and curse the weekend.
Movement in composition through the work of Kurosawa (thanks, J):
The best rappers of every year since rap started (thanks, K).
Great comedy writing advice (thanks, M).
Michael Powell visits Scorsese and Coppola on the set of The King of Comedy (thanks, J2):
Here’s a New Year’s resolution that advertising might want to make: stop deliberately annoying people.
I can take the odd shitty TV ad (actually more like 95% of them), the general dross on the radio, the invisible wallpaper that bulks up my magazines and newspapers, and the ugly messes that seem to count as posters these days. I don’t really notice much of that. I’d prefer it to be better but in my mind it’s basically neutral: a sea of beige blancmange, custom made to be ignored.
But the internet banners, the cack I have to sit through while waiting for movies to start, the perfume ads of heavy stock that I rip out of magazines because they stop me flicking through them… These are the limp sex pests of the industry: unwanted, unloved and unlikely to take no for an answer.
When people say they don’t like advertising I don’t think they mean most ads. Most ads are a colossal waste of money, but they’re not actively annoying. Of course, if every ad was a nailed-on crowd pleaser that inspired rapturous chat across the globe that would be wonderful, however I’m enough of a realist to know that would be a bit of a tall order.
No, we all know exactly what kind of advertising is hated because we all hate it, and yet many of us persist in polluting people’s lives with the very thing we abhor. Admit it: you’ve cursed the bastard corporation that has made you wait 5 or 15 seconds for your YouTube clip; you’ve muttered ‘Oh, not this one again’ as you’ve sat there in your £10 seat, waiting for the real entertainment to start; and you’ve taken a deep loathing to the words ‘sponsored post’ on your Instagram and Facebook feeds.
So why do we as an industry continue to put it out there? It’s as if many of us have decided that it’s worth being hated as long as you’re seen, and perhaps there are some benefits to that. We all know irritating campaigns that have managed to stick in our minds, possibly becoming liked over time by some weird kind of osmosis. But the vast majority of these kind of ads are simply a negative experience to be endured, and what does that really do for the brand that has paid so much to elicit these feelings, or the industry that creates more annoyance and unhappiness for the planet?
And you can’t avoid them like you can avoid Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, or Jordan’s latest bestseller. You have to actively get rid of the things if you can, or sit there while your annoyance increases if you can’t. Imagine if your favourite chair came with a shitty chair that you had to keep beside it, or if you had to eat some rancid liver along with your perfect fish and chips. It would really make you hate whoever was behind such a weird set of circumstances.
So, inevitably, we have several varieties of adblocker. They don’t help with every interruption, but they do a fine and welcome job that shouldn’t need to be done. If the ads are bad enough to need blocking then surely they shouldn’t be produced in the first place. A vast chunk of the industry seems to be like a sweaty man with halitosis who can’t understand why the ladies are heading in the other direction. Actually, it’s worse than that: he knows why they run but he still goes out on the pull every night without taking a shower or changing his pants.
It’s absolutely barking, and the least we can do is stop putting out work that causes damage we’re fully aware of. Otherwise we seem both annoying and stupid – hardly a pair of adjectives anyone should deliberately set out to apply to themselves.
Happy New Year!
Najeneun ttasaroun inganjeogin yeoja Keopi hanjanui yeoyureul aneun pumgyeok inneun yeoja Bami omyeon simjangi tteugeowojineun yeoja Geureon banjeon inneun yeoja the weekend.
What did we get stuck in our rectums last year? (Thanks, T.)
The nice guys of OK Cupid (thanks, T).
Movies before and after CGI (thanks, E).
Happy New Year!
But then I was chillin’ because the man had a beard and a bag full of goodies, 12 o’clock had neared. So I turned my head a second and the man was gone, but he must have dropped his wallet smack dead on the weekend.
Amazing resin art (thanks, M):
Join a religion for Christmas:
Night of the Hunter is a truly great movie. Lots of stuff about it here.
Can you cry in space?
Amazing data viz of WW2 deaths:
I recently read a quote from Renoir:
‘Your imagination will only supply you with a few leaves; but nature offers you millions, all on the same tree. No two leaves are exactly the same. The artist who paints only what is in his mind must very soon repeat himself’.
It’s very interesting and very true.
When Tarantino wrote Pulp Fiction in Amsterdam he filled up the movie with references to what he was seeing for the first time:
He also had Travolta smoke roll-ups made with Drum, a Dutch tobacco.
And it doesn’t have to be as direct as that. Dan O’Bannon was writing Alien when he found himself stricken with writer’s block. He wasn’t sure how to make the aliens different to what moviegoers had already seen so many times. So he went and did some research on insects, where he found the idea of corrosive blood.
Those are a couple of pro examples, but from the time I started working in advertising the idea of ‘sponging’, that is soaking up influences to improve your own creativity, was mentioned on a regular basis. Going out to see exhibitions or movies, travelling to new countries, reading books you wouldn’t normally read… these are all ways of putting some good fuel into your imagination.
But the indirect and unpredictable connections from A to B or A to Q or A to Purple can make it seem like sponging is merely an indulgence – after all, it tends to consist of enjoyable things that people do in their ‘leisure’ time, and not things that seem like work. So sloping off for a movie in the middle of a quiet day has the general appearance of bunking off, rather than directly improving productivity. Sitting at your desk reading a book could be interpreted as not taking your job seriously, or having nothing to do, even though the key to answering your current brief might be found on the next page. And you can only chat about movies for so long before you have to stop, and get down to some proper ‘work’ instead.
I’m sure I’ve written before about the way we’re conditioned in childhood to make a virtue of things that obviously seem like school work (filling up lots of blank pieces of paper by spending hours at a desk doing things you’re not that keen on), while the things that seem like ‘play’ are only allowed as some sort of reward for the work, and must be curtailed lest they eat into your work time and make you feel guilty.
Sure, there’s a point where you have to produce the thing you’re being paid for, but why does it matter how you get to it?
Maybe we should build compulsory movie, art and reading time into our jobs instead of trying to squeeze them in outside of office hours.
Stay, lady, stay, stay with your man awhile. Why wait any longer for the world to begin? You can have your cake and eat it too. Why wait any longer for the one you love when he’s standing in front of the weekend.
Filmmaker on flimmaker flaming (thanks, J).
Amazing historical photos (thanks, N).
get ready for Ep7 the easy way: watch all 6 Star Wars films simultaneously (thanks, J):
Tumblr of stupid signs from Batman series (thanks, J).
Poorly-named products (thanks, J).
Woman eats 100 slices of bread in 6 minutes:
‘What the word crab means to me’ (Batshit crazy, NSFW and thanks, J):
Trolling Brendan Sullivan (thanks, G).
Star Wars bad lip reading (thanks, C):