Locking rhythms to the beat of her heart, changing moment into light. She has danced into the danger zone when the dancer becomes the weekend.

The story of Walk This Way.

Great rap vid aggregator (thanks, D).

47 Australian students Rotoscoped Justin Timberlake video:

The Beatles aging together (thanks, B):

The things Nora Ephron will and won’t miss after she dies (thanks, D).

The value of Cannes

Despite the fact that I’ve written 1,479 posts about awards, I now feel the need to curl out another one.

That’s because there have been a few recent developments on that front:

Wieden and Kennedy recently floated the idea of skipping awards.

Publicis have decided to give all of next year’s awards a miss.

WPP are considering not going to next year’s Cannes.

There seem to be different reasons for this: W&K wanted to find different ways to recognise creative excellence, including running full page ads thanking/congratulating teams responsible for good work.

Publicis want to spend the awards money on turning themselves into a ‘platform’. Here’s an explanation: Some of the key features of this AI-powered professional assistant include the ability for employees to apply to work on projects across the globe, an idea derived from a global talent survey that Publicis conducted roughly eight months ago. One major insight from the survey was that many of the youngest employees wanted access to projects all over the world. “It might be a copywriter in the Philippines, but who says they won’t be the one that’s going to crack that Tide brief in New York for the Super Bowl,” Carla Serrano, chief strategy officer of Publicis Communications, said.

Here’s a rather awkward film with some people explaining what it’s supposed to be:

And WPP think Cannes is ‘too costly, too scattered and should return to its roots of solely promoting agencies’ creativity.’ Apparently they’re a bit pissed off with the increased significance of Facebook and Google in the South of France.

So three reasons to give Cannes/awards a swerve.

Let’s have a look at the pros and cons:

W&K’s heart seemed to be in the right place. They want to recognise creatives, just in a way that might be better than the flawed method that is the expensive, ultimately meaningless crapshoot called ‘awards’. But when they asked their staff there was widespread antipathy. It seemed to the younger creatives that the senior ones who had made their name/fame/career on awards were pulling up the ladder. Would these alternative methods work? hard to say. Do awards work? They seem to.

So they changed their mind:

Since backing off the idea more than a year ago, W+K has continued looking for internal ways to supplement the role that award shows play in the industry. Doing so also helps the agency stay focused on finding new ways to keep its staffers loyal and engaged.

“There’s a lot of talk about millennial employee retention: ‘Do you want to take your dog to work?’ ‘Do you want a skate park and yoga?’,” (Joint CCO Collen) DeCourcy said. “These people want to be known. They want to be famous. They work hard enough, so they deserve it. So we were trying to figure that out, and quite frankly, we still are.”

Hmmm… There’s a lot of stuff in there. Is taking your dog to work (a very common thing here in LA) or having a skate park (really?) supposed to equate perk-wise to being able to enter awards? And is a person’s wish to be ‘famous’ a valid reason for their place of employment to shape things around such a wish? Apparently ‘They work hard enough, so they deserve it’.

Do they? Not to be deliberately obtuse but if hard work led to fame my cleaner would be on the front of every paper in the country. Which leads me to question this entire chain of logic: why do creatives deserve fame or notoriety for the ads they create? Why are awards the only real driver of such fame? Why is effectiveness seen as a poor cousin to ‘creativity’? Why aren’t we arguing that testimonials from satisfied clients or sales increases should be the justification for fame, promotions and raises? I’m not saying any of those things are good or bad, but sometimes we seem to accept certain situations without giving due consideration to the alternatives.

Which leads us (kind of) to the Publicis thing. There’s a lot of chat about improving creativity in the above link, but will Marcel do that? No idea. It’s a step into uncharted territory. And I suppose that’s a good thing, considering how much we generally lament people who always choose to stick with the same path.

On the other side, this is apparently a financial decision, with award entry cash being redirected towards Marcel. So there’s no ideological strategy underpinning this move; it’s merely a case of not having the cash to enter awards and set up Marcel, so they took their reddies from the award pile and gave it to the innovation pile. But is it really that expensive to set this thing up? Publicis’s Cannes entries/attendance alone was apparently over twenty million Euros. If Marcel costs that much I have a bridge I’d like to sell to the Publicis top brass. This seems like a convenient excuse to rob Peter to pay Paul. Tough titty, Publicis/Saatchis/Leo Burnett creatives.

…Leading us to WPP and Mr. Sorrell. He’s threatening, in a somewhat terrifying manner, to pull out of Cannes:

“If we would be starting the concept again today, what would we do differently?” he added, saying he would prefer it if the conference took place in another city and at another time.

Really? That’s all he could come up with? A new date and location? How would that solve anything? And, by the way, he said exactly the same thing last year.

Look, I’ve slagged him off a bit in the past, but I have an open mind to this guy who can’t really be as underwhelming as he seems and still earn £210m. So come on, Martin, think of a good reason to blow Cannes off, or simply come clean that you’re shitting yourself at the prospect of Facebook and Google eating your lunch in the near future. We won’t think any less of you. Maybe.

So there we are. A bit of a mixed bag, the upshot of which is that Cannes will certainly be enjoying the investment of W&K and WPP next year, and tonnes of MUCH BETTER WORK from Publicis in 2019.


ITIAPTWC Episode 35 – Chris and John, Part One

Chris and John are probably the hottest creatives in the world right now.

OK, they didn’t do the statue of that girl for some client I can’t remember, but they did do this:

I don’t pay much attention to awards these days, but I think this has won all of them.

But they’ve done bloody loads of other great ads, and their story contains many a wise word.

And they’re very nice blokes.


Our chat contains the following kinda stuff:

Not Watford, but a course that sounds a lot like Watford.

Press gang the drama department into helping you.

Two years to get a job.

Get interviews with a portfolio that’s ‘so wrong and bad’.

Bad news on a photocopier.

Cream and a chair.

A ‘shit’ book and a job!

Work hard (and steal briefs).

Make friends with the account peeps and planners.

Invite people into your ‘marital bed’.

Starting an internal agency called Upstart.

John Smiths and the primacy of the knob gag.

Working in the window of Selfridges.

Tony McTear: ‘Steal Briefs’.

The benefits of restlessness.

You haven’t made ‘that’ ad yet.

Richard Flintham: ‘Just fuck it up’.

Clients take the biggest risks.


Good old Julie Andrews.

We got about as far as the beginning of the Channel 4 years. The rest will be in an as-yet-unrecorded Part 2.

Here’s the chat, the iTunes link and the Soundcloud link, and some of their best work. You can find the rest of it, along with other fascinating stuff on their site.


There used to be a graying tower alone on the sea. You became the light on the dark side of the weekend.

Rudoji (thanks, J).

Domino, motherfucker!

Kids from around the world photographed with their toys (thanks, J).

Amazing promo made entirely from wood (thanks, J):

Where’s Wallace (Where’s Wally meets The Wire).

The Time Kanye and Ninja of Die Antwoord Played Basketball at Drake’s (thanks, D):

Now that’s how you pilot a drone (thanks, D):

This is fun:


ITIAPTWC Episode 34 – Caroline Pay

Caroline Pay has been one of the most successful UK creatives of the last twenty years, which obviously makes her one of the most successful female creatives of that time.

Her Mother partnership with Kim Gehrig made them the most awarded creatives in the UK.

Then BBH, her own place, W&K, Karamarama, becoming a mother, working at Mother (again), BBH (again) and now Valenstein and Fatt.

Great work, great agencies, but what runs through this chat like a stick of rock is Caroline’s burning ambition (‘I have to feed the monster!’).

You can hear all about that and…


Working with Ben Tollett.


Getting together with ‘hotheaded, ambitious’ Kim Gehrig.

Not happy if not winning.

Working with Alison Jackson.

Worried about being happy. Driven by being scared.


Making your own agency up as you go along.

Wieden’s Tokyo (not much of Tokyo).

When maternity leave makes you realise you’re an ‘ambitious, career-driven show-off’.

Going back to ‘somewhere brilliant’.

But having to fly the coop back to BBH.

Shaping the work by shaping a department (it’s more complicated these days).

What was going on at BBH at that time?

And then the power-lady coupling at Valenstein and Fatt.

A responsibility to bring up the ‘female’ issue and create role models.


Here’s the chat, the iTunes link and the Soundcloud link (apologies: the first 5-10 seconds of our chat got cut off by gremlins), and a shit-ton of Caroline’s best work:

I am your possession unopened at your feet. There’s no balance, no equality. Be still I will not accept the weekend.

My friend is organising a weekend course for creatives of all types, run by actors. Check it out.

The Grey Plaque scheme (thanks, R&J).

Ghost signs:

25 best films of the century so far.

Same list from some top directors.

27 styles of rap (thanks, J):

Cool skyscrapers in remote Russia (thanks, D).

ITIAPTWC Episode 33 – Stef Jones

Stef Jones (along with his longtime creative partner, Tom Burnay) is the founder of Big Al’s Creative Emporium.

For those of you unaware, it’s that very rare thing: a successful ad agency founded and run by a pair of creatives.

How does that work? Well, have a listen to our chat and you’ll find out. If you still have any questions, do drop Stef a line at stef@bigalscreativeemporium.com or pop into Big Al’s Creative Emporium, 1st Floor, 77 Dean Street, London, W1D 3SH.

Otherwise, press play on your listening device and hear about the following…

The choice of paths in your thirties.

‘Better, quicker and costing less’.

Lots of starts and stops.

No premises, funding, staffing etc.

200 business cards as a metaphor for personalities.

Learn from lodging in a production company.

Little detour making a TV show.

Great creatives made available because they were squeezed from the new digital depts.

Creative client contact=smoothness.

Every client has their own level of creativity.

The three commandments.

Women ‘of a certain age’.

Once you commit the stars align.

Have lunch as cheaply as you can with as many people as you can.

Planning=somebody to tell you ‘why’.

Is it a big fucking hassle?

You either get it or you don’t.

Who finishes the work?

The Last Minute hypocritical anomaly.

Here’s the chat, the iTunes link and the Soundcloud link (apologies to you and Stef for a slightly abrupt ending, but it’s only a few seconds missing off the end).

Oh, oh, Sheila let me love you till the morning comes. Oh, oh, Sheila you know I want to be the weekend.

Walkable world map (thanks, D).

Scorsese on the power of movies.

40 years of hip-hop (thanks, A):

All 213 Beatles songs, ranked from best to worst (thanks, A).

This game looks interesting:

Best actor of all time:

Cameron Crowe

Last week I went to a talk at the Writers Guild of America. It was an interview between Winnie Holzman, writer of Wicked and My So-Called Life, and Cameron Crowe, writer of Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, Say Anything and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, among many others.

He’s exactly as nice as he seems in this picture he kindly agreed to take with me (I had just thanked him for making Almost Famous, a movie that especially resonated with me and my wife when we saw it in LA just before getting married):

So here’s some of his advice:

Life is a better storyteller than you are. Just after moving into a new apartment Cameron heard a knock on the door. He opened it to find a man dressed in martial arts gear who introduced himself as Lloyd and proceeded to explain that kickboxing was the sport of the future. He invited Cameron to watch him fight but Mr. Crowe declined. When Lloyd left Cameron went back inside to tell his roommate what had just happened. His roommate asked what he was waiting for and told him to write it all down. Check out Say Anything.

He actually wrote Say Anything as a novella first. This was advice from James L. Brooks, who said it would mean he’d have a lot of background material to give his actors and lots of nuance to use in his script. Cameron found this very helpful.

He thinks that people really just tell the same story over and over, but from different perspectives.

His family motto was from Winston Churchill: Never, never, never give up.

The most satisfying writing you can do is have two characters look at each other and say nothing. That’s when you know you’ve written them well.

Choose your own music. Don’t come up with entire story then let some music supervisor add his own taste to your work (or even worse, the taste of what he thinks the audience might like).

He has a list of names for characters all ready. When he needs one he just calls them into action, as if they’ve been sitting on a subs bench.

You have to really earn an ‘on the nose’ line (such as ‘You complete me’) by building up to it in a way that makes the audience OK with accepting it.

This one isn’t advice, but he once interviewed Pete Townsend for Playboy. It was going to be a cover story but Pete thought that was the kind of thing you did at the end of your career. So Cameron explained that the alternative was a little 750-word piece with a small mention on the cover. Pete preferred that, but proceeded to give him a five hour interview, almost all of which couldn’t be used.

Thanks, Cameron.

ITIAPTWC Episode 32 – Brydon Gerus

Four years ago my good friend Brydon Gerus created an advertising award scheme called Adcan.

Unlike literally every other award scheme in the entire industry, it seeks to combine young, hungry creative people with briefs for companies that do GOOD THINGS©. It also taps into some of the best production companies in the world for support, opportunities and judging.

From Partizan and Rattling Stick to Psyop, Nexus and The Mill, many great production partners have signed up help Adcan grow. But they’ve also been joined by companies like Anonymous Content and Vice to give young creative talent as much exposure and support as possible.

If you’re interested in taking part (it’s free!), visit their site.

We discussed…

What Adcan is and how it started.

Why Cannes was a turnoff.

How to do good in the world.

And make a name for yourself.

The morality of advertising.

Advertising as a force for ‘good’.

Change from the inside.

How Adcan went from a thought to a reality.

Managing the partners.

The more Brydon tries to give Adcan away, the stronger it comes back.

The exposure it gives filmmakers.

The vision for the future.

Good Yin balancing out a questionable Yang?

Why awards?

How did they get the word out?

‘Using Creativity As A Force For Good.’

You need a team (big up Dan, Debs, Eric etc.).

Here’s the chat, the iTunes link and the Soundcloud link.

Cheers! x