Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Ladies And Gentlemen…The President!

In the American political drama The West Wing, people get to their feet every time the (fictional) President Josiah Bartlet enters the room.

Apparently, in the White House, when the President stands, nobody sits – as President Bartlet so devastatingly reminds a visitor in one episode.

Now, the advertising industry is a fraction more casual than the White House – we can, and do, call our CEO by his first name.

However, I believe that there is an exception that proves the rule (and I’m really trying to figure out the meaning of this phrase).

I hear that in a creative-heavy agency (the one with the red branding currently based in the furthest suburbs of town), people rise every time the Chairman walks by.

Apparently this has been going on since the time the Chairman was merely the National Creative Director.

This is not hearsay. I was told about this by an ex-employee who was reprimanded for keeping his feet on his desk and not standing up when said NCD walked by.

(One of the reasons he quit soon after, if I remember right.)

And I always remark on this episode with the greatest of contempt.

But, as is a regular habit, I stuck my foot in my mouth today.

When our CEO entered the boardroom to begin the meeting, me and my colleagues all stood up…

Worse, I said, “Good morning…” and had to bite down on my tongue to prevent myself saying, “Mr. President.”

And even though I sort of made up for it at the end of the meeting, by sitting still (the only one to do so, all my colleagues stood up again) when he got up to leave, I still think I’m OD-ing on The West Wing.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Where’s A Lifeguard When You Need One?

They say – and I do too – that the best way to figure out if somebody’s up to a challenge is to throw that person off the pier into the deep end.

If he (or she, in which case you’d better push her off the pier gently) can stay afloat, and if the sharks aren’t particularly hungry, then you know that he (or she) is up to it.

This week, I find myself in the water, and the sharks are smelling blood.

The next five days will be game-changing for my career.

Either I will be completely shattered, left with little or no confidence in my creative abilities, destined to be a follower…

Or I will come out believing I’m ready for bigger things.

In the last three months or so, I’ve moved from being a small fish in a large pond to a (relatively) bigger fish in a smaller pond. The move from Lowe Lintas to Linteractive has brought with it serious responsibility and expectations – to lead a creative renaissance in our digital wing, helping to build it into a powerhouse that’ll chart the agency’s course for the future.

On Friday, we go into a large, extremely competitive pitch. The spends are huge and the pressure is immense. The product is a parity one, a category I’ve worked on fairly often before – which means that it’s even tougher to crack.

The nerves are jangling.

This will, after all, be the first time I present creative at a pitch – not counting freelance pitches, of course.

This will be the acid test.

For the next five days, my creative partner and I will live, breathe, eat and sleep with this pitch. We will take the brief and turn it upside-down, inside-out. We’ll squeeze it dry. We’ll look at it in a mirror. We might just tear it up and start afresh. All for that one idea that’ll hopefully win us the business, and the recognition we deserve.

And if there’s any insight I might have gleaned from these last couple of days, it’s this.

You may spend your whole life preparing for something; but when it comes, you’re never as prepared as you thought you would be.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Leaning Over A Cubicle Wall, Staring At The Back Of A Laptop

Me (walking around aimlessly, clearing my head, stretching my legs): Hello.

Fancy Joint (looking up at me, her nose swollen, fingers clacking away busily on the keyboard): Hi (to be pronounced with two fingers clutching one’s node…er…nose).

Me: What’s up?

Fancy Joint (sniffing wetly, concentrating hard on her work, trying to ignore this irritating person): Dnothig much.

Me (guessing): What are you playing?

Fancy Joint (slightly indignantly): I’b dnot playig.

Me (guessing correctly): Ah. Then what are you chatting about?

Fancy Joint (caught out, but not caring because I’m not gonna be appraising her): A play I’b goig too.

Yes, advertising is all about good impressions.

Monday, 16 November 2009

How To Tell When Your Look Isn’t Working, Courtesy LooksGayButIsn’t

1. When you see your nickname on my blog.

2. When your client thinks you are the Account Executive and the Account Executive is you (the designer).