Time.

also-sticks

There’s something very sad happening in the creative industry. I’ve hesitated to talk about, because I hate to sound bitter.

But here goes.

It’s about the hiring strategy of ad agencies.  And before you assume this is all about me, it isn’t. I am not looking for employment. (Unless it’s really, really good. In which case — call me?)

But. I digress.

I still occasionally freelance in London ad agencies. Yes, I know! Over 45 and they still let me in. Amazing. I put it down to my ability to camouflage my age with my chameleon wit and brilliant bantz. Yeh. Skillz.

I am without doubt the oldest creative (and often, still the only female) in the department. And I’m saddened to see that, slowly but surely, senior creatives are being ‘let go’.

Now, I know it’s a tough life. I’ve been made redundant three times myself. But what saddens me is what happens next.

A junior team will be hired to take their place.

Nothing wrong with juniors, by the way. I was a junior copywriter once. I know I had a lot to prove. I wanted to be better than the best. I wanted to shine and learn, and make my words and ideas work brilliantly for whatever client, whatever brief I was given.

The attitude was, you could win an award with a great trade press ad for glue.

And people often did win prestigious awards for that work.

There was a constant, hard fought battle for creative supremacy. To produce work you were proud of. To be the ones who ‘cracked it’.

But the junior teams I’ve witnessed recently are treated very differently.

They’ve been brought in to simply churn out dull, repetitious work. Cheaper, and hopefully just as fast, as the recently redundant-ed seniors.

They can’t afford to let anything messy or time-consuming (like creativity, or an idea) get in the way. They’re briefed to crank it through on the process conveyor belt and get it out again as quickly as possible.

To make maximum money for the shareholders, I presume.

Even an old idea engineer like me finds it a slog to keep producing the best, shiniest things hour after hour, quickly and efficiently. Or to fix and re-oil the stuff that’s been poked at by account teams and broken by clients.

But because I have years of experience, I can get out serviceable goods pretty smoothly. I know it’s not going to win me any awards, but I can still take pride in it as a professional.

So, what about the junior teams who are thrown onto the factory floor?

From my observations, it’s bloody terrible. And it’s creating terrible work, while the creatives have a terrible time doing it.

You can forget the craft of copywriting for a start. And I’m not just being an old has-been, harping on about mis-spellings and grammatical errors – although I’ve seen plenty of those get past client approval stage, sadly.

There seems to be no care. No love. No passion for communicating with wit or engaging a customer emotionally.

Or maybe there is no time for that any more?

What was once an inspiring, exciting industry has transformed into one that acts and operates like a large, dull factory. (Apologies if you work in a factory and find it stimulating and amusing. Please feel free to add your factory anecdotes below.)

So, all the supposed optimum targeting that digital has given us – being able to deliver the right message at the best time to personally connect or make a sale — actually means nothing.

Because the messages churned out are boring, tired, samey. Easy to disregard.

I don’t blame the junior creatives entirely for this dulldom. They are no doubt doing their best in a commoditized* world where the bean counters took control. They were just the cheap labour solution. And I’m sure the bean counters are now happily rubbing their beans together.

But from what I’ve seen, it’s leaving a massive skills gap. Because no one has time to inspire the love of communication or copywriting.

Creative directors are time pressured and sprint from meeting to meeting. No time to help train up the new junior. They barely have time to properly assess and approve the creative work.

If there is an experienced midweight team still left in the department, they’ll have to account for every billable hour on their timesheets. Spending time overseeing the junior and putting those hours against the associated job numbers would no doubt impact the all-important profits.

So who has time for these young creatives? No one as far as I can see. They are left to their own scant resources.

Some of the writing I’ve seen go out of agency doors is very, very bad. Clients reject copy, and in some cases, even write it themselves. Which is pretty dispiriting.

How did the industry end up like this?

Back when I was on junior placement at BMP, I remember how difficult it was to get creative approval for just one sentence of copy. I must’ve been in to see the senior team four or more times to hear how I could improve the phrase. To create 25 words of pristine perfection.

It was often excruciating. It was definitely time-consuming.

But I was learning. Every word should matter. Every full stop should pull its weight.

Now the creative values that once made our business so fantastic are seen as unprofitable. And I wonder who will eventually account for that.

*Here your amusement (or not). Commoditization is defined as the process by which goods that have economic value and are distinguishable in terms of attributes (uniqueness or brand) end up becoming simple commodities in the eyes of the market or consumers. In this case that’s the clients who pay for the agency’s supposed expertise.

And here’s the Paul Belford article that inspired me to finally get all this down: Creatives get better with age

Posted in advertising, copywriter, creative, life, marketing, musings, redundancy, work, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

T’was

T’was the week before Christmas,

when all through the land

Not a creature was safe from austerity’s hand.

 

The P45s were placed in the OUT-tray with care,

While Chairman and MD made sure they weren’t there.

 

At home, children nestled all snug in their beds,

While downstairs mum and dad raged off their heads.

 

And mamma in tears, I fearing the worst,

Had just sorted the debts to see who got paid first,

When out on the street there came such a roar

That I sprang up to see what the ‘Hooray’ was for.

 

Away to the window I turned, feeling ill,

Tore open the curtains, looked over the sill.

The moon shone down on the distinct lack of snow,

Giving light to a scene that I noticed below

For what to my wondering eyes should be there

But a smiling old banker with well coiffured hair.

This be-suited man was so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be Old Nick.

 

More rapid than eagles his Bentley it came,

And he whistled and hooted, and called us by name!

 

‘Now Savings! Now ISA! Now Pensions and Credit!

On, Mortgage! On, Debtor! On Hedge Funds and Debit!

To get me my yacht you can go to the wall!

Now stash away! Stash away! Stash away all!”

 

In sad homage to Twas the night before Christmas (“A Visit from St. Nicholas”) by Clement Clarke Moore (1779 – 1863).

 

Posted in belief, change, childhood, christmas, creative, fun, humour, life, musings, poetry, stress, thinking, thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Word Whore

I am writing poetic pieces on the fleeting joys of family life.

Whilst missing out on my own family.

And being a moaning haggard harridan when I do see them.

I am prostituting my craft and soul for people to red line it,

scar it.

Chop it.

Hurt it.

Ah, poor me!

I am but a lost poet who needs to scrape and sing to buy food and shelter.

How I hate myself.

Turning tricks with words

I banter to put up the price

Sell a fantasy against your reality.

Flaunt and flirt

and flash temptation.

I can make you want it.

Desire it.

Buy it.

All whilst having a breakdown

in communication

with

myself

.

Posted in advertising, copywriter, creative, musings, poet, poetry, thinking, thoughts, work, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Frankly, Mr Hinkley

I am not keen on the UK government’s decision to go ahead with a hugely expensive, contaminating nuclear power station when clean, low-cost, renewable energy seems so much more foward-thinking.

By the time it’s built Hinkley Point’s technology will be almost redundant.

So I wrote this — with apologies to Messrs Morrissey and Marr.My Hinkley.jpg

Posted in creative, culture, humour, life, musings, poet, poetry, society, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Have you’re writting proffesionally revued.

This ad has made me a bit angry today.

Not just the fact that it shows the arrogance of a company (person?) who doesn’t care enough about the written word to check spellings.

But because somewhere, some place, some poor uncertain, shy writer may actually PAY THIS PERSON TO REVIEW THEIR WORK.

writting.jpg

And that is very sad.

 

 

Posted in advertising, copywriter, creative, life, marketing, musings, Observations, reviews, Starting out, thinking, thoughts, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

On losing a family cat

There’s a cat-shaped hole in our house tonight.


Posted in cats, change, childhood, death, family, life, loss, sadness | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Feeling Ivor Cutler-ish

Been sharing some lovely unintentional Ivor Cutler poems.

These make me smile.

“Slippers For Feet”

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“Five Cakes.

Eight Cakes.

Served With A Jug of Cream.”

cakes & creams

 

If you have never heard any Ivor Cutler poetry, and you love words and absurdity, you might like to discover more.

Life in A Scottish Living Room

Squeeze Bees

Hello! How are you? Shut up.

 

 

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Write for pleasure and for profit

I suppose I ought to write something.

Just so it looks like I am still around.

So.

Here it is.

This.

Also. This.

When I’m feeling suitably writerly miserable, when all avenues to creativity seem blocked, when hard-fought written words are thrown away like litter, the cheery rhetorical question of this ad makes me want to laugh. Madly.

No previous writing experience necessary.

FullSizeRender.jpg

 

 

Posted in advertising, creative, marketing, work, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Zombie Training

There was a zombie woman on my early morning train.

Her face was a skeleton. Smooth tea-coloured skin stretched over dry bones. Milky blank eyes of faint cataract blue. Colourless dry wisps of hair stuck to the dome of her skull.

Her maw was opened. Dark. Like a tunnel. The dry lips strained. Mouthing.

She stared forward. Focusing on nothing. On no-one.

More dead than alive.

And yet, still she moved amongst us!

I looked around the crowded train to see if anyone else had noticed the Death Stare Zombie Woman on the packed commuter carriage to Hell (next stop London Waterloo).

But everyone seemed calm. Dull-witted. Asleep, yet standing.

Swaying. Clutching their phones, their tablets, their e-readers, their morning papers. Someone even had a paperback book. Old Skule style.

No-one had noticed the open-mouthed yawning look of death of the Zombie Woman.

No one was scared she might bite. Might waken into a tearing ravenous rage.

Were they all dead too?

A half-remembered line of T.S. Eliot poetry crawled through my mind.

‘So many… I had not thought Death had undone so many.’

Unreal City,

Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,

A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,

I had not thought death had undone so many.

Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,

And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.

From The Waste Land – T.S. Eliot

He knew it already, even then, back in 1922!

He saw it.

This sad, shambling semblance of life.

The mindless swarm, the meaningless repetitions of daily commute, of deadly life.

Going through the zombified living death, day after day.

I stared out of the window as the train slowed on the outskirts of central London.

The smut-stained streets and walls of Victorian houses, old businesses and ageing shuttered warehouses. The closed, dark, dusty past, now being overshadowed by the city’s shining steel and glass newness.

That was when I noticed something. There, poking out of the top of a rusting black drainpipe, clinging sadly to a drab brick wall.

A straggling scribble of life (‘bush’ would be too big a word to describe it).

A struggling buddleia growing – or trying to grow – from an old drainpipe, hanging from a dying building.

No soil. No nurturing.

Just trying its best to live, to survive, in a grim and hostile city environment.

Nobody loves it, I muse.

Yet still it clings to its stupid, meaningless life at the top of an old London roof.

How many years of dirt and disregard has it survived to get there?

And yet, there it is.

A buddleia – a ‘butterfly bush’.

Unknown.jpeg

And I thought: life persists.

I hope it was worth it, little bush.

I hope the butterflies will come to you.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow

Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,

You cannot say, or guess, for you know only

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,

And the dead tree gives no shelter …

… I will show you something different from either

Your shadow at morning striding behind you

Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

From The Waste Land – T.S. Eliot

The train dragged itself into the mainline station and the zombies shuffled out onto platforms to go and bite other people, or work in offices or shops or whatever they do for a ‘living’.

I lost sight of the Zombie Woman amongst the murmuring, moaning walking dead.

It left me thinking: how many years have we all survived to get here?

Half-dead, but persistent.

Often disregarded, sometimes un-nurtured, we are all clinging on to our lives.

It’s banal. It’s trite.

But Life goes on.

And so can I.

bud-red-admirals.png

 

My London Observations are an occasional series
fuelled by sporadic bouts of freelance copywriting

Posted in culture, death, depression, life, musings, Observations, perception, poetry, sadness, society, thinking, thoughts, work, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Titanic Woman

Sinking.

That’s what I’ve been doing.

Not writing.

Not running.

Not working.

Not looking after myself.

I’ve had long blank months where I could have written that novel/children’s story/poetry/comedy script/blog.

And yet I do nothing.

Except sink.

The more I feel I *should* do something constructive, the more useless I feel.

I’m drowning.

I might thrash and splutter a bit, but not so much you’d notice.

My head barely struggles through another meaninglessly fluid day.

And when people tell me (when I tell me) I *should* be making the most of this, this most precious time, it’s like taking in another lungful of water.

I’ve hit an iceberg.

I’m holed.

I’m drifting, sinking.

I am going down into darkness.

All hands on deck.

Waiting for a lifeboat.

.

can swim

pity I swim so well

 

 

 

 

Posted in depression, sadness | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments