Always outnumbered. Generally overdresssed.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Football is for morons pt.2


I'm no good at football, I never have been, even as a child I would be the last to be picked or end up in goal, smoking Gitanes. My local team are QPR who've been shit for at least the last 25 years. Although I did try going for a season, and enjoyed shouting about how wonderful west London is (it's full of tits, fanny and Rangers you know), paying £25 to bellow abuse at Peter Crouch, arguably the best player they've ever had, ultimately didn't strike me as worthwhile.

Obviously disliking football is up there for me with disliking people who watch TV, people who read the Metro, people who read Dan Brown novels, people who believe that you can cultivate self-respect in the unemployed by giving them money, people who live in Hackney and refuse to see that it's a shithole, no better than, for instance, Shepherds Bush, only with more bastards and now also my ex-girlfriend, people who like Henry James, people who try to make you read Henry James, proles, poshos and the bourgoisie, pro-Palestinian bores, pro-Israeli bores and Australians.

Yes, it's part of a carefully cultivated pomposity designed to alienate most of the population.

But really, while I don't have any special aversion to footballs, or the game of football (it is, after all, a game, and there plenty of things in the world worth hating without including arbitrary rule systems) I find The Game of Football appalling.

Football stadia are cathedrals to conformity, places where men take their sons to learn how to be men, to relish violence and shouting, to engage in arcane and pointless discussion meant solely to alienate the uninitiated and women. The whole thing runs on fear - knowing the songs, when to whistle, the off-side rule, when there's going to be trouble - on the fear of looking like a mug, of not knowing how to be a proper man. Blokes have to talk about football in pubs, because otherwise, they might have to talk about how they're feeling, their hopes and fears, what they want from life and in fact, what the whole business of living could possibly be for and come on you muppet you're having a fucking laugh aren't you?

You only need to try to suggest the idea of mixed football teams to fan of the beautiful game to see what a very unbeautiful game it is.

And if you turn barely literate 21 year olds into deities, what do they do? I don't find it shocking, just depressingly unimaginative. They could do anything, literally, but ah if only they had brains, for all the poor dears can think of is plugging themselves into either end of a bright orange secretarial college drop out.

And that would be fine, if the whole edifice of football weren't run by elderly men with toupees, endorsers of incontinence pads and crisps, geezers who made good, who still believe that it's family entertainment and that every incident of violence, rape and racism is merely an isolated incident that shouldn't be allowed to bring the whole game into disrepute Des.

Interestingly, a lot of football fans are socialists, exactly the kind of socialists who want to prevent parents from sending their children to privately owned schools, for the benefit of the population generally. What I always thing would be fun would be to ban football, and to relocate local schools into football grounds. Lessons would be taught as usual, only in the presence of several thousand screaming fans. No one would forget their Geography homework if they had the local Firm to answer to at break-time. You pay £400 a season you want to get your money's worth from year seven don't you?

Anyway, I thought I'd get that out of the way. Thank god for Red Dead Redemption - I be will spending the next few months playing virtual horse shoe throwing with my virtual friend Gus McCloud.

I dunno who made that ad up there, but they must be some kind of creative genius.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Don't Panic!

As the creative responsible for some of the biggest ads of the last few years (not wishing to reveal too much about my identity, but think 'Cog', 'Balls', 'Gorilla', 'Surfer', 'Labour isn't working', ''Ello Tosh got a Toshiba?', 'Couple' (Gold Blend), 'A finger of fudge is just enough', those clever Lycatel ads with the man whose head is a globe with a mercator projection of an entire map of the world on one side and whose jacket is made up of hundreds of Lycatel mobile phone cards and all the ads ever. I also invented the iPod and bread) I recently upped my day rate to the princely sum of £230.

This might not seem like a huge amount of money, but I think it would strike most sane people as a lot to pay someone who can't draw, to draw. I also write words obviously, but rarely more than six in a row.

Comparisons don't make much sense: it's the same as week's bar or secretarial work, or two days as a mid-level civil servant or a secondary school teacher. Some prostitutes make that much in an hour - but then I don't usually have to have sex with more than one person I don't know in a normal working day.

What it means in practice is that people are now prepared to pay me to deliver, and expect me to do so fairly consistently.

The thing is that this isn't always possible. And what I've discovered is that it especially isn't always possible if you've recently split up with your girlfriend, you're waking up at 6am every morning to write a novel and even at the best of times you're naturally disposed paranoia and insecurity of every kind.

If this is the case then you will almost certainly spend your time thinking about why you're not having any ideas, considering whether you were ever really able to have ideas, whether anyone else has noticed that you're not having anything like £230 of ideas per day, that it's no wonder your girlfriend left you and that you might as well just go and tell the creative directors that there's been a huge mistake and ask them plangently why, if they'd wanted the job done properly, they employed an 8 year old to do it in the first place?

The problem is that when you're a freelancer the imperative to deliver usable advertising is far more pressing. Where as when you're on the payroll you can sort of hide behind the spurious argument that 'oh it's just because the ads were too intelligent/misogynistic/arty/violent' and therefore that it's sort of the client's fault, as a freelancer there is a direct relationship between the bill-able hours you put in, and the agency's bottom line.

If you descend into a state of panic, it's important to remember that, if the agency is any good, they're probably not as mad as you are.

In fact, the agency can only have got to be any good because of the zen-like ability of its creative directors to weather the inconsistencies of their clients' behaviour, as well as that of whatever minor muse it is that caters to advertising creatives.

In fact you could almost go so far as to say that the quality of an agency is proportionate to the willingness of its creative directors to turn down work that isn't good enough, in the certain faith that something better is just over the hill. That really good creative direction is maybe just about recognising talent and having the nerve to hold the line against the client till the good stuff turns up. What characterizes bad agencies being either terrible process, or a lazy reluctance to put up with the hassle of turning stuff down and asking for more.

At any rate, you should try not to panic. When the creative directors take you out for lunch at the end of the week you should definitely not begin by apologising profusely and telling them about your relationship and addiction issues.

They may find this surprising, particularly if they were planning to offer you more work, and on extremely advantageous terms.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Feels a bit weird linking to the Google homepage.

This is lovely though. That link will only make sense today. So here's a picture:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Football is for morons...

This, however, is an extremely fine piece of advertising.

Euros made this?

'The police often question him, just because they find him interesting.'

Who made this? Why are they at Euros?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Not Voodoo's Heroes of Prose: Will Self

So far so so.

Well tomorrow anyway I'm going to meet Will Self in my role as cub reporter for Thalidomide Handball Weekly (incorporating Flapper Magazine).

I'm pretty nervous about it, I don't mind telling you, because as well as being a novelist he's a real journalist, where as I'm an adman pretending to be a journalist, (although in the more terrible moments during this current freelance stint I've been starting to think I'm actually a journalist masquerading as a novelist masquerading as an adman) and I anticipate him, at some point really early on in the interview staring me down and saying, 'you've just got no fucking idea what you're doing.'

Anyway, that may not happen.

I've only recently admitted a penchant for Self's writing. Prior to reading him I'd mainly seen him using polysyllabic words on TV and I'd always thought 'Come off it, you're just being dick.' What I've discovered, from writing this blog and trying to write a book, is that defending oneself against the accusation of 'just being a dick' is somethin g writers have to deal with internally on a daily basis. And I had this realisation that maybe the feeling of 'just being a dick' never goes away - it's just one of the unpleasant feelings you have to live with if you're in the business of exposing your thoughts in public. Or that, you can't write honestly, giving your personality its fullest expression, and avoid that feeling. This being so I've come to believe that using the word 'pabulum' on ITV is actually a rather admirable thing to do.

I'm hoping that in between calling my bluff in a deeply demeaning way I can persuade Self to talk about the short story 'Prometheus' from his last book of short stories Liver (recommended to me by Scamp, who is also a big Self fan). It's set in an ad agency somewhere near Wiedens, and is a very witty re-imagining of Aeschylus's Prometheus Unbound as a modern morality tale. While this may be the first time Self has dealt with the ad industry directly he's always had an eye on what we're up to. His brother, the writer John Self, ran a DM agency called Self Direct (I would have called it Self Addressed Envelope, obv.) He published a short story collection called 'Tough, tough toys for tough, tough boys' - the Tonka endline of the 70s and 80s and Great Apes is really just the PG Tips advert at novel length.

Self would have been an excellent copywriter, in fact he uses quite a few copywriter's tricks:
  • Defamiliarisation of cliche. Slackers 'Want to do nothing at all, and they want to do it now.' A shot of whisky goes off like an 'anti-personality mine'. I could probably find more, but it's late and I have an interview to prepare for.
  • Epigrams: both in the journalism ('Flying first class is the heroin of travel.') and the fiction: Henry Wootton in Dorian speaks almost wholly in epigrams, although the model is Oscar Wilde in modern usage we might legitimately term these endlines ('In an age when appearances matter more an more. Only the shallowest of people won't judge by them.'...Nivea).
  • TOV: In the early fiction in particular Self's voice seems strangely branded. If you read a lot of his work, and I've been reading a lot of his work, certain words keep cropping up like actors in a stage crowd. Crack, when heated, always 'deliquesces'. Men get into cars and 'dicker' with the 'servos'. The good thing about this is you only have to look up the word 'rodomontade' once. The difference between a tone of voice and literary style is something you could probably write a pretty boring essay about, but I think a tone of voice is experienced by the reader as an explicit attempt to create a specific impression. So Dan Germain at Innocent is nakedly trying to make you think 'wholesome', Will Self is trying to make you think 'intellectual' - and this is a communication that exists over and above what the words themselves say.
So, fingers crossed. Let's just hope he's not in the habit of Googling himself before interviews.

Monday, May 17, 2010

'By their fruit you will know them.'

Often I wonder what the point of advertising is.

The best answer I've been able to come up with is that it's an opportunity for commercial enterprises to show who they might have been if they weren't saddled with the tedious job of making products and could have instead followed their dream of devoting themselves to art - making pretty pictures, or amusing films for your entertainment.

Obviously the companies can't do this themselves, because they don't have the necessary skills to make anything apart from whatever it is they make - it's not their fault, it's an economic imperative. So they employ ad agencies, who employ artists and writers to make art for them.

However, since the company is just a collection of people employed using the money made selling the things they've been making there is no empirical difference between the employees of the ad agency and the employees of the company. The client, when he chooses his agency, and the account man when he manages his client manifest the corporate culture of the company they're working for. That culture might be attractive and permissive of innovation (like, say, Honda) or totally fascistic like, errmmmm, Microsoft.

The 'New Busy' campaign reeks of corporate misery. I quite liked the clouds execution above until I realised that the thing that the 'New Busy' notices in the clouds is a grinning cartoon mouse face. The sinister thing is that that is the only thing that you could possibly notice.

So the invitation to idly wile a way a couple of minutes gazing at a charming cloudscape is actually like someone grabbing the back of your head and hissing 'LOOK. AT. THE. MOUSE. FACE. FUCKER.'

They are the art equivalent of John Wayne Gacy.

See what I mean?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Back again

So, quite a few things have happened to me since I last posted on here. I started writing a book, took up smoking, bought a Playstation, my girlfriend left me, etc.

But I’ve decided to begin blogging again because I’m now working in agencies fairly regularly and I think it’s about the least useless use of downtime there is. There’s something about being in an office that means I have to find some sort of release valve for the less socially acceptable parts of my personality.

Also, the Advertisers Anonymous blog flopped hard and it’s embarrassing for me when The Narcoleptics Daily links to that and it’s just a useless Brazilian animation that some random Brazilian has posted.

Ben Kay’s blog
has just recently got so good that there’s really no need for another advertising blog, so I’ll be trying to diversify. Writing more about things like Kingsley Amis and video games. I’d quite like to write for Wired as well so we’ll see if we can bring that about. I will still write about advertising, because I still find it to be one of the most bizarre human activities going, second only to taking a meat hammer to your own knees only a daily basis.

I have number of new features in mind. Including SHAG LILY ALLEN – in which I use social media to seduce celebrity starlet Lily Allen. Kingsley Amis's Life Kitchen. Brother Stevie said he might be up for doing some drawings, so who knows we might even finish The Sisters of Inversion or something.

Hold on to your fedoras fellas.