BRAND X, WILL YOU MARRY ME?

This is for those who believe we can communicate and build brands purely by design.   Ha.   Here’s a thing. To connect consumers to brands, first think how people connect to people.   When we meet, we eye each other. And we assume. Stylish. Clean. Suave. Intriguing. Maybe. Loaded. Modest. Mad. Honest. Professional. Maybe. Hard-working. Smiley. Boozy. Fiery. Maybe.   Good start. But love at first sight is a myth.   Only when they speak, you feel the tingle.   Because it’s what people say that affirms who they are.   Their attitudes, offerings, tastes, stupidities, opinions, loves and…

SCREWING UP.

  I killed a dog once.   It was in a past life, in 1987. Before becoming a copywriter, I ran a fireworks company and we did a show for a big posh horsey wedding in the south of England. Lots of Jaguars, gin, blinis, chequered dance floors, little gilt chairs, real estate prices, that sort of wedding.   The show started, a thunderous crash of titanium maroons and mauve rockets (titanium maroons are wicked. The flash is very bright and the bang would waken your dead aunt). The sky was all mauve and silver, the horsey folk looked up,…

Where I get words, number three. SOMEWHERE ELSE.

I love martinis. Plymouth gin, shaken, very dry, with a twist. They’re harder to find in Paris than London or New York. That is, unless I’m prepared to raise a small mortgage, head for the George V or the Plaza Athenée, and jostle with the rich and silent, their alien earrings, Pierre Cardin shoulder bags and integral collagen. I’m not, sorry.   But then there’s Harry’s Bar, down the boulevard from Opéra. It’s about as Parisian as Cape Canavaral, but there’s something about the place. Sprint through the ground floor with its cockney accents, hot dogs and rugby shirts, scale…

Where I go for words, Number Two. MISH

  Despite Boris Johnson I still go to London now again. There’s the odd briefing and brainstorm. Lunch with dad, brighter than me at 90. Cello duets, expletives and venison stew with sis and her three young genii, all brighter than me. And time with Misha, who’s brighter than us all. After an hour with her, I’m armed with phrases for a week and looking forward to living the next 40 years.   Misha lives in a vast and rambling Crouch End maze of kids, headless mannequins, kittens, disco balls, old pulpits, dumb-bells, an enviable collection of coffee tins, the…

Writing. It’s about living.

  Once upon a time, I had an agency. And on Wednesday mornings, nobody worked there.   Instead, teams were sent to muck out the gibbons at London Zoo. Decorate cakes. Clean cars. Tour cancer wards. Shadow bakers. Stand on an opera stage. And the rest.   In short, discover.   The difference between discovering and being informed. It’s what differentiates an inspiring writer from one who just writes.   It’s what makes consumers read editorial and not your copy. The journalist has seen, felt and smelt it. Not just seen it in a blog.   It’s what tells your…

Where I get words, number one. CAFE L’ESTEL

Around the corner from Ogilvy Paris in the 8th, there’s an eatery that doesn’t just serve the best food and drink I can afford. Inspiration comes free of charge.   Café l’Estel isn’t chic. No linen tablecloths. No candles. No sommelier. The wall-clock, a saver-store circle of twelve spoons with knife-and-fork hands, said four-fifty-five for about five years. Or three creative directors’ reigns, whichever you like. You never quite get your arse behind the table by the breadboard. The 70’s photo of a radio star at the mike, Galouises Bleu in one hand, script in the other and lust in…

Brand Positioning in Ten Words.

    Here’s how. First, send your graphic designers to Greece for a week. Or the Orkneys. Vegas. Rome. Colorado Springs. Fleshpots. Burning Man. The Forest of Dean. Galapagos. Tomatina. Roquefort. Champagne, Illinois. Anywhere. Put the Pantone charts in the drawer with the corkscrew, old award show passes, peanuts, vitamin B6, lip balm, gym card and the letter from the ex. Calibrate the Macs. About time. All in good time.   Send the juniors to Cannes. You should anyway. Send the seniors to the gym. Or the bar. In Greenland. Send your manifesto writer to a dermatologist. Or the ologist…

Thank you, everything.

But before, another thank you. Thank you, George. Today, copy king George Tannenbaum’s brilliantly illustrious blog ad aged talked about diversity. Or rather, the lack of it. Like George, I love diversity. It’s why I don’t belong to any particular social set. I hate cliques. My friends range from craftsmen to homeless folk to doctors to MPs to carers to evangelists and I adore them all. I believe nobody should be excluded on grounds of anything. We all have the same DNA, so we are all one and all capable. And today, we should all be acting as one. More…

My take on ageism. A manifesto.

Originally posted on The Jolliffe:
? I’ve lived for 57 years, but copywritten for just 25. I’m a youngster. I can’t see any age gaps big enough to fall down. I’m still learning and still admit it. But that’s fine. I’ve just realised it’s OK not to know everything.  I sit up in bed and wonder what 2060 will bring me. I can’t barely wait. I don’t yet have a career. Just a job I reinvent every day. Every brief is my first. I devour it like a werewolf and hug it till sunrise. My mentors are still legends, colleagues,…

The Hard Bit.

  My career path has been stratospheric. At the tender age of ten, I was spotted by a talent scout. At eleven, I had a recording contract with EMI. At thirteen, I had three gold discs, four BAFTAS and a Golden Globe. At fifteen, I launched two global fashion labels and wrote a bestseller, now a major feature film and translated into forty-eight and a half languages. I’m a regular guest on NBC, the BBC and Channel Plus, up for a knighthood and tipped for a Legion d’ Honneur. Just like that.   Not really. I am but a humble…