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THE CRAFT OF DATING.

  This is for people who think craft doesn’t matter any more.   It pays to remember that brands are like people.   So, here’s a people story. When we’re looking for another half, we make an effort. We dress the part. Polish the boots. Check the hair. Straighten the collar. Splash some stuff on the spot. Find out a bit about the prospective other half’s interests.   All set, with a trembling hand, we fix the first date. And it kicks off just fine. Wine flows. Eyes meet. Things in common turn into smiles. Even the odd giggle.  …

HERE’S TO THE HIDDEN ONES

  This is for those of us who never really talk about what we work on.   There are those who do. And rightly so.   “I’m working on Nike”.   Good for you. Really. Those who can say, deserve to.   They’ve done the 52-hour days. Slept under desks. Eaten their millionth stale boardroom sandwich at sunrise. Suffered repeat rejections in front of whole departments.   Yep. All that.   But here’s a thing.   So too have the people who slave over brands the world has yet to see.   Let’s never forget that making a brand famous…

MERCI.

  I’ve made a few promises to the world this year.   I say “promises” because for me, “resolutions” never stick.   Perhaps it’s my dopamine-hungry attention-deficient mind. It wanders like a dog off a lead. More and more, I’m halfway through a piece of work with a deadline on my back, seconds ticking, client whistling, and I think of another way to do it.   A piece of music on the radio, a bird singing outside, a phone call about not a lot and my train of thought goes into a siding like a train, and comes out looking…

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…