Posts Tagged ‘Advertising Planning’

American Diva Planner has left the agency – in fact, she was asked to leave…

Hers is a particularly sad story: not because she didn’t see her demise coming (I think she did), but because she saw it coming and simply couldn’t alter her behaviour in such a way as to prevent it – like being tied to the railway tracks, and watching the engine approaching. She had a very lofty view of herself and her discipline – and once (unfortunately) when asked by someone whom she viewed as her junior for her mobile number, she replied (without irony) “You? You don’t get MY number!”. This wasn’t a one-off: she used not to do things that she viewed as beneath her (which, it must be said, were viewed by pretty much everyone else as absolutely within her job description), and used not to concern herself with actually translating her thinking into creative work (which, for example, Good Friend at Work and I spend the bulk of our time doing) – indeed, when I was talking to her after she had been fired, she actually said “I don’t care about the creative work”.

This disengaged and detached view of Planning doesn’t cut it any more – if it ever did – either with clients or agencies, and her death knell was sounded by being asked off a piece of business for the third time. Eventually, there’s no way to remain employed if clients don’t want you on your business.

So: she’s with us for another couple of months, and I’ll miss her when she’s gone. I’ll still see her, I hope (she’s a lovely, generous and funny woman – and she throws the best parties known to man) and I hope that a life as a consultant, which is what she’s going to do, will suit her better and bring her more satisfaction.

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The Client: “So: has everyone read through the presentation that I sent out last week?”

Eiljert Thinks: “I wrote it. I wrote all of it.”

Eiljert Says: “Yes, thank you.”

Client: “So, I think what would be best is if it we ran through that.”

Eiljert Thinks: “Why? Why don’t we run through the brief that accompanied it and that is riddled with problems and contradictions?”

Eiljert Says: “Fine.”

Client: “So, starting with Slide 1…”

Eiljert Thinks: “Is he going to read the slides aloud? There are over 80 of them.”

Eiljert Says: “Just opening the presentation now…”

We ended the conference call after an hour and a half, during which the Client read me all of  a presentation that I had written, and then finished with “And there is a brief – but we don’t have time to do that now – but I think this has been very productive.”


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Having just returned from there, I can confirm that The Standard Hotel in New York is the coolest place in the world.

Not only were Lady Gaga (like all celebrities: “smaller than you’d think”), Jennifer Lopez and David Lynch there, but (as dedicated readers will know): my presence there ensured that it was the epicentre of cool for the whole week – which must have been nice for them.

The whole thing went very well: my talk on “Specific Creativity” (soon to be a smash-hit mini-series, starring Nicole Scherzinger and Jim Davidson) was well-liked (to the extent that I’ve been asked to do it again for a session in – disappointingly – London), and the other speakers (mainly from the worlds of TV and film-making) were fascinating.

The interview also went well. It was a first for me to be interviewed by Americans (not one of whom, to be fair either said “I love your accent” or started talking like Dick van Dyke in “Mary Poppins” when I first spoke to them), but it was brilliant: like being stroked by warmed ostrich feathers. Every thing that I had done, every thing that I had said, every piece of work I showed them elicited an (unironic, I am fairly sure) “Awesome”. I began to get a little embarrassed and started my trusted tactic of undermining myself and suggesting that, actually, with a following wind, a ham sandwich and a laptop, a trained badger could have done as much, if not better – but this back-fired with renewed invitations to look at the awe-inspiring quality of what I had done, had been saying, and had been producing. It’s now all got terrifyingly real, and I am starting to get calls from someone who proclaims herself to be that agency’s “Head of Talent Management” (the one bum note in the whole thing), which means that I’ll have to make a decision of the bowel evacuation/lavatory desertion kind shortly. Stay tuned.



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I’m going to New York the week after next where I’m going to combine some lecturing on Advertising Planning (something which is filling me with so much dread it is only really now that I am confronting the fact that I am doing it – SHITTING HELL!) with an interview at another agency.

It’s a more famous agency than the one that I currently work at, but no better (worse in many areas); and the money is a lot better, but I am almost certain that I don’t want to work there. My work situation at the moment is pretty perfect: I’ve been promoted to the Board, given a pay rise to go with it, and they are really good about my home situation (basically letting me work from home as and when I need to in order to accommodate the children) – so I don’t really know why I’d leave. On the other hand, Old Friend at Work is right when she says that I may as well turn up, specifically if I don’t want the job (which is when I tend to perform at my best), and see it as ego-stroking and practice if nothing else.

Anyway: that’s half the gig. The bulk of it is this lecturing that I am doing (largely in the spirit of “Run towards what makes you scared – and given that, as I run towards this, I can almost feel myself shitting myself, I think I’m embracing the spirit of that dictum pretty well), and that’s three days of lecturing, leading workshops, Q&As and all that stuff that makes me feel like self-harming. The other speakers are all from different areas (screenwriters, film producers, TV executives, journalists) and we’re all speaking on the theme of “Engagement through Story-Telling”, so I am under no illusion that my slot will be the point at which people make their phone calls and grapple with their iPads.

Ah well: “What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger” as terrifying, proto-Nazi Nietzsche coined it. We shall see.

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I know it doesn’t look good – taking six weeks’ holiday – but I am back and shall be blogging again in no time.

There is much to be said: of Fiona Shaw in “London Assurance” and in conversation; of the UK election; of friends and family; and of the absolute lunacy at work – so, there’s everything to play for in the very near future.

Until then, I remain.


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A couple of weeks ago, I went to Madrid with work – the first trip since the whole, sad divorce thing. I had been worried that it was going to be awful – and in some ways, it was (the reality of being away from everyone, and the fact that that will be a reality for most of my week nights soon etc.), but in others, it was good to be immersed in work and have not one moment unaccounted for. To my delight, I was also there with Old Friend at Work (who has been by my side and an incredible friend through all this), Alison Steadman Playing a P.A. P.A, Eternally Optimistic Spanish Planner, Planner With the Aura of Jesus, The Smallest Media Planner in The World, Stereotype of a Northern Planner, and others.

We worked pretty hard by day, but at night we drank like absolute maniacs – until 3 in the morning (or in the case of Old Friend at Work; Planner With the Aura of Jesus, The Smallest Media Planner in the World, and Alison Steadman Playing a P.A P.A, through the night in a couple of cases) on most nights, even though we were to start a nine hour day again, at 9 (in a defiantly non-Madrid manner). On one of these occasions, Old Friend at Work got her purse nicked from the hotel bar (only to be met with the response from Reception of “At least they didn’t get your passport, that’s what they’re REALLY after”, which isn’t exactly a masterclass in Customer Service). On another, Planner With the Aura of Jesus and Alison Steadman Playing a P.A. P.A. sat up all night drinking in the hotel bar, then moved to her room (entirely innocently, my new situation prompts me to add, unnecessarily…) and finished off the mini-bar.

But it was on the third night that things got, as the phrase goes, “messy”. I didn’t particularly embarrass myself, I can say with some relief: yes, there was the usual over-enthusiasm about stuff (most notably, Shakespeare – but also some vague shit about strategic approaches, which had me suddenly behaving like St. Paul on the road to Damascus, and celebrating by bellowing “Yes! Yes! God! That’s BRILLIANT! YOU’RE BRILLIANT!” at some poor fucker), and probably a little bit too much swaying around and smiling broadly – but that was as bad as it got. So, when it came time for me to leave (a respectable 3.30am), I said a few goodbyes and made my move, only to be “confronted” (if I can use this word of a man of his Micky Rooney like stature) by The Smallest Media Planner in the World.

“Stay and have another drink!”

“I can’t, SMPITW, I’m already pissed and I’m knackered, so I’m going.”

“Stay. Have a drink with me.”

“I can’t. Really. Tomorrow.”

“Have a drink with me. As a friend of mine.”

“No, I’m going.”

What he said next rather diminished his most recent pronouncement of our friendship, for it was:

“Then fuck off, you cunt. Fuck off.”

Well, off I fucked and went back to my simply enormous room (enormous not because of some ludicrous status, but because I had been allocated a room for someone in a wheelchair – which I’m not – and as a result, the dimensions of the room had to allow for the turning circle of same), had a shower, put on my iPod speakers and fell asleep listening to “The Gathering”, as read by Miss Shaw.

It turns out the The Smallest Media Planner In The World hadn’t turned against me, but against humanity: for he had told a round score of people to fuck off later on that night, and had christened about half of them “cunts” as well. Turns out that when he gets sauced (and again, his stature is such that one might have thought a couple of bottles of beers could be dangerous), he becomes that famed, but rare animal The Bad Drunk. He had stuck with the gang long enough to move on with them at 4am to a Piano Bar, where he doled out the bulk of his insults, before having a quick nap and getting back to the hotel at 6am. I wouldn’t be such a turd as to remind him of his bad behaviour the next morning – I dread to imagine what people put up with from me when I have got myself absolutely twisted – so I met him cordially at the beginning of the final day’s session and asked him what time he had got in. He had (or feigned to have) no memory of having parted brass rags the previous night, and his answer to me was as one amazed:

“I don’t know. Late. But I feel fucking awful this morning. I woke up surrounded by Pringles, and with the towels all soaking wet in the shower.”

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