Posts Tagged ‘Workshop’

Fuck me: we have got some FREAKS working at our agency.

I was reminded of this when having dinner with Women Employed to Work in London But Moved To Singapore By Travesty Of All Things Gay. She reminded me of the day that we held an Asia-specific workshop with attendees from all our agencies in the region – and it was like the circus was in town, complete with World’s Least Convincing Transvestite (hands like a goalkeeper, voice like Barry White) and a pair of matching midgets, both of whom truly are shorter when they are standing up than when they are sitting down – not to mention the shrieking, highlighted, belt buckle the size of a Rugby ball, tightly costumed horror that is Travesty of All Things Gay.

But it appears that we also have more than enough freaks to go round: because the Sentosa workshop introduced me to a whole new bunch of Godawfuls that I had never clapped eyes on before. These included (but were not limited to) Female Creative Director with Henry V’s Haircut, Indian Planner with Lazy Eye, Indian Account Guy with Comic Book T-Shirts, Indian Planner with Nylon Trousers and Pubey Moustache, and Chinese Lesbian Elvis Planner. What a bunch.

We were there to talk about ways of representing horror and tragedy, but as I looked around the room, I realised that, actually, all I needed to do was say: “Look in a fucking mirror, and we can all go home early”. As it happens, we stuck it out – and to very good effect: Woody Allen in Robert de Niro’s Body Creative Director did us all proud, and we came out of it with some really interesting twists on the current idea. I could have done without the shimmering intellect of Australian Account Woman with Dense Apricot Hair on Forearms, but otherwise, for all their retina-scorching hideousness, they turned out to be a sweet, and talented bunch.

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The day I had on Tuesday beggars belief.

There is a brand (that I don’t work on) that needed a little extra help, and so I had been conscripted (entirely against my very busy will) to get involved in trying to sort that out by the redoubtable Fearless Leader. So I ended up agreeing to lead an all-day workshop (one of my most dreaded words, with a reality even more terrifying than the word can suggest) in Paris, with our French agency – who proved themselves to be an absolutely staggering display of indifference as an art form.

I won’t itemise the specifics of what made that workshop such a fucking awful day: certainly it wasn’t helped by the glassy-eyed spectatorship of the people who should have been participating, rather than observing – but suffice to say that I have made a vow before God and Fearless Leader, that I shall never lead a workshop on a brand that I don’t work on, ever again.

The only two good things about are that it is over, and that it confirmed the absolute correctness of my hatred of the French.

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There are, in advertising circles, too many people making a living by holding up a tube of toothpaste and forcing people to consider what it might be were it not, in fact, a tube of toothpaste. What kind of animal would it be? What kind of party would it host? Where would it do its shopping? How would it shapes its pubic hair and so on.

Today, I was trapped in just such a session where we all considered what a well-known cleaning brand would be if it decided to throw in the cleaning towel and re-imagine itself as one of the characters from Classical Greek, Egyptian (or, in a late and surprising bid for what the fuckery) a character in The Iliad or The Odyssey.

We ended up after nine hours (and I felt EVERY ONE) agreeing that it would be EXACTLY WHAT I HAD SAID THREE MONTHS AGO, amid a number of people doing their stroky beard faces. But the point is surely that this is dodging the issue. These things AREN’T Greek gods: if they were, it would be easy – those stories are exciting, deal in extreme emotions and absolutes. It’s only when we face up to, and embrace, the fact that these brands are what they are, and do what they do that we’ll get the right ideas for them, and stop distracting ourselves with pseudo-intellectual masturbatory exercises, such as today’s. It was double wank with shit chips.

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Sunday, 30th September 2007

Oh, the dread awfulness of the workshop!

Oh the erroneous, provably incorrect idea that a bunch of people in a room with a load of Post-it notes and someone shouting “What if it was an aftershave, a car, a wingnut, an anal douche?” at regular intervals is a better way of getting somewhere viable that a few bright, focused people in a SMALLER room not shouting, but arguing constructively! Oh the sheer shit of having to sit there as someone says “There’s no such thing as a bad idea.” – a statement that even the briefest acquaintance with the history of culture, science, warfare and religion would overthrow in one shiny second.

I fucking hate them: and most of all I hate them because at one point there is always someone who, with the fresh-faced look of someone seeing the light in a 50s Biblical epic says: “Why don’t we become a real PARTNER for people in Area X? Tell them how to do it. No one tells you HOW TO DO IT.”

“Area X”, need I say, could be “Driving a car”, “Eating a yoghurt”, “Putting on a condom”, “Using kitchen towel”, “Shopping for groceries”, “Wiping your arse” or “Cleaning your house”. Only two of these, incidentally, are not ACTUAL examples. But what REALLY grates is that after this pranny has made this childish and disgusting suggestion, the general response isn’t to drag them out of the room, slit their throat and leave them to die, or to bury them under a shower of Post-it notes and indelible markers. Instead, they are greeted with the gentle, smiling nod and slightly opened eyes of the Marketing Professional doing their “Fuck me! Breakthrough thinking that might park my overfed face in a profile in Marketing Week” faces.

I am fresh from such a workshop and next week hosts another one, in Dublin – and on THIS occasion, I shall be in the company of SO MANY people who bug the foreskin off me that next week’s blog should make the Spanish Inquisition look easy-going and laid back.

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