Archive for the ‘advertising’ Category
Spotted by Noah Gee
Canary Wharf in London’s Docklands was the locus of today’s activity. Started with a Channel 4-related meeting with some emerging film talent I met in Leipzig the other week who have a lovely project on the go which deserves some traction and support. Their pitch at Leipzig Dokfest was charmingly English and stood out really favourably in that European context as authentic and bringing beautiful craftsmanship.
Ascended ten floors to interview Rory Sutherland, boss of ad agency Ogilvy, whom I first met earlier on in the process as I got to grips with the Paul Arden/Advertising chapter. We had a thoroughly enjoyable chat at The Ivy, nice and appropriate for the subject-matter, which was a big help as I mapped out the landscape and headed off on the journey. True to form, this time he again not only gave really generously of his time but engaged in an enthusiastic and very well informed manner with illuminating observations from his own industry as well as from his passions beyond.
Spent the rest of the afternoon in Ogilvy’s offices, cracking on with the Tony Wilson stuff.
Ended the day heading due West to BBC in White City for final TX of this launch series of Health Freaks, dropping in the live insert into the pre-recorded show with Dr Pixie on voice-over and the team from Outline Productions.
I’m writing this high above Outline‘s offices (down below in Kentish Town) perched on the top of Parliament Hill. Before me is a beautiful panorama of autumnal trees and Highgate village on the summit opposite, lit in a low yellow sunlight. Behind me is the path my dad took daily in the 50s to his school, William Ellis, as well as the café where he first talked to me about his terminal illness. Beyond the golden trees to my left is the summit where I was born (Whitestone Pond). So I’m feeling right at home. And from up here I can turn round and see Canary Wharf silver-grey on the skyline.
Off to the Angel at the start of Day 48 to catch up with Nicole Yershon of Ogilvy Labs and interview her about creative networking. We caught up at The Breakfast Club (which I was originally introduced to in D’Arblay Street by Garret Keogh of Telegraph Hill) and did the interview at Kipferl for the quiet (and to pick up a bag of Mozartkugeln). While there we bumped into Neville Brody, whose studio is round the corner. Hooked him and Nicole up so she could arrange for him to visit the 3D Printing show she was working at over in the Business Design Centre opposite, the event a direct, concrete result of her own networking and talent nurturing activities with all kinds of benefits to her organisation (from commissioned creative executions to specialist organisational expertise).
Concluded the week by interviewing Hettie Jones, poet and publisher of the Beat generation, over the phone in New York. We had a good chat and she said she enjoyed the interview as it was different from most and didn’t fixate on parties and sex. She told me a great story of an early meeting with Allen Ginsberg (whose poems appeared in her magazine Yugen) where she helped him, for his major poem Kaddish, get under the skin of the titular prayer by singing it to him – he was from a non-practicing Jewish family and she had childhood ambitions to be a cantor (not technically possible til 1987). We had a good few things in common – from a mixed marriage (she married black writer/dramatist LeRoi Jones [Amiri Baraka], an early American interracial marriage) to a mother of exemplary charitableness – so there was a real connection.
Unusually worked on Day 49 (a Saturday – I’m on a 9 to 5, Mon to Fri regime) as I was in Brighton (with Enfant Terrible No. 2, no Mrs, and three Albanian teenagers, the pals of aforementioned Enfant Terrible) so not far away from Paul Arden’s West Sussex cottage, now home to his widow Toni. As I drove West and slightly North across the county the roads gradually narrowed until I was on a track through beautiful old woodland near the height of its autumn colour. Interviewed Toni, who is originally from Copenhagen (she gave me some tips of what to see of an arty nature for my trip next week), seated beside Paul’s art/photography book collection in elegant grey cabinets and across from his photograph collection, including the Richard Avedon African woman mentioned in It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be . After the interview Toni kindly showed me some highlights from the collection including a large format monochrome contact sheet of Michael Josephs’ shoot for the cover of The Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet LP; work by Norman Parkinson, David Bailey and Robert Mapplethorpe; and an amazing black & white shot of a dying horse by Colin Barker where the beast is actually not touching the ground as it crumples after being put down with a bullet. She then gave me a tour of the beautiful 17C cottage behind the gallery/barn where we had been speaking. By the front door was a drawing by Paul’s father, a commercial artist/early advertising creative, drawn in his late 90s. Below the pink and pale green former charcoal burner’s dwelling was a pond Paul had created at the foot of a slope, so an impractical location used to fine aesthetic effect.
On my return to Brighton I was delighted to have a note in direct response to this very blog from a reader based in Dublin who had first-hand experience of one of my other protagonists and who kindly offered to give me an interview. That kind of loop of connection is what the Web – and When Sparks Fly – is all about.
I’m writing this one from BBC Media Centre while getting ready for tonight’s broadcast of Health Freaks, a new series I have been working on, the only Channel 4 work I have carried in to my sabbatical.
I have spent most of the afternoon writing happily away outside a cafe on the King’s Road, Chelsea within spitting distance of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s SEX shop. May the spirit of Punk rub off on me. I’m writing away at the Paul Arden chapter and in his contrariness is at least something of punk appeal. In a distinctly non- punk vein, for mid-October a remarkably mild afternoon which I thoroughly enjoyed sitting out in.
Prior to my writing burst, I was round the corner at The Chelsea Arts Club interviewing an advertising photographers’ agent, David Lambert, who worked with Paul Arden from 1974. As I walked into the club I saw a notice on the board announcing the death of Carolyn Cassady, who had been a member – reminding me of my lesson from Carolyn: strike while the iron’s hot when it comes to interviews.
While sitting outside the cafe at the Bluebird I organised a meeting with actress Gaye Brown who, apart from working with Joan Littlewood, was in Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (in that magical year, 1971).
David was very generous with his time and stories, and seemed to be enjoying recalling these tales which linked one to another as he hauled them up from the 70s and 80s. He stars in my opening emblematic scene in the Advertising chapter so it was good to get the story direct from him. The version I’ve already written is very accurate it turns out, I just got one extra telling detail from the from-the-horse’s mouth version as well as the chance to compare notes on what it actually means.
The Chelsea Arts Club was a strange affair on a weekday afternoon. Some ladies who lunch, some ageing types with no pressing need to work, the ubiquitous newspaper reader. It felt full of heritage with people on the past chairmen list like Whistler, Philip Wilson Steer and John Lavery but I didn’t recognise any of the last decade’s lot and only Sir Chris Powell was known to me on the current officials photo- board. Not the friendliest place I’ve ever been – CAC? we’ll leave the jury out on that.
As I walked back down Old Church Street Adrian Dunbar rang to confirm arrangements for tomorrow’s trip back to the Littlewood archives. He wanted to bring Janet Behan with, Brendan’s niece (author of Brendan at the Chelsea), but the times wouldn’t work out so that will have to be a separate visit. These little chains of connection are fascinating and the root of the excitement of the project – as well as the very essence of Creativity.
Not my most productive day given a range of distractions from the execrable TalkTalk to the admirable Save the Children. The former got me to the point of wanting to gnaw my own leg off in the quest to get my broadband to an acceptable level of service with the aid of an engineer of some kind (who, predictably enough, never materialised after a three week wait). I started by writing some British perspectives on the Beats into the Ginsberg chapter. Then had to write a draft agenda for a meeting at Arte in Paris next month with Channel 4 colleagues. Then back to the job at hand by working through the best part of 400 tributes to Paul Arden from the time of his death. I’d written the first paragraph of the Arden chapter the night before in a moment of inspiration after walking home from the Phoenix Cinema. Then it was up to town to see an old friend from NRK in Norway. Have Air, will travel – the Tube as office. Then Maison Bertaux, Greek Street as Bacon-inspired terrace office. Wander around Soho for some Shelley and Mod inspiration, past the site of Blake’s home, Ginsberg’s own big inspiration. Next up to Charlotte Street, by old Channel 4 at No. 60, with a quick look at the Saatchi & Saatchi offices which one online tribute saw as “Arden’s company with their name over the door”. Some more Air time (subject: Arden of Charlotte St) on an Italian cafe terrace opposite before heading up through St Giles’s to The Hospital for an advisory board meeting with Save the Children. A pretty creative performance then a quick chat in a mild autumnal Endell Street with fellow member from Discovery who is linking me up with a Creative Leadership MBA outfit in Berlin. Rounding things off with Joan Littlewood research on the way home tube.
So a fractured day, but maybe more productive than I thought.
Devaluing the already dubious Like (no connection between the question and liking the brand)
The ‘question’ here was “Hit like if you’re getting FIFA 14 today?”
BTW I think Spurs can beat Chelsea today – not too long to wait before the Portuguese Men of War go at it…
After a bit of a party weekend (which wiped out Friday) I got back to it this morning, albeit with battalions of brain cells dead and wounded. This morning I carried on transferring margin notes from research material into my draft Chapter 1 on Ginsberg – a good solid bit of graft so that I made progress without too much recourse to brain.
Early afternoon I headed up to Camden Town to meet an old friend, Judyth Greenburgh, to get some insight into Paul Arden, Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi in the early 80s when she first entered the world of advertising and became a protege of his at the age of 19. He was clearly a complex man so my jury remains out as to the degree to which his creative activity was open or generous. The story of Judyth’s professional relationship with Arden was both fascinating and moving, two very strong-willed creatives going head-to-head, one refreshingly naive and the other mysterious in his motivations, other than a commitment to art and excellence which was incontrovertible. I’m going to have to sound out more people who worked with him to decide whether to plough that furrow any further.
Back for more graft on Ginsberg, trying to figure out in the process how best to organise these transferred notes for easy integration into the text, balancing out detailed referencing back to the sources with speed to keep a decent momentum. The sense of learning as you go along is exciting.
Tomorrow I’m on the move, heading for Derry, so it will be largely a reading day.
‘My Google Team’ sent me (and zillions of other punters like me) this message over the holidays [to which I’ve added my own thoughts in square brackets]:
“Merry Christmas from Google
As we near the end of the year, we wanted to take a moment to thank you for the time, energy, commitment, and trust [and personal information] you’ve shared with us in 2009.
With sharing in mind, this year we’ve decided to do something a little different. We hope you’ll find it fits the spirit of the Christmas season.
We’re looking forward to working with [working on?] you to build lasting success [for our corporation/international quasi-monopoly] in 2010.
With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year,
Your Google Team”
Call me a cynic if you like but international near-monopolies bother me for this kind of reason…
According to the recently published accounts for Google UK for 2008 on £1.6 Billion of ad revenue from this country Google UK paid £141,519 in corporation tax. Our Google Team avoided £450M of UK corporation tax by channeling all its advertising earnings from UK customers through its Irish subsidiary. Now Ireland’s got problems of its own of course but all signs are that Google doesn’t give a monkey’s about them either – Google’s Dublin operation’s latest accounts show that only €7.5m of tax was paid in the Emerald Isle in 2008, even though the lion’s share of Google’s €6.7 billion European earnings went through Ireland.
In that same year of £1.6 Billion UK revenue Google UK donated £5,662 to charity.
The fact Google can’t spell “reggae” has been bothering me all Christmas. (It makes this link from the above message feel rather thrown together, and it already felt as calculated and American-centric as the corporation itself.)
Google is putting back graphic design by years with its second-rate illustrations, not least over these holidays.
I’m being a bit silly of course but there is a fundamental issue here – it’s a fundamentally parasitical entity, sucking ad revenue off to the US (some 13% of Google’s global revenues now come from the UK) without putting much back into this country and not really caring about it. Which is why a message like the above rings so hollow, more balls than (jingle) bells. And on that metallic theme, why I won’t be embracing Chrome at the expense of much less evil Firefox.