1800-BULL-SHIT

Dear reader/s,

I went full Chicken Little in the last post.

Some of you lapped it up like vitriol infused milk.

Others asked me if I was taking my meds.

So, to tip the scales in a more positive direction, I give you an idea.

Gratis.

It’s a hotline.

1800-BULL-SHIT.

You call it when you’re not sure about an idea.

Something doesn’t sit right.

Not just ideas, strategy, too.

For that is the bedrock of any great idea.

You’ve come up with an idea.

And the pressure is on.

Pencil pressure.

Lion pressure.

Client pressure.

Coke rage suit (or CD – blow has many admirers) pressure.

And maybe you’re at the point where you might as well be reading a manifesto made up of Lorem Ipusm.

But laid out in Trottian prose.

Maybe, somewhere deep in your subconscious, you’re wondering whether what you’re putting forward is good, or utter shite.

Maybe, you’re convincing yourself, or caught up in the team spirit or desperation, that it’s true.

True.

What I mean there, dear reader, is something you won’t call bullshit on.

But maybe you don’t know.

So you call 1800-BULL-SHIT.

One of our helpful operators will have worked in agencies for a minimum 20 years.

Ideally, Dave Trott will be one of them.

They will be unbiased and unencumbered by agency politics or award show bollocks.

They will live on a commune, with no internet, or an internet devoid of advertising.

No piss, and definitely no coke.

Lots of tea. Chamomile and green.

They will pat goats and go for long walks and be pure idea saints.

They will have great core strength.

Anyway.

Where was I?

Yes, the operators.

They will push you, gently, to a question.

“Do I honestly believe in what I’m doing right now?”

They will be adept in the most cutting edge methods of psychoanalysis.

They will tend to beautiful bonsais as you gasp and rasp on the other end of the line.

In the “Dandelion” or “Spirit” meeting room.

(Meeting rooms have names, nowadays. But I’m yet to enter one called “Peter”.)

They will, using the Socratic method, keeping asking why.

Why is this good?

Why is this true?

True as in if you saw it, or told it to a close friend or family member, you would, hand on heart, say it’s the real deal?

And if you do…

Why do you believe it?

We push ideas because of ego, because of insecurity, because of politics, because we want to leave at 6 to see our significant others before they become insignificant.

We’ve all sold shit because of the above.

If you haven’t you’re a liar.

But integrity is rare these days.

Rarer than those pencils I was poo pooing in the last post.

Integrity is everything.

You can take it to the grave.

Maybe into the afterlife.

Anyway.

If you have that funny sensation in your tum-tum.

If you’re chewing more nails than you should.

If you want to believe in what you do.

If you want to hold your head up high and not feel like a shitski.

Call 1800-BULL-SHIT.

We’ll make your guns stick.

You’re welcome.

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Cannes Lions and the Fall of the Roman Empire

Cannes Lions.

Festival of cocaine.

Sorry, creativity.

Both start with C.

Both continue to define advertising.

Who won what?

I don’t know.

Being out of the fulltime agency game, I got preoccupied with, I don’t know, life.

By the time I logged on to the Cannes site, the results had been paywalled.

The Roman Empire.

They had a good run.

No coke, but hot baths and orgies.

Even better.

They didn’t win ‘metal’.

They wore it.

Fought with it.

Drank out of it.

Lovely red wine.

Not pissy rosé.

They had a good time.

They thought it would last forever.

SPOILER ALERT.

It didn’t.

Cannes.

Based on the photos I’ve seen bandied around the ‘gram, many red-faced CDs and management types look like they think it’ll last forever, too.

It won’t.

Anyone who thinks otherwise has snorted too much charlie.

A friend works at an agency that was, for one year, ‘the most awarded agency in the world’.

The CCO put on a grand ceremony, with an all-staffer to reveal a staggering display of lions and pencils.

Gold, silver, black, yellow.

And yet-

The agency didn’t win any new business because of this.

The work – and relationships – with existing clients didn’t improve, either.

This agency, like many, had a big round of layoffs recently.

The last days of advertising as we know it.

The last days of Cannes.

The last days of Rome.

Prepare for the new dark age.

Can I get you anything?

Since I got laid off from the big network agency I worked at for 10+ years due to being a white, 40-something male (not really – but come on, there is a little bit of that, isn’t there?), I have had to face many a reception desk, smiling politely, stating my name, who I am here to see, etc. etc.

NB: I’ve just realised I broke Trottian style with the above long winder.

No, I will not apologise.

But I am back.

Trotting along.

Where was I?

Ah yes, the freelance life.

Your humble narrator enters the reception of Nimble Cheetah Industries.

Or Herman Bach and Poplin.

These are made up agency names.

One is big, one is small.

Either way.

First impressions count.

Whoever is behind the front desk is the face of your business.

They’re first contact.

And as a seasoned reception lurker, I’ve noticed something.

Not all agency receptions are made equal.

It’s the little things.

A smile.

A cheery “hello!”

A “can I get you anything?”

Dear reader, I have been to agencies where I haven’t even been offered a glass of water.

This, after a 50+ min tube ride across the capital, sweating, thinking about the mortgage and little Timmy’s piano lessons.

But I digress.

Everyone is selling.

Everyone in the building is a cheerleader for your company.

Anyone that walks in expects a certain level of courtesy.

Nay, service. (For you are a business, are you not?)

Even just a thirsty old copywriter.

My larynx parched and damaged from back in the day when we made suits cry just because we could.

Today, I went into Boggle Boogle Hoghardy.

The smiling receptionist made good, simple chit chat.

Then she asked me if I would like anything.

I said, a black coffee, please.

I am not a fancy man.

I do not ask for much.

She also brought me a water.

Which I didn’t ask for, but was much appreciated.

And made up for the thirst that still lingered from the aforementioned, parched interview.

When I met the CD, I told him how impressed I was by my first impression of the place.

How well I was treated.

It was a good look.

He was happy.

To really drive the point home.

The sun is setting on my career.

A little means a lot.

And a little is memorable.

And might even take the sting out of dropping your day rate by 50 quid.

Epilogue:

Neon signs.

They were all the rage in the art world for a while.

Holzer, Nauman, et al.

Agencies, of course, came late to the party.

Now every reception appears to have one.

They’re the new street artist mural.

And not very sustainable, either.

Hmm.

For the yoof.

Hey hepcats and daddy o’s.

It’s me, ageing advertising writer.

Here to gripe about “yoof culture”.

Specifically, Sprite.

Carbonated sugar water.

Specifically specifically, a poster I saw.

(It’s like an Instagram post but it exists IRL.)

This bus stop poster didn’t have an idea.

Ideas? LOL.

Because I am not Dave Trott, I will not post a JPEG.

Or an animated GIF.

I don’t want to have another seizure.

Let me describe the poster to you.

The colour palette is solely green and yellow.

(Australians will be pleased, but this is not in Australia – to my knowledge.)

Lemony, refreshment colours.

Occupying the bottom half of the poster, big, bold type circa THE FACE 1988 reads, FRESH YOURSELF.

YOURSELF is reversed out so it’s yellow on green.

Design, innit.

Above the line is an illustrated product shot.

It looks, to my short-sighted, astigamatism-riddled eyes, like a sticker on one of those yoof chat apps.

Maybe this is intentional, but probably not.

I’m getting too deep.

The spritzing on the can is surprisingly light-on.

You’d expect more refreshment cues.

Maybe the client was on Tinder when approving the artwork.

Anyway.

Behind the can, a spear shaped pattern of yellow and green.

That’s it.

No idea.

Reference straight out of a monograph on rave poster design.

Or, more likely, a TUMBLR.

It’s toss.

The kids won’t drink this up.

They’re too busy drinking coconut water.

Do you know what would work?

A two-for-one-offer poster in the service station.

The design would be more savoury.

And the offer will constitute an idea of sorts.

As Roger Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon wisely said, “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

I Me Mine.

There’s a good song by George Harrison called I Me Mine.

My reading of it is that it’s about ego.

I, I, I, me, me, me, mine, mine, mine.

The Beatles took lots of LSD.

Got into transcendental meditation.

Presumably, the two helped free their minds.

As much as super rich rockstar egos can be liberated, anyway.

My point is.

Ego.

There’s a lot of it in advertising.

Particularly about idea ownership.

Which is sad, really.

Look at television.

We’re in the golden age.

Writers rooms are en vouge.

Working on a Netflix show is the new t-shirt dream for ad creatives.

In a writer’s room everyone throws around ideas, and one writer is assigned with putting it all together.

I think that writer is the one who has the strongest storyline, as deemed by the showrunner.

You tell me – every other creative seems to have read a book on TV writing.

My point? A big pow wow. Lots of ideas whizzing about. Coming together. Taking shape. Co-parenting.

I hate brainstorms as much as the next creative.

But covering-your-paper-so-the-kid-next-to-you-doesn’t-copy-your-answers-paranoia is, well, #sad.

Free your ego.

Free your mind.

Toss ideas out like the ceberal jism they are.

No-one’s buying into them until they have input, anyhow.

Your partner, your CD, your ECD, your CCO, your CCCCCCCCCO.

Oh, and the client. The one with the money.

Be free, be open-minded, take mind altering drugs, don’t be an egotistical, self-centred cock.

Getting others to buy into – and be a part of – the idea is bigger than the idea itself.

The emphasis here is – the idea. Not your idea.

Your ego is not your amigo.

Free your mind… And your ass will follow.

That wasn’t George Harrison.

That was George Clinton.

Still a George, though.

Less Supreme, more Saville Row.

Sir John Hegarty.

A very dapper man.

If you’re under 30, Google him.

See his vest.

Sky blue blazer.

That there is a man with style.

The kind that separates the men from the muppets.

A look that walks into a room with an idea.

And leaves everyone nodding their heads like dashboard bobble dogs.

I don’t have any Hegarty anecdotes.

Like I said, I’m not Dave Trott.

The reason why I bring up Sir John, is because style maketh the man.

He dresses creative.

Because he is creative.

He dresses smart.

Because smart sells.

True style comes from taste and panache.

Tony Kaye.

He directed American History X.

Before that, he directed commercials.

What did he wear?

Commes des Garcons suits.

He wore them every day.

Again, style.

Or so I was told by my old ECD.

Who, I should add, dressed like Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit.

This is not an uncommon look.

Many male, 40+ ECDs (and now CCOs) dress like nu metal singers.

Cargo pants, or worse, shorts.

Tattoos.

Thankfully, the ironic t-shirt has gone the way of MySpace.

Now you’re more likely to see creatives wearing UNIQLO or, higher up the chain, APC or Acne, instead of G-Star.

But even this aesthetic is a bit ho-hum.

Any twat with a credit card can go on MrPorter and shop the look.

True creatives have style.

From head to toe.

From film library to art collection.

Style means business.

Style means being the most interesting man or woman or they in the department.

It might not save you from the chopping block.

But at least you’ll turn heads on the way out.

Don’t call it a parody.

I’m not an advertising legend.

I haven’t had an illustrious career.

I’m cruising into the sunset of a good, if not particularly dazzling, one.

The scenery is nice and I have enough change in the glovebox to keep me going.

And yet.

I don’t have a black pencil, nor a yellow pencil.

I have in-books.

Some bronze paperweights.

Enough ‘metal’ to keep the briefs interesting.

I’m not full of insightfully clever anecdotes or sage-like advice.

I’m just an ad guy.

A boring, white, male ad guy.

In 2019AD.

Blogging.

Do people even do that anymore?

Does Dave Trott?

(Just checked. Yes.)

I never thought I’d be an ad blogger.

I always thought those that couldn’t, blogged.

I had ‘metal’ to win.

But the times they are a-changin’.

I’m now a freelancer.

When not slinging decks, I could drive an Uber.

Or I could write.

Line
by
Trottsian
line.

So here I am.

A nobody, pontificating on a subject 99% of people don’t give two sloppy shits about.

At a time when the pimple of human progress is on the verge of being popped all over the existential mirror.

But I digress.

Advertising!