The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Be A Cheeky Bastard …
August 21, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Many years ago, when we were running cynic, we decided we wanted to make Birthday and Christmas cards.

There was no reason behind it, other than a late night conversation over pizza and beer. [And Diet Coke]

To be honest, that was one of the best things about having your own company, you could just do stuff like that without needing to seek permission or take into account ‘corporate protocol’.

Anyway, we made a bunch of them – all with messages of errrrm, love – like the one above [though my favorite was, “Here’s hoping this is your last Christmas because I hate the presents you send me”] and amazingly they all sold out.

While we could have printed more – and who knows, maybe even of made a profit – the key for us was scratching an itch … doing something that we thought was interesting and fun.

Years later, while I was in the WPP machine, I was so fed up of scam ads, I set up a very short lived magazine called ‘Scampaign’ … where agencies could put their dodgy ads in it and claim it had been published so they could enter regional awards.

While it didn’t stop the scam pandemic, it at least made me a bit of money [emphasis on ‘a bit’] and I got to see all the entries without having to pay some award company a fortune to see them.

Why am I saying all this?

Because I think we’re all being far too sensible these days.

God, I know I am … but at least I have age as an excuse.

While adland is a serious business where we [are supposed to] understand and influence/inspire society on behalf of our clients commercial ambitions, we should also be a place where the slightly-off-the-wall feel comfortable enough to reside. The people who make life fun and interesting. The people who help you look at life in ways you might otherwise not see. The people who you’ll always remember for the right reasons.

Now please don’t think I am in any way suggesting I am one of these people and without doubt, there are – thankfully – some wonderfully eccentric characters still working in the business, but the sad fact is adland has kidded itself that the best way to get clients is to act like them and not only is that wrong, but it is alienating the very people that made us so interesting and influential in the first place.

As I’ve said many, many times, the reason we have lost our seat at the boardroom table is not because we didn’t look like business people, but because we didn’t talk about their business … but that doesn’t mean we should answer things in the way they would expect.

Jesus, if we do that, then what’s the point of having an agency?

Cheekiness is wonderful.

Of course it has to be executed in a way that is mindful of who it is impacting and what it is saying about you – but if done right, it is infectious, energetic and magnetic.

To be honest, the agency that best understood this was the wonderful HHCL … the professional radicals … but while there are still a few agencies out there who understand cheekiness is a positive attribute rather than a dangerous and rogue element, that shouldn’t stop us doing our bit to add life to the world we live in.

Word of advice though … whatever you do, do not auction off Sir Martin’s business card so someone can call him up all times of the night. That is not a good idea.

Not a good idea at all.

18 Comments so far
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Interesting post Robert. I’d forgotten about your Sir Martin moment, that was truly ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as potent pix, but Lee told me to forget that episode so I will not mention it further. Scampaign was a moment of genius though.

Comment by George

The Sorrell incident was one of the few times I was proud of Rob. The other was when he did a “spot the difference” between Sorrell and toad of toad hall. Now he writes about creamy white finishing sauce. What a fall from disgrace.

Comment by DH

Fair point Dave, but the good news is that while I might be a milder individual these days, I still have an ability to attract trouble with [1] being listed as the ‘founder’ of W+K at a Microsoft conference and [2] sending emails to new clients signed, ‘retards’ [instead of regards] being just 2 of them.

Does that help?

No, I didn’t think so either. Bugger.

Comment by Rob

And good memory Dave … though it also means you’re a bit of a loser.

Here’s the offending post in all it’s resemblance glory:

Comment by Rob

I agree with George, Scampaign is a magnificent idea which should have made you even richer than you are. How did you screw it up?

Comment by John


Comment by DH

I only did it twice … it was a lot of work for basically a bit of a joke. Plus after the first edition, too many people realised I was basically taking the piss out of the scammers and didn’t want anything to do with it. But it was fun. No Adbusters, but it was alright.

Comment by Rob

Time for a relaunch.

Comment by John

It would have to be an emag.

Comment by DH

Agencies tend to hire staff based on their clients remuneration model which is being increasingly squeezed, so it’s little surprise they choose people by functional ability rather than intrigue. You can argue that is shortsighted because it means they are looking to defend, rather than grow, their revenue but agencies never look further than next week while telling their clients to think years in advance.

Comment by Pete

Good point Pete. This attitude of only hiring people while the client revenue comes in might make short-term commercial sense, but it doesn’t build quality or a brand. Sure, you can’t just hire whoever you like without having an appreciation of the commercial implications/opportunities … but neither should you hire down to a price when your reputation is built on high standards and creativity.

Comment by Rob

A trip down memory lane. When you were interesting.

Comment by DH

You mean when he was slightly less boring. Not interesting.

Comment by Billy Whizz

“maybe even of made a profit” – Mr Campbell, I truly despair when someone of your ilk gives in to the erroneous substitution of “of” for “have”…I see it every day here in the Land of the (Grammar) Free…but it has clearly made its way around the world now. I should of known!

Comment by Dave

Sorry, you’re absolutely right and I can hear my Dad whirring in his grave because he – and my Mum – were sticklers for detail. Sadly for them – and it’s no reflection on them – their son is shit with stuff like this so I can only offer you what I offered them every time I stuffed up … a heartfelt, pleading apology.

Comment by Rob

Rupert Howell was right about you wasn’t he Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

did he tell you he thought campbell was a twat as well?

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m a big fan of being cheeky. Play on.

Comment by Dena

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