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

What Can Planners Learn From A Creatives Choice Of Music …

Sam, one of my creative colleagues, excitedly sent me a song that he said, clearly explains the relationship creatives have with planners.

He did add ‘bad planners’, but he was only feeling guilty after I bought him a Kit Kat.

While it would be easy to say he’s a prick – and he is, but more in his general behaviour and attitude than this moment of cheek – his point is an important one for planners to remember.

Our job is to be useful to the creatives.

Doesn’t matter what sort of creative they are – ad, design, tech, industrial, the answer is the same …


Not dictatorial.

Not demanding.

But actually helping them to do something interesting rather than just right.

That means giving them the right problem to solve rather than the answer you want.

That means talking to them about the brief rather than presenting it to them.

That means understanding the nuance of culture not the generalisations.

That means giving them a direction rather than a specific destination.

That means remembering your job doesn’t stop when creative development starts.

That means always looking for ways to give them more stuff that can expand or deepen their idea rather than think ‘working with the creatives’ means sitting with them and pretending you are one of them”.

That means building things up, not tearing things down.

That means focusing on the work, not your ego.

That means being open rather than closed.

That means pushing creativity not agendas.

That means being clear, not complicated.

That means giving space not pressure.

That means loving the fuck out the work.

Used And Abused …

So I was recently interviewed for a podcast and one of the questions was, “what do your colleagues think of you?”

Of course, I replied that to answer that, they should talk to them rather than me … but then realised I could give an entirely accurate response.

Not with words, but images, so I sent them these …

These are Mike and Sam, a freelance creative team we have in the place.

They’re very talented – though I discovered their greatest talent is stealing my iPad and taking countless photos of themselves in the knowledge they will also show up on my iPhone is one of the main ones.

Sam. Again. This time using his deceptively long limbs to try and place my laptop in the ceiling.

After complaining to a couple of colleagues that my eye was in pain, I received this steampunk monocle to wear to a client meeting.

Followed up with Megan – who looks like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth – sending me a photo of her doing an impression of me.

She claims it was her way of showing ‘sympathy’. She is lying.

And how do I know that?

Because a few days later, her and Amelia sent me an SMS that said this.

Nice eh?

Throw in photos where I am asked to put a small sheepskin mat that is normally placed on a motorcycle seat – so yes, I am literally having someones ass on my head – I think this just about sums up what my colleagues think of me.

Now of course I know you can’t show any of these pictures on a podcast … but you can convey what they capture in terms of respect and motivation … and they capture there is no respect or motivation.

The Top Shelf …

When I was a kid, the top shelf of the newsagent was what I imagined Las Vegas was like.


Adult stuff.

Things no one should mention.

What am I talking about?

‘Men’s’ magazines.

I’m not talking Playboy … but the very English, very low-rent versions that were all – weirdly – either named after Ford cars or luxury London streets.




Park Lane.

In the early days, the covers were on display for everyone to see.


Young boys would walk into newsagents and stare at them while trying desperately to not look like they were.

For most people, that was as close as you would get to them because buying one – or even looking through one – was out of the question.

What if someone saw you?

What if someone you knew saw you?

Of course someone must have been buying them because they were produced for decades.

I know for a fact that ‘one-eyed’ – the newsagent opposite the Nottingham main police station – was a magnet for the pervs and the teens, because it was small enough and out of the way enough to get away with it, but I always wondered how many of these would be bought at major players like WH Smiths.

Over time, the covers got covered up.

Not just to protect the innocent, but to try and stop the objectification of women.

Of course, given The Sun still had ‘page 3’ and claimed to be a ‘family newspaper’ this meant it had absolutely zero impact … and even today you can see those attitudes are still alive and well in all walks of life thanks to so many companies – including those specific to women evolve and grow – having a vested interest in making women feel, or be seen, as offering only looks to the World.

Anyway, the reason I say all this is that I recently walked into a WH Smiths to buy Otis a magazine and was pleasantly surprised – and a bit shocked – to see the top shelf was just that, a top shelf.

No doubt part of this is because porn – or erotica, or whatever title you want to give it – is so readily accessible that you don’t need ‘specialist magazines’ anymore as opposed to society having a healthier, more balanced attitude towards women [or sex] but it was weird to see nothing but genuinely ‘family friendly’ titles on there.

What was funny was one of those titles was something I was interested in buying for Jill, but the context from my past meant it was almost impossible for me to grab it.

That’s right, a ‘word puzzle’ magazine was loaded with baggage from what the top shelf once meant to me and I wonder if that is something that reflects my individual weirdness or something bigger … where being placed on the top shelf of WH Smiths may be best for visibility but worst for purchase.

And before you think I’m a total nutter, remember the brilliant – but slightly mad – Clotaire Rapaille believes your first exposure to brands and experiences frames and defines the way you look at them forever.

Priorities Are In The Eye Of The Powerful …

We all know Trump is a terrible human being.

One who lies, cheats and manipulates with an ease that only someone who has acted that way all their life could pull off.

But just when you thought you had seen the worst of him, he reveals a new low.

COVID-19 has been the ignition for this.

One of the things I’ve found fascinating about this virus is how Trump and his media organisations have switched from claiming it’s nothing but a hyped-up agenda – designed by people intent of damaging them – to wanting to position themselves as the heroes, who are not only protecting the people, but are hell bent on finding a cure.

While that is obviously bollocks, even if people did believe it, there is one fact that should make them question what’s being said …

More proof that sadly, a lot of politics – especially in the US and UK – has little to do with protecting the people, but protecting the politicians position and power as well as the corporations who support them.

Together Makes Us Stronger ….
April 17, 2020, 6:45 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Corona Virus, Culture, Family, Friendship

It’s been a short week.

And I’m glad about that, because it’s been a tough one.

Sometimes you feel you have this life thing under control and then it just pulls the rug from underneath you.

This COVID-19 thing is a perfect example of this.

Everyone seemed to be excited about 2020.

For whatever reason, people were happy to wave goodbye to 2019 and welcome a new year of possibilities and opportunities.

Well 2020 has been utterly crap so far, hasn’t it?

That said, it has ignited some wonderful acts of humanity and compassion – of which the incredible walk by 99 year old Captain Tom Moore is a perfect example of one of them – but we can’t forget the reason for this is because there are people who are beings severely impacted by all this.

Not just all the amazing essential workers out there, but others around us.

Neighbours. Friends. Colleagues. Peers.

People who are being impacted financially, professionally, emotionally or mentally.

One of the worst feelings in the World is when you think you are on your own.

The pressure that puts you under – and that you place on yourself – is suffocating.

Add to that quarantine, and these feelings can be amplified enormously.

While I know we are all being impacted in some way, checking in on those who are having the hardest time is important.

Because while we will come out of this – as we always do – it’s situations like this that remind us the only thing we really have is each other.

Take care of yourselves.

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