AdLand Suit is Dan Shute, a Board Account Director at Delaney Lund Knox Warren, a top ten London Advertising Agency. This is where I write about the life of a Suit - which can include pretty much anything. Delaney's didn't know I was doing this, but they do now. They still don't agree with everything I say though. They'd also probably rather I swore less.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Is AdLand Suit Rubbish?

A helpfully anonymous commenter recently suggested that this blog had become 'rubbish, now that the mystery's gone'. Given the history of ALS, it would be churlish of me to rebuke said commenter for hiding behind anonymity - instead, I thought I'd take his or her comment seriously, and have a think about what this blog used to stand for when my identity was a secret, and whether or not it can still stand for the same now that who I am is out there for all to see.

Now, call me conceited, but I never imagined the anonymity of ALS would matter that much to most of the people that read it. I was well aware that there were people out there who liked to imagine I was Lord Bell, Johnny Hornby or David Ogilvy's ghost, but I always believed them to be in the minority. I never suggested I was famous, or a Campaign-regular - just a senior Suit who'd been around the houses a bit, was fed up of reading about the lack of account management presence on-line, and wanted to share his views and thoughts on a variety of Suit-related experiences. And that's what I've done - if that's disappointing to you, or if that's not what you're wanted, then I offer no apology for not being what you wanted me to be. You don't have to read it. In fact, why are you reading it? The anonymity was selfish - it was more a self-defence mechanism than anything, allowing me to write what or how I liked without fear of rebuke. I never really thought it would make any difference to people reading the blog.

And fortunately, the vast majority of comments, emails and tweets I receive support my theory - people like ALS for what it is and for what I've written, not for who I might have been. And, as I've said before, what ALS is and what I write are not going to change. No, I won't be slagging off my Agency's work or Clients, but I never did. In fact, if you look back, my being rude about anybody's work is a fairly rare (although not completely non-existent) occurrence. That's not what this was supposed to be about.

I don't deny that the blog hasn't been what I've wanted it to be of late: predominantly because I haven't had enough time to post anywhere near as often as I'd like to. That will change in the new year, and I will continue to write with the confidence (and, who knows, maybe arrogance) that I've written with thus far. And once I'm writing regularly again, if the blog isn't, for some intangible reason, what is was when I was just a mysterious, headless avatar, then I'm sure you'll let me know. I'd be extremely disappointed if you didn't.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Komodo Dragons In The Boardroom

So, here we are. Everybody in the office seems to be carrying a baby of some age or other, there's a Komodo dragon wandering around the board room, and I'm eating smoked salmon sandwiches and drinking Champagne. That can only mean that today is the Agency Kids' Christmas Party (my favourite day of the Agency year - all the Agency offspring come in, there's an Animal Man, there's a Magician...), which can, in turn, only mean that we've reached the end of the year.

2009 has been quite a year for AdLand Suit. That goes without saying, I suppose, given that he/it/I didn't exist a year ago. Something that I started back in March (Feb?) because I had a spare ten minutes and I was fed up of reading snarky comments on Scamp and elsewhere about the lack of Account Man blogs turned, quite unexpectedly, into something quite big. People read it. You read it. I really wasn't expecting you to. But you did. And you left comments, some of which were nice, some of which were a little bit fuckwitty, all of which were hugely appreciated. Then Campaign wrote about it. And then we made three and a half grand for charity. And came out. (X-Factor also happened. But the less said about that, the better. Damn you, Snaggletooth.) I haven't posted as much recently, because I genuinely haven't had the chance, or the energy, for reasons that will become clear when you see the slew of new work on Halifax that will appear in January.

But I will in the new year. Promise. I'll probably even write some stuff between Christmas and New Year, and then stagger the posting of it - you know, like a PROPER BLOGGER. (I don't really believe Proper Bloggers exist. It feels like that sort of organisation would go against the very nature of blogging. But anyway.)

Here's hoping that 2010 is a slightly more fun year for advertising, and for life in general. Let's face it, 2009 sucked on quite a few levels, and in quite a lot of ways on those levels, but it does feel like we hit the bottom a couple of months back. Whilst we might not be quaffing champagne (ironically, of course, I am currently quaffing champagne) and building castles out of cocaine (like what they used to do in the olden days) any time soon, it feels like a bit of the buzz is coming back. Let's make 2010 a good 'un. I'll see you all for Lunch.

Right. I have to dash, as the magician's starting (I wasn't joking about today being my favourite day of the Agency year - seriously, they've already had the Animal Man in already (THERE'S A KOMODO DRAGON IN THE BOARDROOM) - but quickly, before I go, one last top tip to tide you over 'til new year:

If you ever find yourself at the Agency Kids' Christmas Party, don't over-indulge on the free-flowing Champagne. If you do, you'll find yourself more than a little refreshed by mid-afternoon, which can cause your evening's plans to come crashing down around your ears. I learned this last year. And, as you might have guessed, it was all my fault when they did. I'm still in trouble with a lot of people for that one. The bastards.

Happy Christmas, chaps. You're all lovely. See you in 2010.

PS As a quick bonus, here's the worst Xmas song (opinion author's own, but also completely true) every made:

And here's the best. Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

A Thank You On Behalf Of Marie Curie

I've been meaning to write this post (along with a bunch of others) for a while now - but while the others can wait (they will, after all, just be me blathering on about ads, advertising, things that are your fault, or people who don't know the difference between 'less' and 'fewer', the fuckwits), this one really shouldn't. What's more, it's short. And quite nice.

Last month, I did that whole reveal thing, which went rather better than I expected it to. After a few beers and some enthusiastic reassurance had persuaded me to up my target from £500 to £1,000, I somehow managed to raise an astonishing £3,586.63 for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

I don't use the word 'astonishing' lightly - people who are running marathons and climbing mountains have to lobby for months to raise a couple of thousand pounds, while I managed it in 4 days, and all I've done is blather on about advertising on here (see above) and swear about (amongst other things) cricket and X-Factor on twitter.

The truth is, of course, that I didn't really do anything - you lovely people did it all. I won't list the names of everyone who contributed here (they're here if you want to have a look - and why not chuck in a fiver while you're there?) as it wouldn't make for the most exciting of reads, but they know who they are, and I hope they know how grateful I am. I'm particularly grateful to Campaign for writing about it/me, to Elika for (a) publicising it almost as tirelessly as I did, but mostly for (b) listening to me wang on about it endlessly before, during and after the event, to the quite wonderful anonymous donators who were responsible for more than half of the total, and last but very much not least, to the lovely folk that turned up to the pub to get stupidly drunk on a variety of spirits to celebrate the good thing that we did.

Thank you all. You are ace. Proper ace. More stupid ideas, and drunken celebrations thereof, will be forthcoming. Promise.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Quick Hiatus

In contrast with tradition, this, which is both a warning of and apology for a brief hiatus in posting, comes halfway through said hiatus. As those of you unfortunate to follow me on twitter will be aware, I've been on a shoot for the last week, am back in the office today, then back to the shoot 'til the end of the week.

As those of you unfortunate enough to follow me on twitter will
also know, the above picture is very, VERY ironic. A half-empty plate of biscuits and a run-down tower block would be much more appropriate. Anyway.

So, crack on, drink on, December on, and I'll be back wanging on about all things Suity, thanking everyone who's already
donated to Marie Curie (and haranguing those who haven't) and talking about the lovely people I met last week before you know it.

Monday, 30 November 2009

So - Here I Am

Well. There it is. ALS's enormous (literally, rather than figuratively) head. ALS's face. ALS's rather large, if slightly nervous, grin.

Except my name isn't really AdLand Suit. That would have been a coincidence too far.

No. My name's Dan Shute, and I'm a Board Account Director at Delaney Lund Knox Warren. (Which, interestingly, is an agency that garnered precisely zero votes when we did a 'Where Does ALS Work?' poll, many moons ago.)

So, that's that. You know who I am. Secret's out. I guess the main question to answer now is 'What's next?' - so here we go.

Essentially, nothing will change. My employers haven't known about ALS until now, but the fact that they now do isn't going to change the things I write, or the way I write about them. I believe in the importance of what I've been doing here as much if not more than I did when I started this blog, and I definitely believe in the importance of the role Suits have to play more than ever. So why would I stop?

One of the joys of blogging and twitter is that you're only as entertaining, interesting or engaging as the ideas that you have and the words that you write - job titles or celebrity status hold no real truck, you stand or fall on the quality of the words you write, and the relevance and power of what you're writing or tweeting about. For whatever reason, a lot of people have come to care about what I write here, and have come to enjoy reading it. I'm incredibly proud of the number of people who read my nonsense, and who care enough to comment and share it. So why would I change?

Furthermore, as I've tried to point out in the past, this isn't an anonymous blog so much as a pseudonymous blog. AdLand Suit is not a character - he's not Dave Knockles, as brilliant as Dave Knockles undoubtedly is. AdLand Suit is me, writing in my voice, sharing my views, on things that I care about, and things that I think are important. The only difference now is that you know my real name. AdLand Suit is still here, and he's still writing. So why would anything else change?

And that's that. All that remains for me to say is thank you to the small number of people that have helped me keep this a (kind of) secret up 'til now, and that I remain in awe at the amount of goodwill, collaboration and, ultimately, cash for a good cause this blog and its accompanying (and much more sweary) twitter feed has generated - you're all fucking awesome, and Elika and I will be in the Perseverance on Lamb's Conduit Street this Wednesday evening (December 2nd) from 8.30pm, if anyone (or indeed everyone) fancies stopping by. First round's on me.

Oh, and you absolutely have to keep contributing here. Marie Curie is still an awesome cause, and we've already made a fantastic amount of money, but if each of you donate a couple of quid (or even a solitary quid, if that's all you can afford), then we'll have done a brilliant thing. I'll do a proper post on the donation at the end of the week, rather than try and wrap it up in this.

I'll see you all at the bar. Cheers.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Who is AdLand Suit, And What Happens Next?

Well, needless to say I'm completely blown away by the reaction to my potential unmasking. As has been suggested elsewhere, I was a little nervous about how well this would go, to the point where I ummed and aahed about whether or not £500 would be a more realistic target, before thinking 'fuck it', and optimistically plumping for a grand. And now, here I am, with more than £3k made for Marie Curie after only four days. You're all brilliant.

So, what happens next? Two things:

1. The unmasking. I'm not a man to break a promise, so with the target well and truly smashed, you will all know who I am this week. I can't say exactly when yet (I need to check a couple of things with work) but I'll be able to confirm tomorrow. At the same time, I'll give you all a pub and an evening when Elika and I will be there, and invite everyone to come down and get merrily Xmas-trashed, happily celebrating that we've all been part of something really quite brilliant.

2. The donations MUST continue. Whilst the amount we've raised so far is incredible, a large proportion of that has come from one or two wonderful people, and we still have an opportunity to do so much more. I'm not asking for a lot of money - if you can only afford to donate £1, then just donate £1. If you can afford a bit more, then donate that. I'm so proud of how this has gone, but there's scope to do even better. Every penny to a fantastic cause is hugely appreciated, both by me and the guys at Marie Curie, so if you haven't yet had the chance then get involved here.

And I'll see you all for a beer very soon. Hell yeah.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Who Is AdLand Suit?

So. The time has come. I'm taking off the mask. Or, I suppose, growing a head.

After not really that many months, I'm going to be shedding my anonymity. It's a decision I've taken for a number of reasons, not least of which being my growing frustration with my inability to actually meet up with any of the people I've got to know through this little endeavour. (I'm also sick of signing emails 'ALS', and am convinced I'm going to get it wrong at some point, but that's another story.)

Now, I'm fairly conscious that any kind of big reveal is ultimately going to prove a little underwhelming - it's an eternal truth that having a mystery is always at least fifteen times more enjoyable than solving one. But I had an idea.

I'd like to try and do something nice, and (brace yourself) worthwhile with this thing. As such, I've set up a Just Giving page (which you can find here), and am accepting donations for Marie Curie Cancer Care, a genuinely brilliant charity. When the donations reach £1,000 (or rather, IF the donations reach £1,000...) I'll come clean. AdLand Suit will have a head.

I know. Weird.

As well as that, I'll also be taking the highest individual donator out for Lunch, at a restaurant that I suppose should probably be The Ivy (though be warned - I will try and persuade you to go for St John).

Obviously enough, I need your help. Lots of little donations is the best way forward, and that's only going to help if enough people know that it's going on. So tell people. Tell everyone. Tweet about it. Blog about it. Tell your mum about it. And then, hopefully, we'll be able to do something really quite lovely.

And, most importantly, I'll FINALLY be able to buy you all a beer. Which will be awesome.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Quick Sunday Evening Tip

I received one of the best pieces of advice I've ever been given about 5 years ago now, shortly after I'd joined the Agency where I still am to this day. I was working with a female Account Director whom I'd already gathered had a reputation for being a bit of a ball-breaker. As it turned out, not only was she damn good, but she was also lovely - to be clear though, that doesn't in any way mean that the ball-breaker reputation was undeserved.

I was, in many ways, a typical male account manager. Overflowing with big ideas and impatient for promotion, recognition and some kind of acknowledgement of my own brilliance, I didn't really have time for 'organisation', or 'planning' or any of those other things that I'd already really rather leave to the Account Exec. Needless to say, I was set straight on this pretty sharpish. Frankly, I needed a slap, and I got one.

But that wasn't the advice - that's just a fact of life. As I believe I've touched on once or twice elsewhere, if you're not buttoned down and organised, things will go wrong, and when anything goes wrong, it is your fault, even if it isn't. Because everything is.

No, the advice was much simpler than that - three short words that I've never forgotten, and that served me extremely well as an AM and to this day:

Get in early.

Or, to build on that slightly, get in earlier than your Account Manager, Account Director, or anybody who's likely to look at your desk and wonder where you are.

There are two main reasons for this. The first is practical: 8am to 9am is the best time to get anything done. Your phone is likely to be ringing less (you can certainly guarantee that you won't be disturbed by any creatives or TV producers), and as such you'll be able to get all of the niggly, irritating, admin-heavy work done, which will enable you to spend the day doing the good stuff. (Trust me, having to miss a creative briefing because you need to sort out the billing spreadsheet is not a good result for you or anyone else.)

The second reason is simply that it looks good. It looks good to your AD when he or she has to call ahead because something needs doing and you're there to do it, and it looks good to your Client when he or she calls the Agency at 8.05 expecting to have to leave a message. (Be aware - while a Client's day may often end earlier than yours, it also tends to start at 8am on the dot. And you'd be amazed how much a Client will respect a Suit who's at his or her desk at the same time as them.)

So there it is. Be at your desk at 8am. Sort out the billing spreadsheet. Update status. Do your timesheets. Get all and any admin out of the way so that you can focus on the fun stuff for the rest of the day. Impress people. And, if you really have nothing else to do, read blogs, and learn about ads. Because making room for that in your day is as important a part of your job as writing good contact reports. And 8am is the best time to do it. Promise.

X-Factor. Wham Night. The Results Show

So, here we go again. Last night's recap is confirming (a) that George Michael not only writes quite good songs, he writes songs that NOBODY else can sing, and (b) that this really is a fairly shit year. There's no Leona. There isn't even a credible Will Young. Fuck it. It's all about Jedward.

In a reassuring return to form though, we're guaranteed a little bit of mental from tonight's guests. I should state at this stage that I've never watched Britain's Got Talent, and as such my dislike of SuBo (abbreviation for the sake of convenience) is based purely on instinct, and, if I'm honest, the fact that she's really, really ugly. Carey, I like. She's mental. And one of the fittest ugly girls around, if you know what I mean. Anyway - let's get to it.

I wasn't entirely convinced by last night's blog - and I'm really not sure how it's going to work on results night, given that the results shows tend to be defined by the absolute lack of anything happening at any point, ever. Still. Let's persevere.

Hello, Judges. Dannii's dressed like a school-teacher, presumably EXHAUSTED after showing the world her tits every show for the last four weeks. Cheryl, on the other hand, seems to be worried that the 14 year old girls might have run out of credit, and is hoping to assure Lloyd 'Shit' Daniels' continued participation by getting them out for the lads.

So - the group performance. It's 'Wake me up...'. This, unlike a lot of other Wham songs, should be very, very hard to fuck up. I love it when Joe and Stacey sing together - I find it genuinely impossible to tell which one has the female voice.

This is the gayest performance of this gay anthem EVER. Well done, kids.

So, the 'charity' single has gone in at number one, meaning it sold at least 17 copies, guaranteeing Great Ormond Street AT LEAST 17 unwanted copied of the X-Factor charity single. You know, if they can be bothered to visit the Chigwell Oxfam after Christmas.

Right. Recap done. Time for half an hour of filler. Starting with the AMAZING news that ugly people can also sing a bit. Look! LOOK AT THE UGLY WOMAN SING A BIT BETTER THAN BADLY! (I'm really just distracting myself while the ugly lady sings. It's nice to see that success hasn't changed her though, isn't it? Beneath the make-up, the hair and the expensive dress, she's still just a mentally-troubled, ugly Scottish lass, and I salute that. Has anyone ever seen her and Rab C Nesbitt in the same room? She didn't actually win, did she? Who did? Oh, never mind. She's finished. As you were. Christ, get off the stage, woman. You're scaring the children. THINK OF THE CHILDREN.)

Lines are closed, people. If Lloyd 'Shit' Daniels isn't in the bottom two, and you didn't vote for somebody else, IT'S YOUR FAULT.

I'm probably not the only one crossing my fingers and hoping that Mariah pulls out a crossbow in the middle of this song and shoots Simon in the face. Am I? Oh, come on. Fingers crossed for the mental. She's singing a PROPERLY amazing song though. A song which I've always imagined as crying-out for a mid-Atlantic, warbly R&B makeover. Click those fingers, bitch. And gospel the fuck out of it. YEAH. LOOK AT THE FIST CLENCH! SHE MEANS IT. She's also piled on the pounds - in your FACE, Kate Moss. Cake tastes better than being skinny - just ask Mariah. Who, incidentally, just went supersonic, liquefying my insides in the process. Messy. That bit aside, though, she was disappointingly non-mental. I fear Robbie and Whitney set the bar too high at the start of the live shows. Everyone's just intimidated. Believe, SuBo, and storm the fucking stage. Bite Lloyd's face off. Rip his tongue out. I DARE you. I DOUBLE dare you. Oh, fuck off then.

Right. The good bit. My money's on Jedward and Shit (typing Lloyd 'Shit' Daniels' every time is getting EXHAUSTING), but Danyl could still save the twins. I really hope he does. Olly's warming up the fist-pump.

I have a new Joe theory. I think his right ear is just a lot heavier than his left. Anyway.

Stacey's safe. And BORING. Lloyd looks lost and confused. He doesn't know where he is. Joe's safe. Obviously. Danyl's safe. Now it's just...

Fuck. Me. FUCK ME. I'm gobsmacked. Olly? Seriously? WHAT THE FUCK DOES LLOYD HAVE TO DO? WHAT THE COCKING FUCKING BASTARDLY FUCK-TWAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? I don't think you appreciate how bad Lloyd is. How DANGEROUS he is. And it upsets me.

And breathe. Ok. It's time to face facts. Dial up the sunshine bus, and baby-proof Ireland - Jedward are coming home. Let's enjoy their last performance - they've given us a lot, people.

Erm... How are Jedward going to squeeze a novelty rap into this? They're doing BOIZONE, because BOIZONE are OIRISH, and they're OIRISH. Sadly they seem to have chosen a song that showcases the fact that they really can't sing. Sadly, they're leaving us with a whimper. An extremely flat whimper. I think Louis's rather missed the 'why people like Jedward' point. I'm really, really going to miss them. And I'm obviously never going to buy anything they release.

So. Olly. Doing Clapton. Why are we being so fucking melancholy tonight? Make us laugh, you fuckers. If I had a performing monkey, I would NOT make it sing ballads. I would either make it dance around with it's scopey twin, or I'd make it neck-dance furiously. You are ALL pissing me off.

So, Simon sends the twins home. Cheryl sends the twins home. Louis obviously saves the twins, and speaks FOR A NATION, when he questions the persistence of the one known only as Shit. Dannii in the spotlight. Will she have the balls to be controversial? No. Course not. G'bye, twins. It's been fun. And, I'll be honest, I've already almost forgotten you.

Oh, I take that back. They're the sweetest kids. And their hair is AMAZING. God speed, Jedward. Here's hoping you catch that biscuit one day. And that Louis hasn't damaged you eternally. Or, indeed, internally.

Dermot just struggled to subtract one from six. He's given up on everything. And, frankly, I'm not sure I blame him. We're left with Smug-Boy, Snaggletooth, the FNAARK-Monster, Robbie Williams' Fifth Understudy, and The One They Call Shit. That doesn't fill me with Xmas cheer. This has not been a good weekend for the X-Factor. And I'm not convinced by this live-blogging thing. I'm not sure I'll do it again.


Saturday, 21 November 2009

X-Factor. Wham Night. THE LIVE SHOW.

Right. In the self-enforced absence of twitter (which I'm TOTALLY fine with, by the way), I'm trying something new with X-Factor this week. I'll be writing this post as the episode progresses, and then posting without editing. We'll see how it works.

So - we're opening with a re-run of last week, to remind us (a) how VERY DRAMATIC it was when Afrotwat left, and (b) how AMAZING Jedward were. Consider us reminded. Take us to the bridge, dramatic VO Guy!

He did.

Right. So. Wham Night. I'll confess to being a little confused by this. I didn't realise anyone really cared about Wham. Still, I suppose Andrew Ridgeley's crack habit needs supporting. Let's sell some shit, people.

Aw. Our first view of Lloyd 'Shit' Daniels. He's going to 'do his best' and 'not let Cheryl down'. Given that Cheryl only seems to require Lloyd to look dead-eyed, blond, vaguely cherubic and give Louis a bit of a stiffy, I think he'll be safe.

Dermot. The spin. We know this bit. Dermot's suggesting that 'one slip' will mean that the acts are out - presumably, Lloyd 'slipping' would involve him actually hitting a note. Again, I think he's safe.

The judges are with us. Cheryl is dressed like a gay ballerina. Louis is dressed like a gay magician. Dannii is dressed like a gay. Awesome. Game on.

Ah. So apparently it's not Wham Night - it's George Michael night. Which means a George Michael montage - nearly 30 years of extremely questionable hair choices. Dermot's just let us now that George has called the show, and is watching at home, and that he's VERY excited about it, which is a LITTLE BIT Alan Partridge, but we'll let it go. Why? Because IT'S TIME FOR LLOYD!

Has everyone heard the rumours about Lloyd 'Shit' Daniels? Well, you won't be hearing them here. I'm bigger than that.

Oh, God. It's 'trip home' week. That means tears. And, brilliantly, Lloyd's little brother trying to hug the camera rather than Lloyd. It also appears to be 'Tortuous Lloyd Analogy Week'. He's been described as 'a cat' and various other things so far. The one thing nobody's been cruel enough to describe him as is a 'singer'.

Anyway. The singing. Why does Lloyd hate the right notes so much? So very, very much? The laws of probability state that he should have accidentally hit at least two so far in the show, but no - he's resolutely that semitone off. It really is quite impressive, in a really SHIT way. He's 'singing' Faith, by the way, a song that only George Michael can pull off. And even then, only just. He's changed his hair though, and is wearing a tight t-shirt, so Louis will be happy. Cripes. He went falsetto on the last note. That was a genuinely upsetting moment.

Louis 'loved the new haircut'. I am a visionary.

Simon's wearing a tie. He looks like a mason. And a cock.

Anyway. I can't talk about Lloyd anymore. He's just Lloyd. You all know this. They don't call him Lloyd 'Shit' Daniels for nothing. (I realise I'm the only one that calls him that. But it WILL catch on.)

Time for an ad break. Let's bright-dance, people.

We're back. And it's time for Stacey. I DO hope she does some of her walk-dancing tonight. And, if we're REALLY lucky, she might sing LOUD and then QUIET. Just like Leona.

I'm actually quite enjoying the intercut visits to HMV - it's been YEARS since I've seen a CD single. In other news, Stacey's mum appears to be from the West Country. And, less surprisingly, a barely literate moron. Blah, blah, competition gets tougher, FNAARK, pressure's on, the voice... Just shut up and sing.

Ok. She's sitting as she starts. Let's hope she can manage the tricky transition from 'sitting' to 'standing' and then maybe even to 'walking'. That's a genuine ROCK STAR move - apparently, Mariah still struggles with that one. Hmm. Sitting seems to be having a bit of a negative impact on her ability to sing. Multi-tasking is tough though. We shouldn't forget that.

I will proudly state at this point that I have NO IDEA what this song is. It does have a big, vaguely high, VERY LOUD note in the middle of it though, which is presumably why Dannii chose it for Stacey. It's also very smokey. All she needs is a cannon, and she's Cher turning back time. Only with a slightly less credible face.

Blah. The judges like Stacey. Of course they do. Cowell's looking at her and seeing a Leona-Lite that he can sell to the Southern States. TOTAL DOMINATION IS ASSURED. All I see is Dobby the House-Elf who's forgotten how to breath. Or sing.

Apparently Stacey was nervous. Apparently she talks like a twat when she's nervous. You know, more so. Right. Stacey's done. Back to the entertainment. Ah. No. Sorry, time for ANOTHER ad break.


Brilliant home-coming VT for Jedward. Mum is gushing. Dad is MORTIFIED. The boys themselves are actually coming across as humble and lovely. Deal with it. Don't let the haters get you down, boys. Let's do this thing.

John and Edward are HILARIOUSLY dressed up in white suits, JUST LIKE Wham! Seriously, Louis - when will the magic end? Oh... I hate to say it, but the mid-song rap just isn't quite as exciting as it once was. John (or Edward) trying to high five a dancer and missing is brilliant though. As is John (or Edward) improvising his own, massively camp hip-wiggle dance. They're doing 'I'm Your Man', by the way. And I'm a little underwhelmed. Don't get me wrong, it was still BRILLIANT. It just wasn't 'Under Pressure' brilliant. And their 'This is Queen week, so we got to meet Queen. The band, not the ACTUAL Queen' comment will NEVER be bettered, by anyone, in any medium, ever.

Aw, Dannii says they look 'amazing'. What she means is that they look 'ridiculous'.

Louis talking about what young kids like is creepy. Fact.

Bottom line: they're the most entertaining thing about this show, and they're genuinely intellectually sub-normal, so not liking them is like bullying a kid in a wheelchair. You utter bastards.

Right. Danyl time.

Has anyone heard the rumours about Danyl, by the way? Well, you won't be hearing them here. I'm bigger than that.

Wow. Danyl's house is RUBBISH. The trip back the school was clever though. And his mum seems lovely. My affection for Danyl continues undimmed, REGARDLESS of the rumours (which I won't be mentioning). Anyway. He needs to sing now. And let's hope it's gets better than the opening few notes. He has started BADLY.

I successfully predicted this song choice for Danyl - Careless Whisper. I can see INTO COWELL'S MIND. I predict the chorus will be amazing. Yep. Right again. I know I say this every week, but Danyl's the only one left in the show who can sing. Even if he did take a bit of a Lloyd approach to the opening few bars. And, if we're honest, a few of the other bars. If not most of the bars. BUT HE'S NOT LLOYD. WHY CAN'T YOU SEE THAT?

I do love the tension between Dannii and Danyl. I swear, Danyl's convinced that she's going to launch herself across the desk and set fire to him for being sexually ambiguous. And you can tell she wants to. And I'm sorry, but Cheryl criticising Danyl for being out-of-tune whilst simultaneously audio-fisting us with a blunt Lloyd every week has made my irony-detector explode. Anyway.

Right. Olly 'IN YOUR FACE' Murs. Fiver says he does a funky dance move with his neck at some point.

Olly's trip home. He's claiming not to be a mummy's boy. Only mummy's boys say that. I like that he's wearing a pork-pie hat - it really hammers home the 'Essex Lad, Man Of The People' thing. Inadvertently, I'm sure.

Olly's doing Fast Love. There has already been A LOT of hip-thrusting. The dancers are adorned with utterly bizarre arm-ribbons. I love it. Unfortunately, all Olly is doing with this performance is reminding us just how talented a singer George Michael is. You know, when he's not off his tits.

There's the neck dance. We're back on track. He'll probably need a new move at some point, but not yet kids. Fuck bright-dancing - EVERYBODY'S doing the Olly, and moving their arms whilst keeping their head ABSOLUTELY STILL. The second half is better than the first, but then the first half was shit-staggeringly awful. Simon's giving him a standing ovation though, so it MUST have been good.

Dannii, predictably, is currently riding him like a cowgirl WITH HER EYES. Louis loved EVERYTHING about his performance, which roughly translates as 'Louis loved EVERYTHING about his tight trousers'. Someone in the crowd just screamed 'Olly, we want your babies', brilliantly speaking for both Dannii and Louis. Cheryl said something in Geordie. I'll be honest, I don't really pay much attention when Cheryl talks. Does that make me a bad person? And Simon said some words. Seriously. Loads of them. It was (probably) AMAZING. He's got shit hair though.

So, who's left? Erm... Ooh, Joe. Snaggle-Toothed Joe. Anglepoise-Headed Joe. Staple-My-Right-Ear-To-My-Right-Shoulder-And-Watch-Me-FLY Joe. I'll say now, I'm extremely excited about discovering which song he's going to make sound like it comes from a musical this week.

I'm also intrigued to see whether having far too many teeth runs in Joe's family. I didn't think people in the North East tended to have many teeth, so it's always confused me a little. And... No. They don't have too many teeth. Joe's a freak. I KNEW IT.

My respect for the judges is also growing week on week - it's really not easy to talk as much as they do without saying ANYTHING. But they do it, week in, week out. Anyway - back to the musical.

Joe's doing 'Don't Let The Sun...' And so far, this is far and away the best performance of the night. In fact, he's doing very little that I can mock him for, which is extremely inconsiderate of him. Big note coming... And he's nailed it. Bastard. That was brilliant. If I were there, I think I'd probably be standing up. You FUCKER.

So, to summarise: blah, blah, Lloyd is shit, blah, Stacey's a moron, blah, Olly/Likeability Factor/Dark Horse, blah, blah. Everybody's performance, with Joe as an honourable exception, was ultimately an extremely good advert for George Michael. Joe's probably going to win now, which will really piss the Chicago producers off. He'll be free in 2011 chaps. You'll just have to make do with Darius for another year.

And rest. I'm going to have a cup of tea. By which I mean a bottle of wine. Oh, shit, no! I'd forgotten the 'recap'. Here's mine: Lloyd was awful; Stacey was LOUD; Jedward were energetic, like a pair of special kids chasing a biscuit; Danyl was also LOUD; Olly was a cheeky, chirpy, wide-boy, and will be fine; and Joe was a thoughtless fucker, who ruined everybody's fun by being really good. Lloyd and Jedward in the bottom two. Although Danyl's ABYSMAL opening might just save the twins. Dermot closes by (somewhat optimistically) assuming that George Michael is still watching the show at home (presumably, he's so fucked on ketamine and MDMA he doesn't know what he's watching anymore), and then scares the shit out of us with a massive SuBo VT, and we're done. G'night. See you tomorrow. Our X-Factor weekend is halfway through here. And all that.

So - there you have it. Live-blogging isn't quite the same as tweeting. I'm not sure it's worked that well. Let me know if you think it's an experiment worth continuing with for tomorrow's results show.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Twitter is...

[The below list has already appeared in an earlier post, but people seemed to like it - as such, I thought I'd publish it separately so that people don't have to read through the pro-twitter polemic that originally preceded it. I've added in a few extra points just to make this vaguely defensible as a 'new' post.]

The twitter experience is nigh on impossible to define - it's different for everybody. Here are a few thoughts on what it's been for me:

- twitter is following Stephen Fry, Ashton Kutcher, Lance Armstrong and Oprah because you think you're supposed to, then unfollowing them once you realise they're dull

- twitter is accepting that Richard Bacon is more entertaining than Stephen Fry

- twitter is developing a crush on the funny girl who's probably nowhere near as hot in real life as she is in her profile picture, then discovering that she is, and that she's even funnier

- twitter is sharing an interesting article with people you know will find it interesting

- twitter is getting really really ANGRY about something, and then slightly embarrassed about that self-same anger

- twitter is clicking on a link you know you're going to enjoy just because of the person it came from

- twitter is learning a shitload of stuff that you didn't know

- twitter is not as serious or important as some people would have you believe

- twitter is not a bad thing. Saying twitter is a bad thing is like saying words are bad things. Of course it would be nice if the idiots didn't ever say anything, but the same is equally true of real life

- twitter is wishing Graham Linehan would stop being outraged by EVERYTHING, ALL OF THE TIME

- twitter is an awful lot of really good people who DEFINITELY have better things to do, but have chosen not to

- twitter is wishing Caitlin Moran was, if not your mum, then at least a drunk aunt

- twitter is getting stupidly excited the first time a celebrity @ replies you

- twitter is waking up to the news that Russell Davies is off to the lido. At least, it used to be

- twitter is getting drunk and saying something you regret

- twitter. Makes. X-Factor. Better.

- twitter is many an afternoon lost, but rarely an afternoon wasted

- twitter is NOT where the kids are

- twitter is CAPITAL LETTERS for emphasis

- twitter is the songs from the 80s that you hadn't thought about in years

- twitter is a place where you can appreciate the Backstreet Boys without having to pretend it's ironic

- twitter is a surprisingly evocative diary of days and months past

- twitter is precisely as interesting and as boring, and as frivolous and as serious, as you choose to make it

- twitter is not facebook status updates

- twitter is whatever you make it. Some of these points will apply to you - a lot may not. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

There's No 'I' In Suit. If You Know What I Mean.

Because there is an 'I' in Suit, obviously. But there isn't one in Account Team. And that's the point. Any Account Team is only as good as its weakest member - it doesn't matter if you're the best Board Account Director in the world, if your Account Managers aren't up to scratch, it's all going to go wrong at some point. And it works the other way too - you might be the most buttoned-down, driven and smart Account Manager in the world, but if the drive and leadership isn't coming from the people above you, and you're not getting the support you need from your Account Exec, it's all going to go wrong at some point. And one of the main things a Suit needs to avoid is everything going wrong, at whatever point.

So bear this in mind - it doesn't matter how good you are, or, more realistically, how good you think you are. You can't do it on your own. And I hope, for your sake, that you're as lucky with the people you work with in your career as I have been thus far in mine. Because a team of Suits working together is a beautiful thing to behold.

Almost as beautiful as these chaps:

With thanks to Tom for the original, and questionable, link.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Being A Decent AD - It's All About Swings And Roundabouts

So. You're in advertising. In fact, you've been in advertising for three or four years now: you've got a few campaigns under your belt; you've worked on a couple of pitches; you've started to get your head round managing an Account Exec or two; inevitably, your thoughts start to turn towards promotion - you want to be an Account Director.

So what do you do? Do you start pestering your Head of Client Service, asking when, when, when and when you'll be promoted? Of course you don't. You're better than that. No, you arrange a catch-up with him or her, in which you set out a sensible time-line, and establish exactly what you need to be doing in your day-to-day job to ensure that they can't help but promote you. Because you know, as all wise Suits know, that the best way to become an Account Director is to do the job of one. But that's the easy bit.

What do you do when promotion arrives? In many ways, this is the hardest step you'll have to take in your career. Promotion from Account Exec to Account Manager is exciting, and it's quite right that it should be celebrated, but the differences between the jobs isn't that huge - the role of an Account Manager comes with greater responsibility and there's inevitably wider scope, but it is, at the most fundamental level, more, and bigger of the same. But the step from Account Manager to Account Director is different - not least in the sense that you'll suddenly be asked to lead (or, if you like, 'direct') a rather larger bunch of people than you have before, something that I can tell you from experience can be pretty intimidating.

Fortunately, there's one simple rule that will help you through these tough times:

Don't be an arse.

Now, I realise that probably sounds a little facetious - hell, it is a little facetious. But there's a serious point to it.

You see, I have a theory about Account Directors: that there are two (no more, no less) schools. There's the 'Learn From What You Went Through' school, and there's the 'My Turn Now' school.

The first school are the people who, when working with AMs and AEs, look back on their experience in the roles, remember the good stuff their ADs did and try and do more of it, and remember the bad stuff and try and do less of it. They remember how tough things can get, and they remember how people helped them get through it - they are better at their job because of the tough times they went through.

The second school (and I'm fortunate to have worked with very few of these) tend to take more of an 'I got screwed over when I was an AM - now it's MY turn to do the screwing'. These are the 'I worked late every day when I was an AE - now YOU will work late every day. Just because.' people. Everybody has worked with at least one of these.

The lesson here is a quick one: be the first one; don't be the second one.

There will, of course, always be situations where you have to ask people to do things they're not particularly going to want to do - that's the nature of the job, particularly (although far from exclusively) at a more junior level. But making the effort to put yourself in the shoes of the people you get to boss around might just make it a slightly more pleasant experience for the lot of you. And as an AD, if the experience isn't pleasant, it'll be your fault. Because everything is.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Why I Love Twitter. And Why I Need A Break.

2009 has been the year of many things: the year of the first Irish Grand Slam since nineteen fifty something; the year pop ate itself on X-Factor; the year Gordon Brown got somebody's name slightly wrong in a heartfelt hand-written letter; and the year Russell Brand got in trouble for banging a grandfather's granddaughter. But, much more than that, it's been the year of twitter. Since Stephen Fry talked of its joys on Jonathan Ross (nothing gets the digerati more excited than having their brand discussed on TV), the UK has been in twitter's thrall. In this post I'm going to look at the influence twitter now has, and whether or not that's a good thing, I'm going to talk briefly about 'what twitter is', because, let's face it, nobody seems to know, and then finally, I'll close with a quick explanation of why you won't be seeing me on twitter for a while, much as I love it.

Because it's true that twitter's users love twitter. Through no real design of my own, I got involved in twitter fairly early on, back in 2007. There were only 6 of us on-line back then (statistics author's own) so receiving a text every time somebody updated was actually a viable proposition. Basically, twitter in 2007 was just Rory Sutherland, Mark Earls and I chatting about Welsh Rugby. Simpler times - it was nice. But I digress.

While the affection for twitter of those of us who tweet continues unabashed, the rest of the world (and the mainstream media in particular) continues to mistrust it, largely because nobody can work out 'what it's for'. And recently there have been a couple of incidents that have convinced a large number of people that while we might not be certain 'what it's for', they can be pretty certain that it's bloody dangerous, and needs to be stopped.

Now, I'm not going to suggest that twitter is perfect. As is too often the case with a predominantly liberal group of people, there is a streak of self-righteousness running through twitter which can be pretty ugly when it rises to the fore. In the last couple of months, there have been outbursts of piety about one rude guy being rude to another rude guy, a dickhead doing something dickheadish and writing about it, like a dickhead, and a comedian famed for making bad taste jokes making a joke that some deemed to be in bad taste, and those are just a couple of examples. Those incidents led to the rude chap losing his job, everybody thinking the dickhead was a dickhead and a fat-faced comedian getting even more publicity for his latest tour of fat-faced comedy. Whilst the phrase 'lynch-mobbing' is melodramatic and sensationalist in its own right, it certainly wouldn't be unreasonable to suggest that twitter's liberal crown slipped slightly, and that in their enthusiastic victimisation of individuals that they felt had victimised some other individuals some twitter users were redefining irony at a terrifying pace. It's worth saying though that in neither of those cases was the voice of twitter united.

Because, of course, as any twitter user will tell you, there is no such thing as a 'twitter voice' - although it can often seem that way. Twitter, by its very nature, is self-determining. You follow the people you choose to follow, and in turn people choose whether or not to follow you - inherently, you end up following people of a similar mindset. And if somebody turns out to be the sort of person that you don't want to listen to, well then you unfollow them, and you don't have to listen anymore.

But they'll still be there. Because this is democracy - this is freedom of speech, and that means everybody gets a voice, no matter how fundamentally twattish that voice may be. Which brings me onto the biggie - Jan Moir.

I'm not going to go into detail regarding the Jan Moir circus - people much smarter than I have done that elsewhere. Long story short: idiot wrote hateful and ill-informed piece about poor chap; world pointed out that piece was hateful and ill-informed, and that idiot was indeed an idiot; idiot apologised (sort of - clarified/backtracked is probably a better way to think of it); world moved on. (Opinions all very much author's own. Well, mine, Charlie Brooker's and the right-thinking liberal world.)

It is agreed that twitter played a key role in what went on - the argument is about what that role was. The accepted view, in the mainstream media at least, is that twitter played, at best, the role of rabble-rouser, and at worst of censor, rising up in moral indignation at the supposed saying-of-the-unsayable, and in doing so lined Free Speech up and kicked it squarely in the nuts. I'd love to say that this was the reaction of the Daily Mail (and it was), but it went further than that - only last week Radio 4 devoted a half hour to discussion of just how bad twitter is for free speech (at one point Michael Buerke stopped a so-called twitter-defender mid-flow, because they didn't 'have time to talk about a more positive example of twitter in action').

But this, to me, was where the twitter-defenders went wrong. They shouldn't have been looking for other, positive examples - they should have been talking about how fantastic a role twitter played in exposing Jan Moir. You see I, along with hundreds of thousands of other people, was involved in the "Jan Moir Twitter Storm", and it certainly didn't feel like it was about censorship, or the denial of the right to speech, to me: quite the opposite. Yes, twitter was outraged, but it wanted people to know why - twitterers wanted people to read what Moir had written, and then they wanted them to be as furious as they were, which to me is as integral an element of free speech as Moir's right to pen the original article. Censorship obviously has no place in a free, liberal, permissive society - but neither does the right to escape censure when you have published or proclaimed something utterly deplorable. In another time, Moir's article would probably have avoided the eyes of the people that might have found it offensive, and it would have passed unchallenged. As it was, her indefensible views were held up to a global audience, and they were judged accordingly. Twitter is an agent, an enabler of free speech, and Moir-gate proved that conclusively.

And yes, there were idiots. A few people apparently posted Moir's home address on-line, and several people retweeted false allegations about or views on the original article without having actually read it. These people are fuckwits. But twitter didn't create these fuckwits - it just gave them a voice. And like all fuckwits, they're easily ignored.

Because that's the joy of twitter, and what makes it brilliant - every user creates their own twitter experience by following the people they find interesting, and, more often than not, like-minded. Bigots (or your more common or garden idiots) expose themselves fairly quickly (it's amazing how naked 140 characters can make you feel), at which point people tend to stop listening to them. It's called unfollowing. It's easy. It's cathartic. And it means you don't have to listen to the idiots.

Because it's when you stop listening to the idiots that twitter becomes brilliant. That's when twitter becomes a bunch of interesting people sharing interesting articles, clips, stories, facts, conversations, witticisms or just bouts of inventing swearing. For Suits, it's an invaluable source of information, news and industry gossip. Yes, twitter can be a champion of free speech, but more often than that, it's just fun. I've got to know an awful lot of intelligent, interesting, smart and funny people through twitter, and formed genuine relationships with them, and I'm an anonymous sprite without a head, which doesn't make that sort of thing easy. So if you don't tweet, I'd urge you to start: you'll discover a lot of interesting things, and you'll discover them before anyone else; but more than that, you'll encounter an awful lot of very, very good people. And that's a good thing to have.

So what is twitter? I don't really think that’s a question I can answer - it's far too many things to far too many people. I do, though, think it's possible to have a view on what the twitter experience is, with inevitable bias towards my own experience - here are my starters for ten:

- twitter is following Stephen Fry, Ashton Kutcher, Lance Armstrong and Oprah because you think you're supposed to, then unfollowing them once you realise they're dull

- twitter is accepting that Richard Bacon is more entertaining than Stephen Fry

- twitter is developing a crush on the funny girl who's probably nowhere near as hot in real life as she is in her profile picture, then discovering that she is, and that she's even funnier

- twitter is sharing an interesting article with people you know will find it interesting

- twitter is getting really really ANGRY about something, and then slightly embarrassed about that self-same anger

- twitter is clicking on a link you know you're going to enjoy just because of the person it came from

- twitter is learning a shitload of stuff that you didn't know

- twitter is wishing Graham Linehan would stop being outraged by EVERYTHING, ALL OF THE TIME

- twitter is wishing Caitlin Moran was, if not your mum, then at least a drunk aunt

- twitter is getting stupidly excited the first time a celebrity @ replies you

- twitter is getting drunk and saying something you regret

- twitter. Makes. X-Factor. Better.

- twitter is many an afternoon lost, but rarely an afternoon wasted

- twitter is NOT where the kids are

- twitter is CAPITAL LETTERS for emphasis

- twitter is the songs from the 80s that you hadn't thought about in years

- twitter is a place where you can appreciate the Backstreet Boys without having to pretend it's ironic

- twitter is a surprisingly evocative diary of days and months past

- twitter is precisely as interesting and as boring, and as frivolous and as serious, as you choose to make it

- twitter is not facebook status updates

- twitter is whatever you make it. Some of these points will apply to you - a lot may not. Let me know what you think in the comments.

And so to the final point. Despite all of that, I just wanted to let you know that I'm going to be taking a break from twitter for a while. You'd be surprised how tiring living a pseudonymous existence can be, and I need a bit of a break. It might be a few weeks, it might end up being just a couple of days. AdLand Suit isn't going anywhere - I've invested far too much in it - but I'm going to do a bit of thinking about what I want to do with it. I have some ideas, but frankly I need to get the bastardly swine flu out of my head before I can make a proper decision. So I'm taking a twitter-break. I'll still be checking email, so I'll see DMs, comments on here and (obviously) emails themselves, but I won't be tweeting and I won't be looking at twitter itself. Take care of yourselves, and keep making twitter brilliant - I'll see you all shortly, quite possibly with some exciting news.