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.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Bankers Enter The World Of The Teenager, Swiftly Realise That It's Scary And Confusing

I'm sure that you have been overwhelmed, as I have, by the breadth of coverage given to the writings of one Matthew Robson, a Morgan Stanley intern, in the last couple of days. If you have managed to avoid it, than (a) you're extremely lucky, and (b) you should have a look at this before you read any further.

So first - to Matthew. Young Mr Robson, God bless his mother-bought cottons, recently undertook two weeks work experience at
Morgan Stanley. Work experience (or 'internships', as they seem to be known nowadays) is no longer the luxury, or indulgence it was when I was a nipper - it's now a vital, and indeed compulsory element of the curriculum. And fair play to the lad - banking's a fairly interesting place to be at the moment.

Whilst there, Matthew wrote a paper on the media consumption of teens. Again, fair enough. I've asked work experience monkeys (or 'interns') to do similar things. It sounds like quite a fun project, and it certainly would have kept him quiet for a couple of days. The mistake that his supervisors made, as I'm sure you've all already guessed, was not just to read what he'd written, but to take it seriously. Oh dear.

I don't think it would be too cruel of me to suggest that a fifteen year old who chooses to spend his summer working at Morgan Stanley is not entirely representative of the UK's teen population.

It might be a little more cruel (but not wholly unreasonable) to suggest that, in the vernacular of MY youth, a fifteen year old who chose to spend his summer at Morgan Stanley might be 'a bit of a loser'.

It would almost certainly be cruel of me to suggest that if Matthew spent a little less time locked up in his bedroom talking to his 'friends' whilst playing Call Of Duty, he might look a little bit less translucent, and he might one day dare to dream of kissing a girl. (The inverted commas on 'friends' were definitely cruel.)

But enough of Matthew. He knows not what he does. Hell, I'm twice his age, and I'm still chucking my precocious views on this, that, and indeed the other all over the interweb as if I have half a clue what I'm talking about. And if his claim that "by the second week [he] felt he really knew what a bank did" is valid, then he's a long way ahead of most of the bankers who seemed to think that entailed spending the last 20 years screwing the economies of the Western World into the ground. (Unless, of course, that's what Matthew means.)

The embarrassment in all of this, and the bit that's driven me to post, is just how ludicrous the adult reaction to his (brace yourself) 'insight' has been. For the love of God, people - get a grip. Let's have a quick look at those 'insights', shall we? (I'd ask you to imagine the inverted commas around the word 'insight' for the rest of this post.)

Insight No. 1. Teenagers aren't on Twitter. No, they're not. But we knew that. Twitter is populated by people who work in advertising, people who work in marketing, or people who used to work in advertising or marketing, lost their jobs, and now have to describe themselves as 'Social Media Consultants' who can DEFINITELY make me millions. And that's fine.

Insight No. 2. A lot of teenage decisions are cost-driven. Well, smack me down and call me Susan. This changes EVERYTHING.

Insight No. 3. Teenagers don't use phones - they talk to each other on-line while playing Call of Duty. Well... Almost. The reality is, of course, that this has nothing to do with teenagers - Gamers talk to each other on-line while playing Call of Duty. They also don't kiss girls until they're in their late 20s. These aren't insights so much as Universal And Eternal Truths.

I could carry on, but this is turning into an attack on Matthew and his life again, which is really not the point. The point is the ridiculous glee with which the supposedly adult world (and specifically the financial sector) has leapt on all of this. It's Christmas Day, little Tommy has just unwrapped a pair of walkie-talkies, and the drunk grandads and uncles have got all over-excited because they don't need to be linked by bits of string.

So, if anyone at Morgan Stanley is reading this, can I humbly offer this 'insight': please stop worrying about Twitter, stop worrying about on-line gaming, stop worrying about Facebook, and stop worrying about fifteen year olds. Your job, for which you are extremely well-remunerated, is to worry about banking - and perhaps, dare I say it, to work out exactly what it is that banks should be doing. If Matthew Robson can crack it in a fortnight, it shouldn't take you guys more than a couple of years.


andrea n said...

It's hard to criticise that without criticising poor Matthew but I'm 20 so I have an excuse. I was his age only 5 years ago when half the teenage population wanted a Furby and the other half was on speed and those who couldn't afford it inhaling sage and smoking cigarettes washed down with Lucozade for breakfast or throwing up in the back of Fabric.

Excuse me while I take my cynicism somewhere else but I bet they'll discover something like 'teenage girls are afraid to ask about contraception' too!

crmitchell said...

'Trisha Jaffe, his headteacher at Kidbrooke School, Greenwich'... the important point here is Kidbrooke School. I am sure I have heard of that school before. Could the subtle workings of Jamie Oliver be behind dearest Matthew's insights?!

Anonymous said...

" I was his age only 5 years ago when half the teenage population wanted a Furby and the other half was on speed and those who couldn't afford it inhaling sage and smoking cigarettes washed down with Lucozade for breakfast or throwing up in the back of Fabric."

Point to andrea!

AdLand Suit said...

Agreed - "Half the teenage population wanted a Furby and the other half was on speed" is my favourite of the insights Mr Robson has generated, even if it was only indirectly.

Can we ask which side of that fence you fell, Miss Nastase?

Eaon Pritchard said...

heh. good point in the last para. fiddling while Rome burns...fix your bloody industry before it destroys us all.

andreea n said...

I liked whoever said that there is no crisis, the economy is getting a reboot. Think it was Mr. Frith.

And Mr. ALS - have you never seen Fight Club?

Åsk Dabitch said...

I thought monkeyman, er, I mean Steve Ballmer said that in Cannes. Or perhaps you're thinking of someone else because Ballmer said "reset". (which is not the same thing as a reboot / nerd)

Matthews "file under obvious" insights were published in Swedish papers as well, where everyone seemed to be taking it oh-so-seriously. I was a teenager before online and cellphones even existed (holy crap, I'm old) and our way of keeping in touch was calling the phone booths in the tube stations to find who was hanging out there, and where we might be going that night. We played pinball, went to concerts and broke into abandoned buildings and traded all of our horror-flicks, hard to find Hong Kong movies and latest concert bootleg LP's on tape (remember them) over sneakernet. At least we got out and got some fresh air.

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