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.

Friday, 30 October 2009

I Love You, Campaign, But You Got It Wrong

You can click on this to make it bigger. Should you want to.

Yesterday, as some of you may have noticed, Campaign published a teaser for their 'end of year honours list' - 'Adland's Top Ten Twitterers'. Like the lovely fools that they are, they inadvertently included me alongside such genuine advertising luminaries as Rory Sutherland, Graham Fink, Ian Tait and the intimidatingly brilliant Amelia Torode.

I was obviously massively flattered, but... I hate to say it: Campaign got it wrong. I don't belong in that crowd. As I said in the last tweet they quoted, I mostly just make cock jokes and get excited about cricket. I am to twitter what Howard Donald is to Take That - it's nice that I'm there, but you'd probably get by ok without me if I went off to Germany to be a DJ. I'd like to think I'm Robbie. But I'm probably Howard.

So, in a desire to put right what once went wrong, I just wanted to quickly highlight the adland twitterers that twitter really couldn't cope without - the Gary Barlows of the twittersphere. I thought for a while about breaking it down into useful/interesting/insightful/etc, but then I bored myself, so I'm just going to give you three people who are much, much funnier than me - the Backstreet Boys to my N*Sync, to continue the boyband analogy. Or the All Saints to my Eternal, to mix it up a bit. Because twitter shouldn't be about getting AA Gill or Jan Moir sacked, and it shouldn't be about calling Nick Griffin a racist (unless it's done in an inventively sweary way), and it CERTAINLY should be about fucking twibbons. Twitter should entertain and inform. And these people are entertaining and informative. Yes.

First off, the indomitable Janet Belmot, self-proclaimed President Of The Internet, and the Biggest of the Big Thinkers. Here are some of the things that she has said that are funnier than the things that I have said:

Secondly, the simply marvellous RealMenTweet, who we should all respect and be nice to, because not only is he VERY funny, he's also a sensitive soul (he also blogs better than me). As with Mrs B, here are three things he's said that are funnier than anything I've EVER said:

"YES! That guy who had the same jumper as me has been made redundant. No more embarrassing moments in the lift."

"my tickly cough has developed into a full-blown sniffle"

"wow that's depressing. just set myself a reminder to remove nasal hair"

And finally, the (some might say) award-winning Elika, who, to coin a phrase, sneezes funnier tweets than I can craft. Here are some examples from JUST THE LAST TWO DAYS:

"My boss is astonished at how much I know which PROVES I have a STUPID face."

"Holy Jesus. I *have* to stop twatting the phone into my face when I answer it."

"I hope I'm hormonal, otherwise I'm the sort of person who cries at How to Look Good Naked. Like, naturally."

So there you have it, people. Be on twitter, because it's ace. But don't believe Campaign's scurrilous and flattering lies. There's more to life than Howard Donald. SERIOUSLY.

I am, though, funnier than Mark Wnek. I mean, please.

Anyway, here's something brilliant and vaguely Halloweeny. Because it's a brilliant day and it's nearly Halloween. You're very welcome.

Monday, 26 October 2009

All It Takes For Evil To Prevail

Latterly, I've begun to realise that whilst everything advertising-related may be the fault of Suits, there's a whole other world out there - a world in which everything is not necessarily our fault. At first, I found this vaguely reassuring, as you might imagine. But then it started to worry me - if things aren't my fault, then how am I supposed to control them? How can I make sure that things don't go wrong? Short answer, I can't. And that is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

But it's ok - I worked it out. I've established whose fault everything else is, and the problems those people cause can, as such, be kept in check. So, here's the new rule.

"If it's advertising-related, it's your fault. If it's anything else, blame the 14 year old girls."

There. Problem solved. What's that? You don't believe me? Fine. In that case, here's a list of a few things that are specifically and explicitly the fault of 14 year old girls with pay-as-you-go Sony Bloody Ericssons:

1. Lloyd from X-Factor
2. Twilight
3. Everything that's pink
4. Craig David
5. Westlife
6. Avril La-Fucking-Vigne
7. Goths
8. Bratz Dolls
9. Nervous, gibbering 14 year old boys
10. Lloyd from X-Factor
11. Hannah Montana
12. The fact that anyone still cares about Billy-Ray Cyrus (see 11)
13. The charts in general
14. Lloyd from X-Factor
15. Ponies. All ponies.
16. Racism and the BNP (this one's slightly more tenuous, but undeniable if you don't think about it too hard)
17. The death of Smash Hits and Top of the Pops
18. McFly
19. That cock from High School Musical. And High School Musical in general
20. Louis Walsh
21. Posters with kittens on them
22. The Spice Girls
23. Everyone from X-Factor (including Lloyd)
24. Films with Britney Spears in them
20. Rampant consumerism (driven by all the previous points), which via over-spending and unmanageable debt has brought the Western Economy to its knees, leading to the worst recession the world has seen in recent times, and widespread unemployment, which will inevitably lead to mass murder and cannibalism.

So, there we have it. Stop the 14 year old girls, save the world. As a great man once nearly said, "All it takes for 14 year old girls to prevail is for the grown-ups to do nothing."

Thursday, 22 October 2009

How TUPE Fucks Everyone

You may not be familiar with TUPE (or Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) to give it its full, somewhat grand title). Unfortunately, what with this whole credit crunch malarkey, it's safe to say that a whole lot more people are now than would have been a year ago.

This post isn't going to be a detailed legal explanation of TUPE (if that's what you're after, I'd recommend these Government monkeys - and to be honest, if you're looking for detailed legal information on this blog then you need the sort of help that I just can't provide). Instead, I wanted to illustrate my views on TUPE with a tale based on a confection of true and imagined events. One of those "Any resemblance to real people, living or dead..." type tales. Because you see, when it comes to advertising, TUPE fucks everyone - especially the people it sets out to protect.

So, picture the scene. You've spent the last few years of your life working at a London-based Agency - and you've been working damn hard, too. You've had a variety of Clients, but one has taken up more time than most. In fact, if you were to check your time-sheets you'd see that for the last six months, more than 80% of your billable hours have been recorded against this particular Client. And why not? You like the Client, the Client likes you and the work you're producing is doing a pretty good job. Everything is right with the world.

Except it's not. Because whilst you've been getting on with advertising and selling your Client's range of premium ceramic tiles to a variety of happy customers, the part of your Client's business responsible for sourcing new revenue streams (they're probably based in Frankfurt, or somewhere equally awful) has made a couple of dodgy investments. It turns out Iceland wasn't the best place to store the pension fund, and that Kansas-based property group was definitely not the best idea they've ever had. In short, they're fucked, and they need money.

And so they turn to your Client, and inform him of a number of 'Potential Areas For Saving' that they, working with their partners in Procurement, have identified - needless to say, your Agency is one of them. And so, to cut a long story short, your Client (who, let's not forget, has a family to feed) calls a review. There's no issue with the relationship, no issue with the work, but his procurement people have advised him that the best way of driving down costs is with a review.

And sure enough, they're proved right. And it turns out that when push comes to shove, your Agency just can't match the fee proposal that's come in from a regional Agency in Manchester. So your much-loved Client is off. Your Agency, unable to find another role for you, is forced to make you redundant. All is not lost though - you take a hefty pay-off, as befits someone who's been around for as long as you as, and take a well-earned break while you consider your options.

Except that's not what happens. Because of TUPE. As the majority of your working-life was spent working on your ceramic tile Client's business, his new Agency are legally obliged to take over your contract, whether they want/need to or not. But you'll be ok. You're guaranteed the same salary (or better, if you can negotiate it - but given that they probably don't want you, that's pretty unlikely), and you still have a job. Job's a good 'un.

Except that it's in Manchester. And, whatever your personal feelings about such a move, it's fair to say that your family are pretty happy where they are. And, let's face it, if you'd wanted to live in Manchester, you already would be living in Manchester.

Not a problem, though. You can just turn down the TUPE-based offer, and claim redundancy instead, right? Because TUPE's designed to protect the workers, and as such you must be in control, right?

Except that you can't. TUPE, the law that's designed to protect you, doesn't take what you want to do into account. Instead, it reacts as if it's your drunk aunt at Christmas, and upon being told that you're allergic to nuts screams that, "IN THAT CASE, YOU CAN'T HAVE ANY DESSERT AT ALL, YOU BASTARDING SHIT."

Of course, you're more than free to turn down the move to Manchester, but you will essentially be resigning from your new Agency. Which means you get nothing. Nothing at all. All because of TUPE. TUPE that, just to stress the point, is there to protect you. So it's nearly Christmas, and your choices are: move to a city you don't want to live in, to work for an Agency you don't want to work for; or quit your job and hope things turn out ok. All because of TUPE. Happy Christmas.

Of course, it doesn't always work like that. Perhaps the winning Agency is also in London, and you're actually quite excited about going to work there - hurrah! Granted, they'd probably rather not hire you, fresh start and all that, but you can definitely cope with that. Or maybe the Client didn't call the review because of costs at all, but because he was sick of you and the work you produce - he's going to be THRILLED when he turns up on the first day to see you sitting in reception.

So, to summarise, TUPE is ace, as long as: your Client loves you but hates your Agency; the new Agency is somewhere you want to work, in a town/city in which you want to live; and said new Agency has been trying to poach you for the last year and a half. Otherwise, you end up having to choose between unemployment or doing something you really don't want to do; your Client is unable to fire the team he's trying to fire, he just changes the name on the back of their business cards; and your new Agency ends up having to pay people that they didn't want working for them in the first place.

Or, to put it another way, when it comes to advertising, TUPE fucks everyone.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Bastards Of Advertising - Richmond Sausages

This is a television ad for Richmond sausages. Our hero is, for want of a better word, a Bastard. One of those Bastards that want to build luxury flats on hills - you know the sort. Bastards. He's having a spot of lunch with his slightly more portly Bastard friend, who probably drowns kittens and reads the Daily Express in his spare time. We shouldn't feel too bad though, because they're eating in a restaurant so ball-achingly bad that the chef proudly announces that he uses Richmond sausages. Sausages that are, food fact fans, 51% pork. Or, to put it another way, sausages that are only slightly more than half meat. This is food for Bastards, by Bastards, with Bastards. These aren't sausages, they are near-sausages. Almost-sausages. Slightly-sausagey-bags-of-gristle-and-shite.

This culinary chaos is dwarfed, though, by the dramatic scenes outside the prandial shit-fest. As the food is served, a gang of quite literally five or six protesters are shouting and waving 'No Luxury Flats Here' placards at a nice man on a shiny digger who's really just trying to do his job. The tension is palpable. Fortunately, one mouthful of almost-sausage triggers a Proustian deluge of memories of days when it was quite literally 'all fields round here'. Inspired, the former Bastard jumps to his feet and starts waving ineffectually at the window, a gesture dwarfed in its futility only by Richmond asking us to believe that their products are actually sausages.

So, there you have it. Richmond make almost-sausages for Bastards that used not to be Bastards and would like to be ineffectual Not-Bastards again.

And so it is with great pleasure that I invite everybody involved in making both this ad and Richmond kinda-sausages is to be the inaugural members of my Bastards Of Advertising Hall Of Bastardry. You are all Bastards.

Thursday, 8 October 2009


Unashamedly, and completely. I heart them, crazy upper-case/lower-case wackiness and all - so much so that I'll even go to the trouble of typing their name how they'd want it to be typed.

I love that they're about as old-fashioned, book-club-esque a business as its possible to be, and yet are thriving in this modern/digital/2.0 nonsense world.

I love that they love films. I don't know why I believe them when they tell me that they love films, but I do.

I love that they showed Blockbuster up for the soulless, tedious megalith that they were.

I love that I can keep the DVDs for as long as I like. Again, screw you Blockbuster.

I love their reviews.

I love that when they recommend films, they actually tend to be good films.

I love that they say films, not movies.

I love their logo. It's utter rubbish, obviously, but I love it nonetheless.

But most of all, I love that after sending them an email late last night letting them know that the films they'd sent me a fortnight ago STILL hadn't arrived (because, lest we forget, the Royal Mail are BASTARDS), I received a personal reply this morning, written by a real person (with a name and EVERYTHING), apologising for something that is in no way their fault, and offering to compensate me. CRM at its finest, and I've gone from being a frustrated customer to one who writes gushing posts about them and their overflowing wonderfulness on the interweb.

You are good people, LOVEFiLM. I salute you.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

You'll Always Be An Account Exec To Somebody (or, Everything Is Your Fault (3))

It's been a while, but it's time for another one of those fairly-noticed and much-liked-a-bit posts on tips for Junior Suits. Except that this one isn't really for Junior Suits - it's for all of us.

This morning, I was out of the office having a working breakfast (which I know sounds incredibly pretentious, but it's better than 'breakfast meeting', and is slightly different from 'breakfast with colleagues') when I got a call from my CEO. He had a call at 9am, and needed somebody to print out some media schedules for him. Obviously, the traditional process in such a circumstance would have been for me to delegate to some monkey or other, and then order another Bloody Mary - and in circumstances like this, I'm a big fan of tradition.

However, for reasons I won't go into here, there was nobody else in the office on this occasion. And so I hopped up, nipped back to the Agency (fortunately I was only breakfasting over the road), ran out a copy of the media schedules and the accompanying note from Client, popped them on my CEO's desk, and returned to my Eggs Benedict.

And the point is this. Every September a bunch of Junior Suits start, full of excitement and optimism about what their career will hold. Sure, they won't enjoy the 10 week summer holidays anymore, and getting out of bed on a Monday morning is less optional than it has been for the past three or four years, but the glamour and thrill of Life As An Adman will more than make up for it. By now, though, they will already be starting to realise that Life As A Junior Adman involves an awful lot of photo-copying, binding, presentation-tweaking, scanning and general dogsbody-ing. (Although the anecdotes they tell their banking friends will mostly focus on the Soho House lunch they enjoyed with the CEO in their third week.)

But they'll console themselves with the fact that it won't last forever, and that one day they can forget how the photo-copier works, delegate the binding in aeternum and pretend they never knew how to open a job-number. That's what AEs and PAs are for, right?

Yeah. Sorry. No.

One of the facts of Life As A Suit that you just have to accept is that no matter how senior you are, and no matter how long you have been in the business, you will always be an Account Exec to somebody. And whilst you may well have your own Account Execs to delegate to, they won't always be around. And if they're not and you don't know how to un-jam the photo-copier, then even if you're a Head of Client Service it will still, now, then and always, be your fault. Because everything is.