The end of my first decade of Thinking Hard? No, the start of my second!

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Ten years ago I sat at my desk looking out onto Ashburnham Loan without a single client.  I’d walked away from my job as CEO of a Stock Market listed communications group.  Just like three years earlier I had walked away from my role as MD of my own advertising agency (50 strong and highly regarded).

Why had I done this?

(After all, to lose one senior level role is unfortunate, to lose two is downright carelessness.)

But I hadn’t lost either of them.

I’d elected to change my viewpoint on work.  To get out of the hamster’s wheel of eternal financial year ends, HR responsibilities, client bum sucking, to keep the corporate machine rolling on when I didn’t always respect all of the clients or all of the work my team was doing for them.

And that’s actually the crux of it. “the work my team was doing for them“.

I, personally, wasn’t actually a net contributor to anything that came out of either of those agencies.

I was simply a manager, albeit a senior one.

I didn’t want to be a manager.

It’s boring.

And so I walked away.

Twice.

Ten years later I’ve completed 694 creative (mainly) projects for no fewer than 80 different clients.  The vast majority of which I can say I’m proud of.  And have enjoyed the process, liked the people I’ve worked with, and for, and made many new friends along the way.

In fact, it’s the longest I’ve held down a job in my life.

And it’s allowed me to indulge in other things I consider worthwhile; NABS, FCT, The Lyceum, Creative Edinburgh

Thanks guys.

Thanks very, very much.

I hope some of you will stick around for the next ten.

How not to kill your clients.

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So impressed and inspired was I by Atul Gawande’s astonishing book, The Checklist Manifesto, about how a seemingly mundane tool such as a checklist can reduce deaths on the operating table by half, that I’ve been pondering on how the same could apply to the world of advertising.

His inspiration was the world of airline piloting and he took the principals of this industry and applied them to his own.

I’ve done the same for the advertising industry and will be sharing them with an audience of account handlers at The Leith Agency on May 6th.

My presentation covers all aspects of advertising strategy and how to minimise your chances of getting it all horribly wrong, and contributing to the 89% of advertising that, according to Dave Trott, simply does not get noticed and consequently has no chance of working.

If you’re interested I could potentially be persuaded to share it with you.

(But only after The Leith Agency have had first dibs.)

Lessons in life and in business.

I was asked to contribute (as Chairman) to the new Creative Edinburgh blog so I thought I’d draw on some of my personal life-lessons after 30 years at the marketing coal face.  It is, of necessity, rather brief but I’m happy to elaborate with whoever thinks it might be interesting…

Things I am glad I was told

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Mark Gorman shares an informed (and humorous) insight on business management in the creative industries.

Given that Creative Edinburgh is essentially about sharing (knowledge, experiences, contacts, opportunities and pizza) I thought it incumbent upon me as the Chair to share a few of my own personal insights gathered over nearly three decades as a creative practitioner.

What follows are the slides from a PPT deck that I created a couple of years ago for a talk I did in Newcastle. Although most of my career has been in advertising I believe the lessons can be applied to any creative business (in fact any business whatsoever).

Some are more serious that others.

Read it all here…

Another blast from my past

This baby cost about £750k and was a colossal nightmare to produce in the worst weather in Italian history.

Venice flooded, we had two major stars in the cast  (one of whom had just played Jesus – Robert Powell).

The Ferrari crashed into the speedboat.

The director had directed a Bond movie (a bad one).

Our company  (1576 advertising) was about a year old and it could have put us out of business.

But it didn’t.

Enjoy!

 

 

Now this takes me back…

One of the earliest commercials we made at 1576.  It was for a criminal law firm in Edinburgh.  Their target audience was “news” who are drinking buckie in the wee small hours having got back from a night of robbing.  So we ran the ads only after midnight on STV.

The ad stars the traffic manager of the time.  Craig Neilson.

How he’ll laugh when he sees this.

The media cost next to nothing and the production cost was peanuts but it went on to succeed for the client and win us awards.  All in, a jolly good job.  Production by MTP (Glasgow).

 

At the risk of taking food out of my childrens mouths…

I would like to recommend a seminar being driven by my dear friend, ex-colleague, co-founder with me and Adrian Jeffery of 1576 Advertising Limited and competitor, David Reid, of Because Brands Matter.

It’s co-hosted with Shepherd and Wedderburn and looks into the branding of food and the legal protection of your IP rights.

It’s being held in Edinburgh on 17 April and you can register online at www.shepwedd.co.uk/events

Food for thought_ the key ingredients for creating and exploiting your brand

The taxonomy of agency names

Oh man, I love this instagram by Rob and Joe, whom I don’t know; but they are summed up thus…

Rob and Joe are more than a team.
Rob and Joe are nothing if not a team.
Rob and Joe are not afraid of the dark.
Rob and Joe did not exist before April 2012.
Rob and Joe are a spiritual experience.
There will be no sequel to Rob and Joe.
Rob and Joe contain all religions.
Rob and Joe are brutal and tender.
Rob and Joe are learning to swim.

Rob and Joe have lovingly crafted this instagram of great beauty and much cleverness.  I even worked at one of the agencies featured in it – The Leith Agency. (Shame 1576 never made it to the numbers blob)

A mega enjoy for all you advertising geeks like me out there.  Thanks to John Appleton for sending it to me.

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An online marketing experiment from the 90’s

Back in the day I effectively “commissioned” these films for use as viral mailers for our ad agency 1576.  My partners David and Adrian answered the brief to come up with something distinctive and daring and I felt that it would be hypocritical of me to knock them back.  After all I was often critical of our clients who weren’t ‘brave’ enough to buy challenging work.

So we went for it.  The ‘target audience’ was marketing directors who wanted work that would be noticed.  The first in the series was entitled ‘Bonk’.

I remember showing them with glee to my dad pointing out how challenging we were.  The look on his face said’ Mark you are a fucking idiot’ what he said was.  ‘Hmmm, not sure if thse will do you an awful lot of good really.’

And so to the second spot…’Exit’

We shot them in our client’s premises one Sunday at Granite House in Glasgow.  Direct Holidays it was.  funnily enough we lost the business not so long after.  The third in the series was ‘Toss’.  My personal favourite.

I took my kids to the shoot and they christened the man in the specially commissioned penis suit ‘Mr Mushroom Head’

To add longevity to the campaign we even made a seasonal spot.

But probably the most tasteless of the sorry and sordid episode was this closer…

But did it work you ask?

Put it this way.  My dad called it right.

We had several calls to remove names from databases.  Our competitot=rs captured them and allegedly sent them to clients before pitches asking if they really wanted to work with an agency that made self promotion trailers like this.

BUT.  We retained our integrity.  AND we certainly stood out.

Judge for yourselves.  I’d be interested to know, ten years later, what you REALLY thought at the time.

Scotland’s best advertising ever?

I’m making a presentation to the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday and in it I have to demonstrate how good we are at advertising in Scotland.

So this is what I could find on Youtube that at least makes the cut. Some of it is very very fine indeed.

The best Tennent’s ad ever?

The best Irn Bru ad ever?

A rather nice VisitScotland ad that I was involved with at 1576.

and another…

Kwik Fit

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HEBS