Feck Perfunction by James Victore: Book Review.

I keep my business/inspirational book reading light.  Few make the grade, but, for me, these do:

  • Hey Whipple Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan
  • Perfect Pitch and Truth Lies and Advertising by Jon Steel
  • Predatory Thinking by Dave Trott 
  • The Empty Raincoat by Charles Handy
  • Eating The Big Fish by Adam Morgan
  • Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein
  • The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

It doesn’t add up to much after a lifetime of reading, does it?

Not a long list by any stretch of the imagination and what binds them together is creativity in all its forms.  From straightforward “how to write” in Luke Sullivan’s beaut, through the art of pitching and planning by Jon Steel to behavioural economics in Thaler & Sunstein’s acknowledged game-changer.

But yesterday in two short hours I devoured Feck Perfuncction by James Victore.  Another to add to that short list.

So, on that basis, the impact of this book can’t be underestimated in my personal universe.

To kick off with a criticism.  It’s not an inspiring title, in fact it’s rubbish.

It reeks of cleverness and bad punnery, and he does have a penchant for a few slightly cringy chapter heads, but fear not.  This is an instant classic.

So, I nearly judged the book by the cover.  Thankfully it was recommended to me by a remarkable lady that I have been working with lately, Rebecca Shannon of Complement Coaching  – the website’s under construction just now – so I persevered.

He’s an American designer by trade and a teacher (motivator) by nature.

What he manages in 70 one-page essays is to capture the nature of what it takes to rise from the ordinary in your own personal life and allow creativity to drive your own personal voice, actions, purpose and habits.

It gives you strategies for starting out tentatively to achieve dreams and aspirations and for overcoming fears.

It acknowledges that well known fact that creativity is inherent and driven out of children in order to conform and ‘succeed’ and it celebrates weirdness (yes, in a Dominic Cummings way) being unconventional and avoiding making your own judgement calls of your work.

It encourages risk-taking and non-conforming.

And as it wore on, page after page after page made me smile and nod appreciatively.

I found myself photographing pages and sending them to my entrepreneur daughter.  I bribed my son (with vodka) to read it.

This. THIS… would have been my ‘career’ route map had I found it 30-odd years ago.

Instead it’s a bit of a rear-view mirror on my views on life in the creative industries, in fact in any industry where ‘creativity’ can be applied to success.

It’s lovely, it’s imperfect in places but, you know what?

Feck Perfunction.

The best Covid-creativity I have seen yet. Courtesy of young Edinburgh designer Emilie Lumineau.

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New York magazine starts an article on the epic movie  I Am Legend, this way.

A virus hits in 2009, infecting everyone but Will Smith. By 2012, New York is rife with monsters at night yet empty during the day: a spookily beautiful dystopia.”

Although it’s a great film we all know that the best thing about it was the abandoned cityscape that time had created.

So imagine my jaw dropping when I saw Emilie Lumineau’s virus-inspired vision of Edinburgh, should the lockdown continue in the same way.

Emilie is a graduate of Napier Uni and is working in the hospitality marketing sector but it is her private work that has caught me eye and you can see more of it here.

I have to say, it is truly outstanding work.  Simply the most interesting and exciting (and frankly beautiful creative idea I have seen about the lockdown since it started.

Thank you Emilie.

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Why I’ve joined the Nods team as Vice Chair.

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I was a guest at the inaugural Nods Awards last year and was impressed by its enthusiastic rejection of the usual awards puffery.

  • No suits ( I wore my daughter’s purple hat, inexplicably)
  • No drawn out sit-down dinner with expensive wine. (In fact it was a selection of market stalls selling street food in a really cool venue in the Barras called BAAD)
  • No two hour ceremony with so many awards you couldn’t even begin to work out who had won what.  (It was by contrast a little rushed and in need of sharing the work visually more – but it was all done and dusted in half an hour – the criticism was noted and a balance will be struck this year).
  • No overblown entry fees or ticket prices
  • And, most importantly for me, no profit motive – the proceeds went to the STV Children’s Appeal. But this year, and hopefully for the long term, proceeds will go to NABS (Scotland) well that’s an obvious choice is it not given that NABS is the creative (Communications) industry’s representative charity

This all made the event refreshing, more so when the judges are revealed as global giants, the Chair is a Global Giant herself (MT Rainey) and the organisers are Lux Events and CRAK Marketing, two small businesses wanting to put something back.

Many in our industry have bemoaned media owners using Awards as money-spinning bun fights and whilst I don’t wholly subscribe to that point of view there is no doubt this represents a refreshing change.

So year two now approaches, this time the awards ceremony will swap to Edinburgh and the ethos will be identical, although all of the people and organisations categories have been opened up for FREE entry.  This makes sense as people feel awkward paying to enter themselves for an award.  Instead it will be a Nod of recognition to those that deserve it.

Also we have introduced a craft category – a chance for photographers, illustrators, animators, musicians, film makers to enter for themselves – or for makers in agencies to have a bit of a spotlight shone on them.

I hope the industry will support the awards like they did last year.  It’s a shop window for the winners both to clients and to prospective staff and the awards themselves are keenly priced.

You can find out more here.

But, please note, the deadline for entries is 23rd November.  So get your skates on.

 

 

 

 

 

This. Is London. Greatness from Nike. (Thanks to Wieden and Kennedy.)

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London gets its own Nike ad.

We regionistas should hate it ‘cos it’s Lundin, innit.

But nah; it’s just great.  The fastest three minutes in advertising you will see in a long time.

What I particularly love about it is that it twists the ULTIMATE regional yarn – the Four Yorkshireman sketch from the 1970’s by Monty Python – and makes it relevant to both London and 2018.

Every sport, every exercise, every trope explored with wit and excellent cultural mixing.

Everyone comes out of it well.

Except Peckham.

What’s wrong with Peckham?

How to become a creative director for a week.

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Studio Something is an agency with a difference.

I’d like to think my own agency, 1576 Advertising Limited, had a similar sure-footedness in its early days but I fear that would be bigging us up too much.  The landscape is different now and their advocacy of pure creativity is a harder course to steer in this rocky world of creative algorithms and Big Data than it was in 1994 when your TV screen still contained delights between programmes.

Creativity lies squarely at Studio Something’s core (square core? – Ed) which, obviously, appeals to me and they’re not afraid to break the rules.

As little babies they surprised the orthodoxy in Scotland by winning the Tennents Lager advertising account and running a multi-execution (online and cinema) animated campaign; a kind of soap opera about the life of Wellpark (site of the Tennents brewery).  Part slice of Scottish Life, part League of Gentlemen with dogs, it was a bold experiment that reaped great rewards.

That was the start.  Since then they’ve continued to surprise with interesting work for See Me and Innes and Gunn, amongst others.

And this post caught my eye on Medium this morning.

It’s essentially a job ad.  An ad for an internship, a creative internship.  But they’ve pulled a great stunt with it.  It’s not unpaid, it’s not minimum wage.  It’s (for one week only) paying the wage of the average Creative Director in the UK –  £45k (or (£865.38) to be precise.

But what makes this unashamed stunt much more interesting is the back story.

I don’t know if it’s written by Ian or Jordan, but it doesn’t matter.  It tells the tale of their damascene moment when Gerry Farrell offered them their own first PAID internship at The Leith Agency (or placement which sounds far more bearable) in the face of their impending personal bankruptcy.

It’s a minor chin wobbler but it also beautifully illustrates their culture.

Indeed (to brutally capitalise on their creativity for, frankly, my own gain) it’s a perfect illustration of EMPLOYER BRANDING, – like we’re doing at Inside Out, but with a boldness and joi de vivre that few could match.

You get a strong sense of values, culture and vision without using any of these words.  And most of all, if I was a 22 year old creative starting out on this rocky journey I’d want to work there.

£865.38 or otherwise.