Friday, 28 September 2007

The Communications Room goes global

Image via

“Remember that happiness is a way of travel -- not a destination”

Roy M Goodman

Some people may accuse me of having a habit of committing various forms of career suicide. I think it's worked out pretty damn good to be honest. But first of all I was ‘uninteresting’ and did a marketing communications degree. Not only that, I did it at a ‘new’ University. Then I decided not to work in London's 'adland', whilst pursuing my education at OU doing an MA in Social Science Research. To make matters worse, my research method of choice is the fluffy ethnography. Well here’s another good one to add to this list.

I’m giving up my role as a communications strategist after busting my balls for 8 years to get here. What am I doing? Backpacking around Central and South America for 6 months and then I'll hopefully pursue said given up career in Australia. I’ve still got plans for this blog and I’m going to continue to post as much as I can whilst I'm away. Although with perhaps a more international flava!

Hopefully I can join some coffee mornings from Mexico City to Buenos Aires with a host of interesting people. So anyone out there who is up for meeting up during my fleeting visits to various Cities over the next 6 months, get in contact.

More importantly anyone in Sydney who fancies giving me a highly paid planning job around May next year then please feel free to do the same.

I don't leave for a few weeks yet so hopefully I 'll have some time for a bit more blogging whilst I wind down. I'm very apprehensive to be leaving my job, but excited about the road ahead.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Plotting the Plannersphere

I've been meaning to have a go at this Political Compass Test since Charles posted it a while ago. As you can see, The Communications Room is only slightly more authoritarian and left than Punk Planning.

Go on, have a go and politically plot the Plannersphere

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

The door to The Communications Room is open

I’ve been toying with the idea of inviting people to share this blog for a while. I had the rather stupid idea of a name for an agency after watching The Good Shepherd where the opening sequence starts with the CIA’s communications room.

It’s not that I’m a massive fan of the CIA, anything but, I just liked the concept of a bunch of clever people with different skills sitting in a room observing stuff, solving conflicts and making the world a better place. So I bought the URL and thought perhaps one day? Well that day isn’t quite here yet, but I thought it might make a nice blog in the meantime.

I’m a bit on the nervous side opening up this blog after all the effort getting it up and running, but I think it could be very interesting if I can find the right people. There’s a lot of planning, creative and media blogs out there, but not many that have a range of perspectives in one place. Therefore I’m looking for 3 or 4 people to start with. It’s open to anyone, although I’m thinking a creative, an account person, a media person and a technologist initially.

If you’re interested in contributing drop me an email with a short biog.

Hand dryers just got sexy

Whilst I was out last night I came across the Dyson Airblade, the new hand dryer that's allegedly the most hygienic, fastest and energy efficient dryer in the business. Given that my hands went from wet to dry in about 5 seconds, I can vouch for it being the fastest in Southampton at least. Sorry if I'm late on this Laaaandoners, you chaps have probably got an Airblade 2 up there or something. They have only just hit the coast by storm I'm afraid.

It's great. No longer do you have to resort to wiping your half dry hands on your jeans because you're fed up with waiting for a mild breeze that couldn't knock over a daisy dry your palms. The only thing that's missing is an attachment that you can use for when you have spilt something on your shirt. This is the only benefit of the old style hand dryer in my expert opinion on clumsiness.

I love Dyson, it's one of those brands that's all about innovation and making things better. I can imagine Dyson creating an endless product range in anything mildly related to the efficient use of air and power. What's next? My vote would be air conditioning. I'm sweating my nuts off writing this.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Brand America

An unnamed friend, from an unnamed agency, working on a huge, unnamed American account sent me through a brief directly from his client last week. And I kid you not, in the little box titled 'why should people believe what you're saying?' they put the following in capital letters. Just in case you didn't hear them of course.


I'm hoping this was intended to be a joke and they weren't being serious, but some how after watching things like this as well last week, probably not. Here's one for the fight fans. Go on Ricky, shut him up!!

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Those were the days

Flagged up by the House of Naked, Animoto looks like a pretty neat little tool. You upload your photos, then it adds music and cuts it together into a video. Perfect if you don't have the time or ability to tackle something like iMovies. It's a nice concept for a Facebook app me thinks? Ideal for capturing bite sized moments and memories. Here's my very quick stab.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

It's good to never know what you might find out

Sorry for the complete self - indulgent post, but this is too cool not to post on my blog, although perhaps not for anyone else on the Plannersphere other than me.

Well, I've got to the age where I'm getting curious about my family history and where my bizarre surname Moggridge comes from. Unfortunately I haven't been able to shed any light on the origins of my surname, but I have managed to find out that I have a pretty awesome Great Aunt who only passed away in 2004. Given that my family is very 'bloke' heavy, keeping in contact with relatives isn't obviously our strong point. I think BT was right. This is such a shame when you find out about relatives such as this and didn't get the opportunity to meet them.

Originally from South Africa, Jackie Moggridge married my Grandad's brother, Major Reginald Moggridge (Major it!) before the Second World War. Jackie became one of the most respected female pilots in British aviation history. As one of the first ATA Ferry Pilots Jackie ferried more planes than any other male or female pilot during the war. After the war she even transported spitfires to places as far away as Burma. Awesome!! And if that's not enough, here's a quiz question for you. Who was the first female British pilot to be employed by an airline? Yep, it was Jackie. How I've only just found out about this is so gutting.

But if you are that way inclined you can order her auto biography here or read an endearing discussion about her here. But never has a BT advertising campaign ever been so true.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Activists for the liberation from seagulls

Image via

I'm a bit of a sucker for anything related to group dynamics and problem solving, particularly when it comes to a good old fashioned agency ding dong about processes and politics. To the annoyance of my colleagues no doubt, I'm somewhat of an idealist. I believe there should be way more collaboration, more productive conversations with smaller groups than long, pointless meetings with all and sundry.

I also get angry with pessimists, idea killers and micro managers. They are the antithesis of the kind of people you need in an agency to get ideas off the ground. In my opinion these people should realise their skills might be better suited elsewhere, like perhaps a bank, or better still a factory.

I like to refer to these people as Seagulls. They fly in to meetings squawking away without any idea of what's going on and then proceed to shit all over everything. Undoubtedly this will be repeated everyday up until there is nothing left in the team or the idea. They will then blame everybody apart from themselves and simply fly off and shit somewhere else. There's at least one of these in your agency, admit it? You avoid inviting them to meetings at all costs, or you refrain from putting yourself forward to work on certain accounts. They sap the life and enjoyment out of everything and turn the process of creation into a stressful and frustrating job, that just needs doing. That's why I find this idea of coliberation refreshing.

I try my best not to get caught up in all the politics, but occasionally it's inevitable, particularly as a planner. It might just be me, but I think the 'planning department' is often treated a bit like Switzerland. You're seen to be this kind of objective mediator between feuding nations. I believe we would all like to think of ourselves as liberators as opposed mediators and coliberation is a much more productive term than collaboration when it comes to agency group dynamics.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Judge more books by their cover

Nowadays I tend to buy the majority of my books from Amazon. When I buy books from Amazon it's normally when I know exactly what I want - something recommended on a blog or in the paper. However, I still love books shops. I browse and feel my way around them, picking up the books with interesting covers, reading the summaries and generally looking for something but not anything in particular. The last five books I’ve bought on Amazon were; The Brand Innovation Manifesto, The Undercover Economist, Freakonomics, Herd and Convergence Culture. All plannery type of books and my wish list looks similar. Interestingly though, the last five I bought in a book shop were; The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, a Karl Marx biography, Watching the English, The World of Karl Pilkington and Unspeak. All quite disparate and bought on a complete whim.

Hypernarrative has posted this interesting article. It discusses the concept of sites organising products visually and allowing you to meander through and pick up books just as you would in a bookshop. It suggests that 'bad design' can in fact be good design. It encourages discovery, although I doubt it would sell as many books?

Excuse this slight random digression and probable guff but it's just bouncing round in my head.....

So whilst sites like Amazon try and be helpful/sell more products by analysing your history and recommending potential titles, they focus your reading in a particular direction. I now read more plannery type books than ever before, finishing one and then moving straight on to the next. Is this because I'm spending more and more time online? Am I allowing sites like Amazon and Last FM to influence my future knowledge and interests or limit it to specific areas? Sounds a bit extreme I know but I've even started to make a conscious effort to return to my broader, more interesting habits, at least so I can avoid boring people at work with just 'cool work stuff'.

Yep, the Internet gives people access to more stuff than ever before blah blah blah. But rather ironically, because there is so much stuff, news feed, filters, social networks etc allow you to make sense of it, or more importantly limit the amount of new stuff you can discover. Where is the potential of finding something new and unexpected in your Netvibes?

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

iTunes U

Sorry if this generates even more information overload for planners, but I think it's worthwhile.

iTunes have just launched, iTunes U, 'the campus that never sleeps'. You may have noticed it on your iTunes interface already? It's basically 100s of free lectures from some top Universities in the US. I haven't had the chance to have a good rummage, but there are a couple in there I've spotted that look interesting. Particuarly lectures from MIT's comparative media studies course. Which features the fantastic Henry Jenkins.

You can read The Guardian's article here.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Life outside London

I just want to make a few things clear before I get into this post. Which has been inspired by the very good Adgrads. First of all I do believe that the majority of the best brands, agencies and people, are as a rule, generally based in London - I'm certainly not disputing that. I also encourage anyone who is looking to break into the industry to start in London if you can.

But it's not the be all and end all and it’s not for everyone. I did my one-year placement in London and loved it. I too applied to a lot of agencies in London after graduating, without much success. The couple that I did manage to pull off were paying less per year than my final total student debt. So as much as I would of liked to have taken them, it was a financial impossibility. It would have actually cost me money to work there.

I think this is quite a big issue for the industry, I’m not sure that the pay off of working in a creative environment outweighs the lower starting salaries anymore. Agencies will also be left with a workforce from one social class. Which to me doesn’t make for the most interesting environment.

As a result I decided to stick around my hometown and find the best agency I could. I managed to get an account exec position and I haven't looked back since. Four years on I'm now a planner working across our entire group of agencies, working on everything from digital, PR, TV, to recruitment marketing. I certainly moved through the agency a hell of a lot faster than I would of in London. You could call this ‘Big fishes in small ponds’, and there is an element of truth in that, but I would just call it less competitive. You need to remember that that there is a lot of crap in London as well. With anything big and shiny, it will attract the good, the bad and the ugly.

There are some downsides I have to admit. Not everyone has the same enthusiasm as you in agencies outside London (I refuse to call it a regional agency), which can be really frustrating, but there are some very good, ambitious people here and some great brands willing to spend money with us. It is just a smaller propensity than in London.

You would also be surprised with how many people do the London thing and then move out to bring up young families in more pleasant surroundings. All our senior positions are full of people who have worked in huge London agencies, so you do learn from good people. I think it’s a myth that agencies outside London aren’t as capable, although you do have to do a bit of searching. As an example we were the only UK agency to win a Cyber Lion at Cannes last year. Not too bad.

My advice is if you can get in to London great, but if not don’t give up, it’s not for everyone and you can find some great agencies outside London if you put your mind to it. London is a tough place to start an agency career and for some it will be financially impossible to do so. So cut your teeth outside, fly through the ranks and then make the move. Just get yourself in somewhere that has good opportunities.

Not only that, if you are lucky like me you might find a place where you can go for a run in complete peace and quiet before work here

Or attempt to stand on a board after work here

Friday, 7 September 2007

Goodbye Pav

Sadly Luciano Pavarotti, the larger than life tenor passed away this week. Now I’m not claiming to be an opera fan, but I am a fan of Nessun Dorma, the song the BBC used as the theme tune for the 1990 World Cup. For anyone born around the late 70s early 80s, Italia 90 is probably the first World Cup you can vividly remember and to be honest I don’t think there has been a better one since.

So in dedication to Luciano and all England fans whose hearts were broken by the Germans in 1990, here’s a reminder.

The legend’s Nessun Dorma

David Platt scoring that volley against Belguim

Gazza crying in that game against Germany

Thursday, 6 September 2007

AAAA - The culture of creativity

This is one of the best vids I've seen for a long time. Sir Ken Robinson, at the AAAA Conference, gives one of the most entertaining and inspiring speeches on creativity I've ever heard. I can't claim to have found it, Mark posted it last month. I'm surprised I've only just come across it. It's so good I had to post it on here.

Not only is it good, it made me really think about my time at school and in particular one important moment. At the time it didn't seem like such a life changing decision but looking back now I reckon it's the reason why I now work on a PC rather than a Mac. When I took my options at high school I had to choose between Art or P.E. In fact there was a group of 'creative' or 'enjoyable' subjects that you were only allowed to pick one of. My school simply wouldn't allow you to do more than one. I've know idea if this is the norm? I loved both and I reckon I was pretty good at them as well but I decided to take P.E, mostly due to the influence of my careers advisor and my Dad.

I ended up taking English, Psychology and Sport Science at A-levels, before going on to do a Marketing communications degree at Uni. Don't get me wrong, I'm not sad about it, I'm more than happy doing what I do. It just proves a few of Sir Ken's points:

1 - Creativity should have the same status as literacy
2 - We shouldn't be so afraid of making mistakes. If we're not prepared to be wrong we won't come up with anything original
3 - People don't grow into creativity we grow out of it, or get educated out of it

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Book Review - Unspeak

I think words are one of the most powerful weapons a planner can use and this is an excellent book that really gets you thinking about how to use them in a different way. It's jam packed full of euphemisms, metaphors and hidden meanings.

Journalist Steven Poole analyses how governments, 'terrorist groups', religious leaders and corporations manipulate words in order to influence behaviour, thoughts and the opinions of the 'herd'. So if you like words and political debate Unspeak this is well worth reading.

The Jane-O-Meter

This is Jane, otherwise known as my beautiful other half (I don't know why she insists on wearing this mask). One of the many things that I love about Jane is her straight talking, say it how it is attitude. Jane isn't afraid to give her opinion on a whole host of issues. Most notably me leaving my socks lying around. So whenever an ad of note comes on TV I always listen to see what she blurts out. I never prompt her and she probably doesn't even know I do it until now. I think it's a good way of getting an anecdotal, objective opinion straight off the cuff.

Now there has been quite a few posts lately relating to the Cadburys Gorilla ad and Smirnoff's airplane ad with many people arguing the whys and wherefores of each.

So I thought I would post how they scored on the Jane-O-Meter, who is a heavy consumer of both vodka and chocolate I might add...

Smirnoff Vodka

The blogosphere said this, this and this

The Jane-O-meter said: "Er, I don't get it"


The blogosphere said this, this and this

The Jane-O-Meter said: "How random...I bloody love it"

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

The Internet killed the alien star

Image via.

To be honest I'm fairly open minded about the idea of sharing the universe with other life forms but until I see something with my own two eyes, I'm a wee bit sceptical. A recent article by Ziauddin Sardar in the New Statesman draws an interesting correlation between the reduction in UFO sightings and the development of the Internet. Yeah I know, it sounds weird. Sardar's opinion is that UFOs are merely cultural devices that allow people to explain the unexplainable: 'Instead of projecting our fears of the inexplicable on to outer space, we project them into cyberspace'. Although seemingly sightings haven't reduced by the hilarious flaming the poor guy gets from some serious UFO twitchers.

People are apparently now seeking solace in virtual worlds, online gaming, chat rooms, blogs, and forums, instead of in religion and UFOs. Sardar essentially believes the Internet has made us become self absorbed and inward looking. I'm not really convinced by his argument but there are some thought provoking opinions in there, whichis always good. You can read the full article here.

I personally believe that the Internet is anything but inward looking. It is far from being just an introspective tool, it gives people more freedom and confidence than ever before. Rather than feeling the need to seek out 'the meaning of life' perhaps people are just more comfortable with their existence and have a greater desire for self expression? It's the generation of the creators rather than the followers.