Bah, humbug

The Christmas music has begun.

Please, someone make it stop.



Where’s the bleeding Government gone?

While we watch the unfolding horror story we call Brexit, there’s one aspect of this nightmare which is shockingly – if understandably – underreported.  For nearly two years there has effectively been no government active in the UK.  Only bloody Brexit.  No real analysis or scrutiny.  Except on Brexit.  And no opposition for that matter, even on Brexit – the Labour Party should hang their heads in shame, but that’s another subject.  The point is large chunks of Government have been paralysed since Article 50 was triggered in March 2017. And it would seem nobody has really noticed.
Is this some devious Tory ploy? – they’ll suddenly announce that ‘Small Government’ was introduced and nobody complained. So a slimmed down State must be OK.  That’s perhaps another distraction.  Keep to the point please.
Because the news has principally followed the political story of the day – i.e. Brexit – there has been a void in the world of real news.  Meanwhile Universal Credit – the new combined benefits system which is uniformly slated by everyone who knows about these things – will be introduced with only a murmur of dissent.  And the tragic failure of the health system to  address the crisis in mental health evokes little more than a shrug of resignation.  Under different circumstances, these are things people would take to the streets to protest about.  But without journalistic flame-fanning, it’s all just a bit meh.
Meanwhile in the real world there is effectively no provision for young people with mental health problems.  Of more than 338,000 children and young people referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) last year, 31% were treated within a year. But 37% got no help at all and another 32% were still waiting for treatment to start at the end of the year.  And suicide is still the biggest cause of death in young and middle aged men in the UK.
Are we really ok with that?  Should we be? Should the Government be? Oh, I forgot, there isn’t any.

Life like in an advert

Sometimes things just turn out nice, said no-one ever, seemingly, in recent times.  Well I’ve come over all optimistic and positive this morning.  I’ve been fulfilling the role of an IEL. You don’t know what that is?  Shame on you.  IEL is an Itinerant Executive in London. Obvs.   Wandering around looking for a good spot to do bit of work before my impossibly inconvenient meeting.  The meeting is inevitably held somewhere that’s  nowhere near anywhere else.  At a time that makes it unlikely anything else can fit around it, so it pretty much consumes a whole day.

But here’s the good bit.  As I wondered how to fill the two hours before we begin, I remembered that one of my favourite restaurants is around the corner – Jamie’s fifteen.  I popped my head around the door.  The restaurant’s closed, doesn’t open until lunch time.  Shame.  But instead of telling me to bugger off, the nice people asked me in and offered me a table where I could do my stuff.  So far so implausibly excellent.

It gets better.  A restaurant, where the staff are doing lunch prep, turns out to be an excellent working environment.  There’s just the right level of background music (and frankly it’s better than what we play at my office – don’t tell Simon).  There’s a pleasant background buzz of people milling around being busy, but they’re not disturbing me.  And from time to time, someone wanders over to offer me a coffee (which is excellent).

The fact that everyone here is impossibly beautiful also helps.  Maybe I’m easily pleased.  Or generally in an unusually good mood.

If I were creating a scene in a TV commercial or a corporate video to show cool young people doing general, undefined ‘business’ stuff, this is what I’d look to recreate.

This really is just rambling nonsense isn’t it?



It’s really not a thing

J. Walter Thompson, Maureen Lipman and BT famously exclaimed “You’ve got an ‘ology; you’re a scientist”.

That’s got our ‘ologies sorted.  Now what about our ‘isms?

Racism is a bad thing, right? It means that black people (or whatever you choose to call people who aren’t white, this season) get a bad deal.  That often means they are under-represented in the most privileged places in society and their voice is not heard.  They don’t earn as much as white folks, their health outcomes are worse, they are more likely to be victims of crime, they stand the highest chance of dying in custody etc.etc.  You know the kind of thing.

Sexism is a bad thing right?  I could reel off a similar list of ways in which women are disadvantaged in society, by virtue only of the accident of birth that made them female.

There’s another dimension too – isms often overlap with ‘phobias‘ like the ‘hate’ issues – homophobia, islamophobia and so on.

Which brings me (by a questionable logical twist) to the issues facing the British Labour Party right now.  And anti-semitism.  According to The Jewish Chronicle, Jewish News and Jewish Telegraph, the prospect of a government led by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn would be “an existential threat to Jewish life in this country”. Various Labour figures are up in arms about Corbyn, and the British press has perpetuated a picture of his behaviour, his past and his associations as somehow anti-semitic.

Please can we be absolutely clear about one thing here:

Racism in the UK is a thing.  Sexism in the UK is a thing.  Homophobia is a thing.

Anti-semitism is not a thing.

Run down the earlier list of the ways in which non-white people are disadvantaged in the UK and try substituting the word Jewish for non-white (or black or whatever is your preference).

Under-represented in privileged positions in society?  Nope. Voice not heard?  Nope.  Earn less money?  Nope?  Worse health outcomes?  Nope?  Deaths in police custody?  Nope?  Is anti-semitism more like sexism then?  Are Jewish people subject to domestic abuse?  Nope.  Is there a kind of weird Jewish glass ceiling?  Nope.

It’s simply a cheap and spurious attack on this particular Labour leader.  I’m not a massive Corbyn fan either, but all this anti-semitism rhetoric is clearly nonsense.

Anti-semitism not a thing in the UK today.

Please stop talking as though it was.

Worse that that.  One of my favourite authors recently wrote that saying something is a thing’ is no longer a thing. So this post may look quite badly dated in the not-too-distant future.

Sorry about that.

And to my Jewish reader(s). No offence.

Should we protest against Trump?


Today Donald Trump is visiting Britain and the shit has well and truly hit the fan.  In an interview with The Sun newspaper (don’t get me started) published this morning, he launches a scathing attack on Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for Brexit negotiations and appears to back Boris Johnson to replace her as PM.  Wow.  Special relationship huh?

I’m writing this from Windsor, literally a few yards from where Donald will be meeting the Queen later today.  Elsewhere across the country, there are protests planned.  Is this a futile act of fist-shaking or a valid democratic protest?  The Trump Baby has attracted particular attention – it’s a Trump-shaped blimp in a nappy, due to be floated over Westminster.  ‘Isn’t that a bit childish” some have asked.

I’m a big fan of the protests for three reasons:

  1. When it comes to outrageous and childish – yes, ok, guilty as charged – but he started it.
  2. The intervention this morning has overstepped the mark in terms of diplomatic conventions – frankly anything goes.
  3. Being a bit more sensible, if we banned protests from legitimate complainers, it’s more likely that the more extreme malcontents (let’s shorthand them ‘the nutters’) will do something seriously dangerous or threatening.  I’m going to be all grown up and conclude that would be a bad thing.  You can make your own judgement.


Is advertising really full of sh*ts?

Following the exit of Martin Sorrell “under a cloud”, there seems to have been something of a purge in adland (did I really use that expression? Sorry).

This week Ogilvy fired its longstanding global creative chief Tham Kai Meng after a misconduct investigation.

The company-wide memo from CEO John Seifert read: “After carefully reviewing the investigation’s findings with several of my partners, we concluded that Khai’s behavior was a clear breach of our company values and code of conduct,”  “I have decided to terminate Khai’s employment with the company with immediate effect.” Splat.

Now McCann Health has shown the door to its creative lead Jeremy Perrott.  “We received a complaint about a violation of our Code of Conduct by McCann Health’s Jeremy Perrott,” read a company statement. “As a result, following an investigation, he is no longer with the company.” Wham.

Further investigation suggests the root of the Perrott complaint was “offensive and inappropriate” language.

Really?  Is that it?  Inappropriate language provokes a big network to fire its top creative talent?  Has the agency world become so politically correct, all of a sudden?

Or have we been working with evil tyrants or monsters all this time, without realising it?

An industry populated by total bastards. That seems to be the implication.

WPP creative veteran Neil French certainly doesn’t think so.  He paints the ousted individuals as the victims:  “The ‘me-too’ get-out is a boon to moribund organizations, is it not? Find a turbulent priest, throw up your Trumplike little hands in mock horror, and the pc mob will do the rest.”

Is it because big networks have become terrified of law suits (remember JWT and L’affaire Martinez?) and will go to inordinate lengths to cover their arses, even at the expense of jettisoning their top people?  It’s often said an agency’s greatest assets are its people.  Yet we’re increasingly quick to drop them.  Is that wise?

Or are we barking up the wrong tree?  Maybe these were just people whose time had come or whose faces no longer fitted?  The “internal investigation” simply saves face, where the reality was a night of the long knives?