In a radical departure that has caused consternation within the vast, echoing halls and galleries of the exquisite Palladian edifice, lapped by the silvery, tinkling waters of the South, which suave, insouciant, cruel-yet-kind @DM_editor, Charlie McKelvey calls home when he is not cavorting with @BustyIdol on the beaches of Tahiti or in the jungles of Sumatra – this latest column has been co-created via social media with the help of any number of industry representatives at every level within the world of integrated marketing or whatever we are calling it this week.
Of course what Lord McKelvey had asked me to do was this. Casting the remains of a jerked chicken leg over his shoulder he boomed:
“Spooner! You ghastly invertebrate! I want a column on...
‘Lessons to be learned from being a freelance - in these days when agency and client budgets are shrinking, freelancers shore up the industry and can bring years of experience, businesses need freelancers, in fact, they couldn't survive without freelancers, so why aren't you freelancers valued more?’
“See how I pamper you,” he said, “now that you are no longer an ECD at one of the UK’s tip-top, media-neutral agencies with a specialism in digital integration and ECRM - but merely a humble ‘Consulting Creative Director’ (whatever that is)? See how I cast you crumbs from my table? See???!!!”
But as he subsided into his enormous fishbowl-like, Waterford-crystal goblet brimming with priceless, Herzogovinian Pilsner, the tiniest spark of whey-faced rebellion began to kindle and grow into a forest fire of disobedience.
I hearkened back to the time when, with Farm & Face & Opticom and other prestigious Cello agencies, Tangible formed a Co-Creation Hub with the motto ‘With not At’ - and decided to canvass my very special public. That’s you, that is.
Springing into all-but-singularity-provoking, digital action I set up an AI-driven, 24-hour Twitter Poll offering my public the chance to influence this very column. I asked whether I should write about...
Twitter spoke and in the way that twitter always does, left me both shocked-to-my-core and totes unsurprised.
As I reviewed the results they showed an astonishing 100% of my audience wanted me, as The Duke Of DM had suggested, to write about 1. Being self-employed. Delving deeper into Twitters rigorous analytics I discovered that this 100% represented a universe of ONE PERSON.
Undaunted I sprang into the febrile ‘Agora’ of F***book and here the results were yet more astonishing.
And this was no universe of one, NO; this was twenty-four (24) individuals who had taken time out of their busy schedules - watching ‘The LAD Bible’ videos or ‘KittensInKostumes’ to respond to my request.
Unfortunately, this being F***book, they also suggested that I write about
“Why can’t clients make their minds up?”
“The impact of kittens on social media”
“How advertising is like the 6 nations”
“Can millennials write long copy?”
“No goats in advertising, why?”
“Crows will take over the world” and
Given that three of those who wanted me to write about “Myths of personalisation” were the ECDs of extremely prestigious agencies, you can rest assured that this will be the subject of my very next, irregular column. And given that I have been ordered by the lissom, great-hearted, ineternet-breakingly-handsome and fiercely intelligent Lord McKelvey to write about “Being self-employed” that will no doubt form the basis of my next-irregular-column-but-one,
But let me tell you about my son’s YouTube videos because I think they have something important to say to us all about brands and what they mean in a post-truth world.
My 13 year-old son and his close friend have, like so many of their peers, taken to expressing themselves through the medium of video. I shall not post a link (for a variety of reasons) but let me take a moment to describe the content of one or two of these videos which have secured them a plethora of ‘hits’ on their YouTube channel.
Example 1: The scene is an area of wasteland near to the local dump. Camera shaking and soundtrack occasionally punctuated with suppressed cackling, my son enters stage left with his ears tucked outside the hood of his jacket, apparently carrying an expensive piece of Apple equipment still in its packaging. Adopting what I think he thinks is a “Brighton Lad’ accent he waves the box around and says “Load of old rubbish innit?” and promptly kicks the box into some litter-strewn bushes. Retrieving the box, feigning effort to imply that it contains the i-Pad or whatever, he then jumps up and down on it and sets fire to the remains. Cue fits of cackling, dropping of phone, fade to black. Inane caption.
Example 2: The scene is the upper floor of the local shopping centre outside the swish, glittering, unimaginably-cool, somehow-Ballardian Apple Store. Shaky mobile phone footage shows my son removing more swanky Apple boxes from his bag and then booting them about outside the store, various unutterably cool Apple employees come outside to see what’s going on, more suppressed cackling from the shaky-phone operator, son exits stage right pursued by security guards, fade to black. Inane caption.
Apparently the kids can’t get enough of this stuff.
When I look at how millennials have been let down by the baby-boomers - and indeed my own generation - it seems hardly surprising that people of my son’s age are getting their kicks out of attacking the very brands that are supposed to exemplify all that is most aspirational. My son LOVES his Apple devices but he is ‘expressing his creativity’ by mock-destroying the brand he is most engaged with.
There’s a lesson for all of us there.
Normal service will be resumed next column after this free-form experiment in democratic co-creation.