Thursday, 30 September 2010

Dipping into your pocket

As a fully paid up member of the 9-5 brigade, Executives regularly have to dip into their pockets for one thing or another.

It was recently revealed that over 1/3 of the world gives to charity (it wouldn’t work if 100% gave to charity right?). So us overweight office dwellers should certainly not moan about giving to those less fortunate than ourselves. This article, the latest in a series of office based rants (I’ve got another four queued up and waiting to go), was prompted by another email letting everyone know that it’s a casual day tomorrow (for the expense of £2 Stirling).

Ahhh, the casual day. Like a non-uniform day at school where girls get up at 6 a.m. to break out the glad rags. The boys go one of two ways – ‘relaxed’ smart casj with chinos and check shirt, or filthy hoody and just to show they don’t care. Perhaps a full analysis of this is Friday phenomenon is best saved for another post.

It is more that all of these small payments add up. Having done a quick calculation, I estimate that 2% of this executive’s net salary goes into the following ‘Office taxes’

Casual days – donation to charity
Office birthday presents
Emergency charity donation appeals
Buying cakes on my own birthday
Card and presents for co-workers new babies
Sponsorship of colleagues doing marathons, walkathons or any other type of ‘othons
Leaving present donations
Treats for colleagues on your own work anniversary

All of this makes it nigh on impossible to collect donations if you are doing something for charity.

It hardly seems fair that from all this, you get a £20 HMV voucher on your birthday and a pen and card from Clinton's when you leave.
I’m off to the cash machine, I’ll see you tomorrow.


Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Office disruption update

So you spend all weekend with your work colleagues, drag your tired ass to the office on Monday morning and find this:

Monday morning
Office refurb
que the weeping
no one sleeping

Cold, cramped dark grey space
MDF stench and a two day

Bang BANG,
HAMMER hammer,
drill d.r.iIILLLLL
Random                                   SMASH!

Hand me the ibuprofen,
hand me my Luger

Two days of fun for six weeks of pain

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Team lunches

Team outings to London’s chain eateries provide plenty of dead air and space for behavioural observation. Sometimes they are for sad occasions (team members leaving) and sometimes are enforced birthday ‘treats’, yet these banquets are rarely regal, inpromtu, or kind on the wallet.

First off is the choice of venue. When Soho boasts over 100 varied, good quality and reasonably priced independent restaurants I struggle to see why office parties end up in:

Pizza Express
Etc (this isn't a cool new restaurant, I am incuating that chain restaurants are similar and blend into each other).

These places aren’t actually too bad, we all have to use them, just why pick them every time? Executives are not known for their cultured palates or love of cordon blue cuisine, but it does pain me when everyone professes to loving such mediocre fair.

‘I love Wagas, the katsu curry is my favourite thing to eat ever’
‘Pizza express is the absolute best, their doughballs are soooooo nice’

n.b. The fact that Pizza Express can get away with selling half cooked balls of flour for £3.95 a pop is perhaps the most devilishly brilliant crime in history. Someone should call 999, because the British public just got robbed.

When entering the restaurant (whether it has been booked or not), there is always a scrabble for seats.

‘I want to sit next to the cool kids’
'You and me buddy!'

Nobody wants to get stuck with the senior managers and have to talk about work, so embarrassing gaps between place setting start to appear.

These restaurants are set up for larger office parties, but this executive can’t help but feel that when a bunch of 15 giggling suits walk into a place cooing over the menu, it kind of ruins the ambiance for tourist couples and hungry families.

Conversation around the table is usually as bland an inoffensive as the décor in the restaurant. It usually goes something like this:

Office drone A: “what did you order?”
Office drone B: “Generic food A. I like Generic Food A. What about you?”
Office drone A: “I ordered genetic food A too! We must be twins or something!”
Office drone B “No. I only chose Generic food A as it is usually passable in this sterile canteen environment”
. . . . . . .
Office drone A: “How is your food? Mine’s great”
Office drone B: “My food is of acceptable standard, although I wish the price of it were slightly lower."

To be fair much of the conversation can be made much more interesting with the addition of alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately, said liquid refreshment will double your bill and make it even harder to avoid falling into a deep sleep at your desk come 4 p.m.

The winner of 'most excruciating part of the team lunch meal' goes to paying the bill. First of all, no one has cash. I’m guilty of this myself, but it can be frustrating when ten people who need to get back to the office are left entering their PIN details one at a time.

Added to this, there’s always a voucher. A quick internet search reveals how badly chain eateries have been hit by the recession as there are a host of BOGOFs and 50% offs. Colleagues always end up in an embarrassing scrabble for crumpled bits of paper, before the final bill comes back more complicated than ever, and with a smaller than hoped for discount attached.

I think I’ll leave Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert to enjoy low quality curries at 50% off. Imagine what a riot it would be working in his office! You would probably have to collect firewood to boil the kettle and bring in your own toilet paper.

Shine on Martin.


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Bad ads corner

 Are friends at Ark-H are back with another classic. Actually this is not too bad. The fruit-based imagery is ruined by the fact that the blackberries should be plural and they are as big as the Apple! Also, Apple and Blackberry are a well know combination in the desert world, but this as ad is trying to say that Ark-H can deliver either technology, not that they go well together.

If I wanted to go to 'experts in digital printing' I don't think these 8 charming dogs would convince me. Firstly, the printing looks crap, it looks like they have daubed one of the poor mutts in children's paint. Secondly, what does that prove? 'We are such experts, we can print on 3D objects . . . like dalmations'. They haven't even used the Dalmatians trademark spots anywhere in the concept (you could have 7 without spots, and one with). The mind boggles

A couple of bonus entries from the world of Accountancy this week. I'm branching out. Next stop consumer ads (that you might actually see in your lifetime).


Not a great scan, but this is brilliantly terrible. How can you try and use a humorous concept for 'Symbiant tracker' (whatever the fuck that is)? The logo looks like Auto Trader, the guy looks like a douchebag and 'audit action tracking' is not driving me mad. It is horribly laid out, way way way way too much copy, different fonts and colours, horrible blue border. And why is the Top line of text aligned left? I can't believe someone was paid to make this monstrosity


10 pin bowling is not a game of chance, it is a game of skill. It is also a fun game that people enjoy, whilst they do not enjoy difficult software decisions. Perhaps a roulette wheel would have been better.

If anyone has any suggestions of other industry mags with bad ads which are missing out on my poison tongue, let me know!


Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Things that make you want to stop working in media

Here is a real example of something media executives have to put up with everyday. When looking at agency websites and industry sources, indigestible horse crap like to is swallowed all too easily by suggestible grads and broken old media war-horses.

what does it mean? what does it mean? what does it mean? what does it mean? what does it mean? what does it mean? what does it mean? what does it mean? what does it mean? what does it mean? what does it mean? what does it mean? what does it mean? what does it mean? it's utter bullshit what does it mean? what does it mean? what does it mean? what does it mean? what does it mean? what does it mean?

I've already said my piece on buzzwords and media luvvies, but sometimes something makes you sit up and think 'What the hell am I doing here?' I'm normal. I recently heard of a friend of a friend who is forced to take 30 minutes out of their day to go and sit in an 'imaginarium'. From what I can work out, this is a room where braying creative twats lay down for half an hour to digest the lunchtime steak and bottle of Beaujolais before declaring that they have had a cracking idea based around 'process' and 'passion'.

Here is another recent example of brain-meltingly pointless liquid bull shit. Stats and charts in media are more often used to confuse distract than to prove and explain. Us executives should know as it's us that have to dig out these nuggets of information and bolt them together whilst imagining you are on a beach and that St Peter will not hold it against you at the pearly gates.

I once heard an industry speaker claiming that '75% of all statistics are false' to a room of furiously scribbling journalists and agency brown nosers. He obviously missed the irony that his own statistic had a 3/4 chance of being utter crap itself.

Just take a minute to imagine how the poor junior designer felt when creating this infographic monstrosity. A pin striped crinkle-face was probably standing unbearably close smearing their screen with their tobacco stained fingers saying something like 'Move PPC a bit closer to SEO . . . no not that close!'

Some days, things get on top of you (Tuesdays are never the greatest). I've already been hit in the head by a football kicked the length of the office at lunch by an insufferable sales rep who spends more time than Gordon Ramsey trying to prove how big his testicles are.

Most disappointingly, no executive is safe from being turned wanky by the media world. Whilst I spend most of my waking hours finding faults in others I often find myself telling disinterested friends how much Cilit Bang paid for their spot in the middle of Coronation St, or that 500,000 recently interacted with a digital sign in Waterloo station.

Too leave on a higher note please enjoy this video of my friend's retarded dog on an escalator. I'm off on a sales conference this weekend and shall return with a full report next week.

Yours lovingly ES

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Family mix up

When at work for around half of our waking hours, us Executives often get a little mixed up. We get our priorities wrong.

Executives often treat family members like work colleagues. We fire off business-like emails dealing with birthday presents and family events, whilst putting in a ‘quick call’ as you walk to the station.

My years in the office have also thrown up the interesting paradox that we often treat our bosses like a family member. A complete role reversal.

So check the list below and work out which category you fall into:

My boss is my Mum – They are a source of comfort and will always be worried about how much work I have on. They are very protective and will often say silly things that get them in trouble.

My boss is my Mum . . .but I don’t like them because I’m a teenager. They are always making me look bad because they are so embarrassing. They never give me what I want which is so unfair. They treat me like a baby who can’t do any important work, but I can do everything.

My boss is my Dad – Strict, and straight down the line. They are firm but fair. If I work hard and produce quality I will be rewarded. However, they will be the first to drop me in it with senior management if I do something wrong. You always know where you stand, but watch out, you don’t want to get grounded as it will take a while for them to trust you again.

My boss is my Granddad – They are behind the times, but have some pretty cool experience. I get tired of trying to teach them new tricks and how to work technology, if they can’t learn then what’s the point?

My boss is my family pet – I’ll go and seek them out if there is something that I want, but when it comes to feeding and walkies, I’ll get someone else to do it. Sometimes they can praise you and be loyal, but if you don’t have insurance you could get stung by big vet fees (lots of work). Wow, I really went to town on that metaphor.

My boss is my twin – I am exactly the same as them. We are best friends in and out of work which makes it a bit awkward when they have to act like my boss, you know, be all official and set me targets and stuff. It’s like they’re not really my boss, we are equal and share our work and rewards. We are always chatting on Facebook and love going for drinks together at the weekend.

My boss is my younger sister – They don’t know what they are doing. They get everything wrong because they are so stupid. They don’t even know how to spell stupid. They are smelly, but they are senior management’s favourite because they always smile sweetly.

My boss is my older brother – We compete over anything for no real reason. We have full blown arguments about stuff because we are so passionate about our work. It’s not fair that they get to do all the ordering around just because they are a few years older.

I am an orphan – I am my own boss. This means that I can do whatever the hell I want, but no-one takes me seriously as I don’t manage anyone.

So, see anything of yourself in here? It’s time to go, I’ve got office drinks with my father’s brother, then I’m going to put a quick call into grandma to tell her I’m not able to make that 10:30 meeting.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Office Disruption

Having you space in the office messed around with  feels like getting evicted from your house onto the street, repeatedly. I haven't ever been kicked onto the street by a cruel and calous landlord, but I imagine that it would be similar to having your routine slightly disrupted at work.
It seems that businesses can’t let you to go three weeks without some huge scheduled clearout, desk move, refit or full-on demolition.

Executives work best when left to nest in their own space like dogs rolling around in a bed with their favourite filthy blanket.

Yes it’s nice to keep the place tidy for those occasions when respectable clients enter the hovel that is your department, but companies need to stop messing with our space every five seconds.

In American offices, the ‘cube’ is a sacred place for each worker. Whilst the 5ft high chipboard dividers may not fully block out the sights and sounds of the office, you can pin up photos, throw stuff on the floor and put your feet up on the desk. Cube farms obviously have some benefits but allowing this added privacy (not widely accepted in the UK) can render the office a dark and lonely place leaving only Twitter for company. Maybe they don’t allow cube roofs as it would provide a secure point to attach the noose to.

Whilst the feng shui of my 2’ by 4’ office home is regularly disrupted, I do agree that ‘front of house’ must look professional. Media companies are well known for spending millions on floating staircases and owning more plasma displays than Dixon’s, but a reception with a modern feel helps promote a sense of trust and respect with clients and partners.

The problems can start when firms with tight budgets don’t think through the refurb. This executive’s Soho office is falling apart at the seams and is undergoing a spectacularly ill conceived spruce up. Clients will walk into a beautiful reception with all the trimmings (iPad iPads iPads), but there will be no meeting rooms, and little place to sit. Surely the frilly façade of office beauty will come tumbling down when these people are moved to a dingy walnut clad 1980s basement for their presentation. When all of the building work is going on, this executive will be asked to spend six weeks welcoming guests from the street in through a fire exit whilst sitting in the receptionist’s pocket. My home is being cannibalised by reception as the deafening jackhammers try to make space for swanky fixtures and uber-cool technology to be installed.

I’m off out to buy some ear defenders as the fluorescent jacketed Greggs brigade move in next week. We all feel like we are on death row waiting to see if the prosecutors will actually go through with the scheduled execution. You never know, sometimes well laid plans and allocated budgets come tumbling down at the last minute.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Media wankers # 3

AKA this weeks issue of Campaign

I'm leaning on a glass door. Our office doesn't have any real fittings. My T-shirt say something oh so interesting, please look at me.

I paint the pin stripes onto my suit myself, with Tippex. I'm so stern that I have created a time warp next to my right shoulder.

My hair is based on David Beckham, my 90s idol. I eat lunch 3 times a day becasue I work in media. The last time I eat a meal, and it wasn't in a restaurant, it was 1979.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Creative block

Does writer's block exist, or is it just work avoidance?

Maybe it is the wooziness of midweek blues, but this executive is feeling stuck. Any kind of writing that isn't direct interaction like email, often proves too hard to conjure up.
Whether it is a dry figure-heavy report, some long winded analysis for top brass, or a story-based presentation, executives nationwide often get the dreaded writer's block.

It doesn't happen instantly, but bit by bit. The more you think your struggle to fill the page, the more your work grinds to a steady halt . . .

Here are some suggestions if your creativity is at a low ebb:
  • Unplug your network cable - no internet distractions
  • Go to the toilets and give yourself a hard slap in the face. If anyone asked why you have gone red, say that you are allergic to slackers.
  • Make a cup of tea but switch the proportions of water and sugar. Get some energy.
  • Set off the fire alarm and when everyone has rushed out of the building you won't have any distractions and can get on with your work
  • Call the MD and tell them that you would like to show them your progress before the end of the day
  • Deny yourself any food or drink until you have finished
  • Listen to a small amount of dance music in headphones. Not too much, you'll want to dance like a crazy person

The only real way out that this executive knows about is a day changing event - a change of deadline, a roasting from a director, a call from an important client. That'll get you going.

Maybe this is just a very cheap post as this executive was stuck on a piece of writing and couldn't think of interesting office-based topics. Well, at least it has given you a welcome 60 second distraction from your task in hand. I do wonder if the cat pictured would provide another distraction or genuine excuse as to why you couldn't get work done.

'He was sleeping, you can't wake him. I'll just have to type around him'

Friday, 3 September 2010

Media wankers # 2

I'm a wanker with hundreds of shirts. I've got a wacky tie for every day of the week!

I'm a stern wanker. I'll tell you off if you get my figures wrong.

I love myself. Look at my raised eyebrows. I'm on top of the world, well . . . on top of my wanky media building in central London. Look, you can see 'the eye' from here. In my job its 'no tie Friday' every day.
I had to include this one. I just had to. This unnamed face melting smug media wanker due to some of the answers in his quick-fire interview.

Q; You've got 5 hours to live, what do you do.
A: Go for a test drive at HR Owen in South Ken with no intention to return.

Q: A joke?
A: Graffiti on hand drier in 1997. 'Press here for Blair's speech'. It's so funny because I'm a member of UKIP.

Q: Which historical figure are you most like
A: Ernest Shackleton. He could endure the most incredible challenges while looking after those who were around him.

I could run with this feature for years (until someone important finds out).

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Executive training

Every executive is subjected to in-house training. Not official training where you have to pay £2,000 to listen to experts in your field give sound advice and set exercises, but bad media luvvie training. This type of training is where a friend of the company comes in for a free lunch and an opportunity to feel important and spout BS for a few hours.

With this open mindedness laid out for all to see, I have compiled an account of what happened:

A man with 'cool glasses' messy hair, a denim blue shirt and dark blue jeans turned up to the office. He described himself as a freelance media hyphenate, pitch doctor and classicist.

Mr Hyphenate gave a presentation about presentations using a Macbook with a screen saver which said something to the effect of 'I love my Macbook, hands off!' He then proceeded to present in PowerPoint complete with awful fonts, terrible sounds, and bad clip art. He also professed that he couldn't be bothered to put and videos in.

The presentation was called 'Telling tales, making meaning - a presentation about story telling'. This was to be the beginning of much needless alliteration. Some phrases that Mr. Hyphenate used in the next 3 hours:

  • Insightment
  • 'Communication is the transfer of emotion' - one of many, many, many quotes attributed to no-one in particular with a very vague meaning at best.
  • num63rs
  • Are you a radiator or a drain?
  • Arithmocracy
  • 'Permission to speculate' - he has a T-shirt with this slogan written on. Really.
  • Editorialising 
  • 'I could talk about Homer for hours, but I won't' - well that's a relief, I might have learned something.
  • Semavores - Humans who devour meaning
  • Meaning magnets
  • DRIP culture - Data Rich Insight Poor
  • Data provocateurs
  • 'Attitudes not Platitudes'
  • Informed Imagination
  • 'Be led by the thread' - In reference to the 'Golden thread' that should run through every presentation.
I've lost count of the number of inverted commas I've used. I don't even know if I'm being sarcastic anymore.

By slide 165 of the Godforsaken PowerPoint 'deck' that we were subjected to, Mr. Hyphenate was onto his piece about keeping a presentation short and succinct. Shortly after this, staving off boredom shutdown (apart from taking copious notes), was drawing a picture of a caged ape trying unsuccessfully to blow his brains out with a cap gun bought from Poundland.

The final thought of the afternoon was to 'Make your words like harpoons - easy to go in hard to get out'. The afternoon of 31st August 2010 has detrimentally affected my mental state, much like a whale left brain-damaged by the poor aim of Japanese fishermen. In this instance, the Japanese fisherman wasn't Japanese, and was wearing a denim shirt.

My colleagues and I had to endure so many acronyms yesterday that I now communicate in abbreviated code. So Hyphenate this Mr. Hyphenate.

Neurological Evaluation Verifying Existing Retards
Agonising Grunts Accepting Injury or Near death
That is all.