Tuesday, 30 November 2010

On the dot 2

Executive Summary hates lazily using these cheesy stock images. But what are you going to do about it eh?
A quick piece on timekeeping today after a combination of snow, trains and sleepiness contributed towards this normally punctual executive arriving for work 30 minutes late.
As we work longer each week in the office, hours are becoming more and more flexible. However, in a heavily trade driven business like media, there is still a strong 9 to 5 (thirty) 'on the dot' culture.

Whilst it is never easy to arrive perfectly on time every day, executives should at least try. It’s just that punctuality is not respected any more. Mobile phones have opened the door for excuses such as ‘I’m busy and running a little late’, when before these electronic comfort blankets were around, schedules HAD to be kept, and timings adhered to.
Office workers are picking up irksome habits as their jobs and functions become increasingly short term. They won’t come to meeting until you ring them down from their office as ‘they didn’t know if it was still on’, and upon giving deadlines people immediately assume they are falsely early ones.

Nothing can be scheduled at 9am or 2pm as people need at least half an hour to think up excuses for why they are late settle into work.

Executive Summary's favourite excuses heard for being late:

Don't be the boy who cried
'Wolf'. This man has been
out of work since 2004 and will
 probably respond to your call

The kids are ill – where is the proof? The truant inspectors will be around to see  little Johnny later.
  • Broken Boiler– never rely on workmen, take an adult education course in plumbing, it will be quicker.
  • Doctors appointment – health is always a thorny issue so maybe I shouldn’t go here. Upon hearing ‘being late’ excuses Executive Summary often suffers from an extremely itchy chin and is going to see a specialist next week.
Bike puncture: This is a fairly solid excuse. However, the minute you use the excuse when it is not true you will become the boy who cried Wolf.

Car wouldn’t start – this moderately priced Jetpack has been available to purchase since March 2010. I struggle to see why anyone drives anymore to be honest. (see video below)

Alarm failure – As Kramer said on Seinfeld, don’t rely on Alarm clocks. The best one is your natural sense of time. Throw your alarm clock away and it will take you three days to start waking up in a cold sweat and blind panic at 6 a.m. Perfect.

Problem with keys / clothes / pets or other inanimate objects – Mobile phones have applications and ways to somehow solve all of these problems.

Broken Mobile phone (or Jetpack) – there is no solution to this. Simply resign, your only hope now lies with the National Lottery.

Finally, how late do you have to be to apologise on a normal office day? 15 minutes at least right? It may be the pot calling the kettle black based on today’s performance, but this executive’s punctuality has never been commended or resulted in financial gain during a 5 year career. In fact, those who roll in at 9:10-9:15 every day are garnering around £800 per year in salary for the time they aren’t at work. In today’s workplace, can we live our lives by the clock? I don’t see why not.

It’s time for my 4:29pm daily coffee.

Signing off.


Friday, 26 November 2010

Calm before the storm

Welcome to Friday, as office workers around the country think about what wine they will choose tonight and what they are getting up to at the weekend, Executive Summary returns in serious mode. And no, it’s not just because I’ve had my yearly review.

With the month of DecemParty fast approaching, the end of November prompts executives to start considering what the New Year holds in store. After all, we won’t be able to remember much of what happens in the month of gluttony and wild spending.

The financial and bodily detox of January is a sobering thought, and something must be done to motivate executives for another year in media.

November is often when budgets are finalised and reviews completed, so employees minds turn to the promised financial reward for their year’s exploits.

November, not just a month for growing moustaches

Whilst the country has been out of its recession for nearly one year now, companies have not been a speedy in passing on the good fortune to their work force. It obviously pays to remain cautious, but companies in all industries (not just media), are stalling on increasing costs as they wait for the market to recover further.

The recruitment industry, crippled by the recession, is now picking up again, and wise executives are considering their options. Two years worth of stagnant (or even decreasing) pay in real terms may make for a tasty January pay rise given the right role.

The recession allowed quite rightly for businesses to cut costs without too much justification. However, one year on normality has not resumed, and companies are still only looking at the small picture, one week at a time. Those with mortgages and families are still clinging to their jobs petrified with fear that they could lose them. Those higher up the chain have been made to work harder for less reward. It is the lack of transparency in policy and company results that perpetuates this fear with the use of terms like:

‘We’ll have to wait and see how the market pans out’
‘When things recover a little’
‘Strenuous times’
‘Budget freeze’

Companies are using employees' fear against them to increase profitability. If the communication on company performance and budgets were clearer, people simply wouldn’t be scared. They would be able to make informed decisions about their position, their salary and their careers.

The situation stinks, and is not a good way to break for Christmas. Just throwing a few bottles of wine down our necks at Christmas won’t make us forget about it.

Oh no wait

. . . 

 I did say I would forget what happens in DecemParty because of all the boozing.

Oh dear.

Maybe this Executive should start keeping a notebook, or log of all the office based happenings . . .

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Mood music

Out of Office AutoReply: Thank you for your email. ES will be out of the office today observing the commuting masses. Please check back later for office based observations, or alternatively read on if you ever listen to the noise they call ‘music’.

That’s right, ES is going to be taking a look at the ear-wear, and aural consumption of those stuck in the rat race.

Apple headphones – how to look like a generic twit
and experience terrible sound quality in one easy move.
Available from the Apple Store for just £25 + shipping.

You see a lot of types on their way toward the daily grind. Here are just a few.

Types of Listeners:

Foam rest on headphones: Worn down, Macintosh adorned sad businessmen listening to the calming tones of classical music. Likely to have a discman hidden inside their jacket where the headphones are connected to. Favourite song – Pacobell’s Canon by J.S. Bach.

Around the neck earphones (right) – gym pumpers. Listen to dance music to get the adrenaline going when you most need it, on a pack underground carriage. Likely to own iPod shuffles, because they only need 30 minutes of music. That’s enough to concentrate on yeah? Favourite song – Bonkers by Calvin Harris

In ear phones – A group that is harder to categorise. A slightly more discerning listener, they might partake in slightly less humdrum tunes but have a penchant for soft rock.. Favourite song – The Scientist by Coldplay

Apple lovers – Anal about organising the track names and artist library on their 16GB iPod touch. Have all kinds of pouches, pockets, cradles and gadgets for their beloved MP3 device. Smugly nodding in approval to other wearers of white headphones. Favourite song – America by Razorlight

Cans – Usually pretty cool cats. They are either teenage skaters, or serious sound quality fans. Favourite song – F*** you by Cee-Lo Green or Strange and Beautiful by Aqualung.

Ultimately, the commuters face a dilemma – We all need to listen to music to nullify the horrendous commute but it is difficult to commit to listening to the challenging and interesting music I’m sure all executives possess in their personal media libraries. You end up revisiting the same tried and trusted, tepid wishy washy calming tunes on your train only to go into the office and listen to the same thing whilst working. Executives are becoming addicted to fast-food music. Junk music. Easy to please and mindless, the aural equivalent of Two and a Half Men.

But does one really want to listen Black Metal or Gangster Rap and end up as angry as this chap?

Then again maybe he was forced to listen to James Blunt’s new album and a Scouting for Girls marathon by Mrs Office Rage on the way to work.


Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Back slapping

ES has written a little in the past about the media old boys’ network. Every industry has one, but greasing is particularly rife in ad land.

For fear of getting into hot water over this thorny subject I’ll keep this post short and sweet. Ahhh, who am I kidding, the slimy media dinosaurs involved are too technically incompetent to read anything online, let alone know what a blog is, so ES remains in safety. They are too busy slurping red wine, chortling loudly and slapping each other on the back to take notice.

This is an issue that has been in the news recently as anti corruption laws come into force next year. Nobody seems to know what this will mean for the media industry. Will long lunches be canned? No more jollies? Not a chance! There is no way that any of this will be able to be enforced, so all of the concerned parties can rest assured they will still be able to tuck into a prawn sandwich or two in 2011.

See if you can distinguish between the things which have really been witnessed by ES in the industry and lies:
  • Exchanging a media booking directly for a gift (£600 equivalent value)
  • Agencies refusing to see media owners unless they bring gifts.
    Lies lies porky pies



    Volume deals (these are surely corruption, as companies make decisions based on financial gain, not client benefit).
  • Agencies refusing to see media owners for lunch unless they upgrade the type of restaurant.
  • Agencies ringing up different media owners asking for tickets for events at the weekend.
  • Partners being allowed on skiing or foreign jollies. In what way is this for ‘business’?
  • Inventing imaginary clients to enable drinks to be expensed.
  • Old Acquaintances being given large contracts with no merit.
  • Seats booked at charity galas / dinners when the business has no affiliation with the charity.
  • Free media space given to friends at a cost to the business

(In the voice of Alan Partridge) – “I can tell you you’re wrong. They have all happened”

Executives are rarely the losers from such exchanges. We pick up the scraps such as chance encounters with Alf Stewart from Home and Away, Premier Tickets to Monster in Law II the revenge, and free promotional packs of Sanex unisex shower gel. Who can’t be happy with that little lot?
It is unfortunately the moral fabric of media executives that take a real pasting. In a short space of time, bright eyed graduates are turned into embittered, burnt out poor excuses for humans grabbing at anything they can. Every action must have a reward, and nothing is worth getting out of bed for . . . unless it comes gift wrapped.

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, and by the goose I mean the media industry.
n.b. The media industry is unlikely to by killed, roasted and eaten as the goose will be.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Office disruption update 2

Well the office referbishment is complete and this picture is perhaps the legacy of such a thoughtless project.
The reception and frontage of this executive's building was trasformed into the modern cutting edge white & glass space that all media companies treat as the norm.

Yet the budget did not extend to where executives sit, work and meet their clients. So the illusion that the company is a modern and happening one is shattered when Client X makes a trip up the stairs away from reception.

The botched join in the stair represents a wonderful juxtaposition about a company that cares about its appearance to its customers, but not its employees. A wave of depression sweeps over everyone as your hand slides from the cool metal runner, to the roughly sawn woodlike substance of the original banister.

It's not all bad news as there was a champagne reception for the grand opening this week. This Executive didn't enjoy the rather bitter tasting Cava and soggy crisps, but did enjoy the moment when the official ribbon came untied and fell limply to the floor as Mr CEO brandished the ceremonial scissors.

Take that sir, trolled by a pink ribbon.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Bad ads corner - the next episode

Welcome once again as Executive Summary trawls through the depths of the trade press to uncover the lowest of the low

Bad advertisements made to advertise the services of the people who make advertisements.

- Pitch for the chance to win a pig's arse and a pile of coppers.

Where to start? Turn up the volume . . . by super imposing three trumpets. It makes NO sense.
Is the cheap stock cityscape in the background supposed to be a company, or a sales volume? Either way, cities do not blow out air that could be amplified by brass instruments. This is supposed to be an ad for a packaging company! The trumpets a fused into each other in a strange ghostly manner and look like they would blare into your face with chirpy brass band music like the theme to Ground Force.

Tommy Walsh, where are you now?

Occam - 'The front runner in data solutions'. Zebras don't run in horse races dumbass (although they are know to possess excellent data processing skills.)

Where will marketing leaders focus in the year ahead? Maybe on making their ads less shit?
Also, binoculars are used for seeing things that are far away, not for focusing on objects close to hand.

Data / soil, it's all the same right? Wrong. WHAT DO PLANTS HAVE TO DO WITH DATA? Is the soil protecting the plant, or the hands protecting the soil?

Who cares?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

In the know

Being in the know is great. There are always badly kept work secrets in every workplace, but add in the social butterfly media mindset, and you get an office rife with gossip. It is like the media office provides the perfect atmospheric conditions for gossip – Fast paced central London environment, under 30 workforce, industry built on communication, the awards, the old boy network, the back handers. Relationships, departures, arrivals, scandal and favouritism, Ad land harbours them all.

Once in a while you can by watching colleagues closely and extrapolate information really worth something. But whilst it is exciting having access to exclusive information, you don’t get anything from it unless you share it with a few select people. And that’s how the gossip loop keeps going.
Executive gossipers come in all guises, so here are a few of them:

The classic – Loves a good gossip. They will tell anyone anything. They would spread the news to some random on the tube just to get if off their chest. Will often exaggerate stories and rumours to get more people paying attention to them.

The trader – A good negotiator who only trades gossip for other information, favours or goods to colleagues.

Can you smell what the Rock is cooking?
Because he can’t. A Wrestling accident in 2004 left
the Hollywood star without a sense of smell.
Officials – Management gossipers who claim that all the dirt they are dishing is necessary for business and ‘official purposses’.

The Rock (pictured) – Hears a lot, says little. The rock will never divulge the information they here, and therefore gets little out of finding anything out.

Damn Liars – Worse than exaggerators. This sadistic lot love to make up lies about colleagues, many of which are funny and never backfire onto them.
n.b. Italics denote sarcasm. This is not a sarcastic annotation, it merely aims to help readers visualise what Italics are.

 Drunk Skunk - Usually a rock, refusing to get involved in the gossip game, but everyone has a kryptonite. Alcohol acts as a key to all of the interesting information they possess.

KIA (know it all) – Like a sponge for workplace news. They know everyone and everything. They know what, when and how it happened. KIAs have a bad habit of snubbing those they deem ‘not worthy’ of their news, and exploit there office knowledge to the full to get ahead / stay popular / kill enemies.

Out of the Looper – Opposite to the KIA, they live off scraps thrown to them by pitying colleagues. Often on the fringes of office life (IT, facilities etc).

Pleader leader – Will ask again and again for the information, never getting bored. They will resort to pleading, threatening and crying.

Next time you are going to spread the gossip, think about you get in return, and remember the consequences.


Beardy Bingo

It's Movember, you know, the month that comes before DecemParty.
Now that it is getting cold everyone in the media industry seems intent on growing facial fuzz:

Recent award winning creatives looking like a pair of gay ewoks.
You can play your own in-office game by totting up the mustachioed fools in your team.

Beardy Bingo:

Movember mustache - 1

Unshaven creative - 2

Designer Sideburns - 3

Full Beard - 4

Long Beard - 5

Female with beard - 10

If you score over 15 for your department, you better bring in some snoods (beard protectors) as facial hair can be very dangerous.

Luckily, specialist lawyers do exist to deal with such incidents.

Happy beard spotting


Friday, 5 November 2010


In the month before DecemParty (the new name for December), Executives all over the country will be using up odd days of holiday to recover from hangovers and get some much needed R&R before the Christmas rush.

It is a well known fact that a lot of business (including media) pretty much shuts down over Christmas. Let's be honest, the mind starts to wander and the booze starts to flow in DecemParty so most deadlines and projects are rolled over into the 'it'll get done next year' category. Yet not all firms (including this executive's) see fit to close the office from the 25th December to New Year to save on costs and boost ailing employee morale. I guess it's the thought that some saddo client who's got nothing better to do on the 27th December will ring up with some inane question and be furiously angry that no one is there to answer the phone.

Anyway, back to the here and now, a few days R&R. The humble executive can't afford a winter sun holiday, or a cottage in the regions as they have blown all of their cash on necessary booze, un-necessary clothes / music purchases and weekend outings. So it's back to the comfort of the parental nest to do some of the following:

  • Moan about job
  • Go with good intentions of doing something proactive
  • End up scouring YouTube, twitter and the interweb for something funny (may as well be at work)
  • Look through wedding pictures
  • Discuss love life 

n.b. There are only 12 questions on each episode of Eggheads. The show is recorded
at normal speed and then replayed in 2 x slow motion

  • Recount stories of outings with friends / social life (whilst leaving out most of the juicy stuff).
  • Eat some home cooked food
  • Get told you are not eating enough home cooked food
  • Catch up on sleep only to be told you are getting lazy
  • Moan about job some more
  • Come armed with horizon expanding books, movies and other culture to consume.
  • End up watching 'Homes under the Hammer' (I hate houses, but I like hammers), and Eggheads (getting most of the questions wrong)

So executives trapped in the office, spare a thought for those of us on holiday.