Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tuesday Tip No.49 - Working Outside London

Phil Hickes, Creative Head at Golley Slater, Cardiff - one of Britain’s most successful regional agencies – reveals all.

Advertising does exist outside of London. Not that you’d know it by reading Campaign. While you London dandies prance about from one private members club to the next, decrying the latest YouTube derivatives, there are hundreds of us quietly getting on with the business at hand, furiously polishing turds for our latest creatively-challenged client.

See? Life could be worse. The frustration out here is that we creative exiles share your ambitions. Like you, we want to be lauded, feted and carried shoulder high from the D&AD halls. But we’re disadvantaged before we even dust off our pads. We don’t share London agency resources, profile or clients. So we’re constantly struggling to get decent stuff through, swimming against a tide of financial and cultural constraints.

Try doing justice to your beautiful concept with a budget of 50p. See if you can hide the horror on your face when your new client proudly proclaims that their last ad was shot “by the same bloke who directs the DFS ads!” Or when your MD tells you that they’re wooing another ‘exciting new client’ in the insurance industry.

So why do we stick it? Because there are always exceptions to the rule and there are great accounts to be had if you look hard enough. It only takes one good client doesn’t it? And I’m sure you’re not all sitting down to tea with VW and Guinness every day.

Of course we could also stop boo-hooing and get back into the mix. Maybe we’re not good enough to cut it in the Premier League? Well, I don’t buy that. For starters, many Creatives out here have come direct from the Smoke. (You can spot them immediately; the hollow-cheeked, haunted-looking alcoholics.) And besides, if we start to feel a little inferior, then we only have to look at some of the toe-curlers to roll off the London production line and our confidence is restored. Cue Berocca.

I’m on thin ice here though. The regions churn out more than their fair share of excremental advertising – stand up the recent Honey Monster ad. But there are also some cracking examples of what the regions can do when conditions allow: WKD from Big Communications; the Irn Bru campaigns from Leith; the Adidas Manchester ad from McCanns; anything from Golley Slater ; ). If you sift through the shit, you’ll find plenty of golden nuggets.

The other main factor, of course, is the quality of life. The hours are better. The commute is shorter. By the time you’re exiting your plush receptions we’ve been to the gym and are settling down to watch Corrie with a glass of Tesco’s finest. We’re not losing hair and sleep because some cocky young graduate team have just moved in down the hall. Creative careers last longer (one of our AD’s is 67 and still going strong). When a creative team has a result, the rest of the department don’t start muttering darkly about ‘rip-offs.’ There is no ‘I’ in ‘TEAM.’

And…we still get to dip our toe in the London scene and enjoy a Satsuma Bento box at all the best production houses. Just less often.

So if you’re growing weary of the backbiting and the sniping, consider a move to the regions. We’re crying out for experienced people. You won’t be having conference calls with Chris Palmer every week, but it’s far from being a creative bone-yard either. You’ll love the relaxed, relatively stress-free lifestyle. Plus you’ll still get a sniff of awards - though it’s probably best to bid ‘adieu’ to the Hotel Du Cap and say ‘bonjour’ to the Hotel Du Thistle. It all depends on your priorities. Personally, I don’t want to ever stop enjoying what I consider to be one of the best jobs in the world. I’m not sure that would be the case if I was in London. (Whatever Dr Johnson says).

P.S. Scamp, did you get my book?

Do you work outside London? Did Phil tell it like it is? Let us know.

Previous Tips:

What Would John Webster Do?; What Would Paul & Nigel Do?; The Hidden Flaw; How To Write Copy; Be Funny All The Way Through; How To Do Virals; How To Get A Pay Rise; Be Wary Of Punding; Challenge The Brief; Tell The Truth; Playing To Lose; How To Write Headlines; How To Do Direct; How To Do Radio; How To Do Press; How To Do TV; How To Do Digital; How To Do Posters; Look At Weird Shit; Presenting To The Client; Presenting To The Team; Presenting To The Creative Director; How To Deal With Rejection; Look Creative; Don't Be Afraid To Ask; Your Idea Has To Be 120%; Read Iain's Tips; Don't Behave; How To Discuss Ideas; Read Hugh's Tips; How To Get A Job In Advertising Part IV - How To Turn A Placement Into A Job; How To Get A Job In Advertising Part III - How To Approach Agencies (re-print of Tip No. 7); How To Get A Job In Advertising Part II - How To Put A Book Together; How To Get A Job In Advertising Part I - FAQ; Make Friends With Traffic; Get Reference; Don't Stop Too Soon; Be Very; Breaking Up; Working Well With Your Partner; Finding The Right Partner; How To Approach Agencies; Never-Seen-Before Footage; Dicketts' Finger; Two Blokes In The Pub; Play Family Fortunes; Should You Take A Bad Job?; Don't Overpolish


Anonymous said...

I get home in 20 minutes and quite enjoy the walk round Regent's Park.

Darlington doesn't attract me, I'm afraid. Leaving the perimeter of the Circle Line gives me a nosebleed.

and by the way, WKD is shit on a shitty stick.

Anonymous said...

The guy doesn't sound that convincing. The whole article is dripping with resentment.

Anonymous said...

he puts a good case for the regionals does old phil, but one quick skim of the golley website sent shivers through me. im not ready for the sticks yet.

Anonymous said...

I guess its definitely worth considering when you're over the hill.

btw happy 40th for thursday scamp.

Anonymous said...

"While you London dandies prance about from one private members club to the next, decrying the latest YouTube derivatives"

Ouch, Juan.

PH said...

Anon 5.50
LOL. I agree. However in our defence, it has to play a corporate role for the whole Group, which comprises 10 offices or so and lots of disciplines.

Nick said...

Hang on, was that an argument for working in or outside of London?

Anonymous said...

Is that a tip? Mr Hickes sounds like me in my present agency and I don't post my resentment for the whole world to see. Have you ever experienced working in third world country wherein you're really creative and you want to make it big, so you apply to the bigger agencies but your resumé get sideswiped because "people" in those agencies will instead hire their friends even if they're are less creative than you.

Damn! Now I'm posting my resentment.

Anonymous said...

does new york count as "outside london"? heh.

think you mean working outside a media and cultural capital. no way i could do that. but that's fear talking.

i'm still waiting for an agency from iceland (or bradford) to kick everyone's ass.

it's bound to happen. location should no longer mean anything. strictly speaking.

Anonymous said...

well, sorry to say it but that was one of the best articles i've ever read on scamp? i'm in london now but at least it's cemented the idea that i can move to yorkshire or something when i'm 35 and have a family in a place where the kids will get to see fields and snow and won't have to carry knives..

Anonymous said...

It's odd that in the US there's a healthier attitude towards the provinces. Fallons roots are in Minneapolis, Crispins in Miami, GSD&M in Austin and Wieden in Portland (just scratching the surface). Maybe the clients are a bit more open minded not being overly obsessed with having their agency in the financial capital of NYC. And as a result decent budgets and creative opportunities are more widespread. Whatever it is they don't have the attitude of London agencies, "ah, you spent most of your career in Manchester - you must be shit."

Anonymous said...

I work in Covent Garden, yet my agency sounds just like Golley Slater. Are we doing something wrong?

Anonymous said...

is there really a media and cultural capital anymore. If so, it ain't London - look at the shite work coming out of it if you want any further proof.

Anonymous said...

the post makes sense although we wouldn't really consider anywhere outside of london in the uk. if we'll get tired of the capital we'd rather go to another country, way more interesting, we think.

a new scamped dog on top of scamps blog now? like it!

Anonymous said...

There's a surprise.

Anonymous said...

I'm on my 3rd day (placement) at TBWA in Manchester now.

I agree with the sentiment that location is largely irrelevant nowadays.

Personally I'd never consider moving to London. Just 'cos I don't like it. The idea of a creative hub or whatever, when you're talking about a country, is bollocks.

Doesn't matter if you're sat a desk in Soho or Southport. It's not gonna change how good or shit you are.

I'd 100% say don't get hung up on the idea of London as the be all and end all for anyone looking for their first job.

From what i've seen so far, there's plenty of good work coming out of Manchester ;)

Anonymous said...

Stop it, Adam. Play nice.

Anonymous said...

Just look at the last 5 years Cannes Grand Prix winners
2007. Toronto Dove. (Ogilvy)
2006. London Guinness. (AMV)
2005. London Honda. (W+K)
2004. London Playstation. (TBWA)
2003. Miami IKEA. (CP+B)

So London is still top by averages but 2 out of 5 are from the regions. I agree the US clients are happy to use good regional creative, why spend half your life on planes when there are usually good agencies in your area.

Anonymous said...

comparing Miami or Toronto to Cardiff is just plain daft. There's regional and there's regional. In the UK, everywhere outside London is a backwater bumpkin shithole. In the states it's not quite the same.

Anonymous said...

Bravo anonymous 7.52pm

I liked the part where you said "London is a backwater bumpkin shithole".

I agree completely.

Anonymous said...

Is that what passes for humour in backwater bumpkin shitholes?

Says a lot, Mark. Says a lot.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on. That was funny!

Anonymous said...

I work outside of the UK, and from here, the entire UK market looks to be about the size of California. So I am always amazed at how insular the London ad scene can be for what is essentially regional work. NY, SF and LA can be the same way sometimes but a national running campaign has a much larger audience with less shared cultural sensibilities. So wen you're feeling like London is the center of the universe, it might help to take a step back sometimes and realize there's a whole other world out there. I know it would help George W.

Anonymous said...

It was an interesting read. Most of you need a soul. Or an upbringing.

Unknown said...

That's very good.

Having been on the inside and outside of the 'big smoke' i love Phil's point about the amount of people who have come back from London and about being able to enjoy the city perks in smaller chunks.

Not sure about settling down with Tesco's finest. That's a bit of a contradiction in terms isn't it?

Anonymous said...

This is so boring.
If you like where you live, and you like where you work, it's all good.

There's plenty to keep good people out of mischief in the regions too, as long as they expect to make a bit less TV.

Some regional peeps have a chip on their shoulder, some London folk can get a bit snooty. Most just get on with it.

Anonymous said...

I left London 6 years ago and now live and work in Surrey. I like it. I walk to work. I'm home by 6.15pm. I still work with a variety of clients across different media. It's not as sexy and exciting as my old Soho days, but i am a 42 year old woman now, with young children. I would feel a bit out of place hanging with the young dudes outside the Crown & Two.
What do I miss?? The chance of winning awards. Some of the witty banter. Networking that isn't online. Don't miss the crowds, the crime, the tubes, the politicking, the know-it-all young creatives ...

Stew said...

I worked in Newcastle for 6 years, straight out of college, for an agency called Different. Was a good introduction to the business, cutting our teeth on clients that gave you quite a bit of creative freedom (no research groups). We managed to get a D&AD silver nom. Me and my art director moved to London in 2006 and have freelanced about a bit (Tribal, Proximity etc...) and have now ended up at a Health agency... but we wouldn't go back. We enjoy the greater challenges/advantages of bigger clients and budgets, even though we're on the bottom rung of the London ladder. I miss me car like.

Matt said...

Interesting article. Sadly it's ruined slightly by the cynical digs and bitter resentment running throughout it.

I work at TBWA in Dublin and before that in a small agency in Belfast. I'm currently debating whether or not to make the move to London as I'm 25 now and I think the timing is right. Quite simply anyone who wants to "make it" (dare I say it) in advertising has to see London as a major calling.

As part of TBWA we get to work on brands such as Playstation, Adidas, etc... But the scale of work is miniscule in comparison to our big brothers. There's only so much you can do with limited budgets, that's fact.

Obviously there are other destinations producing fantastic work (So far I haven't seen Paris mentioned in this debate, but I think they have produced some interesting ideas). However, if we restrict it to UK advertising I don't think it's wrong to say that London is where you want to be.

I understand the lifestyle debate, but if you're really motivated by what you do and keen to produce great work surely you have to accept the hustle of London? But who am I to say?

I would be interested in asking if 'Creatives' moving from regional areas into London stand less of a chance of being hired?

And yes I am looking.

ArtStew said...

These were great, especially at Camden tube. Three of the posters took up the whole space on the bank branch platform, great media placement, hit the target audience. Camden shoppers waiting at a tube, staring into the distance then realising the posters are staring back. Consumer interaction without any digital. Posters at their best.

ArtStew said...

These were great, especially at Camden tube. Three of the posters took up the whole space on the bank branch platform, great media placement, hit the target audience. Camden shoppers waiting at a tube, staring into the distance then realising the posters are staring back. Consumer interaction without any digital. Posters at their best.