Archive for the ‘Careers’ Category

Flying Away This May

I got a job! Ahem..what I meant to say is I GOT A FRIKKIN’ JOB!!Sorry about that. I actually meant to say that I’ve got a job that I’m happy to take, a challenge even.As many of you may know, since September-ish I’ve been looking for a start in adland, something that I could sink my teeth into and all that kinda stuff.I did the whole graduate scheme thing, with some success (but nowhere did I get that ‘feeling’ that it was right for me), some ‘You’re not right for us Sam’, some ‘We just don’t need any planners right now’, some ‘We’re not brave enough to hire someone like you’ (which really, really, pissed me off) and some other things that I can’t remember. And though it may be petty and childish, I kept every single letter that they sent telling me I wasn’t good enough. Yes I am juvenile.So anyway in November Mr. Frith kindly passed my name onto TBWA Dubai, which is where I spent a few days last week.The long and short of it is that everything clicked there, everything. The people, the place, the Sam. So come late May I’ll be moving out to join these guys:


And start work as a planner. Whoo!Some people might ask why I’m foregoing the chance to live and work in the land of milk and honey that is London AdLand; for me it’s simple – I’ll be able to get much more hands on much quicker out there than I would have in the places that had offered me things here. And how many times will I be twenty-something with the chance to move to Dubai again? I really don’t know cause my crystal ball ain’t working. So I’m taking a chance. But I’m damn happy about it.This is the part of the acceptance speech where I thank a long list of people; I may miss some out, but it’s not like you don’t know and it’s not like I don’t love ya. So in no particular order, people who I owe particular thanks to for putting up with yours truly throughout this epic as well as those whose blogs have helped me keep going on:Anton, Will, Alex, The Kaiser himself, Charlie, Doddsy, Graeme, Eaon, Beeker, LaurenAdamLloyd, Richie B, Jason, Angus, Asi, Amelia, Piers, Hugh, Faris, Neil, John, Russell and everyone else whose name escapes me at 0740 on a Saturday morning when I haven’t slept at all.And to every ad agency that said no thanks: Thank you most of all.Of course special thanks must go to the architect of this story, Charlie ‘Pink shirts are pimpin’ Frith. Word.Thank you all. Seriously. And come May if you ever need a place to stay in Dubai…I’ll point you to a good hotel. Nah I’m just playin’ – Mi Casa Su Casa.Big love.Sam

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AdGrads is now live on Brand Republic. Check us out.

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How To Be Cool

A bit of an ambitious title huh? Yeah I think so too. But see, I’ve been thinking a lot about cool; not the word, maybe not even the concept, but the connotation. What is cool? It’s all so subjective right? But I think cool is pretty closely related to confidence. They even go together well in a sentence; cool and confident..see? I may be onto something. And you can make an argument about creativity being very closely related to cool and confident, maybe like first cousin-close. And then it’s pretty clear that cool, is well for want of a better expression, pretty damn cool.

What has really got me thinking about all this is the mad season that is graduate recruitment. I’m trawling through applications that ask me questions like ‘How do you sell coal to an eskimo?’ or ‘Which superhero would you be?’ and thinking ‘What the hell do I write here?’. That combined with something my main main Richy B said a while back, something along the lines of ‘We get along because we know cool when we see it’ got me thinking about what cool is and how you can be cool.It’s simple really, cool is inside every single one of us. Really. It’s about being self-aware, and being self-aware is something I go on about a lot to Anton, Will, Alex, all y’all who read the blog and pretty much everyone I know. But I’ll say it again, being self-aware, and really knowing what you’re good at and what you’re not is one of the most powerful tools you can have in your life, forget about career type things. So you’re self-aware and you know what you’re good at. Be confident in it, like really really confident. Ooze that stuff.

Confidence is one of those things that is really easy to see through if it’s false bravado, and confidence masked with arrogance is like me on a Sunday night in front of the TV watching the NFL: right in your face. So real confidence is easily spotted and comes naturally, because that’s what it’s the product of, being naturally at ease with something you know you’re good at. And that’s where creativity comes in. Think of everything you’ve seen that you consider to be creative. Was it forced? Awkwardly out of place? Not at all. It was really at ease with itself, natural even.

At this point I’m sitting here smiling because I think this post is coming together now, it’s a load of psycho-babble maybe, probably even. But I think it makes sense. And it’s right at this point where I can get to the crux of the matter, when y’all are sitting there trying to figure out a way to be creative and cool and original when answering a question on an application form / coming up with an idea for something at work / for anything at all, remember

  • The things that come easiest to you are the things that are natural. No matter how people will try and put you into boxes ‘numerate’ ‘orator’ etc, everyone is creative, every single one of us. So be natural and take yourself out of the boxes that you’ve been put into, sit outside, sit on your bed, sit on a couch, sit in the bath with a notebook – wherever you feel at ease is where you’ll be in the most natural frame of mind. Go to that place (be it mental, physical or both) and just zone. And you’ll find (and trust me, every single one of us will) that you’ll be more creative than you thought you could be.
  • Natural is confident, confidence is natural and both of them are pretty damn sexy.
  • Natural, creative and confidence are so intertwined it’s not a coincidence, they all stem from the same thing; being at ease with yourself.
  • Find out what it is about yourself that makes you without question you, like patent-pending you, what about your life has made you who you are? That’s your gold-mine and that is where you need to be knee deep in sifting for the nuggest of the good stuff, because that’s where you’ll be most confident, most unique, most effortless, most cool and most you.
  • Take this feeling of confidence outside the box of ‘work’ and things will seem almost effortless compared to what they were before.

So take it from someone who used to be so uptight about things I used to work myself into a frenzy about how to be original. All you have to do is be the thing that comes most naturally to you. I’m no good at being anything but me. To everyone that matters and in everything that matters, that’s always more than enough. And that is pretty damn cool.

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Race Is a Four Letter Word

I’ve thought about writing about this taboo topic for a while, but refrained because I was being a bit chicken. Two things made me do it. Sir Charles wrote a post about it, and this thread on the BR forums. In writing a reply to that thread, I got a little of out of hand on the word count front, so here we go:

In the last 50 odd years the ethnic makeup of the UK has been in the midst of an unprecedented change (this isn’t unique to the UK, generally after WWII the then colonial powers ‘encouraged’ people out in the colonies to move back to their respective motherships – particularly to help out with the workforce that had been hit by war casualties), this change has led to significant social upheaval as ethnic minorities move up the social ladder as successive generations become more prosperous / better educated. You can look at accounting and medicine as examples of fields where half a century ago, professionals were almost exclusively ‘ethnic British’ where now, as an example – according to unofficial research by the Student BMJ (British Medical Journal) London, Manchester and Birmingham universities have more than 50% of their medical students classed as non-white.

So this social climbing has resulted in today ethnic minorities have more spending power. More than 30% of Britain’s richest 100 are ethnic minorities. So the question is what is adland doing about it? To get a piece of their spending power are agencies really in the minds of these consumers? Do they know what motivates them, what they aspire to, what they value? Can they know this when the vast majority (according to the latest IPA Diversity reports) of agency staff are middle-class and white? (And I’m talking about advertising focused staff – not support roles) And I mean really know them, not just ‘oh I listen to hip-hop/bhangra music / I went to uni with loads of asians/afro-carribeans etc’. Because you don’t fully get afro-carribean culture just because you listen to reggae. Please.

And if agencies are smart enough and self-aware enough (George Parker will say no at this point) to realize that they may not necessarily know this group of consumers well enough, what are they going to do about it? Commission more research? Or maybe think about how to attract these types of people to work for them so they can start to pick their brains about how best to approach them with their comms? In order to do this, agencies have to look at their HR departments and as ‘What are you doing to attract the best people’ because if you are looking for the best – you’ll find them, regardless of where they went to university / where they’re from (this leads onto a larger debate about how agencies approach hiring new blood, which I’ll be writing about on adgrads). Ethnic minorities will have, by 2011 300 billion of disposable income. Surely someone wants a piece of that pie, and is smart enough to try and get themselves equipped to go after it.

I’m not by any means suggesting that agencies are racist in their dealing and practices, only that now a large percentage of the UK’s prosperous are of ethnic minorities, and by definition the communications industry should be going out and communicating with them. That’s my 4p worth.

Race is only a dirty word when you let it become one.

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A Good Excuse


Yes yes yes, we haven’t been writing that much recently, and no it’s not the yo-yo weather that’s the cause. I’ve been hard at work trying to come up with a better way of getting all career-related stuff in one area, just in time for the mad season that is graduate recruitment.

So now I can take the wraps off the best way to find out information about the advertising industry: AdGrads. AdGrads is a combined AdLads, Wannabe Ad Man and Jack Bauer production and is the one place to find the best bits about graduate recruitment all its trials and tribulations. We’ve got an all-star cast lined up to tell their stories about how they got into the industry, what they wished they knew then and a ton of advice about applications, interviews, work experience and everything in between. Myself, Anton, Will and Jack will be at your beck and call for all your career related stuff at AdGrads from now on. So visit us there, bookmark us, feed on us and when you get that job, buy us a fantastic dinner.

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It feels like I’m perennially building up the ‘blog about’ list and always leaving it to grow into a colossus that needs slaying. So from today I’m going to give the blog a little bit of time everyday and see if that works.

First off, I applied and got into (woo hoo!) Omnicom’s Summer School. So if you’re gonna be there drop me a line. My application entry thing is in the downloads pane on the left or you can find it here.

Secondly, Anton and I are about to start getting all of our career type posts together and giving it a separate page on the blog so as grad recruitment season begins, it will be easier to find what you need when you need it etc.

And lastly, well lastly was going to be something profound, but it’s almost 10am and I still haven’t slept. So it’s gonna have to wait.

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Omnicom Summer School

The deadline for the Omnicom Summer School has been extended to the 7th of July. So get your applications done and send ‘em off to Steve.

More here.

Whack your questions in the comments.

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I’m No Hack

Following Sam’s Saatchi shenanigans and Saatchi’s petty reaction, I’ve had a few emails asking about hacking M&C Saatchi and how I went about it. Far be it for me to indulge, but if you insist.


I was on my placement year at Leo Burnett working on McDonalds and thoroughly enjoying it. However my time was nearing an end at Leos and the Saatchi & Saatchi Scholarship Scheme was approaching. I rang Saatchi & Saatchi who told me that my brief to enter into the scholarship was to take their logo “Nothing Is Impossible” which would be supplied on an A3 poster and place it somewhere topical and interesting.

I toyed with ideas which were terrible, like taking a photo of a homeless person outside the Dorchester holding the poster. Really base line poor stuff. But, whilst having a cigarette outside Leo’s with my friend who was working in Arc (same building) we were talking about hacking websites and how people do it etc. Then, I thought, that could be a sweet idea to place the Saatchi & Saatchi poster on a website, and what better place to do it than on the agency they love to hate and vice versa M&C Saatchi. We both pretty much pissed ourselves laughing at the audacity of the idea. We were then joined by another of my friends from Arc (both worked in digital one being a project manager and the other a designer). We ran the idea past him at which his face broke into a smile. I had no idea on how to hack a site, make a website or anything like that so these guys were really the people who made this idea work.

However, everything got a bit out of control and I’ll explain why. There was quite a bit of press coverage about this, namely The Times and Campaign. Both thought that I had actually hacked the official M&C website. Thing is I hadn’t, I just convinced digital illiterate people that I had, such as the press. My friends constructed a site that replicated the M&C one. I had bought the domain name http://www.mcsaatchi.gov (Maurice and Charles are avid Tory fans and create their campaigns so it seemed like a potential money earner in the unlikely event the Conservatives won the 2004 election). Anyway, the site was constructed showing the image of the Saatchi & Saatchi poster falling on top of the M&C Saatchi logo.

I then took it upon myself to spread this far and wide to stir a bit of noise before I sent it on to Saatchi & Saatchi. I posted it as the actual M&C website on advertising forums and emailed it round to as many contacts as I had as well as the whole of Leo Burnett who in turn passed it on to their contacts. Before I had even sent it to Saatchi & Saatchi I had a viral website as we were able to track it being viewed up to 300 times a day and travelling from London to New York to Rio.

I then thought it was best to get this over to Saatchi so I emailed their HR department telling them this was my entry to their Scholarship Scheme. I rang them up the next day asking them to make sure that the people who needed to see this saw it and quick as my spidey sense knew there was trouble ahead. They applauded my audacity and from there I had an telephone interview and was told that I was accepted onto the scheme. Sweet I thought, but this viral website started to travel further and further.

Cue the phone call from M&C’s lawyers informing me of my breach of intellectual property, that the website had been pulled down by the domain owners and that I was facing court action. Laughing in the face of danger isn’t exactly how I would describe my reaction, more like a desperate need for my mum and that I was unable to stop saying sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. After this lovely chat I rang Saatchi & Saatchi who calmed me down, told me it would be fine and if there was going to be any trouble they would step in. That was great and I had started a little fisty cuffs with two adversaries that had been quite dormant in dispute..

To cut a boring story short, Campaign and The Times covered the story, convinced that I had actually hacked the real M&C site, which was fine by me, M&C dropped any court action as they were starting to look silly for chasing me, I rocked up to Saatchi & Saatchi where most had seen my website and the pats on the back were very encouraging indeed and then the website stills I kept were entered into the DMA Awards 2004 and helped to win Gold.

So that’s how it happened. I placed the stills and the Campaign article in my portfolio and flashed it at every interview which went down a treat. Other than that it’s not the kind of thing I bring up over dinner with clients.

You can check out the website here on a secure server:

Username: saatchi
Password: 3ntry

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No Saatchi


Someone once said ‘You can’t treat every situation like life or death, cause you’ll die a lot of times’.

That’s some advice I should heed. I tell everyone who emails us asking about getting into advertising that rejection is part and parcel of the process and you should never ever take it personally, because they don’t know you when they reject you.

When I sent my application of for Saatchis summer school I was pretty optimistic, as usual. I felt I had a strong idea and Anton, Jack Bauer (from the BR forums) and Will had all shared their wisdom with me, and I had taken on board what I thought was important. When I got a mention in that week’s Campaign, and various blogs, I was pretty much sure that I had got a place. But there was a twist in the tale and I got the standard rejection letter from Saatchis in the post.

I was a little (or maybe more) disappointed and decided to give them a call to see if I could get any feedback. Reception put me through to HR where I was told there was a huge number of applications this year (like most years I guess) and some weren’t good enough. But I wasn’t able to get any Sam-specific feedback. It seemed as if I was being fobbed off with the ‘too many people applied’ excuse. So I wrote an impassioned email to a few people in HR and explained that in my very junior opinion, the number of applicants shouldn’t stop each one being considered, and again asked for feedback as to how I could have made my application better. Again I got a reply, telling me that there were a large number of applications and that some didn’t quite make the cut, but again no feedback about mine.

I think I’m over the downer of not getting in, and to be honest, things have moved on a little, I got my first mention in Campaign (first of many I hope) and the blog seems to be taking off in terms of readership (so thank you guys a ton).

At this point, I feel like I won’t be getting any feedback about how to make my idea any better, so I will open the floor up to you, our knowledgeable readers. My application is in the ‘Downloads’ sidebar on the right (I’ve put it all in a zip file), or click here to download and have a read. Rather than include screenshots of the blogs that featured the auction, I’ve put the links in a text file to save you guys download times.

All comments welcome.

And because I’m emo (apparently, I don’t buy it) I’ll leave y’all with this:

You are not your job/and you are not the clothes you wear/You are the words, that leave your mouth/So speak up, speak up loud..

Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly – Call Me Ishmael

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This is one of those posts where everything that we’ve missed out on doing the last couple of days is rolled into one. Like a sandwich, get it?

Anyway, let’s begin:

First a reminder to anyone interested in going to snap up their tickets for PSFK’s London Conference, many big names and some not so big names (like us) shall be there.

Secondly, The AdLads are doing a reading list of our favorite (Sam insists it’s spelt that way – Americans) advertising based reads that will be going up soon, so watch out for that.

Thirdly, two blogs to add to your daily rotation are Charles’ and Amelia’s, both chock full of goodness.

Fourthly, check out Passive Aggressive Notes, it’s maybe one of the funniest blogs ever.

And finally join Facebook, everyone. Now.

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