Take a step back and run

I’m running down the middle of the road and the heat is on. People are in tears. Broken bodies and bottles litter the pavements. Strangers drool and hug each other, and locals scream from their bedroom windows. I’ve smashed through a wall, puked in my mouth and nearly shat myself.

Oh Hackney, I love you.

Believe it or not, this isn’t my Saturday night stumble home from Oslo, but a far more friendly and enjoyable jaunt down Mare Street – the Run Hackney Half Marathon.

The tears were of joy between friends and family embracing each other as they pushed their bodies and did ‘Whatever is takes’ to raise money for charities close to their hearts.

Broken bodies were picked up, hugged and sent on their way to the neverending hollers of encouragement from balconies, windows and front gardens.

The wall I smashed is that old runners’ proverbial one.

The puking and pooing part, well, that’s runners’ nerves for you (it was actually before the race had even started).

And the heat.

Oh my Mo Farah, the heat.

I think I now know what it feels like to be a Rustlers Burger rotating my way to a delicious ping. Come to think of it, a more apt ending to the race would have been a microwave pinging every time a runner crossed the finish line. But despite this, I loved every single sweaty second. Because this race was different.

I bloody love running. I run about six times a week, training hard for the next race, chasing the buzz I get by pushing myself to the limit. But recently this buzz was getting a little bit, well, tiring. It was becoming all too easy to skip to the pub rather than pound the pavements home. Was I, dare I say, falling out of love with running?

This time I tried something new. I took a step back from the blurry tunnel that is ‘the zone’. This time ‘time’ was no issue. I wasn’t going to burst my lungs striving for a PB. I was going to run for fun – sticking with friends, chatting with them, encouraging them and spraying water over spectators (they looked just as exhausted as us runners).

Interacting with my surroundings opened up a whole new perspective on running. I noticed things ‘the zone’ usually blocks out, such as the comradeship between runners and spectators, even the locals moaning about road closures still had time to shout ‘Go on son!’ You can get so swept up in striving for your best you sometimes lose all sense of direction (I mean mentally – the route was marked out pretty clearly). There was a guy in my running crew (Run Dem Crew – look them up) who ran 16 miles (the half marathon is 13.1 miles) because he kept going back to help people finish. It’s these kinds of stories that have helped me see there’s more to running than running.

Don’t get it twisted. My next race is going to be a lung-bursting PB attack, but it’s this recent change of approach that’s re-energised my desire – and something I plan on doing more regularly. Thank you Hackney Half.

I suppose what I’m trying to say with this marathon of a parable is that if you get fed-up or stuck, take a step back – especially if it’s something you love doing, because you don’t want to lose the love forever.

Writers’ block giving you panic attacks? Read something, watch a film, go out and socialise with people (I find the stranger they are the better). The blank page giving you an art directors’ meltdown? Go to an exhibition, or even play Playstation – you never know, stealing a few cars, shooting some gangsters or getting Ipswich promoted to the Premier League might unlock something magical in your mind. Just take a step back, refuel the passion and attack the problem later with a clearer mind and more conviction.

And, well, if all this fails you can always go for a run.

Daniel Simpson
(Copywriter and one very well cooked runner)

Four decades of presenting

It’s a muggy night down in the depths of the DigitasLBi building. The beer tokens have already been emptied and the Creative Social’s ’Advertising through the decades’ is about to kick off like a Disco Inferno.

Which it dutifully does with a short film of seventies snippets to set the scene. Gerry Moira, Director of Creativity and Creative Chairman of Havas Worldwide fires his first salvo across the predominantly young heads in the audience and we’re off sprinting through the golden decade of advertising, his sentiment not mine. With a reel of great work in his defence.

The interesting part of the evening isn’t so much the work that’s being shown, nor the stories being sold, but the way each decade is tackled and presented. Gerry (to his friends) delivers with the assurance and humour of a man who has been here, there and everywhere before. Like a hamlet cigar it’s a lovely start to the evening.

Next up is Rosie Arnold, Deputy Executive Creative Director from BBH. I’ve been looking forward to her presentation. Not least because I hope she takes me back to the time when I had hair, and ideas smelt of petrol. If you don’t know what I mean Google ’Cow Gum’ for your starter for 10.

I’m enjoying the enthusiasm which occasionally bounces her off kilter against her notes. And I’m loving the way she’s peppering memory lane with houses built out of today’s technology. So anyone born after Brookside can  see the benefits and negatives of today’s silicon age.

So far so good, I wasn’t sure what to expect but neither had surprised or disappointed me.

Next up is a change of pace to keepme in rapture for  the next 20 minutes. Paul KitKatt, Creative Partner of KitKatt Nohr launches into an offensive against advertising with the 90s and the growing value of Direct Mail. He’s armed with just his words and the shape of a Heinz Soup label drawn badly on a flip chart. And we’re navigating through an age where clients were shown another way to reach the hearts and minds of customers whilst collecting data and results at the same time.

Seems so old hat now, but back then it really was the frontier on a changing landscape. We’re also reminded that this was the decade of emerging technology.

At this stage my two beer tokens have conceded their battle with gravity and I’m forced to climb over various body parts in my row to get to the little boys room.

As I zip up and zip back, I realise I have missed the first few raucous seconds of Abi Ellis, Group Creative Director at LBi.

She’s climbed out of the nineties and hit the dinosaur riddled age of the noughties. It’s like a high octane ’fuck-fest’ where we’re treated to a woman who presents like she’s judging a Tourette’s spelling bee  in a borstal, and I’m loving it. No prisoners, no fakery, the nerves occasionally itch their way to the surface but she just ploughs on in her own interminable way with all the bravado of a scaffolder.

Her message is as sharp as she’s blunt. ’Don’t mimic the dinosaurs (metaphorical big ideas) because you’ll end up with fossilised shit before you’ve even started’. Lovely stuff.

The next guy is going to have to work his little socks off to topple the first decade of this century.

So up stands Matt Weatherall, a planner from Dare. A young fella with a head big enough to hold all the wisdom of ET in it. He doesn’t even try to compete and he doesn’t need to. Instead of slugging it out with his Ps and Qs he takes the higher ground and opens up the evening embers with a question ‘Is advertising doing more damage than good to our culture, and more importantly our children?’ Not better than the last presentation, not worse. Incomparable.

Sadly the answer to his question, according to Matt is yes. Even sadder, the answer to his next question ‘What are we going to do about it?’ is no idea, but someone in the crowd may have the answer one day.

I would love for him to throw out a possible solution no matter how bonkers or leading. Some of the greatest debates have been started with the best answers.

It was still a good speech none the less. And I look forward to seeing and hearing more from Matt in the future.

So what did I learn from the talks offered up on the Creative Social sacrificial table?

Agencies are a bit like new mothers who struggle and cry through the first months thinking they are all alone and no other mum seems to be struggling like they are. Until they speak to each other and realise the worries, problems and sleepless nights are a shared grievance.

Each presentation reflected their decade beautifully.

As the creative offering of their time got a little wider, and memory lane a little shorter, the presentations also became wider, as do the problems and worries that get in the way of great creative work. From bad briefs, interfering clients, rose tinted dreams of better times long gone and attacks of social conscience.

We are not alone.

Andy Bolter
Creative Director