It's the year 2000. I'm the worst suit in the world.
An account manager spewing out contact reports with typos.
I'm always late.
I get lost on the way to meetings.
My invoicing avoids losing thousands my whisper every month.
All my energy is going into checking tactical supermarket ads.
None of my them ever have a wrong price or typo. It's a weekly effort that makes the myth of Sisyphus seem a gentle workout.
I'm also shy and hate small talk.It will be a couple of years before tells me the obvious, if I'm going to any good at anything, it will be planning.I'm still waiting to be good at that.
But it's still tremendous fun. The people. The banter. The sheer bonkers nature of working in an advertising agency.
My only saving grace is that creatives seem to like me and clients are okay with me as long we're talking about thinky strategy stuff.
We only have two planners in the agency, I never talk to them, have no idea what they do. I don't realise that doing their job is the only thing saving me at present.
Supermarket ads aside, we're in the middle of developing this print work for a steering group of glass packaging companies. They pay okay, but this is all about getting award winning work out the door. This work this year will win an Epica amongst other stuff. It won't re-write the advertising lexicon, but it's pretty okay. Great for hard working, middling Yorkshire agency.
They will also win some more regional awards and, in a few months, I will find myself waking up in the broom cupboard of a tired, art-deco hotel after a night that's mostly a blank. .
The work in development has come from a simple brief, "Make glass the champion of purity inside andpurity outside" with lots of stimulus about how glass is made and how some of brands that insist on glass packaging is made.
I have no idea that this is a task based brief followed by the shaping the development of work as we go along.
I don't know how fortunate I am to work like this.
I have no idea how incredibly lucky I am to work with an certain, all female creative team who are open, generous and happy to teach me.
I don't understand how great it is to be working with a pair of creative directors who are equally generous, who are friends and, as I learn later, defend me to the hilt in all sorts of situations.
I don't know it's because they can see I care about the work nearly as much as they do.
I don't understand that you need to be this good as a creative to be this generous.
Even thirteen years later, it's rare I will work with their like again. I will still miss them.
Anway, the work only needs one client presentation. Beautiful copy with a twist. But the photography is going to be everything.
The shoot that follows is laborious, but we get there in the end.
The images get re-touched and cropped. We have first stage artwork masters.
This is a big deal to the creative directors.
The art directing half of the team, a latin looking character with great vision, a very wicked side and a drawful of engagement rings from previous betrothals is, naturally entranced with the work.
It's true, the shots are beautiful, the copy is minimal, the logo tiny.
Nevertheless, my heart sinks when I see the 'lager bottle' execution.
It was shot on a fridge, but had been re-touched and cropped to death. It looks like it's on a microwave to me.
I showed it to the account director.
To the other suits.
They all agree.
It's not just me, it's a bloody microwave.
So, I timidly head to the creative floor.
To have the hardest discussion there is with a CD. Not about strategy, not about budget, not even about making the logo bigger.
Thankfully, when our hero sits down with Mancini )as everyone called him), he finds the potential antagonist has recovered from his choatic week riding a motorbike accross Cuba. His voice doesn't sound like ET with a throat infection anymore and he even looks moderately cheerful.
So I venture the opinion that the lager shot could do with another look.
So he ventures the view I could fuck off and stick to contact reports.
He, naturally couldn't give a monkeys about the craft skills of other contact report generating account folks.
What we have here is a stand-off in the making. He won't sign off any amends, I won't let it go to the client.
But there's always a way.
If he won't trust my eyes, he'll trust the precision skills of his team.
So we agree he can choose anyone is the creative department, who hasn't worked on the concepts, to look at the ad and tell us what they think the bottle is standing on.
If they say fridge, we won't change a thing. If they say microwave, it's back to re-touching.
So he takes it to one of the best art directors. "Pete, what do you think the bottle is standing on?"
He's not done.
He takes it to four other creatives.They all say the same.
It's beginning to be a bit like Bill and Ted battling The Reaper for their freedom.
After the fifth confirms the awful truth, he looks at me with a half smile and twinkle in his eye, and tells me to fuck off out his creative department.
A day later, we have a bottle on the fridge, along with some bottled water and some coffee.
The microwave incident never gets mentioned again.
That's the thing about creatives, even when you're right, you're not right, especially about pure craft.
It really doesn't matter who says what needs to be said, as long as it gets said.
It's all a game really.
Unless the creatives you work with are twats.
Which means they're probably not that good anyway.