Month: January 2020

How celebrating success can motivate or disrupt a team.

With Boris promising to ‘bung a few bob so that Big Ben can bong’, (which is surely the British entry to the Eurovision Tongue Twister contest), I thought it might be interesting to see how celebrating success can motivate or disrupt a team.

Years ago when working in Chiswick Park, my office was opposite the head office of Foxtons, and throughout the day you could hear them ring a bell and cheer like coked-up bond sellers every time they made a sale. It made us so angry that we used to play the soundtrack of High School Musical back at them to piss them off.
At christmas this year, i had to play in a team of one in our annual Trivial Pursuit game, because no one wanted to be in my sneering, preening, inevitably victorious team. Please note I filled my pies before one team of 3 even had a single slice. Just saying.
Essentially, everyone loves to win, it’s human nature and there’s nothing bad about embracing that spirit of success, but there’s a line where that joy can become damaging and disruptive to a team. Often you find individuals celebrating success rather than teams and that can cause instability in groups. It’s the auteur theory of film criticism, giving a director significantly more status than the writer, DOP, actors or editor, when we all know that all the best work is a joint effort.
So how can we celebrate success that is inspiring, selfless and motivating, rather than individual, self-satisfied and demeaning.
1/ Never stop celebrating success, winning is an addictive drug to the system – look at Liverpool this year, they are a positive joy to watch, not just because they genuinely believe that they are better than anyone else, but because they do it with an engaging swagger, and therefore, almost no-one begrudges them their success. Contrast Klopp’s smiles and self-effacing joy with Jose Mourinho’s bad-tempered, self-aggrandizing ‘the special one’ my ass. They are both winners. but no one likes Jose and everyone loves Jurgen (which is surely a sitcom in Germany).

2/ Don’t use it as an opportunity to demean others. At this point I hold up my patented loser dance that I snap into when I beat my 7 year old at Fifa, or tennis, or Connect 4. This is wrong. And no bottom-waggling, L on my forehead, random repeats of the word loser at him can justify these actions.
3/ Make sure you credit people. We recently created a campaign that the agency made a great amount of PR noise about, but casually forgot to mention the photographer or our agency on any of their releases. They didn’t have to of course, they paid for it, but it left a bad taste in the mouth. It’s really easy and polite to say thank you, and it’s surprising how far good manners can take you.
4/ Give something back. Not everyone can have success, so if you are lucky enough to be a winner, think about offering the secret of your success to everyone else, to ensure that they can have the skill level you have. My best bosses always shared how they had become successful, the assholes held on to it like it was Gollum’s ring, believing that if they shared it they would lose their power.
Finally, try to be a good person. No one ever minds good people winning, and in almost any situation, someone has to win, so unlike the current Brexit situation where half the country resents the other half, regardless of whether they won or lost, understanding that losers can sometimes be winners too, and that success is a cyclical mistress who can dump you as easily as she celebrates you, is vital in sharing the joy of victory.
Except in Trivial Pursuit, where I reserve the right to rub everyone else’s noses in it until my brain turns to mash potato and I fail to remember the capital of Australia, (Canberra).
Image by Muokkaa represented by JSR Agency

A 2020 Vision

So 2020 has started on a positive note with a threat of world war and fires the size of Germany raging over Australia, darkening skies almost 10,000 miles away, and how does the media world respond? Mild annoyance that weight watchers were using the hashtag #WW and a few Hollywood celebrities calling out climate change at the Golden Globes.

Clearly the communications world is continuing to disappear up its own nether regions as we face the dawn of a new decade.
So what does the year hold for us in Soho, Shoreditch and Bankside.
Sports is gonna be big in 2020; this summer we get the Euros, taking place all over Europe (we just qualified for that honour, but maybe not next time), the Ryder Cup, which seems to have become a media event darling and the big one, The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Tokyo is featuring mascots that look like Hong Kong flea market copies of Pokemon characters, morning finals to hit NBC’s prime time schedules and innovative events designed to attract a new audience such as softball and skateboarding. Sounds rad dudes.
So this is a good time to get your sports credentials front and centre in all proposals, and if you don’t have sports credentials, get your strategy director to formulate some links (no matter how spurious) between what you can do and sporting endeavour.
Brexit will continue to be a debate over the year as it clearly won’t get done by Jan 31st, and economic forecasts will continue to be buffeted as everyone fails to understand what the hell it means, how it will work, and most importantly, will we need a visa to visit Cannes in June and will our health insurance cover alcohol-induced heart attacks????
Instagram will prevent us liking posts which will see the seemingly inexorable rise of influencers grind to a halt until they learn how to use TikTok and take their nonsense to moving image creative.
Briefs will continue to get briefer; one recent conversation with a marketing director went something like this:
‘Please can you write the brief for me as i’ve never done this before…’
And then we didn’t get the job.

Budgets will continue to shrink and everyone will get squeezed as big agencies try to hold on to their margins and usage will become a word that no one wants to ever hear again as buyouts and IP ownership become a standard in every contract. Payment terms will stretch into months rather than weeks and advances will get paid after jobs have been started.
But, but, but, this sounds like all doom and gloom and yet there will still be opportunities for creativity to thrive, it’s just unlikely to take the form that it has done over the last few years. We will all have to work smarter and harder and embrace a new world of comms and revise the old rules that have been the advertising world’s mantra since Mad Men ruled the roost in the 1950s.
Brands will discover social purpose as they lurch towards providing meaning for their customers and differentiating themselves in a crowded marketplace and moving images (i’ve tried to avoid using the word content, but that’s what i mean) will continue it’s unstoppable march to fill our every waking hour with information and entertainment.
The quest for creativity won’t stop, but it’s more likely to be conservative rather than radical, at least in the short term, and this will have an influence on the new minds and new blood that want to enter the industry. Advertising thrives on a blend of experience and innovative thinking and part of our duty is to ensure that this flow continues to constantly re-invigorate everything we do.
2020 is a new decade that will completely re-invent every aspect of commercial communication, it’s both scary and exciting, and remember, it’s always going to be better than doing a real job, and as soon as it isn’t, it’s time to do something else.

Enjoy the ride.

Illustration by Alán Guzmán