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28 August 2012 - 3:54pm | posted by | 49 comments

If you work in advertising, why on earth would you not be in London? Paul Burke’s ode to the capital

Paul BurkePaul Burke

The Drum has joined forces with Creative Circle to make some of the content of their publication more widely available online. In the first of a series of extracts, AMV BBDO writer and producer Paul Burke explains why he believes admen ought to be in London. Agree? Disagree? Share your comments below.

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner… that I’m so biased. I’ve never lived outside the North Circular and, unless I was asked to swap Soho for SoHo, I doubt I ever will.

If you work in advertising and call yourself a “creative”, why on earth would you move away from London, away from the very hub of creativity?

There’s no output without input and London will give you more input than any other place on the planet. It’s where whatever’s going to happen, happens first. Its pace, vibe and diversity can’t help but keep you switched on so if you work in advertising, isn’t this the place you ought to be?

London has the broadest selection of everything. All the best shops, clubs, theatres, comedy and music venues, independent bookshops and cinemas, exhibitions, museums and galleries. Most importantly, it has the broadest selection of inhabitants. Clever, interesting people who value our capital city, contribute to it and couldn’t bear to leave it behind. So, doing what you do for a living, how can you?

Yet many creative do. I was talking to one yesterday who told me that he “hadn’t been to the theatre for years”. Of course he hadn’t. He lives too far away. His life is governed by train timetables so he was fretting about whether he’d make 18.22 or whether he’d have to get the 19.09 and change at Reigate.

He calls his wife “the missus” and informed me that “you get so much more for your money when you move out”. I felt like saying, “It’s all over. Just give up, join the golf club and see how many points you can accrue on your Homebase loyalty card.”

Of course, I didn’t. It’s his life, his business but I can’t help thinking his moving out betrays evidence of creativity losing its edge.

Of course there are many exceptions to the rule; people more creative than I’ll ever be who live outside the metropolis but I can’t help wondering whether they might have been ever better had they remained within it.

So I look to truly creative people – Trevor Beattie, Paul Brazier, Dave Trott, Leon Jaume, Gerry Moira, most of the Delaneys – and they all have one thing in common. They’ve always stayed close to the zeitgeist. They’ve never moved out. I know they’re all affluent and successful now but they were the same when they weren’t.

The best example is probably John Hegarty. In a recent radio interview he explained that, born in Mill Hill he had gradually worked his way further in. He is (whisper it) an old age pensioner now but has recently moved to Clerkenwell. He believes that the older you get, the more important it is to stay in touch with everything that’s going on. And the best way to do that is to live in Central London.

Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.

You can find out more about the Creative Circle magazine and awards here

Comments

28 Aug 2012 - 17:10
JamesPLCross32345

Perhaps Paul's friend just doesn't really like the theatre?

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29 Aug 2012 - 08:55
becky19213's picture

He calls his wife the missus. What kind of lacklustre life they must lead

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29 Aug 2012 - 09:10
stuar66864's picture

Maybe your friend doesn't have to catch the 1822 - he just uses it as an excuse to escape your parochial mentality

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29 Aug 2012 - 10:00
paul1976's picture

Goodness me Paul, I hope no-one embarrasses you by talking anything cultural with you about anywhere in the UK outside Bloomsbury and Soho - 12 million people live in London, 70 million in the UK as a whole. So how can a so called ad man tell his client he understands the consumer when he has bugger all idea about the human demographic in the rest of the UK?

I lived in London for close to 10 years, I visit a lot, I miss many aspects of it, but I visit all round the UK regularly and understand the small nuances that separate Hampshire from Glasgow, the Welsh Valleys from Manchester and Edinburgh from Birmingham. Anyone can stand outside a pub in Charlotte Street or Dean Street and hobnob with the best of them, or soak up the latest trends down Kingsland Road but broader minds can also capture what Morrison's customers want, what SSE consumers relate to, what Carlsberg drinkers aspire to, indeed what gives an edge to marketeers who understand how to reach such a wide ranging audience as the whole of the UK. As Lord Puttnam once said "Mainstream is not a dirty word"

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29 Aug 2012 - 10:32
aidancook's picture

@paul1976 - don't forget, most of the residents of Greater London wouldn't count as "proper" with this sort of snobbery. Goodness me, Croydon is hardly London is it?

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29 Aug 2012 - 10:18
giles17854's picture

God help Paul's clients if they have a creative with such a narrow minded view of the UK, let alone the world. He is basically saying 75% of their customers are lifeless. I am a creative that has lived and worked in London, San Francisco, Amsterdam and Edinburgh. I can tell you, there's a hell of a lot more life, influences and experiences out there than just London.

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29 Aug 2012 - 10:14
Rhosddu_Lad_1973's picture

I live in Wrexham, North Wales we have a lovely Monday market and I bet Paul couldn't beat their excellent knowledge of how to shift a shit load of grapes!

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29 Aug 2012 - 10:19
russm34721's picture

What a dinosaur attitude.I guess you still have a pony tail and wear Kuoros as well? What a Burke.

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29 Aug 2012 - 10:26
neilc15440's picture

You seem to have a vision of the UK beyond the North/South Circular as a cultural wilderness, where the tumbleweed of creativity blows by unnoticed and life is lived in Pantone shades of grey. How wrong you are. I'm glad I don't live in London. I'm glad you do.

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29 Aug 2012 - 10:27
aidancook's picture

You work in advertising - your job is to sell stuff and to sell stuff to many people that live outside London. If you lack the imagination to put yourself in the mind of the man at the golf club with the Homebase loyalty card in his wallet, and indeed find his life repugnant, how are you able to do your job?

Also, what's this weird idea that London is closed to people that don't live there? I'm down a couple of days a week, I do some work, eat some food, wander about, maybe get some culture, come home. I get a broader view of the world than this bloke, simply by not living in one little corner of it.

Silly article - I've never eaten at Maxim's but I wouldn't consider this the basis to write an article on why I'm not missing out.

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29 Aug 2012 - 10:28
mark_astle's picture

Who's Paul Burke?

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29 Aug 2012 - 10:30
Rhosddu_Lad_1973's picture

I thin k he lives in London or somewhere, never heard of it myself

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29 Aug 2012 - 10:35
meatk19215's picture

How lucky you are, Paul, to live in such a wonderful place. If only the rest of us could taste that fountain of creativity you call London, then without a doubt we'd all be as amazing as you. I can't remember the last time something creative appeared from anywhere outside of London. Please continue to reward us non-Londoners with morsels of your creative achievements, regale us with tales of your advertising triumphs. Perhaps then, as we feast on the scattered crumbs of Zeitgeist that fall from your creative mouth, we can dream of being as 'in the know' as you, Paul.

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29 Aug 2012 - 10:37
Rhosddu_Lad_1973's picture

I remember a similar argument in the early 90's! and its still breathes fire! I for one think the whole of the UK is still world beaters when it comes to creativity and yes the Homebase card holders have punch when it comes to spending power!

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29 Aug 2012 - 10:38
meatk19215's picture

How lucky you are, Paul, to live in such a wonderful place. If only the rest of us could taste that fountain of creativity you call London, then without a doubt we'd all be as amazing as you. I can't remember the last time something creative appeared from anywhere outside of London. Please continue to reward us non-Londoners with morsels of your creative achievements, regale us with tales of your advertising triumphs. Perhaps then, as we feast on the scattered crumbs of Zeitgeist that fall from your creative mouth, we can dream of being as 'in the know' as you, Paul.

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Oni
29 Aug 2012 - 10:41
Oni's picture

Never lived outside the North Circular? How incredibly unadventurous of you.

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29 Aug 2012 - 10:51
paul1976's picture

A few years old on youtube but still relevant http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xzocvh60xBU

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Oni
29 Aug 2012 - 11:13
Oni's picture

I forgot how much I loved this video. Bravo. @paul1976

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29 Aug 2012 - 12:15
Danny Herbert's picture

Oh come on guys - this is in the same 'stir it up and stand back' frame as that 'marketing is dead' bollocks that Kevin at Saatchi's was touting last winter. Don't rise to it so easily! When Londoners have to tell us provincials that the capital is the only place to be, you know it's stopped being true.

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29 Aug 2012 - 12:26
Rhosddu_Lad_1973's picture

Nice mate, nice

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29 Aug 2012 - 12:57
truef12166's picture

"It's where whatever's going to happen, happens first." Really?

I suppose you work in advertising so your job is to keep to the brief. I imagine The Drum said to you..."be controversial, make them bite. The more comments you get the better for our site."

"(London) Most importantly, it has the broadest selection of inhabitants." No I would say scale that up a bit...the UK, Europe, the world, has a broader selection, but you wouldn't know seeing as you've never left the big smoke.

As the quote goes...A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open.

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29 Aug 2012 - 13:05
Danny Herbert's picture

Thanks Rhosddu-Lad. here's the piece I wrote on the Saatchi thing btw.

http://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2012/04/26/marketing-dead-says-saatchi-sa...

it's a similar thing: people in the old guard of communications trying to support their 'we are the default' position. Fact is: 80% of the ads on British TV are nothing earth-shakingly creative, just workmanlike yet probably perfectly effective, and they're produced in London. By people like Paul. Whereas I could name a dozen agencies in the regions who've done / do good TV and would have saved those clients a stack of cash on fees. Will they never learn?

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29 Aug 2012 - 15:13
daleb10906's picture

If Paul Burke is so concerned about getting the broadest selection of everything, perhaps he should try getting out of London for a while?! Clearly all the pollution has gone to his head!

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29 Aug 2012 - 15:19
annie99094's picture

Narrow minded silly comment, silly man!

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29 Aug 2012 - 15:20
aidancook's picture

Damn, that's it isn't it - The Drum boosting figures by adopting The Daily Mail model of circulation building. Paul Burke is their Samantha Brick, and we all fell for it.

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29 Aug 2012 - 16:47
Larner Caleb's picture

As a mahoosive example of link bait, this post shows that, despite being in the middle of where it's all kicking off, man, you adoptive cocky nees don't mind kicking back, packing your tackle, dipping your maggot in the gene pool and seeing what you can fish out.

Where do you start?

If you were a creative, you'd want to be in London?

If you were a commercially-minded creative perhaps you'd want to be where you can offer your clients better value for money; where you can still produce work that beats the pants off much of the champagne-soaked creative that comes from inside the ring (of the M25, that is) and where you can sleep at night knowing you can feed your kids properly, because you're not forking out 20 grand per square foot on some (s)wanky office.

Where should Ad Men, and Women, be? Anywhere and everywhere. Obviously. But then if you were an open-minded creative, you'd know that. Right?

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29 Aug 2012 - 17:20
CarbonBoy's picture

I thought about this long and hard before I moved away from London after spending nearly ten years in a variety of different agencies and roles.

To put it simply, I moved to get away from ****s like you. Your attitude reminded me of an old saying that goes something like 'It's my ball so it's my rules'.

Open your eyes Paul. Then you might feed your mind. This glorious country is full of creativity.

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29 Aug 2012 - 17:27
jeann20426's picture

What a xenophobic, anglocentric article. No, you don't need to be anywhere near London to be creative. It is not the hub of the universe and never was. There are many places in the world I would rather be and where creativity abounds.

Seriously, the author needs to get his head out of his ...

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30 Aug 2012 - 00:04
barri12040's picture

Why so touchy? Only the obvious has been stated here.

Sorry to say it fellas but the best advertising doesn't come out of Manc or Leeds or any other region. I'm not saying good work isn't produced north of the M25. But come on, London is where it's at and we know it. Now get over it.

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30 Aug 2012 - 00:39
jeann20426's picture

London and for that matter England ain't the whole universe. LA, New York and a few dozen other cities in the world can kick London's wimpy arse. There are cities in other nations of the UK that most would choose because they have good agencies in them. You need to get over yourself.

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30 Aug 2012 - 09:44
Nitram's picture

What an hilarious little man. Well to say you live in London Paul with apparently the best of everything, you have the narrowest view imaginable.

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30 Aug 2012 - 09:46
paul1976's picture

@barri12040 - as a London marketeer you should know how poorly UK agencies tend to fair at the Cannes Lions festival each year. Fantastic creative is often done out of Brazil, the US, Australia, Japan and Germany. India is a growing market and we all know how much WPP love China. The obvious hasn't been stated in this article at all - the obvious is that of course London has amazing talent at great agencies and as most companies are headquartered there it makes perfect sense for them to use a London creative shop. However, to blithely dismiss the rest of the UK is exactly what this article does. And in doing so, it dismisses the fact that as David Ogilvy once said "The consumer is not a moron, the consumer is your wife"

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30 Aug 2012 - 09:54
fitzc39496's picture

I think the clue here, is in the surname.

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30 Aug 2012 - 10:18
CarbonBoy's picture

Things have moved on just a little since this... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jY4tD2Hbg_A

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30 Aug 2012 - 13:55
Ju Burrett's picture

Ooo Paul. Aren't you a meddlesome, rebellious spirit? I bet you cackled with glee as you typed out your incendiary half-thoughts to the awaiting bumpkins. Even now I can see you stroking your intellectual hard-on at the thought of livid farmhands spitting out their straw-stalks with rage as they read your pronouncements on their ZX Spectrums. But your blog (aside from being little more than the equivalent of an attention-starved schoolboy shouting out ‘PISS WILLY BUM' in class) misses the real reason why London is inarguably a powerhouse of the creative arts – it's a numbers game. Like the infinite monkeys that somewhere in the multiverse are, as we speak, putting their finishing touches to The Merchant of Venice, if you have enough people in one place working towards the same ends, something of quality will out. London isn't more talented, it's just more.

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30 Aug 2012 - 14:31
james_trezona's picture

Good point Ju. and indeed like any scaling of a normal distribution, it means there's significantly more 'average' and indeed poor work/agencies/talent in London. Also I would say that the real centres of creative/social innovation have tended to be small-close knit communities of thinkers - often reacting to the previous dominant forces who had become stale, arrogant and intellectually bankrupt. That, by virtue of weight of numbers, can and does still happen in London, but I think that London's malaise is also because of its scale and attitude. It is an unfriendly city (Olympics aside), and it is a city driven by wealth, not ideas. It will continue to attract talent who are interested in fame and fortune - sadly many will find neither, beached on the shores of the many many backwaters of the metropolis. I find increasingly those interested in ideas look elsewhere. I had hoped the recession would challenge the role of 'work' in our lives, and force us to rethink what personal & social success was - more conspicuous consumption? Bigger bonuses? Faster Chelsea tractors? I don't think the answers to the more significant questions our generation face will be found in a city that defines itself by what feel like 1980s measures of success. But hey, you can have a lot of fun there.

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30 Aug 2012 - 15:49
astan20082's picture

To play devil's advocate James and Ju, I think the argument is that work/agencies/talent is no longer normally distributed in London, but negatively skewed (ironically, positively) by virtue of its unique cultural setting.

Still, I think the argument set out is fallacious for many reasons (most already set out in the numerous comments above) and this article serves no real purpose other than to deliberately provoke and raise awareness of the author and respective company. Trolling isn't pretty but, evidently, it's effective. And, if you believe there's no such thing as bad publicity, then the he's doing pretty well out of it. If.

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30 Aug 2012 - 15:50
astan20082's picture

To play devil's advocate James and Ju, I think the argument is that work/agencies/talent is no longer normally distributed in London, but negatively skewed (ironically, positively) by virtue of its unique cultural setting.

Still, I think the argument set out is fallacious for many reasons (most already set out in the numerous comments above) and this article serves no real purpose other than to deliberately provoke and raise awareness of the author and respective company. Trolling isn't pretty but, evidently, it's effective. And, if you believe there's no such thing as bad publicity, then he's doing pretty well out of it. If.

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30 Aug 2012 - 19:42
Sam6610590's picture

I worked in advertising in London for 15 years and now I work in advertising in Hertfordshire ...this is a really silly article!

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30 Aug 2012 - 23:06
barrie_robinson's picture

Err... I work in the regions because I love the challenge of shit budgets and halfwit clients.

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31 Aug 2012 - 02:24
Larner Caleb's picture

Paul, maybe you could shed some light on who the so-called creatives were behind this little beauty seeing as they might be accused of being from your neck of the woods: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2012/08/30/leo-burnett-accused-copying-asylu... I'm guessing just a couple of diddlydonks from up Cleckhuddersfax way, just dropped in for t'weekend.

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3 Sep 2012 - 11:02
matta67317's picture

Number one way to make a bit of a Burke out of yourself: Write an article in association with your company AMV BBDO about how creativity outside of the big grey blinding smog of London is somehow diminished. Now thats Embarrassing Paul! Go on off you go son to delve into one of your blinkered AMV BBDO briefing sessions.

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4 Sep 2012 - 12:52
mark_astle's picture

Paul? Are you there? Paul..?

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4 Sep 2012 - 18:42
dafydd_prichard's picture

London's great. A first class source of work.

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5 Sep 2012 - 02:21
testf62151's picture

" I've never lived outside the North Circular and"

pffft

Don't forget your roots !

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5 Sep 2012 - 13:58
petel19669's picture

Is he Gene Barry reincarnated?

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10 Sep 2012 - 11:23
James Cook

I love London. I do lots of business in London. I don't live in London though. The fact is it's no longer the centre of the creative universe. Clients are increasingly looking outside the big smoke for more innovative work and better value.

Damn this recession!

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10 Sep 2012 - 17:06
thedrum's picture

Good to see Paul Burke has responded to those who commented on this blog. You can see his reply here: http://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2012/09/10/amv-bbdo-s-paul-burke-responds...

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14 Sep 2012 - 11:58
J_Price's picture

How are those blinkers working out for you? Can you really be 'creative' with such a closed narrow view on things.

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