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

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.

Paul Burke

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

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