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10 September 2012 - 4:07pm | posted by | 24 comments

AMV BBDO’s Paul Burke responds to criticism over controversial London article that angered regional creatives

Paul BurkePaul Burke

London adman Paul Burke came in for a barrage of criticism after writing a piece in which he argued: "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?" Today he responds to some of his fiercest critics and insists his piece was not an attack on the regions...

Gorblimey, as we Londoners allegedly say, what a carry on! First thank you for giving this piece far more attention that it deserved. I cannot believe that such an innocuous opinion – namely, that if you work as a creative in London, then it’s probably best to live there too, could provoke quite so many sour and nasty comments.

Which is why the editor of The Drum has kindly offered me the chance to respond to the furore.

Okay…. this piece was written for Creative Circle and at the time I was not aware that it was going to be re-published by The Drum. That’s fine. I didn’t mind at all but I wasn’t seeking publicity or trying to court controversy. It was an ode to our capital city – repeat our capital city. I was simply stating that, working in advertising, I need its constant creative stimulus to help me earn my living. I was also expressing mild bewilderment at creatives who work in London but move out to distant suburbs that, in my opinion, can be dull and uninspiring.

Where did anyone get the idea that I was deriding creatives employed in the provinces or slagging off work they produce? At no point did I even mention them. And yet I seem to have sparked fury among people who think I did.

So let me reply to a few of the posts that I found particularly bizarre. Paul1976, you lived in London for ten years so you know that it’s not a bubble of wealth and privilege. On the contrary – London has some of the poorest and most deprived areas in the country, often a stone’s throw from some of the wealthiest. To live in London is to live among a diverse cross-section of people which will give you a very broad understanding of consumers. We have more “Carlsberg drinkers” we have more branches Morrison’s and you’re quite right to quote Lord Puttnam - mainstream is not a dirty word. We have plenty of that here too.

Very kind of you, giles17854, to feel sorry for my clients but there’s really no need. They won’t get a narrow-minded view. For the reasons above, creatives in London are able to give their clients the very opposite.

Jeann20426, please don’t call me “xenophobic”. This suggests a dislike or a mis-trust of foreigners. One of the many joys of living in London is its tolerance and lack of xenophobia. I was brought up in Brent, the most culturally diverse borough in the UK. My father was an immigrant so, as you can imagine, I find xenophobia an alien and repugnant attitude. And as for Anglocentric? What on earth are you talking about? Did I try to claim that England was in any way better than other countries? Did I even mention other countries? If you want to use big, grown-up words, make sure you know what they mean.

And James Trazona - at least you present your arguments in a rational and eloquent way but I cannot agree that London is a city driven by wealth. Rich people in “Chelsea Tractors” are easy targets. They’re a tiny proportion of the populace and tend to be bankers. Creative people, on the other hand, have flocked here for generations. They’re seldom driven by wealth, always driven by ideas. They’ll put up with squalid housing, high levels of crime, a heavily strained infra-structure and general penury in return for being at the centre of things and the feeling that London can offer them creative opportunities that other places can’t. When you say it’s an unfriendly city (Olympics aside), I would say it’s a friendly city (as the Olympics have proved).

Finally, matta67317, fitzc39496 and russm34721. I couldn’t quite believe it at first but I’ve re-read your posts and it’s true. You really do believe that the way to challenge another person’s opinion is to make fun of that person’s surname.

Dear God, it looks like you’re in dire need of some creative inspiration.

Well, you know where to come for that.

Comments

10 Sep 2012 - 16:47
mdwilson's picture

Poor Paul sounds a tad bitter to me. Perhaps a break and a breath of fresh air in the country is needed.

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10 Sep 2012 - 17:29
jeann20426's picture

Poor Paul. Imagine being called xenophobic because you dismiss advertising not only in the other nations of the UK (oops, you do realize there ARE other nations, right Paul?) but every other nation of the world. Only advertising and all creativity exists in the little bubble of London.

That's xenophobic, Paul. If you don't want to be called xenophobic, don't be xenophobic. I don't CARE where you were born.

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11 Sep 2012 - 08:30
madde73716's picture

What an utterly childish and desperate attempt to dig yourself out of a hole. If idiots like this are working for AMV BBDO then I can assure you I won't be sending them my CV.

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11 Sep 2012 - 09:19
russm34721's picture

Desperate. Keep digging, Burke.

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11 Sep 2012 - 09:23
mikee21375's picture

Yes that's right Paul - everyone who lives outside of London thinks you all walk around saying 'Gorblimey guv', 'You're 'aving a bubble!!' and ''Strike a light!!' Tit.

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11 Sep 2012 - 10:43
Pads and Pens's picture

To be honest, it looks like a stitch-up

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11 Sep 2012 - 12:12
madde73716's picture

Stitch Up? AMV BBDO should have got their Senior Copywriter onto it to repair the damage, not the Junior.

Google AMV BBDO - and Paul Burke with his controversial article is right near the top. Not a great look to potential new clients who may not be based in London.

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11 Sep 2012 - 12:54
Nedas13704's picture

Paul I think it was very gracious of you to reply to such idiotic comments. I've followed a few attacking threads as of late, on different stories, this is the latest in a succession, though this is more of a non-story in comparison. It's like reading the Daily Mail.

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11 Sep 2012 - 13:00
Nedas13704's picture

ps. I agree on the stitch up suggestion. It seems ridiculous for this to actually be considered 'outrageous'.

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11 Sep 2012 - 13:19
mdwilson's picture

Taxi for Paul Burke...

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11 Sep 2012 - 14:22
Nedas13704's picture

Not to say I agree with you Paul. It's a little short sighted to say inspiration lives in London. If you were to say there are more creative opportunities in London then I would agree with you. It's a rather closed view of the world only seeing it from one city. Iran has inspiring public transport, with the bus handles made from shampoo bottles, India has a plethora of unusual things , sri lanka, china, and even closer to home; liverpool with their fashion senses spilling over to japan, and even some of the most war torn and devastated places on earth provide something to be inspired by. I don't agree with you, but I do think it's a rather boring topic, of course what you wrote is untrue, but why everyone is giving it so much attention, I'm not certain. The industry is becoming a bit tabloid/gossip magazine in its reporting. I think we love to berate one another and see failure, hence attacking so vigorously. Paul you have your opinion, it's yours to keep.

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11 Sep 2012 - 14:28
richa27597's picture

I'm new to the original post, I'm reading it here for the first time in this article. It is an opinion you have and it may well be valid, but as you say Paul, it applies to you and it may well apply to a lot of people too.

My issue is that to really 'move away' would actually be to stop working in London - I don't count living outside of London yet working in it as moving away from the hub of creativity. I plug into that hub on a daily basis when I'm in London. Anything else to me is overkill.

I think it doesn't matter if you work inside London and live out in the suburbs. To some like yourself the suburbs may seem dull and uninspiring, and I respect that you have an opinion on this, but to many like myself, I'm completely inspired by what's going inside and outside of London. I just wish I had time to take in more of the rest of the country.

Of course I'm inspired when I'm in London working and it's my choice for the place to work but, as I travel in and out daily, I feel the very different types of inspiration as I move out of town and hit home. It has a variety of energy, a difference of vibe - a different reference and that change allows me to compare it to the bustle of London and see things a little differently.

Having lived in London, moving out was a no-brainer for me. I love working here, but can't live here anymore - I can't be plugged in 100%. That my mind is racing during the day in London, and then calms as the noise reduces as I leave it behind helps me focus on what I've seen and learned in the day and see it in a new light.

If I take your logic and your argument, 'living and working in London is the only way to be a creative with a broad mindset' - well that in itself is narrowing as London is a massive place with many areas feeling different to each other. To do your point justice you'd need to live in all areas of London and then again that limits you to just London.

I do think you may have a valid point of view, I just don't think you've done it justice yet - certainly not enough to make me sit up and think, I should move back.

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11 Sep 2012 - 14:42
James Cook

London is London. The world is a much bigger space for inspiration.

Personally, I like the creative stuff going on in Hong Kong and other countries that have something to prove and lots of money to invest in creative.

I get more out of London by visiting and then leaving and comparing the differences. When you stay in one place too long I find I stop noticing the subtle influences. London can just be, well very London and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

I currently reside in Birmingham when I stand still and that's conveniently in the centre of the UK sort of. And I like that.

So what do I know?

Can we all stop being so sensitive?

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11 Sep 2012 - 19:55
Pads and Pens's picture

Oh, I dare say I see a bandwagon.

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12 Sep 2012 - 09:38
paul1976's picture

Hi Paul, you will see from my original reply that many of the big brands customers' do not live in London - and as a creative, you should want to understand the consumer, in order to deliver better work for your client. Indeed I do know the poor areas and the wealthy areas of London, as would anyone who has/does live there. If you want to start talking wealth and poverty, try walking through the East End of Glasgow or for wealth, try the Cotswolds. Your original post referred to why any creative would want to leave London and still call themselves top drawer. I know quite a few MD's who have upped sticks and run agencies in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Bristol. They visit London regularly and produce fantastic creative solutions for their clients. London is a hotbed of creative and for me it's usp is having so much creative in such a contained area; you have so many talented people working in London. The human demographic (and population) of the UK clearly means anywhere outside London will have less people but how that equates to them being inferior creatively is quite frankly - as you put yourself - bizarre

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12 Sep 2012 - 10:30
ronal47127's picture

I'm just laughing at some of the pathetic regional "creatives". I'm sorry your life is less Hotel du Cap and more Hotel du Thistle, but you need to face the facts: you either didn't have the talent to work in London, or you never had the balls to try. Either way you're a mediocrity. I can see why you'd be bitter though. After all, while I'm in Cape Town, Caracas or Cannes, you're in Corby, Colchester or Cumbernauld. But most of the time, you're in a dull, grey office, with dull, grey people, serving dull, grey clients, pretending to yourself that you are some kind of ad man. I'm sorry mate, you never really made it. You might do OK work for your little regional clients that nets them a decent ROI. But you'll never have the money, the lifestyle, the acclaim and the fun that I enjoy. I

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12 Sep 2012 - 11:41
James Cook

Question.

Has it motivated anyone to go after more London business then? (treat yourself) 1st class on the train, breakfast, WIFI laptop, Euston, return, better service delivery, lower costs.

Baby. Sweets. Take.

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12 Sep 2012 - 13:26
falka19026's picture

Cut the crap Its not a secret you DOOO need to be London Paris NewYork Etc Getting the train in every day from Comfyville dont cut it Massive generalisation but in essance sorry to say its the way it is

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12 Sep 2012 - 16:00
Ogilvy's picture

I happened to produce a fantastic creative solution for my local double glazing client just the other day. And I'll have you know they're opening a Primark AND Urban Outfitters in town now so you can shove your Millenium Dome up your arse.

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14 Sep 2012 - 16:51
James Cook

@Ogilvy

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13 Sep 2012 - 10:42
gareth_howells's picture

Why is this getting so much attention? Why did the Drum feel the need to do this?

Bored now.

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13 Sep 2012 - 14:14
james_trezona's picture

Thanks for the response and the context Paul. I still tend to disagree, but the world would be a duller place if uniformity of opinion were manifest. Exceptions only proof the rule, worthy and altruistic artists notwithstanding, the business heart of London is nevertheless The City, and I find that influence overshadows much of what is great about our capital. Sadly some of the ineloquent ire (on both sides) you've provoked does not bathe our industry in a glowing light, be that tungsten illumination or pastoral sunshine. Wherever we choose to call home, we should take care in our craft, be it a TV spot or a blog comment. Ours is a world-class British industry, and it is incumbent on us to uphold that legacy.

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14 Sep 2012 - 16:50
James Cook

Love all this.

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14 Sep 2012 - 20:39
Spottswoode's picture

Nice bike!

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