Engine not firing on all cylinders

…is about ideas. Ideas that make people think, make people smile, make people laugh, make people change the way they behave. It’s about creativity. Creativity in advertising and design. Creativity in the field of poetry, literature and screenplays. It’s about art. Sharing it, discovering it. Trying to understand it. It’s about getting things done. Not waiting for someone else to do it, or relying on someone else to get it done for you. As Mahatma Gandhi said: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I have over 25 years experience in the ad industry working for agency brands such as: DDB; TBWA; BBDO; O&M and McCann’s as a CD / AD / CW. I have won over 100 awards, including Cannes; D&AD; One Show; Campaign and Epica. For brands such as: VW; Audi; Carlsberg; Black & White Whisky, Smirnoff, Coors, Cadbury’s; Coca-Cola; Heinz; Peugeot; Nissan and Meteor to name a few.

I’m also a published writer, I was short listed for the Independent on Sunday Short Story Competition in 1997. My short story, “Woman’s Best Friend”, also appears in the IOS New Stories published by Bloomsbury.

My poetry has been widely published in Ireland, Britain and the US in anthologies and periodicals such as: The U.S. Literary Review, Envoi, Cyphers, Electric Acorn, W.P. Monthly, Lifelines 3, The Haiku Quarterly and The Amnesty International Anthology: Human Rights Have No Borders.

I am the author of six feature length screenplays, six short films, a collection of short stories, a poetry collection and my first novel which contains 85,000 words, some of which are in the correct order.

Take a look at this graduate recruitment film for Engine.


The film, presented by Tim Westwood, extols the virtues of Engine being a ‘best in class’ 360 / integrated / TTL / digital / and a whatever-else-you-might-need agency for the 21st century.

The problem is – it’s diabolical.

Not only is it unoriginal, it’s a desperately poorly made unoriginal idea.

I’m staggered it even made it to the Creative Director’s door, let alone out again.

It may be a spoof. It may be tongue-in-cheek. But what it certainly isn’t, is creative.

The other problem I have, is with the concept of the agency, rather than the concept of the film. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be integrated. But let’s not pretend you’re unique.

A few years ago now, London agencies cottoned onto the idea that if they did TTL campaigns rather than just ATL, they’d make more money.

Agencies outside of London had been doing this for years.

Primarily because clients wanted a one-stop-shop and didn’t see the value of employing specialists in various fields.

I believe the same is true today of the ‘360′ offering purported to be unique by Engine. I can think of at least half a dozen shops in Manchester who’ve been doing it for a few years now.

Anyhoop, back to my point: The last thing an agency should be doing if they’re claiming to be ‘best in class’ is an embarrassing, cringe-worthy piece that wouldn’t even make it into the undergrad’s book that they’re trying to coax.

An old adage springs to mind: Don’t tell me you’re funny; tell me a joke.

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