An old workmate of mine - let’s call him (as he calls himself) “the Egyptian” – lived by the motto “try everything twice, if you like it, do it again - if not, then stop”.
I thought this advice was decadent and reckless (much like the Egyptian himself) but I’m beginning to think that there’s something to this idea of giving everything another go before you pass judgement.
My job is often making split-second decisions on ideas, however, I try and always give them the overnight test to make sure I’m not throwing out a bit of hidden genius.
But in culture, we’re hurtling towards seeing everything in black and white. Swipe left or right. Every comment or piece of news demands an immediate opinion. The world is becoming black and white - but what if we persevered to find another perspective before we jump to conclusions.
It’s what I’ve been thinking about this month, as I’ve been at Facebook’s Global Creative Council in NYC, exploring what’s next for their platforms, and how we might find more marginal voices to support.
I’ve been to New York innumerable times and always found it a drag of a place. It always feels like all tug and no happy finish. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some fun times, but this trip I’ve fallen head over heels in love with the place. I don’t know where the feelings came from, but I suddenly get why so many of my most talented and vibrant mates have disappeared over the pond.
Maybe it’s because I’m so often here for work, flying in and out, never giving it the breathing room to make sense of the beat of the city. Walking the same streets now, it’s been a revelation as I feel them come alive for the first time.
I had the same experience with Berlin, despite it being the industrial goth-haven I fantasised about at art school. I hated it (when I was there for work) then loved it (when I was there for pleasure). Sometimes it’s not the thing that’s wrong, it’s the perspective and the context that’s out of place.
So I’ve been giving things another go this month, trying things a second time and giving that overnight test to a few pieces of work that I felt needed deeper questioning at first, but are trying to do something positive in the world. I’ve put aside the cynicism and the hasty decisions and enjoyed myself.
The new Barclaycard ads by Droga5 have grown on me massively. They walk a fine line between being weirdly entertaining and a celebration of the amazing small businesses across the UK. When the first one landed, I couldn’t quite figure out if it hit the mark, and it made me uncomfortable. But having seen the second in the series, I love how different they are, and how genuinely creative. So much more exciting than a testimonial ad. I’m now a massive fan.
I’d not paid enough credit to Mother’s work for the Samaritans because I’d seen a few handwritten campaigns that felt inspired by ‘Notes to Strangers’ lately. In fact, we’d done something similar ourselves last year for Stonewall with messages from LGBT allies. But take my adland hat off and the Samaritan’s work is just so powerful. How many times have we made ideas more complicated that what they should be, in order to make them more different? When actually it’s the simplicity and empathy is what counts.
Two quality campaigns that at first I was ready to dismiss, that actually feel full of value, heart and fun.
Last time I saw The Egyptian was as he was jumping on a motorbike to cruise through the Riviera. He almost persuaded me to go with him. I still think he’s reckless but next time I’ll think again about taking him up on it.