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It’s been emotional

A few years back, one of my former colleagues and I branched off to work on a football-related project. He had – and has – absolutely no interest in football; to the extent that he isn’t even familiar with the names of some of our nation’s world-famous clubs.

When I asked why, he said that he had enough ups, downs, happiness and pain in everyday life. Why would he want any more?

If you’re not a football fan, you won’t understand that supporting a team is not necessarily a choice, it’s just part of who you are. I’m Tottenham. I have been since the age of 7, and there’s not a fat lot I can do about it. My great-grandfather played in the victorious 1921 FA Cup winning side, both sides of my family originate from the Tottenham/ Edmonton/ Wood Green area and no one on my mum or dad’s side of the family has ever supported another team. It’s Spurs all the way.

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Jimmy Banks, my great-grandfather and Tottenham Hotspur footballer

I’m not given to displays of emotion in every day life. I don’t cry. I’m not very tactile – to say the least – and I don’t talk about emotions. I’m English, in other words.

Clearly, I am dealing with some deep-seated issues, and a work-related blog is not the place to get into those. But I don’t think I’m unique amongst a certain strain of my fellow countrymen, and like many of those fellas, the much needed outlet for my repressed feelings is football.

Was the best day of my life when my children were born or when I saw Spurs win the UEFA Cup in 1984? I can’t really answer that, but I only helplessly screamed myself hoarse in happiness on one of those occasions.

Do I still become disproportionately miserable when Spurs lose? I do. Does someone identifying themselves as a fellow fan make me predisposed to think well of them? It does. Have I employed someone on the spot when their football allegiance became clear? I don’t think that decision falls foul of any employment legislation.

Anyway, you get the picture.

This Sunday is Spurs’ final game at the stadium where I have spent a significant proportion of my life. I hadn’t been especially sentimental about this, as the amazing new ground taking shape next door will signal a long overdue step forward. But still…years sitting in the East Stand, next to my dad, watching Glenn Hoddle, Chris Waddle, Ossie Ardiles, Micky Hazard, Steve Archibald, Jurgen Klinsmann, Teddy Sheringham, Gary Mabbutt, Ledley King, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric… I have spent so much of my life there, experiencing every emotion under the sun (and that’s not an exaggeration – I was there on the evening that Fabrice Muamba collapsed and, we thought, died on the pitch at White Hart Lane), that for the stadium to be demolished this coming Monday can’t leave me unmoved.

I’ve mourned Bill Nicholson, seethed at the cynicism of Sam Allardyce’s Bolton side on that same day (the antithesis of “It’s all about glory…”), and, of course, erupted in happiness as crucial goals are scored, important saves are made and vital games are won.

If you don’t get it, fine; football isn’t for everyone. Sport isn’t for everyone. But there are few times or places  in our lives when we can forget the really important stuff and surrender ourselves to something that, while not actually a matter of life and death, certainly feels like it for 90 minutes every weekend.

Goodbye, White Hart Lane. I’ll miss you, but you’ll always be part of me.

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Categories: blogging for Britain

I’ll keep this short

Here are some things I recommend you watch or listen to if you get the chance:

Athletico Mince – If you think Bob Mortimer is a comic genius, this podcast is for you. If you don’t, listen to it and you’ll change your mind. It is sometimes referred to as a football podcast, but it isn’t, although knowing what Sean Dyche and Steve McClaren (both below) look like will aid your enjoyment. Start at about episode 12 and enjoy the progression. And never look the laird in the eye.

Hell Or High Water and Get Out – The last two movies I watched have both been exceptional. I won’t summarise them for you – that’s what Rotten Tomatoes is for – but if you missed these, do what you can to see them.

Front Row Seat to Earth by Weyes Blood – Natalie Mering’s voice is transcendental. Play this with the lights off, or your eyes closed, or while taking in the bucolic view of your choice, and the world becomes a better place.

The Power of the Dog and The Cartel by Don Winslow – David Simon’s The Corner and Homicide used real life events on the streets of Baltimore to highlight the idiocy of The War Against Drugs, in a pair of books whose occasional departure from the narrative allowed the author to display some of the finest contemporary writing I have read. Don Winslow takes a slightly different tack by turning the exploits of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman into a pair of long, fictionalized accounts of Mexico’s drug trade, and the United States’ intermittent efforts to control/ exploit/ profit from this lucrative cross border powder trail. If you’ve ever bought illegal drugs, you’ve contributed to horrendous, violent, grisly deaths like those chronicled here. Just say no, kids.

That’s it. As you were.

 

 

My goat has been got

April 18, 2017 Leave a comment

SPOILER ALERT: What follows is a personal opinion, shared by the owner of my business (i.e. me). Discussion, debate and dissenting views welcome.

My goat has been got is not a Grandaddy song title; it’s my reaction to the announcement of a General Election on June 8th.

On the day that the UK offically triggered Article 50, Ed and I were present at a Brexit talk by Keir Starmer. Starmer impressed me, largely because he provided a bipartisan perspective on the situation the UK finds itself in.

Whatever you think of Jeremy Corbyn, Brexit, and the strange, fence-straddling position of the Labour Party, it was actually refreshing to hear a senior politician concentrate exclusively on getting the best deal for Britain. Starmer is clearly intent on using his powers of scrutiny to help achieve such a deal, and didn’t allude to any party political considerations. It was admirable, grown up stuff.

Instead, he talked about the message he’d heard all over the country, but especially from business* people, about the potentially catastrophic repercussions of a hard Brexit, and pledged to put pressure on the government to accept a deal that avoided the type of seismic shock that a hard Brexit will likely represent.

Indeed that very day at the despatch box, Theresa May had suggested that she would try and ensure Labour’s Brexit tests would be met, while continuing to parrot (understandably) her mantra about “the best deal for Britain”. What politician would promise anything else?

Starmer also described how David Davis – the man charged with delivering Brexit – was hearing the same messages about hard Brexit and adjusting his stance accordingly. I left the meeting feeling optimistic that Theresa May might just be playing a bit of a blinder, by allowing the harsh daylight of a hard Brexit to turn the living dead on the Tory right into ash: a gaunt, terrified line of John Redwoods and Jacob Rees Moggs spontaneously combusting and, hopefully, disappearing forever more. That’s one way of ensuring you don’t have to live in a changing world, isn’t it chaps?

It would be not only be possible to do this while satisfying everyone apart from the staunchest UKIP blowhards and retards, it’s clearly the right thing to do if you accept that the decision to leave the EU is final. In other words, this is going to hurt for a while but let’s not cut off our nose, arms, legs and genitals while we’re at it.

I should have realised that a politician capable of making the kind of brain dead intervention May made recently about Easter eggs would not be capable of using this delicate balance of power to achieve consensus. Instead, she’s taken the opportunistic and cynical political decision to hold a General Election while describing this as a move towards unity. May also misrepresented Labour’s position and, like most of the press, continues to paint any opposition to Brexit as a form of treason rather than an entirely reasonable response to the horrific prospect of people any normal person would jump in front of a train to avoid talking to dictating the terms of our exit from the EU.

All she is actually doing is providing another opportunity for the usual suspects to lie, cheat, steal (copyright Run the Jewels) and fool us into voting for more cuts in health, education, social care and basic fucking humanity while at the same time our economy undergoes a seismic shock.

As yet another Conservative who never actually mentions conserving the one thing we should all agree on – the environment – she has proved herself to be the ultimate short-termist, self-interested career politician; clearly hamstrung by a middling intellect and surrounded by men who have as much in common with modern Britain as Donald Trump has with coalminers in Virginia.

Meanwhile on Twitter, the type of people who park in a disabled space and then give you the middle-finger for calling them on it are harrumphing triumphantly about making sure UKIP’s agenda is followed, and the remnants of this once admirable, tolerant, humane and self-effacing nation slip from Dover’s white cliffs into a sea which will be two metres higher in 50 years.

Still, at least Spurs are playing well.

*Ed and I were attending a Labour Business event in Westminster.

Edit: This article makes many of the same points as I have, but with fewer swear words

Edit 2: Deutsche Bank (among others) think that May has called the election to secure an increased majority to ensure a softer Brexit. There are several highly-paid city analysts who subscribe to this view (hence Sterling’s recovery). If true, this would force me to assume my previously-held position, and acknowledge that Theresa is, indeed, an intellectual heavyweight and tactical genius. However, given that the existing tiny majority and resultant scrutiny will also lead to a soft Brexit, I think this is absolute bollocks. Of course city analysts have a well-known ability to predict seismic political and/ or socio-economic events…

 

A Breakfast tale: How to rebrand your business in two months

April 3, 2017 1 comment

When successful online marketplace services provider Torque Omni-Channel approached us a couple of months ago about rebranding their business, they weren’t interested in a superficial cosmetic refresh (not that we do those anyway).

Their brief was straightforward and concise: they wanted a new name and accompanying brand identity. And they wanted it quickly.

Fortunately, that’s the kind of brief the Breakfast team likes.

The start of the process to the launch of the new brand (which went live on the last day of March) took a little under two months. In that time, we presented a longer-than-usual shortlist of nine potential new names, and then developed four distinct, fully-realised brand identity ideas to bring the chosen name to life.

Here is the winner.

As with any creative process, we believe the work is only as good as the brief and decision-making allow it to be. In this case, both of those were excellent. You can make up your own mind about the result… BZAR-strapline-zigzag

Bet you hadn’t heard of Wayne Shaw before this week

February 22, 2017 Leave a comment

wayne-shaw-the-sutton-reserve-goalkeepereats-a-pie-in-the-dugout-at-halftime

I don’t know what it says about my television viewing habits these days, but I reckon every fourth ad I see is for a betting company. While TV ad budgets have shrunk in nearly every other sector, betting has grown massively; partly because until 2006 (or thereabouts) betting companies couldn’t advertise on the telly. (I wrote the first TV ad for a betting company to run in the UK. But that’s another story.)

Since then, the high street giants at Ladbrokes, William Hill and Coral have seen any number of new companies enter this burgeoning market. Paddy Power, Betfair, Bet 365… with barriers to entry so low following the arrival of online betting, it’s come down to a straight fight: whose ads are most successful?

And so to Wayne Shaw. The portly reserve goalkeeper had already attracted some attention during Sutton United’s FA Cup run, but nothing to rival the hoo-ha he caused in the final minutes of their fifth round game versus Arsenal. To general hilarity, he was observed munching on a meat pie while sitting on the subs bench. Naively, I assumed he was just engaging in some *arsehole-klaxon* banter, but in fact he was ensuring that several lucky punters landed their 8-1 punt with Sun Bets that he’d be seen eating a pie during the game.

Just as Wayne’s existence had been a mystery to me before this week, I was also unaware of Sun Bets. Naturally given their association with the newspaper of the same name, ethical concerns won’t have been front of mind when they dreamed up the idea for the bet.

Now the truth behind the bet/ stunt is still unclear. Suffice to say, the outcome for Wayne – losing his job for eating a pie – feels a tad harsh, regardless of the rules governing betting. The common sense response would be to ban bets that are subject to obvious manipulation and are thinly-veiled publicity stunts; or to let the firms offering such silly bets suffer for their own stupidity.

This bet did nothing to undermine the integrity of the game: it just made football (particularly Sutton) look humourless and allowed Piers Morgan to use the incident as an example of “PC”. (It’s not political correctness, Piers mate; stop with your overt ignorance-signalling.)

But it has to be said, this farrago has possibly done more for Sun Bets than any number of cheap TV ads would have, and for a tiny fraction of the cost – even if a hundred of Wayne’s mates had piled on. And that makes me as sad as the fact that Wayne Shaw is now without a job.

Why? Because if – and I suspect it’s possible – Sun Bets told Wayne to eat the pie, to generate publicity for them, it’s just very disappointing. The advertising professional within me should admire such lateral thinking, but instead I’m just disillusioned that such a seemingly impromptu and funny act was calculated, commerce-driven and cynical.

Maybe I should forgive William Hill their god awful TV spots. At least they only look cheap.

Here, Paul MacInnes in the Guardian makes lots of the same points as I did (as well as some other, more considered ones).

We hate to say we told you so…

February 14, 2017 Leave a comment

One of the most enjoyable aspects of our industry is the opportunity to work in myriad sectors and disciplines. It’s thanks to this that three years ago, the Breakfast team became immersed in the world of social care.

Our exposure to the challenges (for want of a better euphemism) in the world of care provision left us in no doubt that this would be one of the biggest issues facing our society going forward. You can read about it in several of our historical blog posts.

Anyhow, recently so many of the chickens in social care have come home to roost that even the most short sighted among us have realised someone’s going to have to build a new coop.

Our work in the sector was curtailed by our clients being among the first to recognise that the state was simply not allocating sufficient money to sustain care at levels which were already parlous. Effectively, they told us they didn’t want us to help them win new contracts: they couldn’t afford to fulfil them.

Subsequently, other providers have withdrawn from the sector. Carers remain hideously underpaid, undervalued and at the mercy of unscrupulous employers.

The government has acknowledged that “something must be done”, but this isn’t a party political issue. It’s a state of affairs that we, as a society, have allowed to fester over the past few decades. Our elderly and disabled – at least those without the means to provide for themselves – have been marginalised and left behind, while some families seem to have stopped caring for their own. If I hadn’t seen a carer open an old man’s fridge and discover that his nephews had stolen the food she’d bought for him the day before (from her own pocket), I wouldn’t believe it possible.

As for carers themselves, they’re victims of a market which invariably values the ability to empathise with, relate to and show compassion for their fellow humans at a fraction of its worth.

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           Sharon, one of many committed, skilled and invaluable care workers we encountered

So what to do? It seems to me that as a society, we have a decision to make: do we truly value health and social care – whether public or private – or not? The recent stand-off between Surrey County Council and the government is indicative of the tension between central and local government: who is going to risk the unpopularity that invariably accompanies asking taxpayers for more cash?

Our former clients spanned both the public and private sectors and it was clear to us that individuals with the ability to provide for themselves were going to have to do so without any help at all from the state. And the threshold at which that state help is withdrawn will be significantly lower than it used to be.

That brings us to another enjoyable aspect of advertising and marketing; that of employing creative thinking to solve seemingly intractable problems. Much in the way that an experiment in Stockholm rewarded drivers who obeyed the speed limit by using fines from speeding drivers to enter responsible drivers into a lottery, isn’t it time that government utilised our creative minds to solve seemingly impossible challenges, such as paying for social care and the NHS in a rapidly ageing population? It might save them – and us – a fortune.

Here at Breakfast, we found the opportunity to work in the broken care sector fascinating: we’d love to be part of a solution too. Creativity is one of our nation’s most valuable assets. Let’s deploy it  wisely.

 

Categories: blogging for Britain

Dry January?

January 27, 2017 Leave a comment

It’s been all quiet on the blog front for the past few weeks. Sorry.

None of the Breakfast team has, as far as I am aware, sworn off alcohol during January, but with a number of projects on the go it’s been all work and no play for the most part, save for the enthusiastic business-related consumption of several exotic Latvian alcopops (Chris). Blogging has had to take a back seat.

In December we turned around a video for medical equipment giants Omron, completed a large research product for our good friends at AutoRestore and embarked on two pitches (one down, one to go). A social media project for Moskovskaya kept us busy over Christmas and this year we’ve already conceived, written and produced an email campaign for Energy Scanner (see below).

energy-scanner

We’ve had the go ahead on jobs for four new clients and are pushing ahead on another exciting AutoRestore task, as well as beginning the next stage of our campaign for the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

In fact, 2017 has started so well that it’s tempting to think the only thing between Breakfast and world domination is the implosion of western democracy in the hands of an incompetent American President and a subsequent nuclear apocalypse.

Bugger.