An agency blog with news from Breakfast plus thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants on marketing, media, technology and culture. Basically anything too long for Twitter or too random for our website.

Another perspective

March 23, 2018 Leave a comment

My personal ‘participation’ in Facebook (and Facebook-owned Instagram) has rewarded me with countless opportunities – like creative work. The first job led to another, which led to another. I used Facebook to find flatmates when I moved to Barcelona. And sold unwanted items through the site when I moved back. During a 2 month trip to New York in 2016, Facebook allowed me to discover (and generate) further creative opportunities for myself – and more importantly, it facilitated new friendships. I met my housemate through Facebook; we’re currently using it to recruit a third. I’ve attended innumerable events of all kinds over the years that I likely would never have even heard of were it not for the platform.

But above all, Facebook is what it is to me because of the groups I’ve joined. These include, but are not limited to the following (mostly renamed for accuracy of description): housemate/property search in London (and Barcelona); housemate/property search in London specifically for people of colour; “Ingredient Hunters Barcelona” (naturally); creative networking for people of African, Caribbean or Asian descent in London; last minute hospitality work in London; a community for creative/politically engaged people of colour in New York; an Oxford-based group for discussion of feminism, and the same again for race.

Take from that what you will. There’s a name-calling facility at the bottom of this post, should you feel so inclined.


The sense of community is powerful. I don’t always participate; the feeling of belonging and solidarity also comes from simply gazing gormlessly at the screen for minutes, hours, and days on end like the mindless cretin I am observing interactions. Everything I’ve learned and gained from the hundreds of (mostly) intelligent people that share on these groups daily has literally shaped my life and how I see the world – for the better (at least I think so, but then again I would). And that’s a huge part of the emotional benefit for me.

I don’t post much at all. My most recent update was on 7 September 2017 to share a teaser video for this article. The post before that was from 24 November 2016, inviting my network to a series of workshops run by my old company. I won’t share a link to that here though… #ifyouknowyouknow. In between those entries I did receive a smattering of posts to my timeline from friends wishing me happy birthday and sharing music, but not many. My privacy settings are such that if somebody tags me in anything, I am able to review it and choose whether or not it appears on my profile. I always select the latter option (but the photo can still be accessed via the page of whoever uploaded it, of course). I’ve only personally uploaded around 10 photos to my profile in my Facebook ‘career’ for my friends to see.

Nevertheless… Out of curiosity and prompted by Neil, I downloaded my Facebook data last night. The contents were unsurprising, but the format sobering. Despite considering myself a relatively private person on Facebook, seeing in one folder all the photos, videos, links, messages, screen shots, documents, voice notes (and the rest) that I’ve shared ‘privately’ to friends using the Messenger app was somewhat unsettling.

Far more unsettling, however, was the handful of (completely unsolicited) photos that non-friends had sent to me. I would share them here, but I’d probably get fired.


However engaged you’ve been with this week’s revelations, I would recommend that you download your own Facebook data and spend some time looking through it. I was fascinated by the details of my life shared back to me about myself – but more intrigued (and disturbed?) thinking about what had inevitably been omitted and why. If you don’t use the platform and have nothing better to do on a Friday night, get yourself up to speed and then have a look through the information and language used on the company’s privacy settings.




Categories: Uncategorized

Delete your account

March 19, 2018 Leave a comment

Long before ‘Delete your account’ became, fleetingly, the online riposte de nos jours, I knew, somewhere at the bottom of my cerebral hard drive, that committing so much personal information to various anonymous dotcom entities was something I might possibly look back on with regret.

I deleted my rarely used but occasionally browsed Facebook account back in 2009, but had to take it out of mothballs for professional reasons. It’s hard to develop an app for a platform you’re not on.

Anyway, here we are nine years later and I’ve just set the wheels in motion to delete my Facebook account all over again. During those nine years, my interactions with Facebook have largely comprised blocking any ‘friends’ who have shared content from Britain First, blocking friends whose posts break my fairly relaxed inanity rules, blocking friends who post pictures of their children in school uniform (harsh, but you know… standards), blocking friends who share anything that’s obviously ignorant/ written by a Russian bot, and trying hard not to block friends who simply overshare on an industrial scale. Yes, I can be a judgmental arsehole. So what?

In short, my feed had become a sorry list of work-related and/ or sponsored posts, interspersed with various sports teams/ bands I follow. Nothing I couldn’t find elsewhere – specifically on Twitter – in more succinct form.

I’d never posted my birthdate on Facebook, having once read that it is sensible to limit how much relatively hard to find personal information one should share, but that was torpedoed by some friends wishing me a happy birthday via the medium I’d tried to avoid. I’m sure they have an algorithm that picks up on clues like that.


Buuutttt… he looks so cuddly

Anyhow, my vaguely uncomfortable relationship with Facebook took on a more pronounced form when, shortly before Trump’s election, a friend explained to me at great length why Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be President, listing a number of reasons about which I had heard literally nothing. You know, the child abusing, FBI-murdering rumours that you could only find where he did – on Facebook.

I challenged the veracity, but he insisted it was true: “It came from a story in an American newspaper.” Reader, it didn’t.

You may know this already. You may know that Boris Johnson admitted inventing the “EU bans bendy bananas” story. That’s because, like me, you read stuff in “the mainstream media”, that much maligned ‘blob’ which actually comprises, by and large, credible news organisations staffed by intelligent, principled people. Not fake shit that’s posted to your timeline because you’ve shared content from Britain First or UKIP.

Back to the point. It’s ironic that in the week Facebook finally got round to banning the traitorous, ignorant, racist and inflammatory inadequates at Britain First, the Cambridge Analytica story was confirmed. Guess what? Facebook is, on balance, a bad thing. I’d explain why, but if you’re reading this, you’ll probably know.

In the meantime, I’ll be on Twitter for Bob Mortimer’s lists of cat names, and train delays in real time. See you there…

Rhyme and reason

In the week that the NME finally gave up the ghost and scrapped its print edition, my Twitter feed was full of like-minded souls (most of whom used to write for it) mourning its demise.

Back in the day (from about 1983 to 1990-something), I loved the NME. It, along with John Peel and a couple of friends, shaped my musical tastes. Apart from being a huge fan of many of the bands it championed, I loved its worldview, and the certainty which accompanied it. At the age of 13, when a journo who clearly worships the same bands as you tells you that x is great and x is not, you don’t question it. At least I didn’t.

As a result, I have always possessed some rather firm opinions about music. Is it musical snobbery? Possibly. I will never be persuaded that the execrable Queen aren’t the worst band ever. I can’t think of any occasion when I would be more conflicted than having to endure ‘We Are The Champions’  should Spurs ever win, well, anything. It would be the ultimate mood-killer.


It’s really not a kind of magic, fellas

Anyhow, snobbery takes many forms, and during my time in advertising I have encountered significant resistance to rhyme, and especially rhyming endlines.

Somehow, it’s considered cheap and easy to produce a brand line that captures the desired sentiment and also carries a built-in sonic mnemonic (tah-dah!). Let me tell you, it’s not. I can remember many occasions when my creative director heard one of my apologetically proffered rhymes and turned his nose up while sporting an expression that said, “Really, you little moron?”. At least that’s how I interpreted it at the time.

Why? I can only assume that one man’s rhyming genius sounds like hapless doggerel to another. And maybe that’s the case. But it sure helps people remember what you say.

As my own boss, I happily bought ‘AutoRestore. Repairs at your door’ for one of our founding clients, and would do the same again. And the strength of rhyme was reiterated last week, when everyone in the country said the phrase ‘Beast from the east’ at least twenty times in four days, and Dave Trott wrote this paean to rhyme in ads.

I’ll promise to set aside my musical snobbery if you’ll give me rhyming copy. Ok?

Ok. Just don’t get me started on puns…


It’s cold out there…

March 1, 2018 1 comment

For every person you will see bundled up in a doorway or lying outside a shop on your way home this evening, how many others are hidden away out of sight? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

A smile, some change, a hot tea, a sandwich… They all make a little difference – but nowhere near enough. Especially not in this weather. If you feel any kind of way about rough sleeping (read: devastated and powerless) I suggest that you look up, download, and use StreetLink.

If you’re a cynic like me and often wonder if the “good” companies and charities you support are doing more harm than good (or simply nothing at all), or if the “good” actions you choose to undertake are ultimately meaningless and inconsequential… Watch the video below. This isn’t one of those instances.

“One day I was just sitting down and someone approached me from an outreach team; asked me how long I had been homeless, asked me about myself, and they referred me to a night shelter. It wasn’t until about three or four months later that I found out that someone had actually referred me from StreetLink… If I hadn’t been referred to StreetLink by a member of the public, I’m pretty sure I would still be homeless at this point in time.”


Creating a StreetLink alert through the app takes about 3 minutes – please use it, and provide as much detail as possible. You can also refer someone through the website or call the team on 0300 500 0914.

Find them on Twitter: @Tell_StreetLink


Categories: Uncategorized

All mouth and no trousers

February 23, 2018 Leave a comment

Don’t be misled by the length of Aisha’s last blog post – we’re rather busy here at Breakfast. Indeed we’ve rarely been this busy during our nine-year existence. Unfortunately, we don’t have much to show for it – yet.


Some of the Breakfast team acting out a familiar phrase or saying, yesterday

Having signed various NDAs and the like, all I’m at liberty to tell you is that we are three months into an extremely large and exciting brand building project (and much more) with a famous global company, have completed the renaming and rebranding of a leading London-based executive coaching business, have renamed and will shortly be launching an exciting new attraction at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, are designing and building a new website for the lovely people at Torque and have completed the branding of an e-money and payment company.

Only that last example is live, so be my guest and take a look at Hopefully you’ll like the brand, and, more importantly, the business it’s attached to. If you have a spare million pounds, they’ll be happy to welcome you as a customer.

Other than that, it’s watch this space, I’m afraid. All I can say is that an agency that has evolved to become what we are now – brand builders – is getting on and building some brands.

Food ramble

February 21, 2018 Leave a comment

A framble?

Loyal readers* will remember this excerpt from my article on November 17:

Usually when I go out to eat, I want to:

  • Order a bunch of plates to share
  • Get my hands dirty
  • Sweat profusely from the spice
  • Not feel out of place in trainers
  • Talk at length about the meal
  • Drink quite a lot, affordably

I also gave a short list of eateries that cater (sorry) to my simple needs and provide delicious, delicious food. Asma Khan’s Darjeeling Express is now on that list.

The first thing I learned about Asma was that on the restaurant’s launch night, she fed 300 vulnerable local people rather than “round-bottomed food critics” such as Grace Dent – Dent’s own words, not mine. Was it a good PR move? Well, yes. Was it also a kind and generous gesture with real benefit to the recipients, and a genuine reflection of Asma’s giving nature, despite the former cynical observation? Also yes.

I turned a year older on the weekend and I think I’m becoming soft. Shite.

We managed to get a lunchtime reservation on a second try. Our first attempt was a fruitless, foolish same-day request, but Asma encouraged my mother to message her directly on Instagram with a new date. And so she did. When the day finally came around, I walked in to find mum laughing and nattering away to Asma herself. Though they had just met, they conversed with the ease, warmth, and familiarity of old friends. Watching Asma chatting to her staff and making rounds of the restaurant, it’s clear that she that she just has that effect on people.

Here are just some of the ways that people have described Asma in interviews and reviews:

  • Unreservedly authentic
  • Formidably intelligent
  • Gregarious
  • Intensely curious
  • Enthusiastic
  • A force of nature
  • Funny
  • Philanthropic
  • Unstoppable

An enviable list of accolades. The praise for her recipes and cooking is equally impressive and rounded.

According to their website, the menu at Darjeeling Express changes every 8 weeks “to reflect the seasonality of vegetables from our organic British producers.” I’m a serious carnivore, although I sometimes have a niggling doubt… And that doubtful part of me should probably point out that as of this month, the restaurant offers a Meat-Free Monday menu.

We went on a Saturday.

As starters, we chose:

  • Tangra chilli prawns – Calcutta is the only city in India with a Chinatown (Tangra) & these prawns are infused with all the Indo-Chinese flavours of the region
  • Mutton shikampuri kabab – Aromatic spiced & minced mutton cakes stuffed with a thin layer of hung yoghurt & chopped mint leaves
  • Vegetarian puchkas – Wheat & semolina shells filled with spiced black chickpeas, potatoes & tamarind water

Our selection of mains comprised:

  • Makhana paneer – Indian cheese in a creamy nut base gravy with peanuts, lotus seeds & almonds
  • Venison kofta – Venison meatballs cooked with shikar masala (hunting spices) & served in a creamy tomato & chili sauce
  • Goat kosha mangsho – Slow cooked Bengali goat curry with the occasional potato

Accompanied by a few sides…

  • Hyderabadi tamarind dal – Tangy lentils tempered with dried red chillies & curry leaves
  • Puris – Fried bread
  • Brown basmati rice – Wild rice cooked with onions & cardamom

And as there’s always room for dessert (in the Pegley family at least):

  • Bhapa doi – Benghali steamed yoghurt dessert
  • Gajjar ka halwa – Carrot halwa, garnished with pistachios & served with cream

I couldn’t choose a favourite. The old man thought the prawns were a narrow winner – but for a while, he struggled to answer. For me, the most impressive part of the experience was that the dishes were consistently fantastic – which is so rare. I had a similar experience at Gunpowder (Liverpool Street) – an evening that turned out to be costly, but worth it. We ordered round after round of small plates, and each one seemed to deliver more flavour than the last.

Here’s some relatively crap photos of a modest selection of the mind-blowingly delicious dishes we ordered at Gunpowder (totalling about nine or ten):

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28313701_783409208536899_673734819_n.jpg 28313464_783409168536903_1221074055_n.jpg

Photo credit: my hot date

Whereas Gunpowder was an intense, explosive, exciting evening experience with a long wait, quite a lot of booze before and during the meal, not that much light, and very few, relatively small tables (we bumped knees, sat elbow to elbow with our fellow diners, and knocked over our beer cans – not just because of the content within), walking into the light-filled Darjeeling Express on the top floor of Kingly Court in Soho was wildly different – especially given that we went in the daytime. There was room to breathe and talk and reflect on the food properly, and although we had a time limit on our reservation, we didn’t feel rushed. The experience seemed to reflect Asma’s whole MO. “My clients come to eat, and they stay,” she remarked to us – a fact which can make life at Darjeeling Express very hectic when they have tight reservation schedules.

But onto the food.

The prawns were… Prawny. I mean this in a good way. Each one was juicy and firm. They were drenched in flavour, but the gentle taste of the prawn itself was still very much present in every mouthful. This doesn’t always happen in restaurants. Although it may look like a prawn, act like a prawn, and come prepared as a prawn ‘should’, the lack of flavour and succulence can sometimes make me question if it is actually a prawn, or just a miscellaneous semi-chewy thing. The prawns (OK – last time) were accompanied by a single, dark, dried chilli. We split it between the three of us. Boring people gawp at me when I eat, and tell me it’s a miracle that I can taste anything at all given how much spicy stuff I pile on to everything – to which I roll my eyes. Naturally, I didn’t think a third of a dried chilli would be enough. It was. The flavour was smoky, almost burnt – and it was hot. Probably too hot for most people – but perhaps I’m underestimating the general British public (forgive me if my expectations are low #brexit).

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 15.43.26.png

Tangra chilli prawns. Photo credit:

The mutton shikampuri kabab made me “Mmmmm…” instinctively on the first bite.  Although the phrase ‘mutton cake’ didn’t necessarily  conjure up associations of fresh flavours and a light texture when I read it on the menu, the reality delivered. The little patties were presented simply and invitingly. Each mouthful was meaty, fragrant and fresh all at once – helped by the chopped mint. The light consistency combined with the intense but gentle seasoning had me reeling. And the puchkas had the same effect. The array of flavours and textures and worked perfectly: the crunch of the thin but sturdy shell, the warmth of the spices in the soft potato and chickpea mix nestled inside, and the refreshingly cold and zesty tamarind water. The second puchka retained its crunch even though I took too long between pouring in the tamarind water and popping the whole thing into my mouth, on account of still using my jaw to rave about the first one. Puchkas may be a common snack in India, but this part of the starter was a novelty for all three of us.

Asma cleared our plates, and returned our beaming smiles.

The mains arrived promptly. (By the way, if you’re waiting for a punchline during which I reveal the ‘but’ of the whole experience – it’s not coming. Seriously). There was a distinctive flavour to the meat itself in both the goat and venison dishes. And the accompanying sauces were each unforgettable. Some of the spice combinations warmed both my belly and my heart – the goat kosha mangsho (pictured below, in the middle) tasted remarkably similar to certain preparations of Indonesian rendang (a favourite of mine, especially when cooked by my mum). But the seasoning was blended in such a way that no one spice or flavour was so overwhelming or dominant that I could have picked it out for identification (not that I am an expert in the flavours of the royal Mughlai and Nawabi school of cuisine of Asma’s ancestry, nor the street food flavours of Calcutta where she was born and raised. Maybe one day).


The main course

I’ll move on to the paneer dish (pictured above, bottom left), which may have been my favourite after all. The cheese itself was smooth but definitely had some body – an intriguing and luxurious combination which, when combined with the rich flavours of the sauce, made it near impossible to stop spooning onto my plate. I tend to order some variation of paneer when I go out for Indian food (which isn’t infrequently) – but I’ve never had it like this, not even on a trip to Kerala in December. Paneer has a gentle taste and is used as a vehicle for other flavours – much like some preparations of tofu in Indonesian cooking. The chunks in this instance were a good size – not so small that they got lost in the thick sauce, and not so big that they dominated the dish or left behind that intense flavour. When the bowl arrived at the table it didn’t strike me as particularly large, but it turned out to be the gift that kept on giving. The dal existed as a gentle, warming, and fragrant accompaniment to all of the plates, and there was plenty leftover which we mopped up with the remaining rice and puri.

Wow. I need to get back to work.

Writing or speaking, brevity has never been my forte. But it would be a shame to get this far and not mention the delicious puddings… So I’ll leave a photo below and sign off. But before I go: please do support the restaurant. Besides the food, Asma is an incredible – and incredibly fascinating – individual, and I haven’t even scratched the surface. To learn more about her and keep up with the restaurant’s news, visit the Darjeeling Express blog. There, you’ll find out the reasons that the restaurant’s kitchen team is made up exclusively of women – none of whom has ever been professionally trained. You can also jump to these stories here or here.


Pudding. Left: bhapa doiBenghali steamed yoghurt dessert, and right: gajjar ka halwa – Carrot halwa, garnished with pistachios and served with cream

If anyone from an exciting food brand happens to be reading this (and has actually managed to get this far without keeling over), do get in touch to say hello. And if your brand isn’t exciting – well, maybe we can help you with that. We have some big and wonderful clients at the moment, but none of their products are edible (believe me I’ve tried). And that is a shame.


*Thanks to every single one of you that exists in my head

Categories: Uncategorized

“The next station stop for this train is Daily Mail Island.”

January 10, 2018 Leave a comment

I’ve read a lot of tosh from people whose opinions I usually respect suggesting that Virgin’s decision to remove the Daily Mail from the very shortlist of newspapers it sells on its trains is censorship.

I work with brands. Brands are very keen on producing lists of their ‘Brand Values’. Often, these can be pretty banal statements of the obvious, usually with the word ‘Passion’ somewhere near the top, setting my teeth on edge and causing an imperceptible twitch at the corner of my left eye.

But equally often, they’ll talk about respect, equality and suchlike.

Very few brands espouse regularly fomenting hatred by continually spreading misinformation and prejudice, often based on factual inaccuracies, leading to the persecution and bullying of vulnerable, weak or disadvantaged people with the objective of making our country and the world less tolerant and kind. I’m assuming those are the Daily Mail’s values – or somewhere close.

I’m fairly certain they’re not Virgin’s.

If those values are diametrically opposed to your brand’s, you’d have a duty not to stock the shitrag.

2) Virgin operates a train service, not a newsagents. They’re not censoring the Daily Mail; they’re choosing not to stock it, just as they don’t stock the Guardian, the Sun or the Telegraph. That’s not censorship, either.

3) 99% of Virgin’s passengers have smartphones and, should the Wifi occasionally kick in, are able to read MailOnline on their phone, getting their regular dose of innuendo-laden photography of pubescent women and bullshit political opinion dressed up as news.

4) Virgin trains’ journeys involve train stations, where newsagents can often be found.

God knows it’s hard to take Richard Branson’s side in a fight, but in this one I’m firmly in the corner of the Necker Island-dwelling bearded totem.