Thursday, May 27, 2010

Abandon all hope

Nobody who works in advertising can avoid it: the shitty jobs. The jobs that are not creative, aren't fun to do and often makes shitloads of money for the agency. The last reason is why agencies put up with clients who give these shitty jobs. Every agency has them, no matter how creative. I did a terrible job for Saatchi New York, I made loads of awful work for Duval Guillaume and within 2 months I've already made something bad at Lemz.

There's a common misconception that, if you are in the right agency and a more creative agency, you'll get better briefings. Yes, some agencies tell that they only have good briefs, but they are lying. But surely, the briefings get better when you become senior? Nope, if you have more experience you only get bigger shitty jobs.

I think you shouldn't hope too much as a creative team. The job you have now is your biggest opportunity. If you're not satisfied with that, you can always make the work you want on the side. No time? That's an excuse and it's not a really good one if you really want to achieve something.

Everybody congratulated us about that particular job that Luiz and I did. The client was really happy. This already gives me a feeling of satisfaction; the knowledge that we got the most out of an impossible mission. But somewhere in the back of my head there was a little voice that whispered: "you're a fucking sellout", and then I went back to work again.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Today I saw a guy on a scooter with fluorescent green pants, a tanktop with 'Zumba instructor' on the back. For the people who haven't heard of Zumba yet, it's the latest craze in gyms all over the world: it's aerobics mixed with latin dance moves. It's supposed to be sexy and a good workout. I think it's just another hype (like tae bo and spinning) and after one year most of the colorful Zumba-pants will be back into the closet, where they should be.

Don't get me wrong. I love to watch samba dancing, it's a dance with history and charm. And there's nothing like a tough workout. But I simply cannot understand why people would want to do a half-ass dancing exercise. If you wanna dance, follow dance classes. If you wanna get in shape, train until the sweat drops from your face. It's a simple as that.

Okay, so if people want to think it's the greatest thing ever, I'm okay with that. But this Zumba instructor on the scooter obviously wants to shout to the world what he's doing. And then I think: why? The only reason I can think of why a man would do a thing like Zumba is: to get a lot of pussy. Okay, I can understand that, but why show it to the world? It would be the same as wearing a shirt that says 'male stripper'.

Another embarrassing thing I've seen this week: a new campaign from car brand Seat. In order to promote their latest green car they've made hidden camera movies. For the people who don't understand Dutch: the woman is blocking the bridge and she tells people that she's allowed to be asocial because her car is good for the environment. If you can stand seeing a poor actress degrading herself to make money, watch one of the films here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Garbage strike

Pile of trash at the Prinsengracht

From the beginning of this month, the trashmen in Amsterdam are on a strike. Now where have I seen that before? Oh yes, in my first quarter in Hamburg there were also trashbags all over the city because the cleaning employees wanted more salary. So anyone who visits Amsterdam will see that huge piles of trashbags will block the nice view. The pile in front of my house is so big that I can simply throw my garbage over the balcony. How convenient. You have to see the bright side of this stinking mess.

At Lemz the business is still slow. Compared to Duval Guillaume, where they shoot briefings at you like bullets in a machine gun, working here feels like a vacation. This is nice for a change, but I'd welcome a bit more working pressure. But I was never the type to sit still. In the evening I'm working on a pro bono animation project together with director Robbert-Jan Vos. It's a project I do just for fun. When it's not busy, I keep myself busy.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Advertising talk

When I worked in Holland before the Miami Ad School, I always thought that networking would be something both fun and useful for my career. I have to admit that going to all the advertising drinks, award shows and young creative competitions was a lot of fun. But it would have been more useful for my career if I spent more time working. Besides, walking around drunk at every party doesn't give you a reputation of being very serious.

When I worked in Belgium I didn't go to places where creatives are and that hasn't changed now that I'm in Holland. But of course there are a few exceptions. It's nicer to talk to people individually having snappy 'where-are-you-working-nowadays-talks' at a party. Yesterday I had a drink with an art-director called Jan-Willem Smits. I followed his work since he started his career at DDB and TBWA (which are pretty good agencies in Holland). After that he worked at Ogilvy (a less creative agency), where he got one award and nomination after another. You can fairly say that he's had a pretty turbulent career.

People overestimate working at an agency. All young creatives want to work at the big shot agencies who win the most awards. The problem is that everybody wants to work there. And a great agency is not always the right place for you. The career of Jan-Willem proves that sometimes a step back is actually a huge leap forward.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Chaos on Dam square

Surprised faces after the anxious moment

I was at the Dam square, where the war memorial was taking place. During the 2 minutes of silence, even the smallest sounds from outside become loud in contrast to the thousands of people who were silent. I heard a scooter in the street behind me. And then I heard a long scream. And a big bang, like exploding fireworks. It was the sound of a panick-stricken mass escaping whatever it was that scared them. A big crowd of people ran towards me, running for their lives and so scared that they had no regard for the people in front of them.

I had to run with the scared mass for about 5 seconds otherwise I'd have gotten trampled. After that, I turned around and tried to comfort the running people by screaming: "take it easy! Take it easy!". All of a sudden the panic was over. Afterwards, I heard on the news that a man dressed up like an orthodox jew was the one that screamed, which caused a chain reaction of panic in the crowd. Around 60 people got wounded in the rush. Sometimes man's own fear can be its biggest danger.

Monday, May 03, 2010

From Young Dogs to young lions

Young Dogs waiting for the result of the 24 hour pitch

Pale-faced, exhausted young creatives sitting in a big room after having worked day and night. I immediately got a Miami Ad School flashback. But these were all Dutch people who put their sleep to the test in a tough 24 hour pitch. It was organised by the Young Dogs, an organisation that helps young creatives to make their first steps on the career ladder.

I was once a boardmember of the Young Dogs. Yesterday I went to the pitch to take a look and to meet the new Young Dogs. I was glad to see the club is still in hands of a nice and enthusiastic group of people. When I came in today, the room was grey from the cigarettes smoked by the nervous participants who waited for the result. I knew 5 of the 24 competing teams, so there was a pretty good chance that someone I knew would win.

And I'm happy to say that my colleagues Floor and Annelied won the first prize. As a result, they are going to represent Holland in the young creatives competition in Cannes. Next month they'll go to the south of France to compete for a prestigious Cannes Lion.