Get Noisy


Let’s start off with the shameless self promotion bit.

I just launched new site and proposition.

I’ve done that as I’ve taken over as the Creative Director and to build the future of the agency.


As I believe the future of advertising isn’t in huge networks but with small and nimble ones that can deliver just what the clients are looking for.


By working in a new way. Being more open and honest with our process and including our clients and partners along the way to produce better work.

So let’s get noisy.

Social II - This time it's not personal.


Or maybe it was more of a 'Clink'.

The internet was born. Then came the web. Then came the user-groups, the forums and message boards. The wild west days of online. Slowly through the early chat groups people formed bonds, created communities and celebrated that they had a place to be themselves.

You could be anyone online. For a lot of people that meant for the first time a chance to be yourself. Who you really are. The nerdy collector of train sets, free to spend nights sharing news on rare carriages.

It was sort of social, it was definitely sharing. It wasn't personal. It was through filters of usernames and avatars. Random address for emails. An army of 'TrainFan1955' brushing up next to thousands of 'SparkleFairy666's. A filter that stood in the way of you and everyone else.

Then businesses began to forge out of the thousands of networks and linked up machines. E-Commerce. Companies wanted to get to know this new market. They wanted to get closer to help sell more.

Platforms began to rise that allowed people to be more formally grouped. The business of the internet got serious. Places that allowed people to connect not as avatars but form real bonds with people who they knew online and offline.

These new places where we could blog, share our passions, connect with old university friends and share our CVs gave us the chance to bring together our real experiences with our digital ones.

This was the first wave of social media.

We shared our moments, our lunches, our marriages, our holidays. We liked our favourite albums, books and movements. We became so very open about our feelings.

The platforms made it easier for businesses to talk to us, contact us and market to us.

And everyone was happy.

Until they weren't.

This is how Context Collapse began.

There is a growing wave of new users of social platforms who are sharing less personal moments, creating fake personas, curating reality.

People might use their real names but they're not sharing their real lives. There is a filter now, only it is the user filtering themselves. All while presenting a new self. A new 'real' the one they want to show the world.

How can you get closer to an audience if our audiences digital self isn't their true self? What good is big data when it can only show the front that people want to show? Sure some will say more data, more algorithms and more tracking is needed.

The more digital is allowed to snoop, the more the audiences will find a way of avoiding you all together. You only need to look at digital display to see this in action. As banners got better at tracking, following and serving up more - the more invasive it became and the more our audiences rejected them. Ad blockers became a thing. Even mobile networks are helping their users block adverts.

So how can we tap into a less personal social audience?

As Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram become more curated versions of reality we need to stop thinking of our audience as a waiting mass. I've often heard the phrase "fish where the first are" when explaining the use and rise of social platforms over digital experiences. That's forgetting one key part of fishing. The lure.

We need to stop jumping into places and expecting our audience to just welcome us. We can build experiences and campaigns across the digital and physical landscape that have room for our audiences to come to us.

The old school viral moment happened not because of thrusting a message into enough people's faces but delighting a few through working with blogs and platforms to seed out content. Just enough to help it spread. Then the audience took over and made it go viral or not. They decided to share it in messages, emails and their own spaces on their terms. Not ours. They held the power over our messages.

That's how we use social and digital - to give our audiences a say. After all that's what social should be about. Two way conversation and a that requires us listening and not just paying for attention.

Create a space to work with our audiences and listen to them. The platforms are tools to get closer but we shouldn't let that define the relationships that we build with audiences.

Being social means being part of our audiences lives, not just platforms.

Empathy is transformative.

The queue to get into the underground is backed up. More people are pushing ahead. Mumbles are turning into frustrated tuts and darting eyes.

At the front of the queue is a woman fumbling with the gate. She clearly is struggling. You know what this annoyed and crushed swell of people did? 

They gave her space. A boy, clearly late for school, asked if she needed help. It turned out she was partially sighted and was confused where she was. She's visiting from America and didn't know she could ask for assistance from the tube staff. 

The tense crowd became a wave of helpers. Some helping her, others offering to show her the way. 


All it takes is just one person to have that spark. To see the world from someone else's point of view. To take the time to review the situation. That's powerful.

This is the power that all humans have. We forget we have this power and even fewer of us ever think to use it at work. Most ignore it when thinking of audiences and personas. 

They're a target market to hit. To impact. To sell to. To persuade.

It doesn't need to be like that and it shouldn’t. Our audiences are amazing. They're living full and wonderful lives without us. We can take time to feel what they feel. Let's not talk at them but listen more. We must stop paying lip service to audiences. They're important. We can understand them on paper, sure, but let’s really understand them by sharing that feeling. The industry has been talking about it for years. So we should start doing it.

It has to start with one little action. One spark that can turn a room around and change the focus from selling to an audience to making the audience’s lives better. Isn’t that what we and the brands we represent should be doing? Making things better? 

All I ask is next time you’re in a brief or writing even writing one, is to speak for the audience.

Feel for them. Put yourself in their position. Understand what keeps them up at night, appreciate their needs. Not in a spreadsheet or powerpoint but deep down. Feel it with a human touch.

Then you will see the transformative power of empathy.


Your Audience are Cyborgs.

Totally legit robotising. 

Totally legit robotising. 

I’m sitting in a bar. There is a conversation about 80s movies, the question comes up about TRON. Was it the first film to use CGI to create its digital world? Without thinking I slip out my phone and load up the answer in seconds. I’m sitting around and everyone else is doing similar. We’re augmenting our brains and connected constantly. We’re cyborgs.

From the early days of strapping on watches and correcting our vision we’ve been adding inorganic bits of wonder to make our lives better.


We enhanced our brains, took the lead in the relationship but now machine learning and AI is taking the next step. With the rise of Fake News, Spoofing websites, Phishing and social media pranking we’re our organic parts are overloaded and we’re turning to our AI allies to help us to sort it all out. We’re about to be going steady with AI.

For us, as creators and makers it paints for an interesting future. Our audiences are cyborgs. We’re not just talking to them alone. We’re talking to machines too. Safe guards that want to filter out, curate and protect our audiences from messages they deem unworthy. This means we’re going to have to start thinking of not only the idea itself but an idea of how we reach people. While people increasingly trust AI, we are innovators and creators we can’t let machines talk to machines. More than ever brands need to connect emotionally, have purpose in people’s lives. That for now is something that humans are rather good at.

Soon, an effective and emotional advert won’t just pass the test of an audience but the filters that will deem it worth to reach them.

The good news is, you’re already plugged in. Your office is full of cyborgs, and you’re on the frontline of it all. You don’t need to think like a machine, you’re already doing that. The trick will be to reconnect to human truths and the illogical of life which no algorithm understand.

Then you’ll be thinking like a cyborg.

The Break up, it’s not them it’s us.

This is evidence of my coolest moment. Global Hypercolor T-shirt, oversized for extra kudos. 

This is evidence of my coolest moment. Global Hypercolor T-shirt, oversized for extra kudos. 

We need to talk. No, don’t worry it isn’t about your overuse of the word ‘game-changing’ or your tendency to equate innovation to what you just read in Wired magazine. We need to talk about us. Not a me and you thing, don’t worry about that – we’re solid.

It’s about the kids.

More to the point it is about the future of our industry, our agencies and the role we play in the creative industry. Look there is no easy way of saying this but I think I need to remind you of something. It’s been said before* and by much better people than me but we’ve forgotten.

Okay, I’ll just say it. We’re not cool. There I said it. Don’t worry I’m one of you too. I work in the industry, an industry I’m proud to call home but I’m just as uncool as you are. You might be sitting there drinking your Soy Chai latte and thinking “whatevs, I’m totes cool #Amazeballs” but it’s an important message, one that I think needs an explanation.

The advertising industry produces amazing, witty, clever and frankly sometimes breath taking communications and ideas. We make things that can be cool but that doesn’t make the industry that puts it out inherently cool itself. In our long relationship with the outside world we’ve gone from Madmen, cheeky heroes through to gurus of Marcoms. We’ve felt powerful, we’ve seen the impact and good our industry can do. We’ve let it wash over us, soak us in our own importance and for a while, that was all that was needed.

The brightest and best, the smart and crafty came flocking to us. Follow us, and be shaped to become the stars and darlings of our industry.

Cool by its very nature is ever changing. Cool ages quickly and is replaced by its younger brother ‘cooler’. Only we didn’t change, we still waited for all the best and brightest to come to us, to bash down our doors and join our great industry.

Only now the diverse, weird and wonderful creators of tomorrow chase a different type of cool. They chase down tech companies, start ups and go it alone. Cool is changing at a pace that even I, a fabled millennial, actually have no idea what’s cool.

So that means we need to change to bring in the type of people that can continue to push this industry forward. Let’s be honest, we’ve been lucky. Damn lucky that all the juniors and young creatives that are with us now are here at all. They’re here not because of what our industry is, they’re here despite it. They’ve pushed past our flaws and seen the good in what we can do together. For that I’m truly and utterly grateful for ever junior that steps through the doors. To every young creative, I can’t thank you enough. You make this industry we share amazing.

As a whole though, this industry needs to stop expected to be chased. We need to do some chasing of our own. No, recruiters chasing for us doesn’t count. The odd chat at a university or creative club doesn’t either. We will have to go out there and start finding the creators where they create. Follow their blogs, read their writing, see their short films, listen to their ideas. Then we need to remind them the power of creative advertising, the good it can do not just for brands but for people too. Finding them will be hard but selling to them what we do, that should be the easy bit. We’re ad folk after all.

Then we can fill our offices with creators, makers and collaborators. The real game-changers and the people not just reading Wired but the people who could very well feature in the pages themselves.

It won’t make us cool, we’ve learnt that lesson but together we’ll make some of the smartest, funniest, clever and beautiful advertising that we’ve ever seen this industry make. It’ll be exciting and some of the best work of your career. I promise.

So start together, go high-five and fist bump** your junior members of staff, rejoice that they’ve accepted our kirks and dad-at-the-disco moves and celebrate what’s coming next.

*“Don’t tell my mother I’m in advertising – she thinks I play the piano in a brothel” - Jacques Seguela

**See told you I’m not cool.


I know, its passed peak buzzword territory and now lapping the old hat shores of blog fodder. There has been a ton of articles written about what exactly is content marketing, what it isn’t and how to do it well. You’ve probably seen them all on sites that claim to specialise in ‘content’, the ones with the weird URLS like ‘*’. This I hope will be a tad more interesting, as at the end of it I’m not planning to sell you my snazzy new content marketing e-book.

You might have noticed how I slyly moved from the title of content into content marketing all in the space of a paragraph. So I guess I owe you to first talk about content itself. Content is, as boring as it sounds, the bits and bobs that fill up the internet. No magical insight there. The interesting bit about all this content is that most of it doesn’t come from agencies, brands or companies. In fact a big chunk of the most successful content out there comes from small bands of creators or individuals. Unlike the old media where you needed media agencies, printing houses and a host of other third parties to get messages out there, now you don’t.

Every tool you need to create content is available to the consumer. From cameras to editing software through to free hosting platforms and open source tools. The creators don’t need us anymore. For a lot of agencies, they’re waking up to the fact that some of the brightest and most creative people are now going it alone. Advertising isn’t the shiny bright start of the creative industry, the lure of having access to audiences has diminished. The smart agencies are working harder than ever to reach out to these new creators, going beyond the classic avenues of university graduates and expecting people to come running to them. But for now that can wait and I’ll pick it up with another post in the future.

So, let’s get back on track. Content. Marketing. So what is different from good ol’ marketing? As simple as I can put it – Content Marketing is playing in the same playground as our audience. We create, communicate, make in the same spaces and in the same ways the very audience does.

We can upload a video, like they do. Host a photo, like they do. Create a page, make a blog, tweet out, email, make sites, bots, conversations, like our audience is capable of.

This means two things for me. One we don’t influence culture as much as we have to be part of the culture we want to play with. We let it influence us, shape us a little and give up a bit of our ego when thinking of ourselves as master communicators. We’re smart but so is our audience. Let them influence us and help redefine what we think a great advert can be.

Secondly it means our life is harder. If we want to go play in that content playground we have to remember we have no right to expect that we’re wanted there. We have to add value to this. The value exchange. What value are we offering to the audience and not only that what are we doing for our brands? If we’re turning up with the weight of a brand and agency behind us, the audience we’re in will have expectations. This is where the power of advertising still lies, still has that sheen. We’re the curators of value between brands and audiences. Brands can speak for themselves and audiences can respond directly but we are the ones that can speak for both sides and craft the value between the two so everyone can benefit.

So next time you think of creating content for brands, stop thinking of how to reach the audience but start thinking of how can you be part of the culture, not starting conversations but curating what’s out there. Not starting with a presentation but beginning by listening.

Then hopefully you’ll not just have good marketing but great content too.

Originally featured on

YouTube - Made for You.

Today is the big day. After months of team work, collaborating with the client and pushing the idea as far as we could We Are Social and YouTube launch our #MadeforYou campaign. Today is just a teaser of what's to come. Over the next few weeks you'll be seeing it all over the capital and online.

Our task was to help celebrate YouTube to make sure it stays front of mind for both consumers and media buyers.

How do you celebrate something so big and so diverse that it can be difficult to know where to start? You celebrate the small, personal moments that the platform can deliver.

It all came from the insight that YouTube, despite feeling big always feels personal. The YouTube creators have a relationship with their fans like no other connection out there. It is a celebration of how even the biggest YouTube stars still feel approachable.

So we created Made For ____ , working with creators, YouTube and the fans to show that YouTube is for whatever you're into, whatever your passion. It is made for you. The idea is that this line will remain dynamic and ever changing - just like the platform itself. 

We wanted with this campaign to celebrate the power of YouTube. It is so much more than a collection of videos, it is a platform for both the gamers and the game-changers. Where you shape what you see and your view is counted.

It is something we're very proud of and hope you'll enjoy. It was a huge team effort from everyone at WAS. What's made me proud how this agency approached the task as an united team, with nearly everyone feeding into the core team to deliver this campaign. 

A new campaign, a new approach and a new new wave of YouTube.

It'll be on Targeted Cinema, Underground, Digital out of home, Metro cover wrap, Buses, Oxford Circus digital and of course - YouTube. In fact there are hundreds of placements across the city. 

On top of all this, the YouTube creators will be making their own elements to the campaign and celebrating what makes YouTube great for them and their communities. Truly making it a wide reaching campaign with a social heart.

You can read some of the coverage here : 


I'll be putting up the full campaign once everything is out and about but for now, I hope you spot it on your travels across London.

The passing of Vine.

As of this week Twitter announced that it'll be ending the six second video platform Vine. 

While it is sad to see the closure of any platform, I have to admit I think the impact and creativity of the platform has passed. When it first launched it created a wave of excitement and a race for brands to be the first to showcase themselves on this new shiny format. 

Overtime though the brands and creators evolved, they found that the content style could work on a very old format that somehow came back into trend. The GIF. 

The GIF gave all the advantages of the limited format but with none of the limits of been locked into an app or platform. The ability to be seen around the web natively meant that the humble GIF took a lot of the shine from the looping format. 

Ultimately the end for Vine came from stagnation. Not from the user base but from itself. It didn't look at what the world was sharing, instead it wanted the world to share its vision. 

On another note I always found Vines very hard to share and embed - which meant that in the end vine creations either ended up in an echo chamber or just got re-uploaded to YouTube, thus creating a new set of creators for their platform. 

The big question remains will Snapchat and Instagram evolve enough to keep pace with changing tastes? Early signs look good, but as Facebook has shown at some point you stop chasing the 'cool' crowd and cement yourself as a function of digital life, not a highlight. 



How to look good when running.

From time to time you not only get a good brief but a really good brief. That doesn't just mean a creative brief but a brief that can actually do some good in the world.

This Virgin Money Giving brief is just that. We were tasked with creating a video that spoke to runners and included the message that unlike JustGiving, Virgin Money Giving doesn't make a profit on your donations.

That means more money goes to the charity of your choice.

Which isn't just good but really good.

As Virgin Money Giving is a not for profit, it meant that budgets were tight. In the end it took a nimble crew and a rickshaw but we created something that we're all pretty proud of.

Put a bit of anarchy in your pocket.

A busy few months. Moving agencies, setting up shop and writing campaigns. I thought while I get a few minutes to myself I'd update what I'm up to.

Next month I'll be firing TVs live over the internet and you can be part of it. Check out the video below for more information.

Interesting point on this video - it has been made for Facebook as the main video portal with Youtube only as a back up. Facebook now serves up more videos natively than Youtube and has become the primary destination for viral video content.

Get reading.

In between freelancing, writing scripts and changing the world with kitten pictures, I've got a brand new selection of must read books. Some adland, some not. All worth your time.

First up this book by Rick Webb is a must for any creative looking at setting up their own shop. In fact it a must for any creative. It is everything you've felt needs to be said about agency culture, pitching and making money without loosing your soul.

Fan of the Mad Men TV series? Well read the book that inspired it. Simple as.

In this provocative novel Mark Blacklock portrays the true and complex history of John Humble, aka Wearside Jack, the Ripper Hoaxer, a timewaster and criminal, sympathetic and revolting, the man hidden by a wall of words, a fiction-spinner worthy of textual analysis.

You'll always remember cancelling but not what for.

I want to share with you something I heard when I started out in the industry. For some reason the phrase above stuck with me and guided me over the years. 

"You'll always remember cancelling but not what for" , many times in life you'll be asked to work late, to work weekends and to work above and beyond. That is a fantastic feeling, to know you're all pushing together to make something happen. However for me that phrase is a reminder of how many times you'll cancel on a family event to get that presentation ready, only to forget in six months all about the project but still be living with the shame of letting down loved ones. 

We need balance in our lives, we need trust and flexibility with our teams. We need to all push in the right direction so that we can make sure we attend important events, that we can be there for loved ones as well as work. 

That's why today, on the start of the Easter bank holiday, I ask you to switch off, no checking up on work. Just enjoy time well spent doing something else. Let your creative fuel replenish through adventure and relaxing.