The Story of a New Zealander’s Move To London

The Story of a New Zealander’s Move To London

By Joy Lancaster

THIS IS A STORY ABOUT MY THREE-DIMENSIONAL MONOPOLY BOARD.

When people ask why I decided to move to London, I never quite know what to say. When you’re a New Zealander, moving to London isn’t very original.

Wikipedia tells me there are around 58,000 Kiwi ex-pats here, which is more than a quarter of the population of Wellington, our capital. With my brother and some of my closest friends already in London, it seemed like the obvious next step. I’d also been living in Spain for the past ten months, and paying for an EasyJet flight to Luton was much more appealing than forking out the €700 or so a ticket home would require. And so, last August, I re-crammed my life into a 60 litre rucksack and came to see what this Big City Life thing is all about.

And so far it’s going pretty well. I was lucky enough to get a temping role at ICP not long after I arrived and have since managed to land a permanent job here on the Diageo SmartBrand team as a Brand Asset Manager (Hooray!). Flat hunting was soul destroying for a few weeks, but I eventually found a place to live in East London with four other Kiwis. So now I catch the Tube to work every morning from a station that previously only existed in my consciousness as a tile on the Monopoly board.

Some of my favourite things about living in London:

  • Public transport is amazing. Seriously, It’s amazing.
  • There’s always a vegetarian option, meaning I no longer feel like an outcast (In Spain the only vegetarian option was tortilla de patatas. It was delicious the first few times).
  • So many museums and galleries are FREE (I donate sometimes, I promise).
  • You can drink in public here, allowing for lovely summer picnics in the park.
  • I can be in and around tall buildings without getting anxious about earthquakes.
  • It’s possible to go to a different country FOR THE WEEKEND.
  • There are canals. Canals! With canal boats and locks!
  • There are people everywhere. And, contrary to what I’d been warned, they are lovely.

Some of my least favourite things are:

  • Everything is so expensive it makes me want to cry.
  • You can’t buy Whittaker chocolate or Pic peanut butter here, and the Marmite tastes different.
  • You have to carry cash around, because some places have minimum payments for cards.
  • Cyclists aren’t required to wear helmets here, and watching them bike past terrifies me.
  • There are people everywhere.

New Zealand Ex-Pat

But my favourite thing of all is getting to know all the bits of London I’d previously only heard of in books and films, on the news, or in history classes, songs, and nursery rhymes. Names I’d heard in passing that always seemed so far away they might as well be fictional.

It’s still amazing to me that I might be watching a film or reading a book, come across something and be able to think, ‘Oh, I’ve been there’, or ‘I saw that last week’. That doesn’t happen much when you’re from New Zealand, unless you’re a keen mountain climber and are watching Lord of the Rings. The fact that I can read don’t-take-away-the-Tower-of-London-poppies articles in the paper and then walk fifteen minutes from my house and see them in real life is unreal to me – Or that I just happened to come across a Banksy piece around the corner from the ICP office where I work.

My Monopoly Board Is At My Doorstep

It’s so much fun, seeing things I’ve only ever experienced in 2D. Brick Lane isn’t just a book anymore, but where I get delicious Pad Thai every Sunday, as well as the odd late-night bagel. Tottenham Court Road is an actual road I can walk down, rather than the place Harry, Ron, and Hermione apparate to when escaping the Death Eaters. Putney, Hackney Downs, and Bow aren’t just places the fire brigade poured in from ‘with courage high and hearts a-glow’ in a poem my mum used to recite to me. And since being here, I’ve seen three of my favourite comedians in person. One of them just walked past me in Soho. These are people I had previously only watched on YouTube in my cold, damp student flat in Wellington.

So for me, that’s the best part of living in London. The two-dimensional Monopoly board city I once knew has sprung to life before my eyes and is turning into more and more wonderful memories and experiences the longer I live here. And I’m looking forward to many more.

 

Technology, What’s It Ever Done For Me?

Technology, What’s It Ever Done For Me?

By Bob Cleavely

A LIFETIME OF TECHNOLOGY PACKED INTO ONE BLOG POST.

Chats over a relaxed, yet alcohol stimulated session at Christmas, posed the question of the greatest technology advance I had not only witnessed but had been impacted by.

Drifting back to what seems a previous life, when I was starting on that yellow brick road to project management, I was working for an international company in the (sshhh) tobacco industry. I recall that back then (1975), letters had to be handwritten, proof-read and authorised by your line manager, submitted to the typing pool, returned, checked, signed, copies distributed and then posted. They were then allowed a two week period to pass before a further chaser letter – “Please reference my letter rpc/dac of the 5th etc.” – could be similarly constructed and issued. As for copying someone in, each individual needed to be considered as a further sheet of carbon, and paper would be required – c.c. = carbon copy.

The Absence of Technology

Essentially, the closest we got to urgent communication was the use of a cablegram. Drafted by yourself, these were edited for sense and word count by your manager and were as full of “abrvtn” as a teenage text as they were priced by the letter. Handed to a commissionaire, who took it by hand to the Cable Department, who typed and sent to the GPO, who forwarded across the oceans (or probably more correctly under) to a similar postal station in a foreign state.

They were then retyped (or consisted of stuck ticker tape) and delivered by hand to the intended destination. They then probably followed a further hand-to-hand line of command back to the manager. All of this was occurring at a time when Glam Rock ruled the music charts and Monty Python’s Holy Grail was about to be released.

Source: www.tumblr.com

Informal Digital Scribbling

This was followed by telex, a similar system. In no time, you had a machine in each department, but still drafted and submitted for an operator to send. Only then were they centrally received and controlled, rather than straight to your desktop. A few technology tweaks and leaps to now and the time-travelling speed of emails and their built-in expectancy of an instant and accurate response has changed the way we communicate. Emails are loose, informal digital scribbling with no worry over the “yours sincerely” or “yours faithfully” rules and even the most stern of reprimands or demands start with the friendly “hi”. They are generally unchecked for content or presentation and batted out to all that might need to know and often most that don’t, which leads to a compulsion to reply and extending the web of contact with confusion.

Ah, I long for the time to consider a reply and being allowed to check, investigate and formulate a meaningful and full response to an individual, rather than a watching crowd. As I type, bemoaning the loss of time and looking over this original draft, I note that it bears the comment “Sent from my iPhone”. I guess that not only can you not beat them…

You don’t always realise you’ve joined them.

 

A Creative Journey with Indra Sinha

A Creative Journey with Indra Sinha

By John Stuart 

I KNOW I’M NOT GOING TO DO JUSTICE TO THIS MAN, SO I APOLOGISE UP FRONT FOR MY LACK OF NARRATING SKILLS.

Particularly, as I am writing about one of the most talented copywriter’s I have ever worked with.

The web native I’m referring to is Indra Sinha, who I know from my days as a creative services director, back in the 70s, at one of the best agencies in town. If agencies are judged purely on the number of D&AD* awards they piled up, then it was THE best.

Indra’s Mission

Indra won his fair share of these awards across a number of high profile brands, but his particular strength and passion was for issue, specifically charity advertising.His work ranged across Amnesty International, Greenpeace, the Kurdish appeal, all when Saddam Hussain was gassing his area in Northern Iraq. This became a particular personal mission of Indra’s; a campaign to raise money by highlighting the tragedy of Bhopal and to bring the corporation responsible to account.

Indra Sinha

But like many truly talented writers, he was a handful to deal with.

He could be compulsive, unreliable, erratic, eccentric (in the day, directors of the agency were entitled to company cars- Indra’s chosen model was a sit-on lawn mower) and addictive. But ultimately, when totally engaged on a brief that he was passionate about, he took you with him on a joyous journey of discovery.

But this story is about one of his addictions.

One of my less attractive tasks at the time was signing off the senior creative’s telephone bills. It was usually a bruising experience. I am talking about their home land-line. The thought of a mobile was probably at that time still exclusively in the domain of Martin Cooper’s mind. And now 63% of visits to our web site are via mobile. Anyway, I was sitting down signing off telephone bills when I came across Indra’s. The average charge across all copywriters and art director’s bills was about £20. Indra’s was (from memory) about £200! Asking for an explanation, Indra slowly took me a step at a time into a new world.

Indra was working on a campaign for BAA*

His campaign thought was to highlight the huge number of passengers going through Heathrow at any given time. This involved a melting pot of nationalities, ethnicity, languages, cultural differences and challenges brought to the smooth running of the largest airport in the world. As ever, he always wanted to research his theme in great depth, which was why much of his work was so bloody late. As part of his research for this campaign, he was intrigued to know the culture of the Navajo nation in the South Western United States; including their religious ceremonies, the role their language played in World War II, pueblo architecture and tribal customs.

The Web?

He explained to me that normally such a task would have been impossible, until he began surfing the net (what?) and had found a font of information on this subject through the faculty of Native American studies at the New Mexico University in Albuquerque. He went on to explain how he had downloaded (er, and that is?) all the information he needed in the form of text and images using his personal modem (a what?). Indra explained how this device connected you to the web (?) via your telephone line and while this was a wonderful creation, it was unreliable and very slow- hence the large phone bill.

“So were you connected to Albuquerque on the phone for hours?” … “Oh no, days.”

It seemed an expensive bill at the time, but I quickly realized what this vista could open up for us across the agency. The planning, media, creative and even production departments could have access to previously unknown information. With hindsight a snip at £200.

I’m still not sure how many Navajo Indians he thought would be passing through Heathrow.

Indra Sinha

Indra has since moved out of the agency world and has published a number of eclectic books. The first was titled The Cybergipsies, and was about his addiction to the web and the fellow addicts he met while surfing. It’s still published and on Amazon.

He’s also translated from the original Indian text, two worthy books- The Kama Sutra and Tantric Sex. He gave me signed copies for educational purposes. His book Animal’s People, a fictionalised account of the Bhopal disaster, was short listed for the Booker prize and has since been acquired by one of the Hollywood studios. He continues to write advertising for worthy causes. You can read more about this interesting man on his online journal.

Footnotes:

www.indrasinha.com

*BAA = British Airports Authority

*DA&D + Designers and Art Directors

 

We are the DAM People.

We are the DAM People.

By Jing Wang

WE ARE THE DAM PEOPLE

Three years ago I was an HR manager in Shanghai who spent days bringing HR insights to business processes and linking people with corporate strategies. Three years later, I am one of the DAM people in London who’s bridging creative, business and operational needs in a collaborative environment to connect people, processes and technology.

Life is full of serendipity

I didn’t know about Digital Asset Management (DAM), nor did I know what DAM professionals are supposed to do, until I got the job offer from ICP. My boss asked me: “Are you ready for a career change?” “Yep, let’s embrace the new technology and make a difference between working harder and working smarter.” – That was my answer.

The fast change of pace in the field of digital media and technology industries has become truly exponential. DAM is unique. It is its own kind of animal. It involves little bits of a lot of things, such as database design, software engineering, product design, business operations, customer service, intellectual property rights, project and account management, etc.

So what kind of person would have the well-honed skills to nail DAM? I don’t think one can say there is a single mould in which one must fit, and not everyone’s DAM experiences are the same. The below thoughts are just based on my own experiences of being a DAM person for more than one year.

The China eCommerce team – Unilever account (Jing-top, Liang-bottom)

The equation: “DAM people = ?”

Part of the equation involves technology. You can label us as system administrators, data entry specialists, data analysts, librarians, metadata experts, etc. We don’t really mind people calling us “IT guys” and yes we do speak a “technical language” with IT teams and do the translation for our DAM users and clients. Yet few of us (as far as I am aware) are from a technical background.

And we are more than that. DAM is not just about technology or database solutions, it is a business need. A crucial part of the equation is process and people.

In the interest of clients who are using a DAM system, DAM people who communicate with management need to have an understanding of high-level business needs and how DAM can meet those needs. Why? Because it is important to quantify:

  • Time saving: we manage a large collection of rich media assets by making files easily and quickly searchable and usable.
  • Cost saving: we help our clients gain immediate ROI by eliminating redundant asset creation efforts; retrieving and redistributing assets; redeploying resources to mission-critical projects.
  • Reductions in risk: with a good understanding of intellectual property rights, we maintain key workflows, such as approval loops and usage rights restrictions, so that approved brand assets can be consistently used across trusted partners, multiple mediums and geographies – which is a foundation of maintaining solid brand identity.

The DAM People

Well-honed DAM skills are not something one can acquire in a certification course or weekend workshop. The real DAM world presents challenges that can be enormously complex, especially within this era of “Big Data”. So what it takes to do a DAM good job?

  • DAM people have: patience (lots of it), energy (tons of it), attention to detail (every one of my team is a devil when it comes to the detail) and customer service (excellent user support).
  • DAM people are: process-orientated (create workflow that make sense to users), love of data (we are a bunch of metadata geeks), thriving on progress (even baby steps), self-exploring (keen learners), problem solvers (we go beyond a fixated mind set and always open up to new ways of thinking and explore new options).
  • And…we LOVE questions. A genuine curiosity for new technologies and new approaches to old problems, combined with a healthy scepticism and the ability to evaluate the trade-offs between the new and old approaches, is important.

I am lucky to be a part of a team where people possess those skills and personal traits, who have been guiding and supporting me along the journey of exploring the DAM world. By no means is this a complete list of skills. And for the record, this is not a DAM job post, as I’ve put my HR hat away and put my DAM hat on.

So are you ready to join us and be a DAM person? 🙂

 

A Journey Through Time and Technology

A Journey Through Time and Technology

By Dominic Hughes

THEN, NOW, TOMORROW – MY LIFE IN TECHNOLOGY

30 years ago I popped in to meet a friend at his work, which specialized in high-end photography, retouching and photo-composition for advertising. I was introduced to the owner who offered me a week of work experience. I finally left 8 years later.

This was back in the 80’s. It was a different time in so many ways back then. The one thing that has amazed me is the incredible advancement of technology we now have at our disposal, compared to back then. Progress. It’s a funny thing. Not always good – sometimes amazing – but certainly inevitable.

Job Quality

Back then, if you needed to create a photo-composition, we had to do it in a pitch black darkroom on photographic enlargers. More than half the people in my current office have never seen one of these. It was a time when skills and quality mattered. People took pride in what they did, because if you were good at it, you were respected. In order to be good at something, you need to do it a lot, practice, develop and hone your skills. This takes time. Experience meant value.

Computers were around then, of a fashion. They had green displays and clunky keyboards and did ‘word-processing’. Then one day it all changed. We were shown this amazing super computer which costed about £250,000 each! The Quantel Paintbox.

Quantel Paintbox

Ever-Changing Technology

It was a computer that changed the world of photo-composition. This supercomputer could do a twenty part photocomp in 1 day. We were in awe.  There were only a handful of people who could operate it in the UK, so they were deemed demi-Gods. We then needed to get the photos into the computer, so we had to buy a high end Crosfield Scanner, (another £200,000), so that we could ‘digitize’ the transparencies as RGB (Red, Green, Blue) files.

Crosfield Scanner

Giant Hard Drive Dishwashers

Now we needed to store the files! More technology came rumbling through the doors and before we knew it, we had ‘Hard Drives’! Each hard drive was about 16” diameter, 6″ deep and weighed several kilos. We had to lift them into a disc reading device the size of a small dishwasher. Our computer rooms got bigger and bigger. What followed then can only be described as a relative whirlwind of technology advances. Over the ensuing years the technology got faster and faster,Giant Hardrivesmaller and smaller. New tech briefly making an appearance only to be superseded by the next break through. Floppy disks, Syquest drives, zip drives, Cds and Dvds. All state of the art at the time, all now in a landfill site near you.

For advertising, the expensive super-computers were replaced by the Applemac. The prices came down and the technology continued to advance. It is still advancing at an incredible rate.

 

The Cloud is 24/7

A few years ago we replaced all of our physical servers with ‘Virtual servers’. The technology is moving back out of our office environment into data centers where resilience, backups and ‘Disaster Recovery’ can all be managed more effectively. There is more and more data being stored in The Cloud. We have the ability to be connected to our work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We can sit in our back gardens and operate our office computer via laptop, iPad, or even our phone.

Infinite Possibilities

Technology has changed the way we work; it has made the world so much smaller. It has given us the ability to tap into resources that were previously beyond our reach. This has changed the shape of developing countries. It essentially has developed countries. Social media has invaded our lives, our homes and our workplaces. New generations of children, teenagers and twenty-somethings have become so reliant on their smartphones that they cannot bear to be parted from them. One thing is for sure, over the next few years technology will continue to advance in amazing ways. Those of us that remember a time without it can really appreciate how far it has come and the infinite possibilities of what may lay ahead.