Merry Christmas

That's enough work. Now it's time to get festive.

Sussex? Enterprise?

earlier in the year we approached the south's chamber of commerce Sussex Enterprise about redesigning their monthly publication Business Edge. As it turns out it was not the job for us, so we moved on, no hard feelings, we just don't have the resource or interest in the project once we learned more about it. that's fine i'm happy with that.

However what i'm not happy about is the recent news that they have now awarded their entire publishing deal to a company based in Hertfordshire. Please tell me if i'm missing the point here, but isn't Sussex Enterprise's entire reason for existing to support and develop commerce IN SUSSEX!

Why the fuck would an organisation whose objective is to help trade and industry IN SUSSEX give a meaty big contract like that to someone in Hertfordshire? Did anyone involved in this decision see the hypocrisy?

I have no problem with the new publisher i'm sure they are more than capable and i have no problem with the fact it's not my agency. But for the love of fuck can we at least give it to someone who is actually IN SUSSEX


Pitch Wall

We have started work on the pitch that's coming up in the new year. It's a nice big juicy brief that we are all getting stuck in to and i'm getting excited by the prospect of landing this client. We have lot's of work ahead of us in order to find the clues and create the right response.

The walls in our studio serve as a test bed and review area for work in progress. I always like getting feedback from as many people as possible.

The start of next year will be a big push to finish this up.


Preview xmas party

we had an awesome night out in brighton. drinks, food, drinks, dancing, drinks.

A little pre-dinner drink in the New Inn

Helen does her best 'no paparazzi' pose

Giving us party poppers, horns and drinks was not what the staff at Momma Cherrie's needed for a quiet night.

Paul Harvey is watching YOU

Some quality gurning from Mr Broom in the Black Lion.

i love disco.


07 Objectives Review

Each year i set myself out a list of objectives. Over the course of the year i'll check in and see how i'm going. i don't let myself change them over the year, as they can act as a good reference point for how i was thinking at that point in the year.

I've toyed with the idea of posting my objectives here and sharing my plans. Half of me think 'it's stupid and too intrusive' and the other half thinks 'fuck it, put them out there, bare it all'. Needless to say the latter won out.

Firstly here are the objectives i set for 2007:

1. refresh the preview brand
Done. It was a long road to the heart of this brief, but we managed to roll out Preview's refined branding to all of our marketing material. The new site was a particularly involved project, but certainly not as potracted as most agency's self branding exercises.

2. Pitch for and win 1 new big client
ALmost. Well Yes, but No. Kind of. We have pitched for and a fully serviced client, however we can't claim they are totally 'new', as it's formed of director's from another major client. However it was a competitive pitch and full branding project. The size of it has really not been fully explored yet either.

3. Enhance our working space
Done. Not an easy task by any measure, but i drove the overhaul of our new space and very nice it is too. Our new space feels like a new lease of life. It also makes me much happy coming here everyday and we are no longer keen to steer clients away from it.

4. Expand studio with at least one designer
Failed. Various recruitment issues have tied up way more money, time and resource than i could have ever foreseen. So sadly this has not happened. We did manage to meet some very talented creative designers, but nothing has happened with this.

5. Arm sales drive with ALL the tools imaginable
Done. Bit of a stupidly phrased objective this, but i'm happy we have everything we really need. There are opportunities to create more items, however these will come out of our marketing plan for 2008.

6. create a project flow system
Done, but not fully implemented. I have worked (and reworked) on this over the course of the year. It seems everyone is clear on how projects will flow through the company, but we've struggled to consolidate this in to one definitive item.

7. Build a wide pool of freelance resources
Done. We need to be nimble and we need to have good people around us for project to project work flow increases. Fortunately we've met some awesome designers, animators and developers over the course of the year and i'm much more confident we have the back up when needed.

8. Establish Preview in the local market place
Done. Not a very good obecjtive to set really. It's not measurable without massive amounts of research and analysis. However we have made some great connections with local organisations (CIM, Wired Sussex, SCDF, Cadia etc). We are being invited to take part in more design focussed events and groups. So i feel happy that it's been completed.

- - - - - - -

2008 - This is what i've set out for the coming year.

1. Expand the creative team
This has to be top of the list as i failed i to achieve it last year. We need more capacity for bigger, more ambitious work. There is going to be a little leap of faith before expanding, but i'm going to drive this until it happens. I have big plans for our team and it's time to get them moving.

2. Win at least one new client pitch
We have a number of pitch opportunities lined up already, so i'm setting the bar low on this one. All i expect to do is win one of them. Nothing more, nothing less. A completely new client from a competitive, creative pitch process.

3. Execute our marketing plan as scheduled
I spent a lot of time pulling our plan together and it's going to be a real test for me to see it through to completion.

4. build a secure extranet for proofing and signing off work
I've been eyeing this up for a while. Now it's time to develop a new system for proofing our work externally and getting it signed off.

5. develop the "15" project for 2009
Shhhh. This is my big future project that i intend on launching in 2009. It's going to need lot's of work this year. So my intention is to get complete buy-in from the whole company and get production and planning moving.

6. add copywriters to our freelance roster
I've been looking for traditional copwriters for ages. People with agency experience who haved worked in creative teams (art director and copywriter) and can develop campaigns and taglines. It seems really hard to find this type of copywriter outside of London. I'm determined to attract some good talent over the course of 08

6. Find a CD mentor
I've talked alot about this recently. I'm really keen to get this working for me now. There are loads of areas i'd like advice on and lot's of plans that i'd like to run past a more experienced creative director.

- - - - - - -

That's it. Nothing in there scares me too badly. Lot's in there that's excites me. I won't change them over the year and i'll keep revisiting them and ticking them off as time goes by. I have a bunch of other objectives that i keep toying with but some are not in any way measurable and some are madness. Others include Extending our national reach, Beefing up our 'full service' offering by developing copywriting, motion & marketing as new services, Entering more business/creative awards schemes, Improving ties with local colleges & universities
etc etc.

So many plans, so little time.


New Year, new plans

I feel exhausted just thinking about next year. Having planned out the marketing schedule for Preview we have a number of projects to get moving already. First up is the second phase of our website. The first stage took way longer than it should have and the launch was more of a leak. But i'm very happy with how it turned out, so now it's time to build on the areas that need improving.

Next up is a New year DM piece which i can say much more about. Not for secrecy, but because the brief is wide open and we are not pinning ourselves to anything yet.

On top of our own work we have a potentially big pitch in the first few weeks. We get the brief next week. Could be very exciting. We also have a huge ecommerce site redesign and two other projects that we are using as leads to more ambitious projects.


Fail to plan, plan to fail™ pt2

So i presented my marketing plan to the directors today. it went down pretty well. gladly we are all in agreement regarding our tactics and plans for the course of the year, however the responsibility is now on me to make sure we stick to and it's properly executed. it's a lot to commit to, as it's more work for the whole year, but i'm looking forward to seeing how it unfolds. the first move is a new year DM piece.

I also begun the slow unveiling of a new project. it was really to test the water with the other director. i don't want to say too much about the new project™ other than i'm taking a lead from one of my favourite design companies and producing campaign that goes beyond the usual confines of client, cost and timescales. it will either be a nice marketing tactic or the start of something huge! - i'm so excited by the prospect i could go wild.


big mistakes need big erasers

got this in a toy shop at the weekend. i love it. it's huge. i'm going to keep it on my desk to remind me to embrace failure. nothing great is achieved without big fuck ups. so i've got this for when i fuck up big time.

i'm making a book

i'm so excited about a little project i've got going on in the background. in my spare (yeah right) time i'm pulling together a quick design and layout for a book.

i found a link to lulu.com which appears to be an online facility for printing and publishing various items. if i'm right you can upload artwork and get very small, if not one, item printed. it sounds like there is a major catch, but i can't find it. so i'm putting together a design for an a5 hardback book. it should cost less than £20. in fact the more i write, the more i find it hard to believe, but it's good to give it a try.

I thought about what i could use for the experiment and i didn't want to hang about making decisions because if i do, it won't happen. so i've kept it simple and filled the pages with my portfolio and work samples. it's really just a collection of stuff i've designed in the past five or so years (older than that is generally too old). in no special order, with no regard to the commercial relevance or success of the work. just creative explorations and achievements.

if it works and it looks good it will be a wicked little item to have and it will be my new favourite site that i use for publishing books left, right and centre.


Pitch bomb

sometime back we were asked by an exsisting client to pitch for a christmas campaign. it was an akward job due to some decisions that had been made about their branding and advertising earlier in the year. never the less we put our minds to it and pulled together a presentation of ideas. it wasn't a big job, so we didn't go full throttle. we got a call this week to let us know we didn't get it. in fact no one really did. they had decided to do part of the campaign themselves and hand the rest to another agency.

usually at this point agencies say 'we've decided to explore other initiatives' or 'this creates an opportunity for us to focus on other areas'. it's very hard to diguise the fact that we competed and lost. i take these moments very badly, the first time i lost a pitch was a biggy. my wife had to talk me back from the brink of madness.

the aspect i really wrestle with in these moments is when i can't understand the client's decision. on this occasion we heard the creative that won was utterly off brief and seemingly unrelated to any of the client's other material. i don't understand the concept behind either. it easier for me to accept when i see the competing agency put in a pitch that was far better than ours. it's so frustating that i wish there was another opportunity to explain why our ideas were better - but that's madness on toast.

it's a stinker but i try not to let it effect the team or any other work. the real oddity is that the same day the decision was made/announced the marketing manager resigned and walked out. related?