About two years ago I was the subject of a Sunday Times magazine "A Life in the Day" column. Other than being a partner in a top London ad agency, I think the hook for the piece was that I was "Ken Livingstone's adman".
I read some 40 or so previous "A Life in the Day" columns searching for traps. There was none that I could find. Each column was, as advertised, a chronology of the day of people who were famous, infamous and unfamous. What linked these various lives was a certain spartan, deadpan unremarkableness in the telling: a method that seemed to render, for instance, a spaniel breeder's day in Solihull somehow the same as Samuel Leroy Jackson's day in Beverly Hills.
Reading the column every Sunday was to be in communion with people from all walks of life, who – like you – woke up, shaved, played with the child, walked the dog, worked, had lunch, dinner, went to bed, read a bit and nodded off.
They sent a nice lady to interview me and whatever is female for avuncular is what she was. She listened to my account of a typical day and found it a bit dull.
Perhaps warning bells should have sounded, because the whole point was precisely this comforting dullness. Alas, a bit of mucking about after the event became the event.
The following 20 or so minutes of "spicing up the interview a bit" – my ironic comments about the number of shirts I owned for instance – became what the piece was all about. If the final article did seem all over the place, it's because a lot of shoe-horning had to go on to create the portrait of the killer yuppie adman – an outcome that had clearly been decided before the interview took place.
I later received an e-mail from the nice lady above in which she bemoaned the tragedy of irony sitting so badly on the page. Well, er, thanks for nothing: I hadn't had any intention of being ironic other than under her prodding at the end of the interview.
My industry bible, Campaign magazine, gave me a right royal kicking for the piece. And rightly so I think. I should have had the nouse to see that I would inevitably be set up in this way and that, as a senior industry figure, it would bring the whole industry into disrepute.
Others believe that my real great mistake was not leveraging my new-found notoriety and becoming a media darling (or even demon, perhaps).
A journalist in the following week's Sunday Times actually wrote a piece about the advent of the "life commando" (a phrase attributed to me in my article) a new kind of nightmare super-yuppie. Perhaps I should have done the "Life Commando Handbook".
Mark Wnek is creative director at the advertising agency Euro RSGC Wnek GosperReuse content