Sorry Uncle, I don't want to be an agency creative
As part of an advertising dynasty I have shocked my family by turning my hand to producing sexy, lad-mag journalism
Tuesday 27 February 2001
Family get-togethers at Christmas are a troublesome escapade for most people and I'm no different. But whereas most dread nothing more than having to watch the
Big Break special with their incontinent grandmothers, my festive season is beset by a far more sinister concern: every last adult member of my family works in the advertising industry.
Family get-togethers at Christmas are a troublesome escapade for most people and I'm no different. But whereas most dread nothing more than having to watch the Big Break special with their incontinent grandmothers, my festive season is beset by a far more sinister concern: every last adult member of my family works in the advertising industry.
My grandparents had eight children. All of them got jobs in advertising and, when they all had kids, the whole of that generation headed into the same industry. In all, there are about 60 members of the Delaney family and we converge en masse twice every year. To an outsider, this may sound like a touchingly old-fashioned display of family unity. Increasingly, it's an industry event.
Somehow, I managed to circumvent the advertising trade and opted instead for journalism. As a consequence, family get-togethers are a lonely time for me. In one corner of the festive soirÃ©e, my older brother (MD of a film production company in Soho) stands pitching a new director to my uncle (chairman of his own ad agency). Over by the running buffet, my twin cousins (hot new creative team at a leading London ad-house) discuss their new campaign with my aunt (head of Rome's biggest agency).
Unable to shoe-horn myself into any of the chatter, I invariably find myself slumped beside the one crowd who have as little knowledge of the ad-world as I do: my nine-year-old niece and six-year-old nephew. I can't hope for conversation more mature than theirs: even my 14-year-old sister is given to tutting and sighing her way through commercial breaks, analysing the brand message and bemoaning "corny" dialogue. This is no joke.
I've always worked for men's magazines, previously as deputy editor of Loaded, and now as the editor of Enter, the new men's lifestyle magazine on CD-Rom. On the news-stand, it looks like any other glossy offering. Only, when you reach inside there are no pages to flick through. But there is a CD-Rom packed with seven and a half hours of filmed interviews, videos and games. The interviews appear on screens in rooms and abstract spaces inside different sectors of the "city" that is Enter.
Elsewhere, there are games areas, a club space where readers can perfect their break-dancing skills, a "Sex Lab" full of advice for men and women and sectors dedicated to film, arts and comedy.
Now, I'm not a snob about ad people. But my upbringing has taught me that advertising is an extraordinarily insular industry. Last Christmas encapsulated this point perfectly. I arrived at the family gathering on Boxing Day fresh from my first month working on the launch of Enter. It's something of a revolution - a fully interactive experience where the music, film, comedy and girls are live action.
During the course of the preceding month, I'd played football at Celtic Park, sparred with Shaolin Monks, partied with Ryan Giggs and David Beckham and been attacked by a Liverpudlian contract killer, all in the name of work. Despite my allusions to such outlandish high jinks, I was unable to distract my family from their debates regarding the destination of various bluechip accounts.
It's not that they don't care about what I do, it's just that they're perplexed by it. In fact, many of them seem to be awaiting the day that I burst out laughing and reveal that my claims of a career in journalism were just an elaborate ruse and that I am in fact a New Business exec at Young & Rubicam.
As Enter launches, I'm banking on the bulk of 18-30-year-old males being more easily distracted by its mixture of music, celebrities, comedy, girls and silliness. I've also found a way that I might capture the attention of my ad-centric relatives: we gave away a copy of Enter with last week's issue of Campaign.
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