Campaign a-list questions

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Campaign recently published their a-list questions, go and check them out. Campaign is the default trade journal of the advertising industry, though you would be surprised how many agencies don’t have a subscription. I featured in a number these kind of features earlier in my career in Campaign sister publications and rivals. I was often pulled in because friends had suggested me.

Here’s my take on the Campaign a-list questions below. It is a mix of the frivolous and the serious.

Define your past year in three words.

Eventful, emotional, grateful.

  • Eventful: a lot of projects happened and a number of projects didn’t happen at a very late stage, I lost a couple of good friends – one of whom to complications related to lupus.
  • Emotional: a number of highs and lows throughout the year.
  • Grateful: for the friends that I have made, most of whom have been professional connections, some long-standing.

What brand will you be unable to live without in 2024?

‘Unable live without’ is a very first world problem related question. My workflow depends on the Apple eco-system. I use a MacBook Pro, a brace of vintage Apple Cinema displays and an iPhone. Brands that I am particularly appreciative of include HailMary magazine, Lipton Hong Kong café-style milk tea and Amazon Fresh online grocery shopping.

Who or what lights up your life?

  • Friends and family.
  • Intellectually-challenging work.
  • Culture: I love museum exhibitions, galleries and arthouse cinema.
  • Reading.
  • Travel.
  • Music and my hi-fi.
  • Good coffee and baked goods.

You can bring back a TV show from the past – which one?

Maybe The Wire, a remake of John LeCarre’s Smiley books (huge fan of the BBC adaptations and the Tomas Alfredson film) or a new season of the Korean drama Stranger? I let my Netflix subscription lapse recently as I wasn’t watching that much on it and Netflix moved their payment system outside the Apple eco-system. Instead I have been buying the odd Blu-Ray or DVD here and there. Recent purchases included:

It’s 2034 and AI is in charge. What are you pleased to see?

Thoughtfully designed co-operative tools based on locally run apps using AI techniques rather than climate-unfriendly data centres. I hope that AI will be adapted to make workflow better so that we can do more with less drudgery.

If you were a TikTok star, what audience would you serve?

I have played with various AI tools. TikTok has lots of tightly-held opinions, but a dearth of quality information sources. I could see a niche for a channel that uses a virtual presenter to delivery high quality news analysis or education on the principles of a given subject, complete with links to high quality sources so that the viewers could educate themselves further.

Cats or dogs?

I grew up with dogs. We had a yellow labrador through my formative years to age 11 or so. We’d moved to a different neighbourhood and the new neighbours threw a chicken carcass over the fence and that killed him.

Young Ged rollin' with the big 'dawg

Later on my parents had a couple of Jack Russell terriers. I spent time on the family farm where my Mam grew up and befriended the working dogs there that were from the collie family. Before my time, the farm also had a couple of cats to keep down the vermin population, at least one of which my Mam doted on as a child and still talks about.

I also spent time with turkeys, hens, sheep, a pig, a pony, a donkey and numerous cattle. At the moment I wouldn’t have either a cat or a dog as a pet, see work/life balance question below.

What is the one bit of work advice you use the most?

In strategy, I have been finding with recent projects I have had to invoke Twyman’s law: “Any figure that looks interesting or different is usually wrong”.

What is your work/life balance secret?

I admit, I don’t succeed in achieving work life balance. Work tends to win out. Things tend to go high-speed or nothing. Trying to take out blocks of me time for self-care after a project, is the closest I get to it.

What is the first thing you do to tackle a business problem?

Listen carefully.

You are hiring the person who will one day have your job – what do they need to know?

The value of hard work and learning. I would prefer to hire for ‘heart’, work ethic and curiosity. They need to find their own path or journey, that works for them.

How would your answers to the Campaign a-list questions look like?