In Objects of Desire, Small Man, Big Shoes on February 8, 2011 at 7:48 am
I was asked yesterday by a keen young member of staff what object best sums me up. Bit of a daft question, I thought at the time, but I said I’d blog about it. So Daisy, here’s your answer. If anything were to epitomise me, or I it, it would be the Lobster Phone from that surreal devil, master of the unexpected (and the waxed moustache), Senor Salvador Dali. Why? Well who’d have thought you could connect two such incongruous objects and call it a work of art? Same principle here. Why did a 5’4″ homunculus (I like to pepper my posts with unfamiliar words to keep the education factor high) think he could possibly nail the top job at a top agency? Small men in big jobs are extremely rare. We little ones tend to spend our time down in the shadows, experimenting with shoes with build-me-up soles or large quiffs in an effort to add an inch or two to our manhood. (And no, before you go there, we don’t have small dingle-dangles too, thank God! At least I don’t. Though I suppose it is all a matter of proportion.)
A few small men (and Dolly Parton) have made it. Those of you familiar with my website will see the roll of honour down the right-hand side. You’ll also have noticed my whopping huge salary. That has a surreal quality about it too. You see, here in the UK, one tends not to boast about how much one earns. It’s not the done thing, old chap. It’s a bit vulgar. The fact that a Captain of Industry like myself has bucked the trend poses more questions than it answers (e.g. Does he really get that much? How much is the +? How much does the Creative Director get?)
So, am I as valuable as the Lobster Phone? To Onward I am. Just as Dali’s masterpiece is to Tate. For those of you who wish to see it in its fishy flesh, you’ll have to head to Tate Liverpool where it’s currently on display in their This is Sculpture exhibition.
Sculpture? Hmm, I feel a small marble statue coming on.
In God Squad, Small Man, Big Ideas, Wannabe CEO on February 7, 2011 at 5:36 pm
My Chairman in NYC always carries a copy of the Old Testament with him and frequently regales me with texts from it, particularly when he thinks we’re not making enough money. Who says you cannot serve God and Mammon? But that’s another story for another post.
I myself am not so religiously inclined and prefer to keep Bertrand Russell’s The Problems of Philosophy in my inside pocket. I didn’t deliberately choose this book to wind up my boss just because Bertie boy was an avowed atheist. No, this particular book is a favourite of mine simply because it deals so eloquently with a subject at the heart of our beloved advertising industry, namely: what is perception and what is reality? I find that re-reading that first chapter in which Russell questions the very existence of the table upon which he’s writing to be a great mental warm-up prior to a brand strategy meeting. Suddenly the humble can of baked beans on the table in front of us seems so much more profound, worthwhile and packed with contradictions. Are they beans or just an idea of beans? (Warning note to wannabe CEOs: if you buy this book, handle it with care. Most clients will fire you if you argue that their factory full of shaving foam doesn’t exist.)
But do go buy it, read it, digest it and embrace Bertrand’s simple truth that nothing is what it seems. What better justification is there for your own existence if not to tell the world what things really are? To most Americans the Beetle was an ugly bug of a car. To Bill Bernbach it was the future of efficient, reliable motoring.
Your turn. What is this book?
In Small Man, Big Shoes on January 12, 2012 at 7:53 pm
I’ve decided to enter 2012 on a bold note. It befits a man of my stature to do something that my peers in other agencies simply wouldn’t dare contemplate. Something so radical, yet so simple, that they’re reduced to a state of incapacity and envy.
I’ve changed my name.
Good God! I hear you cry. How could you Jeremy? People entrust their precious brands to you precisely because you are a living, breathing brand yourself. You know what it’s like to be a Coca-Cola. To be the first name on everyone’s lips. Small iconic car = Mini. Small iconic advertising CEO = Jeremy Parnaby.
But fear not, friends. You should know me better by now. I haven’t thrown little Jeremy out with the bathwater. I’ve improved the unimprovable.
Recently I found myself, not for the first time, compared to Lord Byron, the man famously described as ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know.’ I see you nodding. It’s no coincidence either that I, too, look good in a turban. And, with my polo neck still in place, I’d say I actually trump the great poet.
So from this day forth, call me Jeremy Lord Parnaby. Just like Alfred Lord Tennyson (Byron annoyingly didn’t do the Lord-in-the-middle bit, but we’ll just ignore that).
Expect some swashbuckling romantic verse coming soon to a TV near you. How about Ode to a Heinz Baked Bean for starters?