Archive for the ‘Small Man, Big Shoes’ Category

A Higher Calling

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?


When the cat’s away …

In Small Man, Big Shoes, Wannabe CEO on February 23, 2011 at 9:38 am

I jetted south on Monday for some winter sun. How will the agency fare while I’m away, you may ask? Will there still be an agency there when I get back?

Well I’m a firm believer that much as I need a break from the agency, the agency equally needs a break from me. Although I’m only 5’4″, I am a bit of a colossus in the advertising business. You can’t run an agency the size of ours and not be. (Whether or not I could actually run anything else is another matter. I bet Mozart wouldn’t have made a great footballer.)

Back to me being a colossus: remove me from the office for a week and a huge (but friendly) shadow is lifted from the rest of the agency. Suddenly clear blue sky appears above my senior management team. Room for them to step into my shoes. And of course I encourage this. They need quality time at the helm, because I might meet that bus with Jeremy Parnaby written on it as I cross Kensington High Street one day. Splat! End of.

Once the mess had been cleared up, life at the agency would have to go on. Beans would still have to be promoted, the benefits of laxatives extolled, flea powder advertised. The Chairman would send a shocked workforce a consolatory email on his Blackberry while simultaneously installing my predecessor on his iPhone.

It doesn’t really spook me that morbid preparations for such a Domesday scenario are in play while I’m away. It comes with the role. Some of us are born to carry such a burden. The King is dead. Long live the King!

Meanwhile as I drift lazily on my pedalo, let’s hope this cat has nine lives …

Over here

In God Squad, Objects of Desire, Small Man, Big Shoes on February 16, 2011 at 7:10 am

One of the USA’s greatest sons is artist Jasper Johns, best known for his paintings of flags, like the masterpiece above. Those of you who know me will be aware that 20th century North American art is a passion of mine. I’ve spent many a delightful hour in Tate Modern or MOMA losing myself in Rothkos, Rauschenbergs, Pollocks and Twomblys. They invariably take my mind on an invigorating journey, encapsulating as they do such raw beauty.

But not everything that comes out of the USA has such a refreshing effect on yours truly – a visit from my Chairman being a prime example. Especially if he has his Global CFO in tow. When Helena, my super PA, informs me that the Chairman is gracing us with his presence, I know I’m in for a rollercoaster ride lasting several days. The trick is staying on the coaster without barfing, metaphorically speaking, of course.

The visit usually starts with the delegation marching into reception as if they owned the place (which of course they do). A little humility however wouldn’t go amiss. Next comes the barking of orders. They seem to derive a certain satisfaction from portraying the big boss (me) as being not so big any more. This has got nothing to do with me being 5’4″. (My Chairman’s no bigger, bizarrely). It’s more a belief on their part that the Yanks are God’s chosen people and therefore know best. This brings me nicely (or unnicely) on to the worst part of all. Both Chairman and Global CFO are deeply religious and take their management style straight from the Old Testament. How can you be in advertising and go to church, I hear you ask? With great difficulty, you hear me reply, considering the bare-faced lies our clients insist we broadcast to the public. Back to the Chairman; notice it’s the Old Testament, not the New that he swears by. We’re talking Eye for an Eye here not Turn the other cheek (just in case you were thinking that he and the Global CFO were a pair of marshmallows). When they were last over, they spent most of their time working out how to visit the modern equivalent of the ten plagues of Egypt on our competitors.

They’re flying in today. Pray for me.

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Hello, I’m a Lobster Phone.

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.

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Go forth and multiply!

In Accountants, God Squad, Small Man, Big Shoes on January 2, 2011 at 7:44 am

That’s the command that’s just come down from on high. My Chairman in NYC, who’s a bible-quoting Plymouth Brethren fundamentalist as well as an adman, has just put the whole network in acquisition mode.

For 2011, it’s buy, buy, buy. There are bargains to be had in the recession, apparently. Now, as you know, I run the London office which is the biggest in the network other than NY itself. So it behoves me to pick up the gauntlet and get acquiring. Fast. I’m already assembling a team of top lawyers and accountants in my head in preparation for the conquest. I’ll have to brief them clearly on what type of agency I’m looking for though. Something funky and radical. People who are down with the kids. In fact, the complete opposite of the lawyers and accountants advising me. Funny! Go find me the polar opposite of you. Memorise the picture that I’ve attached to the brief for the long list. If the owner looks like this guy, don’t even talk to him!