Friday, 22 May 2009

Skills for the Future (wherever it is) - further memo to Andy Burnham (or now Ben Bradshaw)

'So then, what are you doing at the moment, my friend?' '

'Oh, I'm looking after the lighting and IT systems on the stage set bus in the musical of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert at The Palace, London, and commuting between York and Kings Cross'.

This exchange took place on a train on Tuesday. Not a conversation that had ever happened before. My friend's careers teacher didn't have a brochure on becoming carer to Priscilla's bus. Life in the creative industries can take us to unexpected places irrespective of what formal qualifications say we should be doing.

You see, training to a very exacting specification is required for brain surgery and for the piloting of jet airliners. On the job innovation for these people is not usually successful.

But for those of us that exist in the fold that encompasses business, technology, communication and entertainment, our prime skill is the ability to re-skill, to tinker and make it up as we go along.

We know now that the world did not end with the recession. We will not return soon to a simple life. We can pretty well bet the farm on the unusual and unexpected to be an even greater part of the inter-connected culture of the future. So how do we educate and prepare people for challenges we can not conceive of ? How can we help make and stretch minds that are more capable, that are more creative, that have an ability to think across categories and boundaries?

What can people learn that allows them to become flexible, innovative and adaptable? If by 'creative jobs' we mean brilliant technicians, then train away. If we mean creating innovative new stuff we have never thought of before and can't yet imagine...

Well, maybe we have to add to the vocational the disciplines of mathematics, physics, English, about Latin? Stretch the mind, understand structure, and let us learn (and invent) the rest in the playground.

(with apologies to non Anglophone nations) (and apparently Priscilla and the whole of the West End is doing v nicely, thank you)

And we have a picture of the set itself, credit pic of bus by Jeff Busby, for full details go to

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Government to Create Jobs - apparently

Couldn't get old head around story from Media Week telling us that Culture Sec Andy Burnham had 10,000 creative industry jobs up his sleeve. Haymarket stablemates Brand Republic and Event magazine puts us straight on this going for a more modest 5,000 creative industries APPRENTICESHIPS.

I would like to be very constructive on this one. Event and especially A/V does suffer skills shortages. That's partly in the nature of a highly seasonal industry. Don't know how happy today's freelancers would be when day rates are pressured by lots of supply. But that would be years away.

Anyway, we trust it's not the exciting number of jobs that ends up as the most creative element of the story.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Get on down to the House of Disrepute

And another note on the subject of on-line identities - provoked by a tweet link to the Outspoken Media blog sent by Dinis Guarda. The gist is, how to leverage benefit from negative press and flame wars that might come from your innocent commercial opinions expressed in your branded blog.

It's all good advice I'm sure, although possibly less guaranteed in outcome than suggested. But maybe the real clincher for discussion here is just how many previously innocent brands might want to join a new axis of evil. There's eyeballs in those hills. Some people might look pretty longingly at the sort of metrics that people like Guido (and The Telegraph) are getting. Let's call it disrepute management.

Setting fire to your own house would attract attention. Until everyone does it.
is Outspoken Media.

PS: we all know Skittles Twitter thing, but have you read #skittles? This doesn't remotely qualify for the notion above but I could not imagine this post in support of a Mars sweetie product a matter of weeks ago:

HallLife: Omg skittles new commercial so f**kin funny you guys got to see it I almost spit out my drink its called reflect the rainbow

Sunday, 3 May 2009

And the most popular awards in Manchester are...

Last Thursday night in Manchester. At Old Trafford: How-Do, the awards programme for all UK NW regional media, about 540 takers. The long standing Roses Awards for regional advertising over at the Hilton on Deansgate, about 300 I am told by folks. Something else on at The Midland - googling it seems to be PPMA Recruitment Advertising Awards - add unknown number, let's say given its capacity, another 300. Organisers of all events welcome to amend my estimates.

Not a swine flu mask in sight in an industry that might have 'challenges' with the sponsorship revenue stream nowadays, but is still putting an awful lot of bums on seats. (Ref to self

Note to any transatlantic readers - bum as in ass, not as in 'Buddy Can You Spare a Dime' - mostly anyway.

Does this v small (but important) sample say 'bring the event to my town and I'll pitch up, make me travel and, hmm, well...? Anyway congrats to both brand owners for a substantial cumulative total. Better numbers next time if they are on different days?

Many thanks to HGA for last minute ticket sort-out. And how do you punctuate How Do for search? How-Do I assume.