Over 150 Concept Cupboard student creatives sent me tweets & emails hoping to win a ticket to the Robert Senior Merlin lecture that took place this week. Sadly I only had two to give away but Alice & Carl (see below) were the lucky winners & as a trade-off agreed to each write a blog post that could be shared with the students who missed out. I also wanted to share snippets of their posts with the Marketing Academy community, so here they are…
When junior met Senior by Carl Mallia
I have to admit, until earlier this week, the word lecture is not one that I had ever held all too close to my heart, yet this is certainly no longer the case.
Allow me to explain.
Lectures, much like the adverts that were so prevalent in the pre-Internet and Wireless years, are all too often a one-way conversation. The lecturer speaks and you listen. The brand, claiming to improve your daily life in some way, speaks, and you listen.
But Robert Senior wasn’t there to provide the type of lecture many of us have become so accustomed to. He was there to engage, to communicate and to tell a story or two. In a more open and entertaining manner than I have personally ever experienced before.
As cliché as it may sound, the next hour felt like no more than five minutes had passed, as the founding partner of Fallon proceeded to present a hypnotising and rather anthropological account of the advertising world. “Clients, agencies, we’re all doing the same thing and we’re all in the business of context”, he said. Mr. Senior warned that “the worst thing you could do is cover who you are”, instead we must ask ourselves the question “who am I?” and keep asking. As individuals in this industry our most ‘competitive advantage’ is that we are all unique. Instead of covering, who we really we should celebrate it. Rather than the person who “gets things done” we should “make stuff happen”. I could turn this post into a series of quotes but I’ll refrain from the temptation.
Personal and often humorous anecdotes were laced with deeper meaning about the marketing and advertising industry. One particular anecdote that involved Mr. James Murdoch, had the audience in a fit of laughter, yet there was a deeper message about standing up for what you believe in. At one point a member of the audience, who happened to work for non other than News International, asked Mr. Senior what he thought about the current situation surrounding the company. After a heart-felt and honest answer, Mr. Senior then replied, “what do you think?”
A perfect metaphor for the world of marketing and advertising in this digital age. As marketers or advertisers we all need to lecture our audience from time to time, however, how we choose to lecture our audience is what will really make our brands rise above its competitors. No one wants to be lectured, because unlike when you used to stand in front of your parents or teachers, you can simply change the channel or switch off. As lecturers, we must strive to find new ways to engage with our audiences, to turn the one-way dialogues into conversations and there has never been a more exciting time in our industry to do so.
As I prepare to graduate and look to enter the ‘real world’ I will never forget the afternoon I spent at Fallon. A very wise man once told me that adjectives like ‘inspirational’, and ‘great’ often gets banded about when words like good are probably an exaggeration. In this circumstance, inspirational, doesn’t quite do justice, however, as an aspiring creative constantly seeking inspiration, it seems to fit quite nicely.
Once I begin my lecturing career in the advertising world, I vow never to simply lecture my audience. I will engage, I will communicate and I will try to tell a story or two along the way. And for that life lesson, I am forever grateful to Concept Cupboard, The Marketing Academy, Fallon and most importantly, Robert Senior.
So, now that you’ve finished reading. What do you think?
Carl Mallia is a 22-year-old aspiring advertising copywriter. Having graduated with a first class BA (Hons) in Journalism, Carl is currently studying a Masters in Advertising and Marketing Communications at Bournemouth University and is due to graduate in November.
The Robert Senior lecture by Alice Walker
I was delighted to be able to visit Fallon’s studios, as I have marvelled at their advertising campaigns on numerous occasions. The cherry on top was, of course, that Robert Senior, CEO of SSF Group, was speaking.
Robert Senior made a lot of interesting and valid points, many of which, were close to my heart. I am on the hunt for a job and more importantly, work experience. Robert Senior highlighted the importance of ‘going the extra mile’ as an intern. The most common job for interns are usually to make sure the coffee is fresh and hot each day. The reason for this is much more important than just a hot coffee. It’s the knock on effect it has on the employees. It puts them in a better mood, which means the best can be taken from them to create the best work and therefore allowing ideas to grow exponentially, when nurtured and cared for. Robert Senior drew a comparison with baby sea turtles, which have just been born; only one will get to the water and survive, out of a large number.
Another of his points hit home, because I don’t like to upset others. However he has given me the confidence to become more adventurous within my designs as well as in my personal and professional life. It is not to be said that you should spend the rest of your life upsetting others through your work, however, if you are not making waves within your industry then you are only drifting through and not making any substantial impact.
Clarity is a wonderful thing, be as clear and as direct as you can. From the emails that you send to the LinkedIn request, you should be as succinct as possible. I have just graduated from a communications degree, albeit on the visual side but there is no point in encrypted communication. Your career is your philosophical journey; many people say that they want to get to the top. But what do they want to get to the top of and what do they think will happen when they get there? In life, there are so many twists and turns that are unexpected and unimaginable, therefore there is no destination but it is all one journey. Have a plan but at the same time, be flexible. The world we live in demands flexibility and instant responses be prepared to do this! The plan itself is useless, but the exercise in making the plan is invaluable through the process of verbalising it. Robert Senior’s work philosophy is clear-cut and exciting! I feel that it is important, as Robert Senior pointed out, that one continues to question oneself on who they are and why they want to be doing what they are doing. Because once one realises that they do not want to be where they are, they should stop. It is clear and obvious when a person doesn’t want to be there and they can suck the life out of the room. Toxic people create a toxic atmosphere, which in turn creates toxic work. There is no great epiphany when you find out ‘who you are’ but you gradually realise where you are headed.
The final point that I found important to me was to be myself. It can be easy to be swept along with others, I had never thought of myself as a unique selling point. There will always be someone better than you but I think that it is important to realise that people have their own advantages. Robert Senior is correct in saying that it would be tragic if one were to hide who one truly was in order to be like someone else, as that would only lead to disappointment. You can only be yourself.
I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to attend this session and I would like to thank everyone who made it happen.
Hi, I’m Alice Walker and I was thrilled to be given this chance as I am hoping to go into advertising. I am a newly graduated design student from University of Wales, Institute Cardiff with BA (Hons) Graphic Communication.