A wake up call


As a freelancer I have a certain amount of freedom. I’m not affected by office politics.

And people talk to you, like a freelance agony aunty.

I have met happy fulfilled people, I have met creative powerhouses and I have met some of the most desperate,  depressed and  likely to go postal people too.

drinking-at-workI’ve worked with people who have taken out by men in white coats for extended holidays in institutions where lunch consists of a cocktail of multi-coloured pills guaranteeing rainbows and unicorns.

It’s not the work that’s the problem.

It’s that creative people can’t be creative in an environment designed to stifle creativity.

6a00d8341c03bb53ef016768ecf2f6970b-500wiIt’s not the interior design I’m talking about.

It’s that interior design cannot solve a people problem.

It can’t make people happy or creative.

You can throw money at people and they’ll be dazzled for about a month.

Studies have proved that at a certain point the money just is not worth it.

In order for people to be happy at work they need to feel valued and respected.

They need a balance between home and work not just lip service.

It is impossible to be happy at work when you think you’ll be unemployed if you aren’t at your desk 24/7, but your partner and family have forgotten what you look like.


I’ve been there.

My husband once gave me an ultimatum.

Find a new job or get a divorce.

It was the best thing I have ever done.

I deserve more out of my life than 18 hours a day in front of a computer.

I deserve to spend time with my family.

I deserve to be a kickass mother and wife and friend as well as a kick ass career woman.

Businesses still seem designed around men and twenty something singles with nothing to lose.

What about the mothers who manage to juggle home, family and career?

If you want to learn about time management, ask them.

So this is the status quo…

If you get a life you sacrifice your career.

If you choose the flip side, you get a career and wake up one day all alone with no-one to care but the cat you named after your ex.

It’s not that I can’t do it.

It’s that I won’t.


Baby Talk


No, I do not mean the nauseating practice of calling a cow a moo-moo.

In my line of work I am used to unreasonable requests. I know all about the relativity of time when it comes to meeting impossible deadlines. I have met every stereotype of crazy client out there.

But I have never had a request like the one I had today.

It was for a gift tag. Nothing unusual there.

Except that the client requested that I write the message to be read by a newborn baby.

baby books053Not read by the parent but addressed to the baby.

Read by the baby.

I do not know about you but unless these are going to genius savant babies who emerge from the womb speaking seven languages and able to do complex mathematics, I do not know of a newborn who can read from birth.

I wrote one back addressed to the infant but in fairly simple terms for the blissful new parent to read.

I was shot down with…

“A baby can’t read this.”

No, a baby can’t read period.

Babies are little prohibited when it comes to communication.

gerbers baby foodThey understand hot, cold, hungry, tired and in need of a new nappy.

Pretty much everything else falls outside their realm of understanding despite what their mommies and daddies might believe.

They have one form of communication, actually two, no three – crying, regurgitating and peeing on you.

I do not speak baby.

I know this because I have had three of my own and spent most of the time trying to figure out if they were hot, cold, hungry, tired or needed a new nappy all in rapid succession.

No sooner had I found the reason for the cry and attended to it then another would pop up.

Such is motherhood.

The sweet-tempered account manager tried to soothe me.

I looked at her reply to the client’s email and asked, “If you knew this was well-nigh impossible, why did you right ‘will do’ in red after the comment?”

She replied, “Well, what else could I do?”

I hastened to suggest WTF might have been more applicable.

Perception in the Advertising World

The freelancer and the piranha


Becoming a full-time freelancer is like slicing your wrist open and diving head first into a pool of half-starved piranha who all know you’ll happily gave your life blood for a dollar.

Driven by mindless terror of not getting any work I happily took on every single job that came my way.

Who needs sleep anyway?

Not me.

A box of Dunhills and a bottomless mug of tea is all that I need. Hah!

Eventually as I sat in front of my doctor convinced I was dying of a dread disease, I came face to face with some common sense that has seemingly managed to elude me for 36 years. Know your limits.

He told me off like I was a sullen child and told me I was suffering from burn-out and exhaustion.

He topped it off with an order to take a week off.

I looked at him from the fog of misery as though he’d suddenly grown two heads and a wart on his nose. What part of freelancer was he struggling with? A week off? How?

I went home fuming with indignant anger.

My mother gives me common sense, my doctor is supposed to give me pharmaceuticals to make it all better.

Small boy aged 7 looked at me with concern and said, “Mummy, sometimes you just have to say no.”

Damn that common sense.

The gene have skipped  a generation.

So, I asked for help and I set some clients free.

I got some sleep.

And some food.

And I’m taking a week off to go to the beach.


Forget the cheese, somebody moved my mouse!

Sometimes I wonder if I am an unwitting member of the cast of a daytime reality soap opera.

Isn’t that lovely and melodramatic?

Very Kim Kardashian only without the paycheck.

I have to believe in a higher power directing my life as sometimes it is just too bizarre to imagine happening without some script involvement.

Honestly, it baffles me.

I went back to work today.

Real work. The one that pays the bills.

It was surreal.

It has been three weeks…

…And we’re still working on the same job we were when I went on leave

…And we’re moving out of our trendy offices to some mildewed townhouse in outer suburbia

…And the old Account Manager walked out and a new one walked in

…And the General Manager was dismissed with immediate effect, but is still there as the paperwork hasn’t come through yet

…And my Creative Director started to write copy

…And when They threatened not to pay my salary (because I was on leave) all my colleagues downed tools and said they wouldn’t be paid either then

…And Someone stole my mouse (that really threw me)

Authentic Creatives » May Johannesburg Bless You by Authentic Creatives

Authentic Creatives » May Johannesburg Bless You by Authentic Creatives.

This is an incredible project taking place in South Africa at the moment. We’ve all read the signs, the pleas for help and the attempts at humour. This is advertising at its most poignant. Its most real. These are the stories from the other side of the coin.


Johannesburg’s traffic lights, intersections and stop signs almost seem naked and missing an important feature if there is no beggar in the vicinity. This is one of the city’s features that both serves as a constant reminder of the country’s history, a litmus test of the present and a glance into the future.

Beggars hang a piece of cardboard on their necks with almost the same desperation and heaviness delivered by the content of the words written on it. The passer-by is savagely hi-jacked and kept hostage for a few seconds while with every word they are drawn deeper into a life of a complete stranger.

The viewer is then offered an option to leave the intersection with grinding guilt or pay a ransom and with God’s blessings buy another day in paradise. The viewer is also subliminally reassured that their lives are more comfortable, well off and comprehensively better that of “others”.


Read more… http://icreatewecreate.com/may-johannesburg-bless-you-by-authentic-creatives/

I work in advertising. I don’t know why.

Scott Harrison




Scott HarrisonFor a few years I had the privilege of working with Scott Harrison. Each day he’d draw us a cartoon to contend with the chaos of the studio. While burning the midnight oil last night, I found these.

The Time Bandit and the Oxygen Thief

Time is the most valuable and scarce commodity we have.

From the moment we are born the clock is tick tocking away the seconds to our eventual demise.

This is why I reserve a special kind of loathing for people who bring me closer to death without imparting any meaningful benefit.

At 8am this morning I was advised of a 10am meeting on the other side of the city.

At five minutes to 10 I am in reception announcing my arrival after 45 minutes in teeth-clenching, road-rage inducing gridlock traffic.

Gaping VoidMy phone beeps merrily and I am informed via SMS that the meeting has been moved to 11am to accomodate the man referred to as “Our Lord and Master” aka the Creative Director.

At 11am I was back in reception.

At 11:30 I was still in reception.

At 12 noon Our Lord and Master left for lunch.

Eventually the rest of us had our meeting and achieved (as expected) sweet bugger all.

The upshot of it is that I don’t get those minutes back.

I also didn’t get lunch.

And that makes me grumpy.

That covers the Time Bandit.

On to Oygen Thieves…

I’m sure you know these. They arrive at 9, leave at 5 and take their lunch hour religiously. They achieve nothing, do nothing, contribute nothing and still get paid.

They are ones who don’t cough up the 20 bucks to contribute to a colleague’s birthday, but still help themselves to three slices of cake.

If you put a pot plant at their desk instead, at least it would photosynthesise.

Why am I feeling so resentful?

Tomorrow is Human Rights Day, a public holiday in the RS of A.

What will I be doing? I will be at work.

What will the Time Bandit be doing? Catching some rays.

What will the Oxygen Thief be doing? Breathing.

Scott Harrison


Aspirin grows on trees

Flowers and trees get stressed out too

Let’s keep it between me and you

Blinding migraines, panic attacks

Terrible paranoia of a chopping axe

Popping pills is not a wholly human foible

Plants take them too when things get unbearable

They go one step further and make their own

A pharmaceutical lab in their very own home

The BBC says they make their own aspirin

I wonder if they make their own Valium

To Sam in lieu of a brief

I can’t wait to work on Carnival City
Which makes it all the more a pity
That I sit at my desk without a brief
It almosts makes me cry with grief
If you send me one by tomorrow morning
I can give Marais ample warning
To create something magical
To hold MVGs everywhere in thrall
And if you come down Traffic to provoke
Perhaps we could share a quick smoke?

Annual Appraisals

It’s that pucker up time
of year
When the only words to pass your lips are
“Yes sir”
When your tongue bleeds bitten
hot liquid drops
of unspoken words
Leaving a bitter taste
Soft feathers of wings clipped
Fall in a soft storm to the floor
Eyes shut tight
As you take more
Golden silence reigns supreme
Mute you stand and scream
Daring to believe
It might be worth it
To simply stand and take it