By Toufic ‘B’ Beyhum
Most Successful ad School in the World
(See you on the other side)
My second favourite job was one I had in my late teens. I worked in a video shop in Knightsbridge called VideoZone.
I used to work from 4pm to 11pm and my shift consisted of watching movies, eating Haagen Dazs Cheesecake ice cream from the shop’s freezer, having plenty of fag breaks and recommending films to the rich & famous.
I picked movies for stars like Madonna, Sly, Chris Eubank, Luc Besson… your usual run-of-the-mill superstars who happened to be staying at the Hyde Park hotel.
I was given drugs and cash as tips from Knightsbridge customers for reserving their videos.
I had to keep my mouth shut when I saw men walking in with their wives one day and their mistresses the next.
At closing time I used to pick about 3 films, take my “tips”and go to a friend’s house and watch them till the early hours. I would crash at 6am and wake up at 3pm, just in time to start work again.
Not a bad gig.
However, my favourite job came 20 years later as a mentor at the School of Communication Arts.
Don’t get me wrong, working as a creative in advertising between VideoZone & SCA was fun, but I can’t say it was my favourite time.
Politics, ass kissing & game-playing all came in the way of what I’d signed up for.
I finally lost all hope in advertising 3 years ago. I was doing a freelance gig, this time at a boring agency (you know who you are), working on a boring digital Nivea brief, when in my inbox popped an ad for a mentor art director at the SCA.
I had heard a lot about SCA so I put Nivea to the side, did some research and decided to apply. As a senior creative I have worked with & directed lots of juniors from different agencies in different countries, but I have never “taught” them.
I then got a call from Chantelle who invited me to spend half a day with Love Thy Labour.
So I headed over to Vauxhall with a box of chocolates and spent half a day hanging out with the students. I mean literally hanging out; brainstorming & chatting.
I had an interview with Marc whom I liked instantly & who reminded me of some of my student friends back from when I did a two-year Fine Arts course after GCSEs.
You know? Those eccentric, hippie, arty types.
I came out of the school buzzing. I don’t know what it was, but I was addicted.
I’ve never left an agency feeling like that.
A few days later, I was still sweating over this fucking Nivea brief when I got a call from Marc.
I ducked into an empty conference room and Marc surprised me by saying that the school would love to have me on board.
Apparently the students really liked me (although I’m sure the box of chocolates helped).
I was very excited but worried at the same time. What do I know about teaching? These “out-of-work-creatives” were so talented already, so I could only really share my experiences & try to inspire them.
At the end of it all, what I experienced was 3 great years with no politics, back stabbing, annoying clients, and all the other usual office bullshit – just pure creativity, enthusiasm and energy.
Something you hardly see in agencies.
As for my students, well I believe I’ve learned a hell of a lot more from them than they’ve learned from me.
My colleagues (In alphabetical order 😉
Caroline, Chantelle, Clare, Dave, Georgia, Hannah, Honor, Ian, Jean, Matt, Pete, Rob, Steve, Vikki have been a massive inspiration & the best colleagues I have ever worked with.
If only agencies & CDs could learn from the collaborative school model. As full-time mentors we worked together as a team to nurture & bring out the best in the students, to use their creativity to sell.
That’s the way it should be.
As for my boss… well, bosses are meant to be dicks the world over. Everyone thinks theirs is incompetent & anyone could do their jobs.
On the contrary, Marc has been a great boss/Dean.
I could never ever do his job & it’ll be impossible to replace him.
I have not seen anyone so dedicated as Marc is to the school.
He is SCA & the SCA is him.
He pours sweat, blood & a little bit of spunk into the school (yep, he gets moist when a student comes up with a controversial idea).
Marc has been a huge inspiration to me, has been very kind & understanding & for a Jew, he pays so quickly!
Having said all that you are probably wondering why I will not be joining next year.
Well, for 3 years I have mentored 2 days a week and on the other days I have been taking advantage of the free time and working on personal photography, art and film projects, I even managed to fit in a third son, a photography project at a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan & become a certified bee keeper.
But now I need to dedicate myself to getting back into full-time freelancing for a year to raise enough funds for a family project.
Even though I will truly miss going to the SCA on a regular basis, I will try my best to inject the spirit of SCA into every agency I work for.
This is not a goodbye. Our industry is very small so I will be seeing most of you in agencies at some point and will definitely come back to mentor at the SCA whenever I can.
I am proud & honoured to have mentored at the most successful ad school in the world: The School of Communication Arts.
Thank you Marc, thank you in-house mentors, thank you Love Thy Labour, Bark and Mosh.
Bye for now.
ps. Save the bees.