“Before you open your pad, open five other things. Your ears, your eyes and your mind… Look at pictures. Listen to music. Go to films. See plays. And more importantly look at people. They’re those funny things with two legs we’re meant to be writing about, remember.”
The above is a quote from James Lowther’s section of the D&AD Copy Book. Marc was keen to stress the same just before we all left for our end of year break, too, so I took them both up on it.
I therefore made a few last-minute purchases before observing the shoppers of Westfield Stratford on a fresh and still Christmas eve.
I was expecting utter chaos, tears, bloodshed, divorce, pre-10am Peroni.
And out of those five criteria, only the Peroni delivered. Four lads, sitting quietly, drinking at 9.50am. Punchy.
The early hour of my visit probably had more to do with the relaxed nature of those pottering about than the ice cold beer, but even so it was a delight to see how, on the surface, we seem pretty well drilled at this living lark. Even the one argument I did witness had a lovely tenderness to it all.
“Take your old mama home”
“No. I’m going to Whitney’s”
“That’s on the way, right?”
“I tell you what, I’m glad this is the last Christmas in this country” “What, are you taking me to Trinidad?!”
I have no idea what was going on here, but I’m assuming they’re actually moving to Glasgow or somewhere distinctly colder to meet the levels of irony loaded in that parting shot. Even so, it was an exchange so natural, full of love and familiarity that it didn’t really matter. All that did matter was that they were together.
The other observation of note involved two lads in ultra skintight tracksuit bottoms, t-shirts and almost identical gilets. They had swagger, lots of it, they were focused.
But, out of nowhere, one of them slams on the breaks and spots a pair of shoes for, I’m assuming, an absent girlfriend.
All of a sudden, body language changes and becomes shiftier, withdrawn and underfed. Maybe it was the change in terrain, from the hard marble of the main concourse to the soft padding of shoe shop carpet.
That said, the lads knew what they were doing. Just the eight seconds elapsed before the shoes were deemed inadequate. Chests re-cocked, they bounce out onto more certain ground. Like it never happened. Was any of it real? What a whirlwind. Their mates will never know. But I do. Yeah. I saw it all.
Anyway. Learnings? The gilet / tight tracksuit combo. A powerful look. I’m on it.
That aside, it was just nice to appreciate who we are, and how we behave, and there’s no doubt doing this a bit more is going to have a positive impact on my work.
Agencies and brands will have grafted all year round to influence all of us on a day like today. And if they’ve had a good year, then they’ve earned it, because we’re busy. Most people aren’t using iBeacons or scanning digital posters, but if a brand has touched, entertained or practically equipped us to solve a genuine problem during the year then they’re probably more welcome at the Christmas table than those that haven’t. And who knows, maybe the latter are those brands that never stopped to do a bit of people watching of their own.
Now, where’s that gilet…