The Birth of the Project 2 Years Ago

It all started with an email sent on May 19, 2010. I wrote:

I think I’ve finally thought of a way to turn my planner survey network into a book idea. I’d love to know what you think and if you might be willing to participate.

Essentially, I want to spend a few weeks or a month in several countries to experience planning/advertising/culture in those places first hand. I’d offer my services in exchange for a place to crash. I’ve been thinking about how there hasn’t really been a “planner” book since Truth,Lies, and it’s got the travel angle and the advertising in general angle. I can already cover the US and Amsterdam, so I’m thinking a few Asia spots, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, South Africa and maybe India and the Middle East if I’m brave.

I was hoping my scheme would help me avoid visa issues as we could call it an externship or an extended job interview. Also hoping agencies would see this as a good opportunity to raise their global profile and want to play along.

Am I dreaming/crazy? Can I bring a bottle of Zyrtec and stay with you??

And the response that catalyzed me into (eventual) action:

Hello there, how bloody tops to hear from you.

I absolutely, unconditionally, passionately love it.

Actually ‘love it’ doesn’t do it justice, it’s “leave my wife for it” adoration.

(I won’t tell Jill that, she might not be that happy to hear she’s lost out to an idea from someone I’ve never met)

Seriously, it’s great – especially as there are fundamental differences of approach, role and potential for planning and yet only those fortunate to live/work in other markets actually ‘get it’. Ironically I’ve written a post about this next week, but to actually follow/read the exploits of someone literally having the ‘change’ thrust upon them is incredibly exciting – though I would add it would transcend just ‘planning’ and probably end up being a guide on how to survive or thrive the World of adland, a Lonely Planet for the comms industry if you will.

Would love to help and get involved. Don’t quite know how yet but very happy to talk about that and kick some people’s butts where possible/necessary.

The only thing I’d say is that on top of different cultures having different approaches, so do different agencies … so would you like to try multiple agencies in each land, or just try a different agency on each trip?

I love this … so exciting … and way better working at DDB Amsterdam, ha.

Seriously count me in but let me know when this is all happening because (1) I’m basically inbetween homes right now and (2) if its too far away, I might of been sacked by Wieden by then, ha.

This is awesome, won’t breathe a word to anyone but if you want me to do any background scheming, shout – especially in Asia where for some reason – I actually know a few people.

Great to hear from you, but this idea made it even better.


So Rob managed to keep his job at W+K for more than 2 years and wait for me to get around to visiting. The project has morphed a bit since as he rightly says I can’t possibly see but a glimpse of what any city or agency culture has to offer. It’s more about what I learn as I go. The working title is “Shop the World, Steal from the Best.”

I wasn’t able to get online much in the past two weeks so I’ll be catching up now that I have full access to the inter webs again and chronicle some bits from my trips to Singapore, Tokyo (for freelance on Uniqlo!), and Beijing.

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