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  • Writer's pictureCOY! Communications


“There’s an Ocado just for you… Ding-ding, ding, ding ding!…There’s an Ocado just for you… Ding-ding, ding, ding ding!…

Bom-bom, bom, bom, bom…

La-la, la, la, la…”

I’ve taken away a hell of a lot from my all-too-brief spell at St Luke’s Advertising Ltd (and I don’t just mean free packets of K.P. peanuts).

The one thing I really can’t shake off tho’ is this bleedin’ ear-worm - the ‘Ocado Jingle’.

On top of that, I’m being followed around by certain commercial vehicles I’ve never noticed before…big purple vans with pictures of giant purple grapes on their sides.

That’s called awareness - that’s how advertising is s’posed to work apparently.

Of course, I haven’t placed a grocery order with Ocado yet - and I probably never will.

That’s nothing to do with any reluctance on my part, I’d happily give them a go; especially if they turn up in one of those quirky purple motors that are all over the adverts!

No, I won’t be placing an order because that’s my missus’ department.

Hang about! Before you get all aerated… I am one of those ‘modern’ men. I’d love to get my hands on the grub-ordering job!

It’s just that the missus won’t let me anywhere near it in case I put too many Tunnock’s Teacakes and Tizer in the basket, and accidentally ‘forget’ the organic cavolo nero…

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, of course the ‘Ting-ting, ting, ting, ting’ isn’t the best thing I’ve walked away with.

I’ve met a lot of smashing people who I’d love to stay in touch with. I’ve genuinely had a lovely time over the last month.

And, just as importantly, I’ve now got a few insights into how a modern advertising agency works. I can finally make sense of the way that Adland’s evolution has filtered through to me as a director when I’m on a commercial shoot.

Up until recently, my agency insider knowledge was thirty-odd years out-of-date.

It even took me a couple of days at St Luke’s just to fathom out the ‘hot desking’ system.

Eventually I found it was relatively simple, insofar as they employed the ‘first come first served’ principle (sometimes also referred to as ‘you snooze, you lose’).

Like most people of my generation, I get up early.

Really early.

We’re talking the wee small hours.

But sadly, no matter what time I set the alarm for, I’m somehow always late.

Unfortunately, that meant that I seldom got to sit in my favourite seat in the St Luke’s open-plan office (aka the one nearest the khazi).

I’d try leaving my set of magic markers and a layout pad on the desk the night before, like our German friends might employ a beach towel, but sadly it just didn’t work.

I’d find my markers neatly placed to the side, and I’d just have to grab them and wander ‘round the office ’til I found a vacant seat.

The unexpected benefit was that I’d usually have a new person (victim) to plant myself next to and get to know.

I didn’t grasp straight away that the wearing of earphones means; “Don’t talk to me, I’m busy.” so some of my friendly chats did quite literally fall on deaf ears.

When I finally worked out the etiquette I found they were a right sociable bunch, more than willing to point a Veteran/Geriatric Creative in the right direction.

Just as well really, because turning up solely with a bunch of marker pens and a pad was proving to be a bit of a challenge…

I’d been given a couple of briefs to work on - alongside some other creative teams - however, it was only in the first presentation to Richard Denny (St Luke’s esteemed ECD) that I realised the importance of a hefty deck (that’s a ‘bunch of slides’ in old money) to back up your ideas.

Everyone else had these elaborately-constructed decks, with photographic reference carefully plucked from the internet.

I had to rely on my own enthusiastic, persuasive performance, combined with holding up a couple of hastily scribbled ‘key' frames, to get my ideas across.

It probably didn’t help that I’d written a 90-second script, despite the requirement (I think they call it a ‘deliverable’ now) being a poster campaign (or O.O.H.) - which apparently means ‘out of home’.

Well, I really had tried my hardest to get to the end of an extremely long email chain to remind myself of the brief… unfortunately I never made it. I got well and truly lost along the way.

As luck would have it I did remember the proposition, and just assumed a commercial was needed - I knocked out what I thought was one of the best spots I’d ever written.

So, my bad… I had made a slight cock-up. Even so I found rejection still hurts as much as it did 30 odd years ago.

Oh well, there’s plenty more where that came from! And as it happens, the idea was relatively easy to convert into a poster campaign (phew!)

A very helpful young team, Jordan and Danny, volunteered to make a deck for me for the next presentation.

That was bloody handy, because I couldn’t have done it by myself.

There was a real collaborative spirit, not just amongst the creative department but throughout the whole company.

It took a bit of getting used to for an ex-creative who used to jealously guard his ideas, planning and scheming the right time to reveal them for maximum impact.

It seems the modern way is to share almost every creative thought, and anyone can pitch in with a helpful suggestion along the way.

I had to bite my bottom lip a couple of times when improvements to my campaign were suggested: if it wasn’t for the fact that the work was made significantly better, I probably would have got the right royal hump.

I came to enjoy the collaboration bit but, on reflection, I wonder if the more you give up ownership of an idea, the less likely you might be to fight for it when necessary?

Maybe that’s why fighting has gone a bit out of fashion now?

I don’t know, more questions…

Ideas still seemed to be popular tho’, it’s just that there were a lot more of them on the table, and there were tons more meetings (usually on Zoom) to discuss them.

Obviously it was a tad awkward to try to tune into a Zoom meeting armed with just a layout pad, so I often had to park myself on someone’s shoulder and share a screen as ‘the little head in the corner’.

In-between meetings, the projects kept rolling in and I found myself not only writing scripts, but writing headlines, for a poster campaign while simultaneously being briefed on how TikTok works.

Generally, it was a right laugh.

Every now and then a young (they’re all young compared to me, obvs) team would ask my opinion about a bit of art direction, or how to structure a storyboard…

I can see how someone of my generation might be useful in a modern agency.

I’m like the old bloke who works in B&Q - I know where the socket-head domed screws are.

At the end of the internship, I was amazed at how speedily the month had flown past.

Having had some good long chats with some senior people from most departments, I felt that I was just getting the hang of ‘how it all works now’.

As a director, it’s certainly given me a few clues on how to pitch for a commercial in the future.

When I put my next treatment together, it’s going to have more pages, more pictures… fewer words, but set in much bigger type and, oh yeh, I’m definitely going to call it a deck.

Bum-bum, bum, bum, bum…



Neil Henderson

Al Young

Jules Vizard

Richard Denney

Ed Palmer

Jess Gibb ...and all the other fine people at St Luke's

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