How To Stay Mad, While The Woods Still Burn – By @Mr_Shankly

By Alex Morris


How To Stay Mad, While The Woods Still Burn


‘I’m not interested in stories of the past or any crap of that kind. Because the woods are burning boys, you understand?’


We’re a rag-tag bunch.


Assembled from all corners of the globe by a blue haired puppet-master-come-football manager. Selected thanks to a top-secret combination of untapped potential, codified psychological synergy and a large, large dollop of serendipity.

But, 13 weeks in, I’ve noticed there is one thing common to all SCA students.


We all piss blue.


And by that I mean there’s a deep unease with mediocrity. This isn’t meant to sound arrogant. It’s more a reflection on a sense of driving introspection you can see in everyone’s eyes.


So when you feel yourself slipping towards putting something that resembles average into a world which has reached peak ‘stuff’, it doesn’t feel good.


Not. One. Bit.


When the perceived claustrophobia of deadlines and the Stuff That Actually Matters in Real Life close in, there’s a real temptation to settle.


Even the word looks disgustingly self-content.


Settle doesn’t work for us on a personal level. And it doesn’t work for this industry. Which is why we want to work in it.


Settling is the path of least resistance.


It leads to this.


And this.


I’ve always found the very idea of having to make ‘brave’ work didn’t sit right.

It makes work that ‘works’ sound somehow risky.

What’s brave in questioning the brief? About questioning it to the point where some business’ hard earned money isn’t spaffed up the nearest wall, because no one was feeling particularly ‘brave’ or ‘heroic’ one cold December, Tuesday afternoon.


What should be brave about making work that does its job? Moves people. Sells stuff. 


Changes behaviour.


So it was a relief when Nils Leonard came in this week and reminded us what ‘brave’ actually is.


‘We don’t get to talk about brave’ he said, ‘When firemen run into burning buildings.’

All we need to do, is remember the very basic tenant, of letting yourself feel something in order to make other people feel something.


And the best shortcut to that, to making yourself so mad that the work you make blasts into someone’s consciousness over all the other shit they’re bombarded with 24/7 and has the privilege of changing what they planned on doing before, like the one sperm that makes it all the way on its fertilising mission.


And that’s a tension.


A response to a frustration that people (NOT consumers) actually have in their lives (NOT their customer journeys).


When what they want is slightly out of step with what we see in the world.


‘It’s not the logo on the account’, said the Uncommon founder and my future boss, ‘Or the ‘Tone of Voice’; it’s the ambition of the people working on it.’


So suit up in the armour of your version of creativity. No, in-fact, get under the skin of your problem to the point you’re wearing that over the armour. And get your hands on the beating heart of What People Actually Feel.


We’re working on a SENTENCE REDACTED FOR TOP SECRET LIVE BRIEF brand at the moment. Pretty dry right?




Not when you get the privilege of transporting into the shoes of someone who’s kept up by that specific problem at night.

Then you let the injustice of that problem keeping them up at night, spark the flame for exactly how you tackle it.


And suddenly you’ve broken through.


Congratulations, you’ve survived the brief. And because of that, what you’ve created talks to, not at, someone out there.


Bonus: you can sleep at night.


Knowing that journey looks painful on paper but what you’ve created is sound.

And the fire burns on.,9171,1995856-2,00.html

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