On Writing.

I used to write a newsletter.

I guess I still do. Just not recently. Last year, post-pandemic, I count seven editions. This year we have a grand total of one

For a ‘weekly’ publication, that’s not exactly regular.

March 23rd, 2020. We all know and remember that’s when the UK went into lockdown. Since then I’ve been back into the office I think five times? Twice for a shoot, once for a pitch, then twice to see (and in some cases, meet for the first time) my team. 

I do not miss the commute. I know I am not alone in this, not by any stretch. The benefits of working from home (higher productivity, deep work) far outweigh those of being in the office every day (commute, open-plan offices) – I can’t ever imagine going back to the ‘old’ normal ever again.

Incredible really. 

Being able to close my laptop at 6pm, immediately cuddle my children, start [a proper] dinner, and generally enjoy an evening at home with the family; that holds immense value for me.

But of course, that benefit comes at a cost: the 90-120mins a day of ‘dead’ time on the train/tube/walk of a commute mind, that’s where I did the thinking. The reading. The mental drafting and percolating of words, thoughts, and provocations that would ultimately wind up in an edition of Five Things on Friday.

And that’s gone now.

Not for good. But it’s telling that having travelled to and from the office twice over the past fortnight, there are words available at the end of these fingers once more.

I know I’m one of the lucky ones.

Throughout all this I’ve kept my job, the roof over my head, and – frankly – my life.

But today, today I’m allowing myself to miss writing.

Because I do.

I am in no rush to return to the office. But when I do (at least part-time) then maybe the words will return with it.

12 things I learnt taking 12 months off the ‘gram.

Reproduced from an original article published on Medium, Dec 30th, 2020.

12 months ago I posted my last in-feed photo on Instagram.

It was, like so many others around that time, a ‘Top Nine’; the nine MOST-LIKED photos from my feed throughout that year.

Image for post
Instagram, #TopNine2019 — @whatleydude

8/9 family. 1/9 work. That’s a good balance, I’d say.

A few days after that I posted – and pinned – an ‘end of year review’ to my stories and then after that… promptly uninstalled the app.

One month or so prior my other half, (pictured top left, 319 likes), shared with me a quote from Matt Haig’s Notes from a Nervous Planet:

“An online profile of your best friend is not your best friend. A status update about a day in the park is not a day in the park. And the desire to tell the world about how happy you are, is not how happy you are”

It stuck with me.

And so at the end of 2019, I thought I’d take the damn thing off my phone and just see. Could I do a year without Instagram?

Spoiler: I did. And you can too.

So here, as promised, are:



I didn’t miss it that much.

This is interesting to me. I thought I would. Like I really would. I thought removing the app from my phone would be one of those things that I’d try for a bit and then eventually crumble again for, I don’t know, work reasons or something. Truth be told, I did have to visit the platform a couple of times to preview some builds for work but nothing further than that — and virtually all of that through the web interface.

Point being: it was easy.

Much easier than I thought it’d be.


Seriously, I didn’t miss it at all.

I remember when I first signed up for Instagram (August 2011 — a photo of a Green Goblin action figure, 5 likes), I think I was convincing myself that it was a great place for photographic creative expression.

And I guess for a while I think it was. But then you find yourself in the early hours, trapped in the endless scrolling of the never-ending feed, either looking at what other people are doing, or seeing if that latest exquisite framing of a great sandwich has got… just… one… more… like… than the last one, or just checking your activity page to see if you have any new followers.

This is not healthy.

And for why?

In Cal Newport’s excellent book, Deep Work, he asks the question (admittedly of a journalist’s Twitter usage):

“Why are [they] urged to regularly interrupt their deep work to provide, for free, shallow content to a service run by an unrelated media company based out of silicon valley?”

It’s an adjacent point but one I am drawn to from time to time. You see what I mean? Why are you doing this? Why is anyone doing this?

I enjoy the creative expression. But if I’m pouring it into Instagram then where isn’t it going instead?


You don’t actually MISS much.

For transparency, I re-downloaded the app earlier today (I’d forgotten the password — of course) to see exactly what I had missed.

Turns out I had nine unread notifications. Of those notifications, three were posts that people had shared with me directly, one actual Direct Message (we’ll come back to this) and five ‘X has mentioned you in their story’ — an entirely useless notification anything later than 24hrs after it happened.

Why? Because I click on them and I literally see… this:

Image for post
Useful Content™

Like. What?

So while I may have missed the occasional engagement announcement from that person I once met at an after-meeting drinks thing, or a Stories Mention (what even do those two words together mean) from someone that I’m hanging out with telling me that they’re hanging out with me… I think I’ve done alright here? Yes my life doesn’t revolve around instagram and it turns out when you remove it from your life, life goes on!

Both on Instagram and off.

And if people want you — you specifically — to know stuff, they’ll tell you.


The platform kinda sucks now?

I installed the app this afternoon to take a proper look at what I had missed. The new dark mode looks L U S H on my phone’s OLED screen, that’s nice. But the muscle memory instantly went click on the ‘Activity’ on the bottom nav and, oh look, Facebook has switched it with ‘Shop’.

Image for post
Hmm. Crispy blacks.

I understand that this is a dark pattern of some kind and I also understand I am VERY LATE to this party. But still. It sucks! And no matter how Facebook paints the decision, it is clear to everyone why it was done and what the ambition was. It’s all just so transparent.

Speaking of things that suck.


My God the ads get worse.

You saw that one above right? So far today in feed-ads I’ve seen: crap for extendable desks, crap for bikes, crap for… WhatsApp? And just more crap. It’s a photography platform. Create ads that look like gorgeous photography maybe? Can it be that hard? Apparently: yes.

Actually, no. It’s not about making things hard it’s about what Facebook makes easy. Facebook makes it easy to run the same ad across all of Facebook’s platforms with just one click. So why bother making something platform-specific when platform-agnostic (and screw the user experience!) is so much quicker?

And don’t even get me started on Stories.

Image for post

I used to run a Tumblr aaaaages ago, called ‘Instagram ads are awful’ — I don’t think much has changed. I’m sure there are some great ones but aye carumba they are drowned out by the dross.

Dross that appears after every fourth post.

I know this is veering into old man shouts at cloud territory but I work in this stuff and man alive I wish people would just. stop. with. the. bad.


None of it matters.

This too shall pass. And people will remember you for the things you did, not the photos you posted or that amazing Stories compilation you nailed.


It changes the way you look at social apps.

For background, I think I took Facebook off my phone shortly after the ‘Sorry, didn’t we mention we use your 2FA for targeting advertising?’ debacle (but then again it might’ve been sooner. Given how much I’ve written about how they simply cannot be trusted, like, with anything). So when’s that? 2018?

Possibly even earlier.

Don’t get me wrong, I still use the platform; exclusively on web and almost exclusively for groups (work, gaming, and smart people — w_w). Those conversations are valuable, yes, but the app actually being on my phone is too high a cost for that, thanks.

For Twitter, I have an on/off love affair with how I have it installed or not. And that changes from time to time. I’m relatively self-aware of how much time I spend on these things so if I catch myself spending too much time on it, I’ll take it off.

If idiocy levels get too high, if strat-gash gets too much, or if a firetruck load of muppetry gets delivered to my feed… then Twitter gets uninstalled.

Twitter is not currently installed on my phone.

TikTok was on for a short while but OH MY GOD WHAT A TIME SUCK so I had to that off as well. My children (combined TopNine score: 435 likes) need my time, not TikTok. I get it, I understand it, I read about it — I just don’t need it in my life right now.

So my point is, until earlier today when I installed Instagram back on my phone, I didn’t have any social apps installed at all.

And I didn’t realise how good that felt until I did.

By moving all social apps to web-only experiences, you’re removing some data-syphons, some terrible features (looking at you, Fleets), huge memory sponges on your device, and — perhaps most importantly of all, no notifications whatsoever. You decide when to look (or not).

No one else. Just you.

Freeing. Utterly freeing. I simply cannot recommend it enough.

And I think that’s what I might aim to do for 2021: try and spend the year with no social apps installed at all (almost impossible, given my job — but still, a healthy ambition nonetheless).


Life is better without it.

Tim Urban, the amazing author of the Wait But Why website has written about this at length. This image (one of many) encapsulates a lot about why people feel the way they feel. Look.

Image for post

You can read the whole article right here.

And you should.

Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy”. My own version of that is simply ‘Never measure yourself with someone else’s yardstick’. Either way, by removing the platform from your life, you stop being Lucy and you can start being you again.


Practical one this: If you’re going to leave a platform, and really mean it — then you should definitely tell people.

Now don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand those people that flounce off platforms at the drop of a hat (only to return <12hrs later). And there’s that tired old trope of ‘If you leave a platform and tell anybody about it, have you even left?’ BUT BUT BUT… hear me out!

I had to send a handful of messages this afternoon each saying ‘Hey, I’ve only just seen this! Sorry!’ and actually mean it — which is as hilarious as it is ridiculous:

‘Hi friend, this DM you sent me in July, what was the context? Can I help at all now… six months later?’ (this is a real thing that happened).

I guess if my last post on Instagram had said ‘Hi, I’m taking 2020 OFF this platform — if you need, send me a WhatsApp, thanks!’ then maybe that would’ve been helpful? Shame you can’t set an auto-responder or an out of office for these things.

I think I’m going to add one more post to my gram, in the short term — saying just that. Yes, that might be useful.

Point is: if you’re leaving, tell people.

Even if it is subject to tiresome mocking.


2020 was a stellar year to not be doing the gram.

In these uNpReCeDeNtEd TiMeS, going on Insta and talking about how great your life is and how well you’re doing is… kinda gross?

Amanda Hess wrote in March about how ‘Celebrity Culture is Burning’, highlighting just how brilliant/disgusting it was to see/read/hear about what the ‘slebs were doing to help people STAY SAFE.

“Staying home is my superpower,” the “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot reported from her walk-in closet. Ryan Reynolds urged his fans to “work together to flatten the curve” from within his rustic loft…

…Ellen DeGeneres is going “stir-crazy” from having to stay inside her enormous home; Katy Perry has lost track of the days she’s spent inside her enormous home…

Madonna, performing for the public and holding fans in her thrall is yet “another luxury gone, for now,” she says in one video. In its place is the disturbing sensation of normalcy. “The audience in my house is not amused by me,” she says. Later, from the bath, she concludes that Covid-19 is “the great equalizer.”

Sublime. Incredible. And distasteful AF.

The lack of self-awareness is sublime.


You should probably print more photos.

When I were a lad, you’d take photos on your camera and then take the film to Boots to get developed and then a few days later (or an hour if you paid extra) you’d get your pack of photos back, pick out the best ones for your wall/album, then chuck the rest (either in the bin or in the drawer with all the others).

Not being on Instagram didn’t stop me from taking photos (or sharing them, tbh — I’m still quite active on Twitter) but what it did do was make me start cherry picking what photos I have on our digital displays at home. And also think about how we might start bringing real-world photos back into the house somehow. We’ve already started — calendars have been made and there’s a cork board in the kitchen — but by not being on t’gram, I think I’ve come to appreciate photoGRAPHS more.

These things are important.


Your mileage may vary.

I don’t know what I’ve truly missed out on because… well… I’ve missed it. But given the year we have had (yes, I said it again) I’ve probably spent more time figuring out what’s most important to me over above that of ‘things I might be missing on social media’. Yes, I am painfully aware that that point of view comes from an enormous position of privilege: I am a white man. I have a young family. We have our health. We have our jobs. We have each other.

And while we have struggled with mental health this year (all of us have)…

We are not struggling with the disease.

We are not struggling to make ends meet.

We are not struggling with loneliness.

For some, Instagram might be a window into the lives of friends that they’ve been missing all year round. For others, Stories might be the replacement for the person to person connection that they’ve each craved during isolation. My point is: the platform is what YOU make it.

And that is both its core benefit and ultimately, for me at least, the source of its downfall.

Scientifically proven to be bad for your mental health, Instagram is not something I want or need in my life. I thought I’d try removing it — for a year — and it worked out OK.

More than OK, in fact. I didn’t miss it.

And I doubt very much that it missed me.

One more post this year and then I’m out for good.

Your mileage may vary.


Haven’t written a newsletter for maybe a couple of months and I’ve got a .txt file of links longer than my left leg to go through but instead of doing that, I thought it was high time to boot up the back end of my dusty weblog, blow off a few cobwebs, and see what comes out. Because of course.

It was my 41st birthday a fortnight or so ago.

Turning 40 was a huge deal for me. It is my firm belief that I spent a good part of those 40 years properly messing things up. Yes, I achieved so much – so so so so so much. And it was great – but it was also at great expense. To myself and to many others. I felt like 40 – and to be fairer to myself – the year leading up to turning 40, was a genuine full stop. End of page. New chapter. The second half of the book… And… Here. We. Go.

We spoiled ourselves last year. I’m glad we did. We owed to each other. Amazing gigs, several holidays, family trips – just saying ‘fuck it, we’ve earned this’ – because we had. ‘And in 2020,’ we said, ‘we won’t go on holiday. Instead, we’ll get the garden done, sort ourselves out financially, and focus on turning our house into a home’. Couldn’t have picked a better year for it.

This year, almost gone in the blink of a thousand video calls, is nearing its end. Christmas decorations are up. Tentative plans are being made. And yet I look around and think ‘Hey, wait a minute – it was March, like, yesterday? Where did it all go?’ Now don’t get me wrong, this year has been A yEaR uNLiKe AnY oThEr. But still.

I remember when I first became a parent someone said to me ‘The years are fine, it’s the decades you wanna watch out for’. And they were right. My children grow (my god they grow), life turns onwards. I find myself reflecting often on what I might leave behind (good therapy does that to you). Someone asked me recently, what would people write in your obituary?

“One of the best pieces of advice my therapist ever gave me was this: “spend your life helping your children write the obituary you will never hear. Make it easy for them.” It doesn’t matter what I think, feel – it matters what I do. I hope that what I do is enough.”

And I do. I wonder about it a lot.

Everything from ensuring my kids don’t feel pressured to conforming to false societal norms (I’m not the only one that does this, right?) to just making sure I use my platform to elevate voices that may not have the chance to be heard (Get DICE). Micro and macro – how can I not be a fuck up (anymore)? How can I give more back? How can I make sure I’m leading by example?

How can I ensure that what I do helps me live a life of meaning.

It was my 41st birthday last month.

That, for me at least, marks a full year of not being a fuck up.

And I’m alright with that.


Hello, and welcome to My Happy Place.

I’ve been writing here, on and off, since May 2006. A long time.

These days, however, the time I would normally spend writing my blog is now spent writing for my newsletter project, Five things on Friday.

What started out as a weekly exercise in writing has grown and matured into a (semi-)weekly publication that features most of what I’m passionate about and interested in.

So, if you’re looking for the very latest on what I’m noodling on, your best bet is to start looking over the past issues of Five things on Friday – all being well, that stuff will be bang up to date*.

So yes, thanks for visiting. If you’re looking to speak to me quickly, then you can nearly always find me on Twitter (DMs are open).

If not, then maybe I’ll see you on the subscriber list of the newsletter sometime.



*The posts below this one are examples of FToF but I doubt very much that they’ll be reflective of the latest work. 

Five things on Friday #268

Things of note for the week ending Sunday, September 23rd, 2018.


Did you know, if you SUBSCRIBE to the Five things on Friday newsletter, you are 100% guaranteed to get MORE STUFF (eg: a proper intro and probably some more gifs) than reading it here on whatleydude.com.




WHAT THO? Send me your suggestions.



Some noodles, underpinned with a few links on stuff I’ve been reading on the topic lately. 

Last week I mentioned I was on the Vocal Vanguard panel at BAFTA for American Express. As well as some further digging on the topic for that specific event, I’ve also been collating evidence for marking my own homework in public when it comes to reviewing the trends/predictions Marshall Manson and I made in December last year (see: ‘the end of typing’, slide 25 onwards). 

Here are a collection of different data points I’m noodling on. 

1. Five insights on voice technology 
Thanks for this one, Marshall. It covers off exactly what it says. No real surprises but good to have it from Google Assistant’s VP of engineering. 

2. The reality behind voice shopping hype
The Information here on excellent form (if you don’t have a subscription you can read the full article here) dissecting the astonishingly low numbers re sales + voice. 


“The Information has learned that only about 2% of the people with devices that use Amazon’s Alexa intelligent assistant—mostly Amazon’s own Echo line of speakers—have made a purchase with their voices so far in 2018, according to two people briefed on the company’s internal figures. Amazon has sold about 50 million Alexa devices, the people said.

Of the people who did buy something using Alexa voice shopping, about 90% didn’t try it again, one of the people said.”

Pretty damning – especially if you believe voice as sales driver is the key thing here (we’ll come back to this). 

3. Consumers are embracing voice services
This one covers a recent Adobe report that surveyed 1000 US voice assistant owners and, yet again, no huge surprises in the what but the lift in frequency (71% of smart speaker owners use theirs daily) means something is catching here.  

With these reports and numbers floating around my head, something struck me during the Amex panel I mentioned that I’ve been pushing around and, with no real evidence to support it (yet), I’m going to write out a theory here for discussion. 

In spite of multiple efforts by brands (tech and consumer facing included) the ‘killer app’ of the home assistant seems to be ‘Play some music’ or ‘Set an alarm’. This much we know. 

The consumerism dream of humans searching for and purchasing products all day long via their home assistant hasn’t happened. Yes, this is an extremely nascent space. Yes, we’re probably at least 10 years away from home assistants being commonplace.

However, I theorise that with the introduction of screen-based home assistant support (be that Chromecast integration with the Home, the rumoured (read: leaked – it’s pictured above for crying out loud) Home Hub, or even the Amazon Echo Show), consumers are able to be offered visual confirmations on actions and/or purchases.

The killer app, to my mind at least, will be one that snares this combination of UI points (screen + voice) perfectly – and potentially unlock the value that seems to be hidden away in this new vertical.

We’re seeing more and more integrated offerings coming forward in the assistant space (don’t even get me started on microwaves) – I don’t think enough attention is being paid to the opportunity that the screen integration brings. 

Like I said, just a thought – a theory. 

Expect more of this from me as we move towards the next edition of #OgilvyTrends2019. 



A bunch of ace trailers dropped this week. 

Ready, steady… CLICK!





This is an important read.

And an Instagram account you should follow.  



If you follow me on Twitter you may be forgiven for muting or even unfollowing given the amount of gaming stuff I’ve been putting out since returning to the platform post-summer.

A combination of a spate of great releases (looking at you, Spider-Man and Destiny 2: Forsaken) and my annual jaunt to Birmingham for the Eurogamer Expo, it’s pretty much wall-to-wall gaming.

So by way of an apology, let’s talk games some more! 

Last Monday I got myself along to the DESIGN PLAY DISRUPT (check) exhibition at the V&A museum in London.

And it is excellent. 

A thoughtful and well-curated look at what video games are today, Design/Play/Disrupt is recommended to you for all kinds of reasons. 

Looking, as the name suggests, what it means to design a game, what the societal disruptive forces are at play (covering gamergate, inclusion, the use of non-english language, and more), and of course play itself.

There are nuggets to be found here. From understanding the impact of representation in gaming (see: Mafia III) through to a BRILLIANTLY presented set of short films on the SIZE of the gaming world.

It has the original notebooks of Neil Druckman, creative lead for THE LAST OF US, to some of the weirdest games you’ve ever seen/played – #DesignPlayDisrupt is worth a couple of hours of your time (and you can see my photos here).

It’s on until February next year and tickets are £18. We did it in two hours and saw everything – your mileage may vary. But GO. It is great. 

As I mentioned, I’ve been at EGX this weekend (got back this afternoon). I saw my friends, hung out in town, drank a bit, ate infrequently but overall I played A LOT of games.

Here’s a quick overview of that (in no particular order): 

  1. The Division II. Surprisingly enjoyable. 
  2. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. If you played and liked Origins, you’ll like this. I didn’t get a huge amount of time on it but I’m sure it’ll be great. I’ll probably get it next year when it drops in price. 
  3. Metro Exodus. Very Fallout. Not for me. 
  4. Destiny 2: Forsaken. I have this game but wanted to play it with a few friends that hadn’t touched it before. They enjoyed it, you might too. Bonus: I went to the panel with the game designers on the Friday and that was fantastic as well. Happy to nerd out at any point on any of this. 
  5. Nintendo LaboOH MY GOD WHAT FUN (that’s me in the video). You can’t see in the video but I was laughing and grinning like a mad person throughout. This is definitely something I’ll be doing with the children at some point next year. 
  6. Figment. Utterly charming little indie game – out now on Steam/Switch (it’s about £13 too) definitely worth a look, I was smiling at the joy it brought. 
  7. Untitled Goose Game. Yes, that’s it actual name. Your job is to be a total dick to a farmer and it made me laugh – a lot. This will be huge. 
  8. Beat Saber is coming to PSVR. These guys were insane at it
  9. Starlink. Really interesting concept tying toy/model ships that interact with your controller (see this link for a selection of photos + a video that shows how it works). Fun. Probably a money pit, mind. 
  10. Call of Duty 4. The new battle royale one. I hated it. Blergh. 

Notable absences: didn’t play Tomb Raider. Didn’t get on with the last one so will give this one a pass.  For some reason, RED DEAD II wasn’t there. No idea why. 

And of course, in the evening it was the annual MLGX fundraiser and much fun was had. See peak nerdery on the #MLGX hashtag – no, I’m not linking it. If you want to see, I’m making you search for it. 


PlayStation has followed the crowd and announced it’s own mini-retro console, The PS One Classic. If you know someone who will want one at Christmas, I strongly recommend pre-ordering now. This thing will sell out FAST. 



If you’re new here, the section known as THE ESSENTIALS is about highlighting the stories that continue to come to light in regards to the #MeToo movement. It’s been here since it began and will remain so until it ends. 

Only one this week and it is simply: #WhyDidntIreport
(sorry: two – ‘Everything I can remember‘)

These should come with trigger warnings by the way. Just, FYI. 




  1. Video Game Skies are lovely.
  2. Americans are changing how they eat. Interesting read.
  3. We lost Dennis Nordon; this obituary from the BBC is excellent.
  4. If you’ve not read about the prisoner who painted Golf courses, you should.
  5. MDMA + OCTOPUS + ? 
  6. A great thread on Chas from Chas + Dave (who we also lost).
  7. Christine and the Queens (Again) in GQ. READ IT!
  8. I’m here for Joaquin Phoenix as Joker.
  9. Looking for something on Netflix? Try MANIAC.
  10. Big fan of the Wolf Alice Mercury Music Prize acceptance speech.


Until next time.

Five things on Friday #267

Things of note for the week ending Saturday, September 15th 2018.

Did you know, if you SUBSCRIBE to the Five things on Friday newsletter, you are 100% guaranteed to get MORE STUFF (eg: a proper intro and probably some more gifs) than reading it here on whatleydude.com.




aka: Chris[tine and the Queens]

I think I have been in love with Christine and the Queens since I first ever saw them perform on Graham Norton many moons ago.

Music: amazing
Dancing: amazing. 
Attitude to life: amazing. 

The New York Times interview with Chris/Christine is fantastic. And I strongly recommend you read it. 


“Hair bias is rarely discussed, but it 

remains a persistent global problem which affects millions. This year alone, families have had to take legal action both in the UK and overseas for the right to have their children attend school with their natural Afro hair.

Whether it be the refusal to overturn an American state ban on dreadlocks or the damaging implications of schoolgirls being forced to straighten their hair in South Africa, discrimination based on hair has serious implications for many people’s job prospects, education 
and wellbeing.”

A year, a young Ogilvy fellow co-founded a new BAME collective within the agency called Ogilvy Roots.

This year, that same person has helped get this campaign live for World Afro Day (definitely click and read up on this one). 

‘Change the Facts, Not the Fro’ is an awareness campaign that is focused on tackling how society perceives women’s Afro hair and highlighting the importance of celebrating it in its natural glory. This campaign aims to challenge the status quo so this generation and the ones to come feel they have the choice to wear their hair in whatever way, shape or form.

Well done, team. This is great work.

Give them some love!



Did you see/miss this?

Watch it now/again.

It’s been all over the Internet this past week – AND FOR GOOD REASON. This storm is BIG and helping people understand the impact that the flooding it will bring will mean more people evacuate and less people die. 

WIRED has the story behind how they did it.



Normally, you’d shrug something like this off. But with the launch of Twitter’s ad transparency tool, these dark tweets can still be found, read, and analyzed. 

Which is exactly what Digiday did.

There’s some great conjectural thinking here. Worth reading. 



Mentor? Teach? Mentee? Study? 

Read this

Short, yet immensely valuable. 



If you’re new here, the section known as THE ESSENTIALS is about highlighting the stories that continue to come to light in regards to the #MeToo movement. It’s been here since it began and will remain so until it ends. 

This week, your essential reads are:

  1. Jane Fonda: ‘It’s only the beginning‘ 
  2. Lady Gaga ‘I’m still in disbelief
  3. The dark side of working for Les Moonves





  1. The V&A Video Games Exhibition, Design/Play/Disrupt, is NOW ON. Go and see it (I’m going on Monday).
  2. How do you beat bottlenecks?
  3. Cruise Entertainers (sang to the tune of Smooth Operator).
  4. Not a link but Spider-Man came out on PS4 last week and it is AMAZING. SPECTACULAR. And if you have even a passing interest in the game or the character, I strongly recommend you get it. It is SO GOOD.
  5. This is a great interview with a very young William Shatner
  6. Last week I was at BAFTA, speaking at an American Express event hosted by Actual Fiona Bruce. It was dead fun! Some links and photos here (if that’s your thing). Happy to answer questions on some/all of it. I also have a great Fiona Bruce/Rhubarb story now… 
  8. Naughty Made in Chelsea influencer lady – the ASA says you are NAUGHTY!
  9. Twitter in 2009 vs 2018 (see also: reasons for removing it from your life in the opener)


Until next time.

Five things on Friday #266

Things of note for the week ending Saturday September 8th, 2018.

Did you know, if you SUBSCRIBE to the Five things on Friday newsletter, you are 100% guaranteed to get MORE STUFF (eg: a proper intro and probably some more gifs) than reading it here on whatleydude.com.





aka: the section where YET again James kicks off FToF with ANOTHER GQ profile piece (but it’s another stonker). 

Michelle Yeoh is a badass. A bloody good actor. An incredible athlete. And above all, seemingly a super lovely woman.

Definitely take some time out of your day and read this fantastic interview.

Bonus thing: While we’re are it, ‘In conversation with Kathleen Turner‘ is also worth gifting your eyeballs to for a good reading; there is SOLID GOLD to be found in this one. 



This article (edit: it’s a section from a book), written by former professor and now facilitator and consultant, Robin DiAngelo, goes into the real experiences she has come up against when running diversity training for white people in the USA. 

Unpacking superiority, fragility, and more – it is provocative and prompts self-examination. 

A recommended read



Full disclosure: I was asked to contribute to a piece for this last week and missed the deadline (Sorry Stephen!) this section is some of what I wrote and some further thinking. 

Did you see/miss this?

It’s been all over the trades these past two weeks and I’m kind of unsure what ELSE there is to say about it.

Oh how people cried!

People blamed: the Instagrammerthe clientthe briefthe platform… and of course, it being a big Twitter viral thing, everyone piled in and had a pop or a moan

Truly, what else is there to say about the poorly briefed, poorly executed, and poorly received Listerine activity also known as ‘#BringOutTheBold’. 

Last year, Marshall Manson and I wrote about ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ (slide 43 onwards). It theorised, and not without evidence, that for influencer marketing to succeed in the future then it would require brand marketers [and their agency partners] to take more ownership over influencer activity.

The point being, per the late 1800s economic theory the trend referenced, when it is in everyone’s interest to pull as much as they can from the opportunity available, no one will maintain that opportunity, and the well [of money, from brands] will run dry. After this week’s epic moan-a-thon, you can see it happening.

Let’s address the blame game (it’s stuff like this that makes me question the sanity of my entire industry at times).

First, it is entirely wrong to place any blame at the feet of the influencer. Entirely wrong. 

Here is a person is out to make money from their craft. If a brand wants to throw money at that, then fair play. If the armchair critiques literally pressed their thumbs two, maybe three more times then they would’ve seen that, irrespective of product placement, Scarlett London’s ENTIRE FEED is clearly the work of someone who enjoys creating quaint hyper-real model shots – and that’s entirely OK because this is their choice and their Instagram account is theirs and they can do whatever they want with it.

IMPORTANT POINT: Those choices also include the moment when brands want to stick a product in because y’know because that’s how they make money. Cool? Cool. 

SECOND IMPORTANT POINT: If anything, Scarlett London should be applauded for being able to get a mouthwash brand to pay for something that the poster does every day:

‘I post whimsical photos of my life with balloons’
‘Here’s some money’
‘I post whimsical photos of my life that now feature mouthwash’

👏👏👏👏 👏

Next up, you want to ridicule someone/something (because maybe, just maybe, you can’t move off the sofa today without feeling clever because you said something cutting about someone/something you’ve never met or worked on then OK) then ridicule the brand. This whole ‘bring out the bold’ campaign point is just so… blergh. Somewhere someone at Listerine wrote several PowerPoint presentations talking about the value of Influencer Marketing. Meetings were had. Budget was pitched for, allocated, and spent. And this is what they’ve ended up with. 

I don’t understand it. 

The (my) problem with marketing generally is that idiots ruin it for everyone else. A mouthwash commissioning content that barely speaks to their brand strapline of MAKE BOLD CHOICES (which, when you think about it, is almost the exact opposite of what you want a mouthwash for – surely a better line would be ‘MAKE THE SMELL OF LAST NIGHT’S BOLD CHOICES GO AWAY’) is terrible. And the problem is – as Marshall and I extolled at the back end of last year – content creators will keep content creating. It’s up to brands and agencies to both understand how to work with influencers and WHEN. Or else you’ll end up with stuff like this and the tragedy will be that influencer marketing will end for everyone. 




I love everything about this.

‘But James! The brand preference has dropped so suddenly!’

‘Yeah, piss off – sales are UP

“Consumers don’t think how they feel. They don’t say what they think and they don’t do what they say” – David Ogilvy. 



I love this for so many reasons. 

1. They noticed a gap for art and filled it. 
2. They noticed a lack of Asian diversity on display in McDonald’s and fixed it. 
3. The BTS video is brilliant – watch it.
4. AFAIK, this photo is still hanging.
5. I used to work at McDonald’s – and the idea of something like this happening at my own store puts a huge grin on my face (especially given the amount of OTHER STUFF that went on while I worked there – ask me about that over a pint some time).

Well done everyone.

Gold stars all round.



If you’re new here, the section known as THE ESSENTIALS is about highlighting the stories that continue to come to light in regards to the #MeToo movement. It’s been here since it began and will remain so until it ends. 

This week, your essential reads are:

  1. Ronan Farrow on how without the first amendment, #MeToo would’ve been denied oxygen.
  2. The rush to rehabilitate Louis CK (reading this reminded me: if you haven’t yet, please watch Nanette, you’ll find it on Netlfix).
  3. This is bigger than Argentino




Like the end credits of Bad Influence that you had to record and hit the ‘still’ button the VCR to read the lot… the bonus section is coming atcha in five, four, three…



  1. That time Bradley Cooper played the Elephant Man and just made faces.
  2. Searching for the Angel that held me on Westminster Bridge (this is a heartwarming read)
  3. Structuring Strategic Storytelling (read this, plannery folk).
  4. Losing Earth: the decade we almost stopped climate change (sobering)
  5. Related to THING ONE above, this is an amazing Thread.
  6. Yellow Stripey Things: A Comprehensive Guide.
  7. First degree BMW burns from Audi.
  8. I went to the ROMEO + JULIET Secret Cinema nd had a GOOD TIME. Also: Baz Luhrmann (you can actually see me in the background of that second shot – brilliant).
  9. The best football club in the world‘ – hard to argue.
  10. A super simple – and screamingly obvious – design choice where someone just went ‘Yeah but why do we do it like that?’ – big fan. 
  11. The Facebook Story problem (good reading, as ever).
  12. I lost a pitch and talked about it (because the world would be a better place if we acknowledged failure from time to time). The replies are a mixture of friends, idiots, and mansplainers (sharing for the sheer comedy).  
  13. I’ve probably shared this before BUT DID YOU KNOW: the plural of anecdote is actually data? Bet you didn’t.
  14. Another AR is here and alive in 2018 proof point.
  15. Bob Hoffman: ‘Are you deluded?’
  16. Finally, Rob Blackie is worth a follow on Twitter. Consistently smart with an analytical eye for details that many miss. Do it. 


Until next time…