Five things on Friday #301

Things of note for the week ending Friday, June 28th, 2019.

Newsletter #301: Introduction

Hello and welcome to issue #301 of Five things on Friday.

I have good news and bad news.

This fortnightly thing is an easy groove to slot into, I can tell you. But it won’t last. The good news is: the fortnightly rhythm is a phase (promise). I had a lot to do this time last week and the damn thing just wouldn’t get done – and you know these newsletters are rarely a rush job.

The bad news, for the newbies at least (who don’t know anything about what it is I’m about to say), is that this edition, FToF #301, WILL BE THE LAST EDITION OF FIVE THINGS ON FRIDAY UNTIL SEPTEMBER.

Clear? Clear.

Now look, don’t get upset. For those of you that don’t know, I take three months off writing FToF every year. Two months at the summer, July and August, and one month (ish) at Christmas/New Year. It is HEALTHY and, for the other newsletter writers among you, WHOLLY RECOMMENDED.

So yeah, I better make this one a good one, right?

BESIDES, it’s not like I don’t have a GAMILLION EMAILS TO REPLY TO (which I promised I’d reply to before this edition went out so I know what I’m doing once I hit that schedule button tonight, dayam) IN MY INBOX AFTER THE MARATHON REPLIES I GOT FROM #300.

Jeez Louise.

More on that later (spoiler alert: you’re all lovely).

What else can I tell you?

Oh, that’s right. I’ve had to reinstall Twitter on my phone for ‘a thing’. I’m not happy about it but it is what it is and, for the time being at least, it is how things need to be. The upside (?) of it is that I guess I AM BACK ON TWITTER NOW AND THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT (I’m trying to limit my time on the platform but I’m embracing the actual Tweeting thing again because why the hell not).

So yeah, given that this is the last Five things on Friday, for the time being, you can find on THE TWITTER talking about great topics such as:

You might’ve noticed: I’m trying to keep the interactions and input as meaningful as possible. Trying to, at least.

So yeah, over the summer months, I’ll see you there.

Until then, we have a newsletter to get through.

Shall we?



Last time around, to celebrate the 300th edition of FIVE THINGS ON FRIDAY, you all voted to buy me a pint to say ‘Thank for all the things!’ – I said that if a lot of you did that then I’d probably take a pint out for myself then give the rest of the money to CALM.

In total, y’all gave me £158. I’ve got a glass of cider next to me as I type, so I don’t need the pint, so instead of taking a bit of money out, I put a bit more money in and topped it up to £170.

According to CALM’s donate page, £170 keeps one phone line open from 5pm to midnight for one whole evening. That’s an extra person, on the line, for one night, answering calls from men who have nowhere else to turn.

And when people call CALM, they’re on the edge. They’re looking for help. They’re looking for a reason to stay alive. Which means you, dear reader, have potentially saved lives.

Just like that.

Like I said, if you bought me a pint or a coffee (or in one particular case, a nice meal) off the back of the last edition, then you can give yourself a little pat in the back and go about your day feeling good about the world.

Let’s see what we can do when we get to #400, eh? 🙂


Let’s talk about something dear to my heart for a hot minute.

In #300 I mentioned how much I was [no longer] quietly judging the absolutely TERRIBLE Out of Office replies I get from y’all, week in week out.

And it seems I touched a nerve.


Ten points to FToF reader, Skip, wrote to tell me that after reading the OoO moan on #300’s closing note, he decided to be the change he wanted to see and changed his Out of Office to the following:

“In last week’s edition of the Five Things from Whatley email newsletter, James Whatley encouraged his readers to write more interesting out of office messages. Why am I telling you this, because I will be on holiday from the 16th of June through the 21st. While I am gone, I would strongly encourage you to sign up for the newsletter.

I cannot promise that you will be able to read the whole thing every week but I can guarantee there will be at least one fascinating article that will make you smarter.

Oh and about your message, I may reply this week if the weather makes going out too grim but if I get lucky then I will reply to your email when I return.”

I know this to be true because after Skip emailed me to tell me he was doing this, I replied to say thanks and I GOT THE ABOVE TEXT AS HIS OUT OF OFFICE.

That, my friend, is progress.

Speaking of reader responses, FToF reader, Rishi (who is also owed a breakfast date – it’s coming, Rishi), sent in this really good read from the BBC, ‘What would you really like to say with your Out of Office?

You should all read this at once and get some goddamn inspiration, you hear me?

AND IF EVEN THEN you still need some actual examples of what inventive and different out of office replies can look like then I will tell you a little story about when I worked at a word of mouth marketing agency called 1000heads.

At 1000heads we liked to get people talking. Difference, interest, intrigue – things that gave people, and I include clients in that list (CLIENTS ARE PEOPLE TOO), things to talk about.

I can’t remember who started it (it was probably Molly) but the staff started writing decent out of office responders. Sometimes something brief ‘I’ve gone to Greece, sorry’ – and sometimes something super long and massive that gave you something to read and laugh at while you were chasing a PO or whatever. Point being: it was fun.

After a while, I started a Posterous blog (remember them?) to capture them. Posterous is dead now, so that blog is too, but thanks to the wonder that is the Internet Way Back Machine, you can browse this amazing piece of history RIGHT NOW.

So why not do that? You might spot someone you know.

PS. Make your Out of Office replies better. You owe it to yourself.


I am a little late to this party but screw it – I love this so much.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about or what the image above represents then I AM ABOUT TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

Watch this with your eyes. With sound on… and see how long you last.

PS. Thanks to Jamie ‘Did I mention I’m going to Glasto’ East for the link.


First up, we have the long-telegraphed (and perhaps well overdue) update to the advertising CAP code re gender stereotypes.

It states:”Ads must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.”

Along with the accompanying guidance:

“Advertising Guidance on depicting gender stereotypes likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offence includes five subsections, with scenarios, which support the rule:

Subsection 1. Gender stereotypical roles and characteristics
Ads may feature people undertaking stereotypical roles or characteristics but advertisers should take care to ensure that ads do not suggest that stereotypical roles or characteristics are:

always uniquely associated with one gender;
the only options available to one gender;
never carried out or displayed by another gender.

Subsection 2. Pressure to conform to an idealized gender stereotypical body shape or physical features
Ads may feature glamorous, attractive, successful, aspirational or healthy people but they should take care to avoid suggesting that an individual’s happiness or emotional wellbeing should depend on conforming to an idealised gender-stereotypical body shape or physical features.

Subsection 3. Ads aimed at or featuring children
Ads can be targeted at and feature a specific gender but should take care not to explicitly convey that a particular children’s product, pursuit, activity, including choice of play or career, is inappropriate for one or another gender.

Subsection 4. Featuring potentially vulnerable people
Ads should be sensitive to the emotional and physical well-being of vulnerable groups of people who may be under pressure to conform to particular gender stereotypes.

Subsection 5. Featuring people who don’t conform to a gender stereotype
Ads should avoid mocking people for not conforming to gender stereotypes, including in a context that is intended to be humorous.”

I say again: this is long overdue.

That said, let’s knock a thing because it was late, let’s celebrate a thing because it has arrived. This is a GREAT thing. Well done, ASA and CAP. Well done indeed. You can read all about these changes – the exact wording, the background, the research that underpins it – over on the ASA website.

I mentioned at the top that these rules were first mooted six months ago. Basically giving the UK ad industry a decent amount of notice to get their act together. This might seem a long time but anyone who has ever worked on any kind of masterbrand will know sometimes six months is a SHORT runway for work that you’ve got coming down the pipeline. Not kidding.

Working for 18mths for one client and never making any work? BTDTGTTS.

So that’s interesting. If you work in adland you should probably familiarise yourself with these changes and make sure they’re held up in the future.

—— —— —— —— ——

The other quasi-legislative thing that happened recently, well tangentially so, was the first set of interviews with the DCMS’ inquiry into immersive and addictive technologies (Alex Hern with a solid write up here). The main outtakes are kind of six of one and half a dozen of the other.

The ministers on the DCMS committee are sometimes laser sharp on the questioning and sometimes REALLY NOT.

The representatives from the gaming world therefore sometimes run circles around the ministers and sometimes wrap themselves in knots completely.

Examples of which can both be found in the write up linked above. The most amazing thing to come out of the whole thing however was the Electronic Arts rep’s attempt at rebadging ‘loot boxes’ (ostensibly a game-based form of gambling – something that is a hot topic across Europe and is under review stateside) as ‘ethical and fun surprise mechanics’ that probably caught the most headlines.

So many in fact that it is now an entry on KNOW YOUR MEME.

Ridiculous. And, along with gaming-apologist publications laying into the DCMS, doing the industry no favours whatsoever.

One to watch.


I’m hoping that you’ve almost definitely already read this story (originally broken by The Atlantic) but if you haven’t you definitely should.

My only questions/comments on the whole thing are:

1. This stuff ain’t new. Anthea Turner and OK Mag springs to mind.
2. I wonder if any of the partners used insisted on #ad being used anywhere.
3. This is, once again, the tragedy of the commons.

I’m interested in your take.

Hit reply and give me your opinions.


The Essentials are the weekly links to the #MeToo movement. Any article. Any press. Any story. Any white male firing. If it happens, it’s here.



Last updated by at .

Author: James Whatley

Chief Strategy Officer in adland. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x