Five things on Friday #306

Things of note for the week ending Sunday, October 13th, 2019.

Newsletter #305: Introduction

Hello and good morning from this rainy Sunday in Elstree.

The Formula 1 has just finished (more on that later), coffee has been made, and two weeks worth of links in a folder marked #FTOF that I need to work through. The keen-eyed among you would’ve noticed that there was no FToF last week. That was unforeseen (life got in the way somewhat) however it is nice to be back in your inbox once again. Unplanned absences are rare and yet pass always without apology – as they should. One of the pieces of advice I give to future/current newsletter writers is to NEVER OPEN WITH AN APOLOGY. EVER. People get bored with such things. Just give them what they signed up for and all will be well. I promise.

What can I tell you?

Oh, record scratch. It’s no Sunday evening. I’ve polished off a banging roast (this is my new favourite way of roasting parsnips and carrots), naps have been had, and I have retired to my desk upstairs to write this message to you.

I hope you are well.

My week has been quite busy. I got one proposal written, finished, and away. I had one long-term project finally launch (more on that later), and took a day off work to work on my mental fitness (thank you Digitas). I’ve also kicked off the Mark Ritson Mini MBA this weekend (another gift from my still relatively new employer – reader, it is a great place to work). I’m a little behind everyone else so I’ve got some ground to make up but so far I am very much enjoying it. More in a later edition, I’m sure.

I’ve not done this in a while so tell me: HOW ARE YOU? Hit that reply button and say hi. I’m all ears.

While you do that, I’ll crack on with THE THINGS!

Let’s go.


A few editions ago I drew attention to this incredible Will Smith as Neo in THE MATRIX deep fake. The creator, Sham00k, said ‘Keep an eye out for the next one‘.

So I did.

And here it is – you have to see it to believe it.

Two things strike me when I watch this. Maybe three.

The first thought is: Jim Meskimen, just like our guy Sham00k, is hella talented!

Second thought: hmm, this must be what it’s like in the comic books when you’re talking to a shape-shifter.

Third thought (something that I’ve definitely mentioned before):




Work stuff.
This has been our baby for the best part of six months and is my first proper credited work to leave the building since starting at Digitas back in February.


As a bit of background, the above film is a sequel and near-end-of-season bookend for Honda Racing F1’s kick off film, ‘Powered by Honda‘. That first episode was very much a brand piece. This one needed to act as refocus but still celebratory look at Honda Racing’s contributions to F1 racing as it headed to its home trip to Suzuka this weekend. It went out on social last week and a shortened down animation-only version has been playing out in Japanese TV ad breaks as well.

It has been a great project.

The best part? Getting a connection with the team at Giphy who helped us get the HRF1 verified account set up in the lead up to the project. Meaning when the piece dropped, we had stuff like this ready to go.



‘Hey James, what did you do with your mental health day?’

‘I took myself to see JOKER, actually. And I did not regret it.’

There is a lot of hype. A lot.

I tried to ignore it. And I did in the main. However, given my comic book geekery – and my love of THE MOVIES – so many people asked me ‘James, have you seen JOKER yet?!!!!!!??!?!!!!’ – with that amount of exasperation. So with a day free in my hand, I drove over to the Everyman in Barnet and caught the 1145am showing of JOKER.

I say again, I did not regret it.

This, the sixth carnation of the character committed to a feature-length movie (bonus points if you can name them all WITHOUT Google), is an incredibly fresh take on something that feels like it has been done and done and done to death. Joaquin Pheonix is fantastic as Arthur Fleck. Seeking out validation and meaning in his stifled and broken life, he brings a reality – a deep and extremely sad believability – to the-man-that-will-be-JOKER. And I loved it. It was hard to watch but I’ll watch it again. I know I will.

It is fascinating.

Watching this movie, about a character I think I could say I know very well (extensive Batman book, game, movie collection over here – you’re surprised, I can tell), I felt like I was cheating a little bit. Like I knew a bit more than the rest of the audience probably did. But at almost every step of the way, the film took that away from me – in the best of ways – and it was so uncomfortable. ‘I know the destination’ I thought, ‘but I’m here for the journey’ – except, the destination isn’t exactly where you think it’s going either.

And so when JOKER finally does emerge – fully – he isn’t anything like you’ve ever seen or think you’ve seen before. And to do that, with a character that is known SO WELL by so many… it’s just, wow.

The film stays with you, put it that way.

JOKER is uncomfortable to watch. Upsetting in place. Painful in others. Yet it manages to carve out its own close up and worthwhile take on a dark and twisted character that hitherto we’ve only seen in Batman movies.

You should see it.


“Our instinct as advertisers is to garner mass, cut-through awareness. But by “chasing awareness” gratuitously, campaigns are in danger of triggering, glamorising and compounding. Why? Because these awareness campaigns aimed at “the public” too often target a moment in time, rather than try to change anything. For many, being made more acutely aware of their mental ill health (again) can often be the last thing those people need – even dangerous.”

The above quote is taken from this excellent five minute read from adland planner Sara Barqawi.

A thoughtful and well-researched piece, Sara looks at the recent body of work around mental health awareness advertising and analyses through the lens of both a strat that has worked in this area before AND that of the Samaritans communications guidelines.

The key takeout? Some of the best AWARENESS work might not actually be DOING that much good for those that it aims to help. And you should know how to spot that.


An irregular section that not only looks at the latest that spills out or over the big blue misinformation machine but also tries to match the number of pieces to the placement among the things. Thing 5? Five things it is.

This week:

0.18% OF ANNUAL INCOME ($40M) is what Facebook is paying out after it was accused of inflating average viewership metrics by some 150 to 900%. Scott Galloway has the best take (and the replies.. oh the replies).

TWO HOURS of leaked audio from a Facebook ‘all hands’ meeting where you can hear Zuck himself talking less like a PR robot and more like the CEO of a huge tech/media machine that he really is. Really good listening.

ONE FAKE AD from Elizabeth Warren almost in protest at Facebook’s recent narrowing of its rules around false advertising – specifically relating to those from politicians (more detail on that here). As a side point on this, the ad from Warren herself explains that it is indeed false information and to be perfectly honest I wonder how much of her campaign spend went on this actually appearing in-feed. I mean, it’s fairly textbook: run it once and then feed and thrive from the huge amount of PR that follows? Easy.

WHAT IF Zuck doesn’t understand TikTok?

AND FINALLY, what happens to your Facebook data after you die? Maybe you should think about that.


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.



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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