On the 1st of September 1994 David Reid, Adrian Jeffery and myself put the last touch of paint onto the basement wall of our basement home in Tweeddale Court on Edinburgh’s prestigious Royal Mile (we always used Royal Mile in our address because it sounded better than High Street, which was the official postal address). I stood there, resplendent in green and white Y Fronts (I always painted in my Y fronts because it was easier to clean your skin than your trousers) and took a deep breath. This was it. It wasnt a dream or an adventure anymore. It was our livelihood.
At 9.23 the phone rang. Our only client, Spectacles, who one day become 20 20 Opticians.
“Oh Hi John ” I said ” I expect you’re phoning to set up a meeting…”
“No, I’m phoning to fire you.”
I’d never even met him. He was a complete twat as this, and future history (if there is such a thing) went on to prove.
We’d now gone from a prospective income of £12,000 pa to zip; nada; fuck all.
Eight days later Jeana gave birth to our second and third child (the third conception and pregnancy was not some form of record – we had twins).
We were right in the shit then.
Better get some business.
As luck, some would say talent, would have it though we did get some business (Holywood Bowl) and some more (The Blood Transfusion Service) and some more (Smiths Menswear) and some more (Sinclairs Criminal Lawyers) so that by Christmas we had our first six commercials on air. We made a handsome profit in year one and paid off our personal debts. We never drew down the start up capital and things just went from good to better.
One year, I can’t remember exactly when, we had nine nominations at the Scottish Ad Awards and every single one of them won a Gold, meaning that we tied with The Lieth Agency as the top award winners. They were lucky to escape with a tie because we were better.
At times we were cocky bastards. At times we weren’t. (I can’t remember when though.)
But gradually we got bigger and bigger. We won multi-million pound accounts that sucked the energy and, to be honest, the creativity out of us. We became like the establishment that we felt so superior about.
I got bored.
I left in 2003.
But, you know what, those times were, on the whole, the best. I made my bravest, and most foolish, clientesque decisions.
Picture the scene. David and Adrian, having been briefed by me to write a series of commercial virals selling 1576, present me with five scripts with a man dressed up as a six foot penis trying to perform office and day-to-day functions in the guise of a rubbish marketing director (most obscene of all was the penis going for a piss) and I said
“Fabulous, hilarious, it will really stand out!”
Not for good reasons.
Ruth’s Bar, the Friday night swalley, was a hoot – because it was a “free” night out with your mates – and believe me, 1576 were my mates. Every last bloody one of them.
I loved, really loved, the people I worked with. We all cried when I left. Many of us cried last night too (I’m sure) when we learned that cocky, creative, amazing, get it up ya, 1576 was no more.
A very sad day and my heart goes out to David and all the team that were there at the end.
In an ironic, but wonderful, postscript one of the undoubted heroes of 1576, Mimi, gave birth to a baby girl, her first, yesterday afternoon, almost to the second that 1576 shut its doors for the last time.
Life’s an odd thing is it not?
1/9/94 – 7/2/08