Missing the excitement

9 Jul

Fifteen years ago, advertising was incredible. It tingled. It seemed that with the dot com bubble at maximum inflation, everything was possible. And – with that infinity of possibilities – entrepreneurs, TV channels and even advertising caught fire. Dinosaur brands found new energy thanks to a new online opportunity. Everyone and everything lightened up. Seraphs and capital letters disappeared. New companies called Cake and Fish and Soup and Egg sprang up. Soho was electric. It was a boom time for ideas; this clunky thing called the internet that had so far only brought us amazon and ebay was coming into its own. Satellite and cable channels appeared overnight, often faster than it seems that the authorities could regulate them. It genuinely felt, at times, that the monkeys were in charge of the machines, and doing a bloody good job.

Back then, I too got caught up in the beautiful mayhem. I launched a website with a music exec, a primary school teacher and a fellow ad creative called idea-a-day.com, giving business ideas away free every day. I put a TV show on an obscure satellite channel and launched the TV careers of Justin Lee Collins and Alan Carr. I started my own agency and shared office space with Karmarama in Chalk Farm when they were just 8 people sitting round a ping pong table having meetings with IKEA. I even got caught up in rock and roll and spent my honeymoon on a tour bus with hair-metallers, the Darkness, touring the southwestern USA. Life was so unbelievably exciting. Forget New York, London was the city where dreams were made of.

For a while, I thought it was an age thing, but that wasn’t it. I was 36. It isn’t age, or parenthood, or property ownership that has made me feel that our city is less exciting. It just feels like we have all ridden a fantastic wave and we’re all asking: ‘what next?’ All we have now is an internet that seems to be entering middle age. Social media has proven to be a hollow promise with brands tweeting into a vortex and corporate Facebook pages broadcasting to no one. Even the energy in some of the most creative corners of our city has lulled. Hipster is an empty shell offering nothing of use. Where are the entrepreneurs and the visceral energy that drove the napsters and the easyJets and the last minutes? Where are the risk takers? The inventors? The makers?

I miss 2000’s London. Right now, we’re treading water. Working hard, making a buck, riding the tube home. My hope is that I keep floating long enough for the next thrilling, terrifying, all consuming wave to take me somewhere properly exhilarating, and to see what ideas I can have when I get there.

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