NO! Creative Social Presents

Seeking enlightenment, myself and Sarah ‘Skid’ Marques (super binary code breaker at Hodes) set off last Tuesday to attend an event publicised as NO! And promised to be “An evening of frustration, shouting, spit and disappointment. Maybe even a fight.”

Hosted at LBi in the now not-so-bricky Brick Lane, there was the opportunity to don some hulk gloves, but the Haymaker steered clear. Here’s a VERY PG version (so me mam can read it) of some of the things we learnt from the Creative Socials, who had gathered together a collection of senior creatives spoiling for a fight.

Sam Ball, Creative Partner, Lean Mean Fighting Machine @samualball

  • “A web of woven guesses”

The air turned blue as Samuel ball kicked off the evening, by quite literally kicking off. He swiftly dealt a blow to those facts that we’re all guilty of blithely quoting. He warned against mantras such as ‘A brand should only tweet three times a day’. We are the creators, and should remember that no-one size fits all, the future’s up to us. He harkened back to Einstein, who believed all knowledge was provisional (even his genius) and as such we should challenge the facts – whether they’re thousands of years old or daubed across a few pages of blogroll.

Laura Jordan Bambach, Creative Director, Dare @laurajaybee

  • It’s braver to say yes

Flo Heiss, against a backdrop of psychedelic gif’s, took a sharp turn in the opposite direction – it’s braver to say YES. Let the ‘make it so’ attitude course through your workplace and you’ll soon see the results. Far from being just a bundle of fluffy-freeloving philosophies, she extolled the likes of Captain Ray Lewis, an NYPC who marched in Occupy Wall Street and Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian journalist to demonstrate both the serious consequences of optimism and its underlying integrity.

Steve Price, Creative Director, Plan-B Studio @StevePlanB

  • Just say no

If you say ‘yes’ to everything, then you’ll do everything (even the sh!* stuff). Make time. If you’re too busy, then we’ve come around full circle back to just saying No. Most importantly he emphasised the role of Love and Support in the work place, finally ending his excellent presentation by questioning whether you can have the magic three – great work, flexibility and people. Oh, and boot out the egos and employ more women.

Flo Heiss, Executive Creative Director, Dare @floheiss

  • Over-sharing

We then, under the command of Flo Heiss, put our phones on the floor and sat in silence for 4 minutes and 52 seconds. Not tweeting about it. Just being in the moment. When was the last time that you did that? Here’s a picture he showed us, to explain his reasoning – interpret as you will.


Becky Power, Executive Creative Director, Grand Union

  • How did they get away with that?

Huge thanks to Becky Power, who let us take a nostalgic jaunt through YouTube. A drumming gorilla, meerkats and a promiscuous pot noodle, are just some of the adverts that inspire a burgeoning respect for the brave chain of people who made then happen, from creative team to client.

Marmite nailed their controversial brown gunk to the wall with the ‘My mate/I hate’ campaign in the 90s. It was a bold and highly effective campaign, but when they partnered with Guinness, the Black Nectar wasn’t so keen on being tarred with the same sticky brush. Just as we can see ourselves differently from those around us, so can a brand. In this instance a compromise was found. And as we all know, finding the right solutions is about building trust, both sides of the table.

Andy Sandoz, Creative Partner & Innovation Director, Work Club @Sandoz

  • #Nofilter

Mr Sandoz gave us his top ten list of NOs (well actually a top 11, “as you should always over-deliver”). As well as contemplating a world with no internet, he highlighted that in today’s digital age, there’s no need to pick two from ‘fast, cheap or good’. And also that there’s no rain on street view. My favourite moment was when he touched on outsourcing our decisions. As we, and I quote,” hurtle towards with glee” a world of super connectivity, are we reaching a point where our Sainsbury’s app won’t let us purchase a donut because we haven’t accrued enough ‘Nike Fuel’ for the day?

And in conclusion – no one’s got a bleedin’ clue.

There was plenty more besides, but far from feeling rattled and riled by the end, there was a sense of calm in the former warehouse (not only induced by the complimentary beers).  Questioning how we work is incredibly liberating – and as it was raised in the Q&A, advertising isn’t the only ‘cool’ place to be these days. Everyone from Law Firms to Smoothie makers are reinvigorating their work forces by challenging traditions and thinking about processes differently. This translates into everything from the physical workspace to the Senior Leadership’s relationship with their teams.

As more and more businesses look at how they engage with their employees, through the wider employer brand and the daily touch points of the employee lifecycle, it is more important than ever that organisations reassess how they interact – and this includes saying NO.

So as we try and steer a clear path, may it offer some comfort to remember a quote brought to our attention by the first speaker, Mr Ball. As Xenophanes, a Greek philosopher who would undoubtedly be midst the twitterati of his day said,  “The final truth, he would himself not know it: For all is but a woven web of guesses”. So as we set out to explore uncharted territory, let’s all remember that our NOs will define us as much as any YES.

Thanks for having us Creative Social

At the moment we work for a lovely Employer Branding Consultancy called Bernard Hodes Group, you can read all about them here

(of course, any of the views expressed are most definitely my own unless stated otherwise)


About Gary Baggings

Andrea is a former farm girl who is currently living and working in London. She spends her days writing words for other people, and the long nights penning her own. When she grows up she wants to be cleverer than she is now and run an emporium of some sort. For no good reason, and against sound advice, she writes under an inexplicable pen name, visit for more.
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