Though coming from a consulting background, as well as having run departments and whole businesses, I really didn’t know what to expect when joining the team at Cafecreate.

I was lured into marketing by the exciting nature of change in the industry (social, mobile, big data), as well as the fact that these changes are well matched to my skillset. My focus has always been on measurement and business results. The intention being to match this skill set with the existing creative capabilities. I am used to working with creatives and understanding that they are “wired up” differently to normal people, but my first few weeks in a marketing company still managed to take me by surprise.

Well versed in implementing standard operational processes, I was actually more interested in understanding the industries creative process. So when the opportunity came, one morning, for a brainstorm to generate some campaign ideas for a major record label, I was not going to miss out on my chance. I sat and watched quietly in the corner. If it was a process I was after, none was immediately apparent. What ensued was some brief animated conversation, a very heated argument, some expletives, some laughter and finally general agreement that the assembled group had in fact “smashed it”?! This apparently indicated that something had been achieved, within the session, and the group were well satisfied with the result. So satisfied in fact that the team (including creative director) cleared the room for a nerf gun fight, where one member suffered a minor eye injury. The entire process (including nerf gun fight, and first aid) took 35 minutes

As I sat, open mouthed, in the empty glass walled board room, watching the gun-fight outside, I pondered what I had just witnessed. I’m fairly sure that no notes had been taken, and 100% sure that I didn’t hear anyone pick up any actions, however it seemed that once work resumed, everyone knew exactly what they had to do. A whirl of industry kicked off in the studio, creating mood boards, concepts, copy, and creative. 24 hours later the creative director alongside one of the communications team delivered a presentation to the aforementioned major record label, that blew them away. Reporting back the following day, the result of what the team produced had been so good that not only were the label delighted with what had been produced, but also the artist and the artists PR were over the moon.


A few years back (and with a little less experience) I might well have been tempted to constrain such a  “process” with a good solid agenda, and a means of ensuring that everyone contributes. In this instance it would only have served to drain the life out of dynamic in the team, and the result would not have been nearly as powerful.

Since this example, I have witnessed 3-4 similarly emotional sessions (I think I am learning that this is an emotion fuelled industry), and watched all the results with interest. When following up with the clients to gauge their feelings they all seem to be delighted. I am starting to conclude that rather than mess with this process, I will be better served focussing my efforts on ensuring that the output of these sessions have business impact, and are achieving the business outcomes that the customer needs.

Happily, 2 weeks in  a rather bulky amazon order appeared on my desk. It turned out to be the Nerf elite retaliator weapon, which, I have discovered, has an amazing level of long range accuracy. I am starting to feel like part of the team.