Biggest fuck up
Getting scammed for £10,000.
Before advertising, I freelanced as a film director, photographer, and graphic designer for about 5 years. Most of my clients came from the music industry. Since they didn’t always pay well or even on time, I wanted to expand. So, I decided to start a branding and production agency during covid.
It didn’t click that it wasn’t the right time to start an agency, let alone invest in a business developer, considering brands were cutting their marketing budgets.
I put out an ad on LinkedIn and hired a guy who lied and took advantage of my ignorance and generosity for months. He’d act as if he was arranging meetings with ad agencies like Mother but then made excuses that they had rescheduled. Or requesting emergency funds because his girlfriend had covid – there was no girlfriend.
I remember thinking, ‘If this guy is scamming me, he’s good.’ I believed I was a good judge of character; sadly, he proved me wrong. I was impatient and, well, that came back to bite me. I was able to get some funds back through my bank’s fraud dept. But not all.
My biggest gripe is how invisible ad agencies are. It’s ridiculous how few people are aware of what an ad creative does. From the Bernbach era, people stumbled into their advertising career, and 60+ years later, people are still stumbling into an advertising career.
Learning how to utilise your creativity and communicate ideas in an interesting way is one of the biggest transferable skills everyone should be aware of and have the opportunity to learn.
Ad agencies need to start advertising themselves again and expressing the importance of creative thinking.
Growing up, I was a footballer. If I wasn’t out playing football, I was inside playing career mode on FIFA. I would scout amateur players in the game and predict whether they would become world-class players in real life. To this day, I stand by the fact I predicted Benzema would become one of the best strikers in the world when he was in Lyon’s reserves on FIFA 06 (I think). I even scouted Hazard, I just didn’t think he’d be a good player, but once again, I was proved wrong.
Being that into football, I learned that footballers have very short careers. If you’re exceptional, you could be a pro at 17/18, but you’ll peak at 28. It’s different today, but back then, when my players would start approaching 30, I’d start looking for replacements.
This distorted view made me believe I needed to be successful by the time I became 21. Which lead to me taking bigger risks and making a lot of mistakes, like getting into bed with a dodgy business developer.
So, the advice I want to share is unless something is life-threatening, there’s always time. It cost me 10k to learn that lesson, you’re welcome 😊.