Every day I travel to and from work on the tube.

Every day I see people without manners.

And then I look more carefully at them and I see they’re not really nasty people.

They’re just not thinking.

They’re not aware of what’s happening around them.

In their environment, their context.

A young man is sitting in the seat that’s reserved for the pregnant, the disabled, or the elderly.

He’s listening to his iPod, oblivious to the old lady standing next to him.

He’s not a bad person, he’s just not aware of her.

A young woman is sitting in a seat while her bags occupy the seat next to her.

She’s not a bad person, she’s just oblivious to the people standing, holding onto the straps.

As we try to get off the train, people stand on the platform in front of the doors, blocking our exit.

Oblivious to the fact that they can’t get on unless we got off.

I try to walk up the escalator but there are people standing and talking, occupying the whole width so no one can pass.

They’re not bad people, they’re laughing and chatting.

They’re just oblivious to the fact that the left side is for walking, and the right side for standing still.

Outside the station, I go to cross the road and nearly get run down by a car that turns without indicating.

He’s not a bad person, he just wasn’t thinking.

I cross a street in Soho and nearly get run down by a bike going the wrong way up a one-way street.

None of these people are bad people.

None of them are purposely nasty.

They’re all just not thinking.

They are unaware of what’s going on around them.

Oblivious to anyone or anything, other than what’s going on with them.

Exactly like most advertising.

We’re oblivious to the environment, the context the work has to run in.

The client goes to a media company with a budget.

The media company looks at the numbers and recommends the media.

The client doesn’t question it, he passes it on to the agency.

The agency doesn’t question it, it’s already been decided, so they work to that brief.

The creatives don’t question the brief, they start work.

They look on YouTube for a new technique or they write a vaguely related joke with a pun at the end explaining the link.

The ads are then ‘researched’.

‘Research’ consists of asking people who have never worked in advertising, and know nothing about it, what they think of the work.

How would they make it better?

What they say is never questioned, just acted upon.

And all the while, everyone is just concentrating on their own little part of the job.

It never occurs to anyone to step outside their discipline and look at the environment we have to work in.

To consider the context.

It never occurs to anyone to think, beyond simply reacting.

To do anything but operate on autopilot.

No one means to be stupid or narrow minded.

No one is purposely ignoring what’s going on in the outside world.

We’re just not aware there is a world outside our little world of advertising.

And that for anything to work, we have to consider the context.

We have to be constantly aware of what’s happening in the environment, all around us.

It just never occurs to anyone to be aware of that.


It’s not that we’re bad people, we just don’t think.