Well here we are again. I write this intro to you from a Thursday evening and through the fog of a headache and dickie tummy. Not sure what I've eaten but it has not been sitting well with me these past 24hrs.
Also: there have been a lot of spreadsheets this week. Important data that needed careful cleaning, analysing, considering, and assessing. 'Don't you have people to do that for you?!' - no, what do you think this is? And anyway, even if I did, I wanted to do it. So there.
Sometimes these things are required.
The weeds outside the are growing up past the bottom of the windowsill. I should fix that at the weekend.
How has your week been?
It is August. Pandemic aside (what else can you do?) this month is notoriously slow. Colleagues and clients disappear on holiday (or at least try to) and work enters the slow sludge and lurch of moving from one waiting-approval to another to another. So instead you turn to those projects that have been gathering dust on the corner of your desktop. The little folder marked 'Admin/Internal'. You sniff around a few old PowerPoints dated earlier this year, brush them down, and try to pick up where you left off.
That, combined with the data chunking task above, is what I've been doing this week. Unpicking thoughts. Thoughts of my own and many thoughts of others in the ultimate ambition to get to... new things. New meanings. New diagnoses. New ideas. New business. Just ...newness. There be sparks in this flint, and I'll keep scratching at it until it catches.
That's where I am at.
As for you, you are on the precipice of THE THINGS. So let's just go ahead and fall right in.
TO THE THINGS!
PS. If you're new here, FToF is a [nearly] weekly collection of things I find the most interesting. Some chat, some gifs; standard newsletter fair - but doing it with panache and flair. So you being here now is like arriving to a birthday party just as they're serving cake. Well done!
1. THE LAST OF US PART II
There will be no spoilers to the game in this newsletter.
There will be spoilers in the linksthat I share within this section.
OK, let's go.
So I finally finished The Last of Us Part II last week.
In fact, since starting the draft of this newsletter and actually getting around to finish it (you might figure out why there's been a delay in it going out shortly), I've managed to hit the plat.
For the non-gamers among you, 'hitting the plat' is gamer-lingo for literally completing every aspect and achievement in the game. The plat is a platinum trophy that is awarded when you do this. I don't have many, the PS4 is the first PlayStation I've ever owned, but the ones I have I EARNED.
And I think it is easily my Game of the Year (GotY). The character development - more so carrying over from the stories told and emotional bombs left from the ending of the first game - and the sheer effing journey your character, the world, the people you encounter - goes on, is second to none. When I finished the game I announced on twitter that THIS IS ART. A game, A GAME, that can make you feel so many different emotions, so many different beats... it is a MASTERCLASS, a SHEER masterclass in storytelling. This is the best drama you've ever seen, with the most believable and emotionally wrecked characters you've ever encountered, set against the backdrop of post-apocalyptic America - about love, hope, and the choices we make. Wow. I'm tearing up thinking about it now. A GAME DID THIS TO ME. A GAME.
Buy a cheap PS4. Buy a copy of The Last of Us Remastered and the The Last of Us Part II and have your world and mind completely blown away by what can be achieved.
I am still breathless.
To those among you who game, the ones who might've in fact already completed #TLOU2 (but also to those of you who will never game, or play this game), then if you are down then you should absolutely read this incredible (POST-GAME-COMPLETION) piece "Broken People, Broken Worlds: Thoughts on The Last of Us Part II". It is the best thing I've read about it so far and I love how this game reflects differently in all of us.
Here's a thing. Did you know that every couple of years or so, Earth passes between Mars and the sun?
This 'opposition' means for a very short while, Mars and Earth are as near as they possibly can be.
If you're not looking up at the sky when this happens, or have forgotten to look it up, you can normally tell when Mars is closest because someone will probably try and land a robot on it. Which leads us nicely to PERSEVERANCE.
Fun fact: Mars is the only planet in the solar system that is entirely inhabited by robots.
I know the world is on fire but there's something [still] so inspiring about the reach for interplanetary travel and discovery.
Perseverance is our - well, NASA's - most recent attempt to find out more about our nearest ginger cousin. It lands in February next year (MADNESS) and so maybe when we're talking about this then, there'll be more to share.
Until then, this NASA site about all things Mars 2020 is well worth your perusal time.
3. THIS WEEK IN MY FACE
Last week, in a weird twist of scheduling fate, two entirely different video adland interviews, both in the works for a good few weeks, happened to fall on the same day.
The first one, for my friends at The Drum, was a bit of decent-hearted fun answering social media questions to an unseen voice. All very STAR TEST but instead called SOCIALLY CHALLENGED (amazing).
Coming in at just under 5mins in length, this one features my face, against floating social media symbols, providing responses to burning questions such as 'What do you do in a social media crisis?' and 'What's the thing annoys you most about social media?' - among a handful of others.
Watch Socially Challenged right here.
The second video interview that went out last week (literally went live a whole hour after the one above!), was completely different.
"Thriving Creative Partnerships: Oreo and Digitas on how vulnerability empowered their partnership"
You wouldn't have known this but - believe it or not (like a fair few many others in my industry) - when lockdown happened we were literally on the cusp of going into pre-production on a campaign that we had been working on since January.
In the space of LITERALLY THREE DAYS we stopped, pivoted, re-pitched, re-worked, and recovered into a whole new campaign platform and idea. Creative idea, strategic positioning, and sign off - all the way - achieved in THREE DAYS. It's incredible to think about it now, looking back.
Which is what the amazing - and newly anointed editorial director at Creative Brief - Nicola Kemp, asked us to do when she sat us (myself, representing Digitas, and Aislinn Campbell, Senior Brand Manager for Oreo at Mondelez) down to grill us about what it means to pivot in a crisis.
28mins long and featuring a full on lockdown mane/near-mullet (since cut - sorry), this was really lovely. It's not often that you get to sit down and reflect on what has just happened. At any point in this mad career choice of mine. Let alone with a client or even after a post-pandemic pivot.
Genuinely, I hope you like it.
Watch 'Thriving Creative Partnerships: Oreo and Digitas on how vulnerability empowered their partnership' right here
4. MOVIE AND TV STUFF TO LOOK FORWARD TO
No real structure to this section. This is just some stuff that you may or may not find interesting.
Here's a trailer for RAISED BY WOLVES.
A new series from RIDLEY SCOTT and from HBO MAX (so for the Brits you expect it on, I don't know, maybe Netflix or Amazon or maybe even BBC2 or something at some point).
Sci-fi. Show. Ridley. In!
Here's a trailer for I'M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS.
A new Netflix film from CHARLIE KAUFMAN and from NETFLIX (so for the Brits, you can expect it on Netflix).
It looks MAD AF. It's KAUFMAN. And it's Netflix. In!
Here's a trailer for JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH.
A new film starring DANIEL KALUUYA telling the true story of the Black Panther leader, Fred Hampton.
Watch the damn trailer. In!
The frankly WONDERFUL Sarah Paulson gets an honourable mention for a) RATCHED (a prequel to American Horror Story) - TRAILER - and b) coming to my rescue on Twitter earlier this week after I got bodied by one of her fans. Oops. Thanks again! (also: great trailer)
5. STOP DOOMSCROLLING
"Checking your phone for an extra two hours every night won’t stop the apocalypse—but it could stop you from being psychologically prepared for it."
The irony that this warning comes near the end of this newsletter is not lost on me HOWEVER.
A warning it is and it is a warning you should heed.
"Doomscrolling will never actually stop the doom itself. Feeling informed can be a salve, but being overwhelmed by tragedy serves no purpose."
Read STOP DOOMSCROLLING over on WIRED.
And then, y'know. Stop.
THE BONUS SECTION:
L|NK ME BABY ONE MORE TIME
I'm all outta gas on the whole TikTok for sale thing BUT when it comes to CULTURE this thing has it in spades. The Weeknd performed a gig there this weekend. Read more about that RIGHT NOW.
OK fine, while we're here. It means nothing but Instagram announced Reels on Twitter and TikTok's reply got twice the amount of likes. TikTok then Quote-RT'd the launch and got something like 300x the likes. It means nothing. But still. This is going to go well then.
While we're here 'Tik-Tok and the Sorting Hat' is a great piece of writing and therefore, reading.
'I accidentally became a meme' (MUST WATCH)
Did I mention Nicky Kemp was ace? Of course I did. Well Nicky Kemp is also ace here as well. READ THIS: 'Mummy, what did you do in the great Covid crisis?'.
The power of the unstructured meeting (essential).
I'm still at a loss about what happened in Beirut. LONG time readers will know my love for the city. I miss it. These two satellite photos show the incredible before and after. I still can't believe the negligence.
Brands celebrating Pride when it isn't Pride should be a Tumblr.
YOU ARE APPROACHING THE END OF THE NEWSLETTER. PLEASE WATCH YOUR STEP.
You have reached the end of the newsletter!
Thanks for reading this.
As I write to you now it's 2306 on a Sunday night. I've had a bloody lovely weekend and I sincerely hope you have too.
For what it's worth, this week's edition was brought to by the playlist 'A Full Day of Music, Vol 4'. A classic.
Thanks for reading.
And if you're new here, why not hit that reply button and say hi.
Until next time,
Whatley out x