Wow" is the word on Team Asda’s lips over at VCCP Blue this week. Wow, it may be the "most depressing" time of year but, as our clients report a record performance this Christmas, we take a minute to celebrate the part we had to play.
As an industry newbie, I was warned about the "beast" that is retail advertising at Christmas and, wow, that was not a joke. In just six weeks, we produced 21 TV commercials and more than 150 digital executions. This job is not for the faint-hearted and often I feel I am sitting among fearless warriors.
Some of us may be going into battle sipping camomile tea this January, but the Asda account is enough of a stimulant for anyone.
Each day begins in darkness as my account director and I arrive ahead of the crowd to arm ourselves for the day ahead. That this week is "another busy one" is an oddly reassuring phrase. Anything else would be both disconcerting and highly unlikely. As the kettle boils, we hatch a plan and return to our desks full of optimism that, one way or another, "we’ll get it done".
Amid a number of digital executions to be signed off and a flurry of exciting new briefs, today we are hosting our first major Ways of Working (WOW) session. That unmistakable buzz signifying the imminent arrival of clients is palpable. Suits, Pret products and matching mugs appear as if by magic.
Now that the Christmas trees have come down, the time is right to reflect on how best to action our learnings. As a wise man over at Asda recently said: "The finish line is the start line."
We begin our session with introductions as not everyone in our new team has met the Leeds-based Asda team. For me, it is a significant step forward to finally move from phone to face with the client I speak to daily.
Back to the office after a late team lunch for an end-of-play catch-up with our digital producer on the latest brief. Before I even need to ask the dreaded question, I am handed new timing plans. Apparently, great minds also dress alike, as we realise we are wearing the same shirt.
In a world ruled by status reports, Gantt charts and trackers, an early-morning in-house yoga class at VCCP Blue provides the perfect antidote. Masters in the ancient art of meditation should try practising in the middle of a busy agency for the ultimate challenge.
Every day has its own unique rhythm. A particularly hectic one is punctuated by the constant consolidation of Post-it note reminders that pepper my desk. A quieter day… I’ll get back to you on that one.
How things have changed since I had my first taste of the wonderful world of advertising playing the happy baby in a TV ad for London Weekend Television. If someone had told me that I would return to the industry to work on the largest pitch win of 2013 at Campaign’s Agency of the Year, I imagine my reaction would have been – you’ve guessed it – "wow".
Elle Shaps is an account executive at VCCP