I didn’t expect it to take as long as three days to humbly discover that the two friendly colleagues sitting at the far side of the office, with whom I’d talked in depth about The Wire and hip-hop, were, in fact, the founding partner and strategy director of the company. But that’s exactly what happened at the beginning of my time with The Brooklyn Brothers, which has been an experience filled with positive surprises.
At no point since starting have I been a coffee-brewing servant, contrary to the stereotypical pre-internship expectations. The closest I’ve got to that involved being handed £40 and asked to source bottles of Pilsner Urquell for the office as part of experiential research for a SABMiller chemistry meeting.
Predictability doesn’t exist here. Being in a workplace that challenges the status quo has been refreshing after spending my last year(s) of university cringing at the conformism of modern undergraduate life. For example, the forced musical appreciation – "How can you not like deep house, mate? It’s classic!" – and the craze of flat caps and black beanies in the pursuit of ultimate "edginess". In much appreciated contrast, The Brooklyn Brothers has its own distinct philosophy, which I feel can be summarised by my experiences thus far.
The big, airy office here bends around a tranquil courtyard that triumphs over the loudness of Soho’s glitzy rat race. I suppose I’ve come to see it as a sanctuary; a "keep-it-real" bubble in the heart of the London mix. There are two metal balconies and a rooftop for those who want some elevated fresh air.
Music of all sorts plays. Dogs run around. Seeing as my working day here is sandwiched by a 70-minute commute, I welcome these atmospheric qualities with open arms. Spending so long on the upcoming Thorpe Park pitch has been an ironic exercise on account of it being a mere couple of miles from the distant suburb I return home to every night.
In terms of conducting business, the traditional agency model has been reimagined. We are split into "Make it up" and "Make it happen". Consider this duality like this: if accounts were Hollywood films, the former half (where my desk resides) would be the directors, and the latter half the producers. It’s an efficient format that relies on a trusted nucleus of ability to come up with the goods.
On a personal note, I’ve learnt that a significant aspect of planning is gauging how to best use my own interpretation of culture. As a result, I’ve been continually encouraged to bring my own personality to the table. Thankfully, The Brooklyn Brothers aren’t interested so much in ad campaigns per se, but more in creating long-term platforms for brands, putting a dent in culture and exceeding expectations.
My expectations have been exceeded. I’m more confident than ever that, in these tempestuous times, adhering to a norm is not the way to think or do.
Ciaran Thapar is a planning intern at The Brooklyn Brothers