What just happened?
So here we go again. Our annual ‘what did we learn’ Polaroid.
And we’re pretty spoilt for choice. We definitely learnt.
Back in the rapid spin of the year’s most ferocious tornado, I remember saying to my coach “It’s a jigsaw that currently feels impossible to piece together”.
His response was ‘If you could, what’s the picture?’
So this is my attempt at answering that. To try and make some kind of sense of what the f*** just happened with the aim of completing that picture.
Because I end 2022 as proud as I am sad. Energised as I am exhausted. As stirred by the team’s resilience as I am vexed with the roadblocks along the way.
James Clear said ‘In the middle, it feels slow, in hindsight, it feels fast.’
Because whilst our best-laid plans may have been thwarted, we took gigantic leaps forward in ways far longer-lasting and more deeply felt.
So this year is a celebration of it all. Both the brutal and the beautiful.
GOODBYE JAMES. AND THANK YOU
March saw us facing our Zayn Malik / Gerri Halliwell moment.
The band was to go from five Directors to four.
It was a decision that was unexpected albeit in hindsight not entirely unforeseen. An exit that felt too sudden, yet all too slow. And a transition which was both awkward and painful – operationally and emotionally.
But in retrospect, it had to happen. Over time our visions had splintered too far apart. And what had energised us previously had bought us all to the point of exhaustion.
Our individual happiness suffered. And the impact was naturally felt – from the top down, right the way through.
Time is playing its natural healing role. More of it will no doubt provide even healthier hindsight.
But for now, this is a note to simply say thanks. The first five years can only ever be defined as formative. Your contribution, immense.
So we raise a virtual glass to the end of a chapter. To all moving on. To all being happier.
When the time’s right, let’s make it a real one.
The Village Life Chose Us
The new iteration of Forty Eight Point One launched in July.
‘The Creative Agency for People Willing to Question Everything’ was our stake in the ground. Not only for the characters and brands we wanted to work with, but the kind of culture we were intent on fostering.
A belief that the most compelling ideas surface from the depths of challenging conversations. The kind of conversations that only occur when voices are heard, beliefs can be safely questioned and new perspectives are not only welcomed but insisted upon.
My brother and fellow co-founder Paddy said the other day ‘it takes a village to raise an agency’. Well, find me a greyhound and buy me a flat cap. I’m into this village life. Because it’s not that our team simply live that ethos. They built it.
They hold us to account daily. They insist on keeping what’s important top of our agenda. They push and push and push. And they bloody love a question.
When the cold harsh financial realities of running an independent, small business weigh heavy, it can often feel relentless. An unwelcome inconvenience when working through torturously difficult market conditions.
But the reality is it’s never inconvenient. It’s essential for our longevity and frankly really inspiring. It’s hopefully proof that what we’re creating is the makings of a truly transparent and open environment. Somewhere people feel empowered enough to bring their whole selves and their unfiltered values to the workplace, knowing that they are a fundamental part of building something that we can all be proud of.
At least I really hope so. And if it’s not, I’m sure we’ll hear about it.
The People That Made The Projects That Made Us
The original working title for our new North Star was ‘The Creative Agency for Brands Willing to Question Everything’.
In fact, it was way more than a working title. It was practically live on the website. Yet our MD and co-founder Simon was wrestling with a single word. Because what defined the projects we loved, the relationships that lasted and the work we’re most proud of was never the brand. At least not initially.
Of course, landing a contract for a household name, or a proposition you feel has a shot at becoming exactly that, is tough to ignore. Impossible at times. To both wallet and – inevitably and unavoidably – ego.
Yet when it comes to longevity, reward, enjoyment and as a direct result, the final creative, it’s only ever about the people. Thankfully, the two are not mutually exclusive.
With the risk of sounding Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen levels of pretentious, that small but mighty change from ‘brand’ to ‘people’ defined our year.
It defined a new process that put close collaboration at the heart of every stage of every project. It switched the lens when taking on new jobs. Decisions were made not just on the type of project but the chemistry created with the characters we would end up working with.
And it reminded us of perhaps of one of the things we do best. Hire great people.
2022 was the year we had real-life human connection back once again. A wonderful group of clients who we collaborated more intently with. And a full studio, bursting with amazing talent and brilliant human beings.
Which brings me neatly back to that jigsaw picture…
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