Home > Uncategorized > Who the hell is AdLand Suit?

Who the hell is AdLand Suit?

I am very aware that for a lot of people, this will be your first visit to this blog. It may well be the first time that a lot of you have realised there even is a blog that accompanies the sweary sport/reality-TV-obsessed barrage that is the AdLand Suit twitter account. Possibly because I haven’t posted anything on it for a year: social media best practice FTW, and all that.

Anyway, it feels like this might be a good time to get the story of ALS down in writing – those of you who’ve followed it from the beginning can ignore it (but know that I LOVE YOU), and it might be a little bit interesting to those of you who are currently wondering why I haven’t fucking sworn yet.

Ladies and gentlemen of the internet, the story of AdLand Suit.

Hard as it is to believe, the blog came first, back in January (I think) 2009. At the time, the blogosphere had moved on from its ‘planners talking to each other’ phase, and its ‘creatives bitching about other creatives (and planners)’ phase was in full swing. The only constant was a general dismissal of Account Folk’s understanding of the internet – which really hacked me off.

After reading yet another, “I look forward to reading the Suit equivalent on… Oh, wait. THERE AREN’T ANY” comment on Scamp’s blog, I realised why the constant slagging was really pissing me off – it was because it was entirely justified. There weren’t any Suit blogs out there. And so I decided to stop bitching about everyone’s bitching, and do something about it – and so AdLand Suit was born.

It was anonymous at first, though I couldn’t really have told you why. With hindsight, it probably gave the blog a level of authority that it wouldn’t otherwise have enjoyed; it certainly freed me up to talk with more confidence than I might have done. At the time, though, I think I was probably just copying Scamp. I was always as honest as anonymity allowed about who I was  – a senior suit at a top ten London agency – which obviously didn’t stop people believing I was Johnny Hornby; but more of that later.

So, the blog started to garner some readers; it was a mixture of Account Man basics, stories from my experience, ranting about advertising, interviews with the great and good of the Suit World… The logical next step was to take it to twitter, which is where it started to get a bit weird.

Initially, I just used the twitter account to let people know when I’d posted something new; but all that changed during the Ashes in 2009: and the credit for that must lie with one Ian Ronald Bell, and his since-laid-to-rest habit of wafting at balls-outside-the-off-stump-that-he-really-should-have-left-alone. (Apologies at this stage to the cricket-illiterates – you really don’t need to worry about the detail.) Following one such waft, I was so angry with Mr Bell that I took to twitter to question his parentage, etc. It wasn’t big, it wasn’t clever, but it seemed quite funny – and, hard as it may be to believe right now, at the time there weren’t that many people who were happy to broadcast their profanity-laden-stream-of-consciousness-sporting-related-meltdowns.

And with that, the crowd of followers started growing, as did the RTs. Esquire Magazine got involved, and the number of followers grew yet further.

The X-Factor happened. In many ways, the less said about that the better. If you were there, you’ll know why. If you weren’t, you’ve probably seen me during the Apprentice more recently, so you can imagine. I sent nearly 50 postcards from Edinburgh to folk in Auckland, Copenhagen, and a bunch of places in between, after idly wondering, bored on a train somewhere near Wakefield, whether anyone would like a postcard from the Fringe. I accidentally upset a lot of Scottish people when I suggested Andy Murray was only British when he was winning. And other things happened. Lots of them. (This was probably my favourite.) The salient facts, though, are that the followers kept growing, and that as we reached the end of 2009, @adlandsuit was being followed by over 3,000 people, and the blog was being read by more people than I ever imagined would be interested in the stuff I was thinking. WOO, etc.

But the life of an anonymous blogger isn’t that straightforward, even if you’re not pretending to be a Middle Eastern lesbian – apart from anything else, it was surprisingly stressful keeping it a secret from the people with whom I worked. So I decided to drop the anonymity; to put a head on the Suit. Which wasn’t, unfortunately, as straightforward as it should have been.

As I said at the start of this post, I’d always been honest about who I was – that hadn’t deterred the folk who were convinced it was an elaborate smokescreen, and that Johnny Hornby, Lord Bell or Andrew McGuinness had in fact spent the previous year swearing at Ian Bell and pointing out that Jedward sang with the enthusiasm of two special kids chasing a biscuit. To ensure that the re-heading wasn’t an immense disappointment to all involved (not least me), I gave it a charitable slant – I asked everyone who was reading the blog and/or following the profanity-fest to donate some cash to Marie Curie Cancer Care. When donations reached £1,000 I’d tell everyone who I was, arrange a night for us all to go to the pub, and take the person behind the biggest individual donation out to Lunch. I’d had to be persuaded to go for £1k, rather than £500 (WHAT IF NOBODY CARED???) – somewhat apprehensively, I hit post, tweeted the link, and nervously left the office. It was a Thursday afternoon.

By Monday morning, three days later, the wonderful, wonderful idiots who follow me had raised nearly £5,000 for Marie Curie.

What’s more, the highest individual donator, who gave an amazing £750, didn’t want to be taken for lunch, and, in fact, didn’t want anyone to know who he or she was, something I’ve respected to this day. Even more amazing, though, was the number of people who’d donated £5, £10, £15 – for the most part, I didn’t know these people, at least not in any sense that my parents would understand. But they were, and are, good people. So, there was no Lunching, but there was pub, and there was drinking, and there was tequila, and there was a shed-load of cash for the good folk at Marie Curie Cancer Care.

So, out of a simple desire to stand up for, and, I guess, try to explain what I do, had sprung something of which I remain resolutely proud, even if it does occasionally appear to be little more than an automated sporting-swear-bot nowadays. (I also do pasta jokes.) And while it’s helped quite a few people out, directly or indirectly, along the way, the person ALS has helped out most is undoubtedly me: it has done more for my career than I ever could have anticipated; it’s brought brilliant people, burgers and bacon sandwiches into my life; and, astonishingly enough, without it I would not have met the woman I’m going to marry in 6 months time.

But that’s a story for another time. Probably over a beer.

Time for the next chapter, and all that.


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. June 30, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Remember this? The heady thrill when you see you’ve got a comment? Amazing, isn’t it? THAT’S why blogging is better than twittering.

    That said, it’s a long time since I got a comment.

    • June 30, 2011 at 4:28 pm

      Blogging is ace. I’ve missed that. Hello!

    • June 30, 2011 at 6:40 pm

      PS I commented quite recently – when you slagged off my grandfather? Remember?

  2. July 1, 2011 at 10:23 am

    yeah well don’t even get me started on your Grandmother.
    Congratulations and stuff on the thing btw, sounds awfully exciting!

  1. March 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm
  2. February 15, 2013 at 11:06 pm
  3. February 18, 2014 at 5:02 pm

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