Growing Old Disgracefully

The majority of people reading this article – especially LinkedIn readers – will surely be in employment, working for a firm. It’s still the dominant employment mode.

And like younger readers, I was once wedded to my office job, living its day-to-day requirements and being implicitly signed up to the idea that somehow it mattered. If I had been gainfully employed in certain vocations, like medicine or the police, then maybe it would be clearer to see the point of it, and to judge that one was making a small but useful contribution to the quality of society.

There is a justification for private sector jobs, those that have to do with making things and supplying services. They add to the sum of wealth of the firm, which makes profits, pays taxes and makes your country more successful in the world, which in turn pays for the police and health service. Yet at the micro level, it can be hard to see the point. Where’s the lasting value?

For example, I have worked for big British firms – the Woolwich Building Society, Brooke Bond Oxo, Dalgety Spillers and BET plc – and they have one thing in common. They no longer exist. All have been taken over by other firms whose management think that they too have an imperative to succeed and beat the other guy. It’s a playground game for grown-ups; and it’s often a zero sum game.


In my 40s, I came to the conclusion that I was more or less unemployable. I didn’t enjoy the challenge of having staff under my control, and I was told by a headhunter that I didn’t get a new senior position because I didn’t seem to be hungry enough. And she was right – I didn’t want it any more. I think more and more of us feel that way.

By my 50s, I was ready for a change of scene to Spain, and a late-flowering burst of self-employment under the banner of Bojingles. But there wasn’t a grand plan – it developed organically, starting with making radio jingles (which was fun but not nearly enough radio advertisers would pay for a proper song). That developed into scriptwriting and making many thousands of regular radio ads, becoming a voiceover, writing web copy and video scripts for all sorts of companies, and being a sales and marketing manager for hire.

It’s not just me – looking around at old school and university friends, many of them have latterly adopted a similarly ‘portfolio’ approach to business and are consulting, mentoring, working on specific projects for firms and then getting out again.

Men (and women) Dressing Badly

What does that mean to the outlook on life that I, and people like me, have? I think we are freer thinking, we can dress as badly as we did in the 70s, and we are outrageous or iconoclastic when the mood takes us – because we can be. We are growing old disgracefully: and we don’t care.

Alternative models of work such as freelancing have always existed, but they always tended to require a structure involving agencies and consulting firms who promoted the individuals’ skills. The big explosion of home working and true work freedom has of course been sparked by the internet, and latterly the availability of broadband. Without a good connection, we would not be as free in terms of geography or working time: neither of course would we be as free to air our (frequently disgraceful) views on social networks in between our work-related activity.

We hear a lot about the thrusting young things who are busy beavering away in Tech Cities, and it’s great to see them being entrepreneurial and creative. But I would remind you that we are an ageing population and (to quote the clothing retailer) ‘Old Guys Rule’. We’re not ready for carpet slippers and the Daily Mail – we are creating too. “We’re the old generation – and we’ve got something to say” as the Monkees* would now sing.

So when I co-write my first pop hit, and my mate Ian finishes his epic poem, and Richard gets his play put on at the National, we’ll be thumbing our noses at the idea of retirement or that it’s a young peoples’ world. Look out youngsters – we’re coming and we’ve got sharp elbows…

(*Monkees: note to younger readers – like One Direction but with better tunes)

Explainer Videos – The Plot Thickens…

As an ‘old skool’ marketer, I was taught the basics of how to engage an audience when speaking, or when constructing a document with a mission to sell. That could be summarised thus:

Prologue: Tell ‘em what you’re going to say
Content: Say it
Summary: Tell ‘em what you’ve said

Like many simple truths, this still stands the test of time, albeit with a few modifications, as we shall see… (end of Prologue)

Video killed the Copy Star?

(Content begins)
The rise and rise of the explainer video has eclipsed traditional advertising copy in more and more media – and it undeniably adds impact and effectiveness in a number of ways:

• Viewers stay on websites for longer
• Many YouTube viewers then visit the maker’s website
• Click-through rates increase
• Good, short videos are shared widely on social media
• SEO is aided significantly
• Even senior executives prefer to watch video than read text

There are many ways to apply video in Technical Data, How To, and FAQ ways, and these need not be super-expensive productions. But where the high-concept explainer video really comes into its own is in the launch or early growth phase of a business or product. Used as a teaser, and then as a simple introduction to the potential user, this has been spectacularly successful for operations like Dropbox and Airbnb.

But don’t write off the role of copy. It’s critical, and not easy to create well. The optimum length for an explainer is 60-90 seconds, and you should regard 2 minutes as the maximum desirable length. That means, allowing for some breathing space, only 120 to 240 words in order to convey your message.

Now as someone who trained for years on radio scriptwriting, I know the need for artistic compression when your whole message, including the call to action and contact details, may only run to 50-70 words. So my message to clients is, please respect your writer, and allow him or her to craft your script to the optimum length – then resist the desire to add extraneous material to it.

The way that many of my video scripts (and their associated storyboards) go is akin to the construction that I outlined above, but with some variation:

Prologue: Tell ‘em the Problem
Content: Introduce the Hero (your brand)
Then tell ‘em how he or she will solve the Problem
Summary: Give ‘em the Call to Action

Wanna tell you a Story…

It sounds easy, but if you just do it by numbers it can be deeply numbing and will do your brand no favours. To quote Ronnie Bond of the Troggs when they were in the studio and struggling for the want of a producer, “You gotta put a little bit of f***ing fairy dust over the bastard…” If you have the right video producers, they will know how and where to sprinkle the fairy dust – and they will tell a compelling story.

There are explainers that have no script, of course, and that can be an attractive option for multinational brands or for other creative reasons – but it then becomes even more important to weave a coherent, wordless narrative.

It is an inescapable fact that modern time-starved viewers will not stay with you long. Even the most riveting material will suffer audience drop-off, and indifferent videos will have them turning off in droves.

Production and Values

Once you have agreed the script and storyboard, production gets going. What is the best technique? There is no right answer. 2D, 3D, whiteboard animation, live clips, they all have their place and are often mixed in the one film.

More important is that you do not skimp on your budget. Remember that your fee has to pay for professionals in a range of roles:

• Scriptwriter/visualizer
• Voiceover (of the right type)
• Artist/Animator/Producer (one, or often more people)
• Musicians or music library fee

I’m not suggesting that you have to pay the level of fees expected by leading agencies, that often exceed £6000 for the first minute, but neither should you expect the bargain basement prices asked by desperate students doing all the jobs themselves in their bedrooms. Good production is valuable to you – so please value it…(end of Content)


So my explainer message can be summarised as, “tell an interesting story, tell it well, sprinkle the old fairy dust over it, and keep it short and sweet”.

(Call to action)
Bojingles as a creative video, audio and design house is based on a small but highly-skilled group of experts in their respective fields who can rely on each other to do their jobs really well. By working with clients mostly over the internet, via Skype or phone, we avoid unnecessary overheads and keep our fees reasonable.

Let’s talk about your business needs, and how explainer videos can play a role in your future success.
+44 (0)844 307 9138
+44 (0)7976 262862
Skype: chrisbojingles

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