London Ledger: A Copywriter’s Guide to Modern Day Adland
You know how in Mad Men everyone dresses super sharp in natty little suits and heels? Well advertising in London in the 21st century is nothing like that. Which is just as well because I try to walk most days to my job at a media agency in Fitzrovia — aka adland — meaning an extensive sneaker collection is a must. I’m not exactly sure what today’s look is called but suffice it to say I’m a fully paid-up member of the wacky specs brigade.
It takes just over an hour to walk from my flat in Kennington — south London, til I die! Otherwise I’ll squeeze onto the Northern line to Goodge Street. It only takes 20 minutes door to door, lucky as there’s only so long I can spend cradled in a stranger’s armpit.
Like most Londoners, I rented all over before buying my flat but I’ve always been able to hop on the Northern, Victoria, or Central lines, or get a bus to work from pretty much anywhere in the city.
On my way in I might grab a coffee from Kaffeine. Some say that Kylie Minogue is the best thing to come out of Australia. No disrespect to the Crown Princess of Pop but I know it’s the flat white — which made its debut at this Antipodean-style cafe. Workshop and TAP are also great for a caffeine fix. Otherwise I’ll dodge the weirdly bougie students in Planet Organic (a hazard of being just across Tottenham Court Road from several University of London campuses) for a juice.
During pitches it’s pretty rare that my creative partner (read: work husband) and I have a chance to leave the office, but we’ll Deliveroo lunch (and often dinner) from Tombo Poke or The Good Life Eatery. Or, if we’re hungover from a night entertaining clients, we’ll get pizza from Homeslice.
If I do get to leave the office for a nice lunch or dinner with friends, I’m obsessed with Bao for Taiwanese buns, and Honey & Co for their amazing Middle Eastern food – both are tiny and busy but worth the wait (and the crush).
If I’ve been working a lot I might make it up to my real boyfriend (not the work one) with a blow-out dinner somewhere great – we’re spoilt for choice for foodie spots and “it” restaurants around here. Berners Tavern is great for modern British food by Jason Atherton in a grand dining room. Rovi, Ottolenghi’s latest opening, is fast becoming a new fave too.
I still love Roka for Japanese food, it’s a real classic of the area. We might have a nightcap at the Charlotte Street Hotel, where you can nab a pavement table and watch the world go by. It’s sceney in a good way, with all sorts of actors, TV, and media types knocking back the martinis.
One holdover from the Mad Men era is that it’s still acceptable to drink pretty much any day of the week, and indeed any time of the day, in advertising. What can I say? It’s a round the clock industry – but Thursday night is the big one in Fitzrovia. We’ll often start in the Newman Arms on Rathbone Street. The pubs round here are pretty tribal, each agency has “their” spot. God forbid we were spotted in The Carpenter’s Arms, for example, we’d end up in a turf war with Saatchi and Saatchi!
There are often gallery openings on Thursday nights, too. I might drop into Alison Jacques Gallery on Berners Street – she deals with Robert Mapplethorpe’s estate, among other artists.
If things take a turn for the very late we’ll head to Bradley’s, the Spanish bar that welcomes everyone from artists to doctors from nearby UCH for a sweaty dance into the night, or maybe karaoke at Sanxia Renjia Chinese restaurant.
To balance out the long hours and hard partying, there are boutique gyms such as Frame, Psycle, and Ten to choose from. They all tend to be quieter at the weekend – Fitzrovia’s not super residential, although it is emerging as a bit of a brunch hotspot regardless. I guess for the weekend warriors it’s the only chance they get to try out Fitzrovia’s hype spots during a pitstop from shopping on nearby Oxford Street. But who am I to judge? I just work here.