Friday 11 July 2014

Sad Men by Dave Roberts

All Dave Roberts ever wanted to do (apart from collect football programmes) was to work in advertising. More specifically, to work for the world's best advertising agency, Saatchi and Saatchi. 
There was just one problem. Even when he managed to persuade someone to employ him, Dave's copywriting assignments were mainly for second hand car dealers and double glazing companies. And Leeds, Manchester and, bizarrely, New Zealand were a long way from Charlotte Street and Madison Avenue. This was the world of the Sad Men. 
In his sparkling new memoir, Dave tells the story of a life shaped by his love of adverts, from seeing the PG Tips chimps at the age of three to writing infamous ads such as the Westpac Rap and having David Jason plug a family restaurant. 
Bursting with brilliant ideas - and some pretty daft ones - it is the cautionary tale of a quest for advertising glory... and not quite ever getting there.

Sad Men was published by Bantam Press on 27 March 2014 and is Dave Roberts' fourth book.

There is no doubt at all that advertising is big business. A multi-million pound industy, with eyewatering budgets for some brands. I'm guessing that the average person will not recognise many names in the business, although there can't be many who haven't heard of Saatchi and Saatchi - the world's favourite advertising agency.

I'm a child of the 70s. There were three TV channels, and only one of those showed adverts. Before the days of 'record it and fast-forward through the ads' we had no choice but to watch them. TV advertising was so powerful in those days - one channel, a captive audience. Jingles and images stuck in the mind and became part of our everyday life.

There is a generation who when hearing the words 'Accrington Stanley', do not automatically think of a lowly football club. No, we think of milk, being drunk straight from the glass bottle by a kid wearing a football strip.  How many of us tried instant mashed potato for the first time and immediately broke out into maniacal laughter whilst jerking around in a strangely mechanical way and shouting 'for mash get smash'?  I was completely convinced that my Nana 'flew like a bird in the sky', purely because she ate Nimble bread.  I really thought that she had a hot-air balloon .... for those of you who just don't have a clue what I'm talking about ...... take a look;

There are programmes dedicated to old TV adverts. I've had endless nostalgic conversations with friends and family ...... .. 'hey, do you remember'   ...... 'what about ...' - we still know the jingles, we can act out the parts.  Whilst TV advertising can often still produce some amazing commercials, I doubt very much that any of the modern-day ads will feature so much when our younger generation start to look back on their life.

Dave Roberts is ad-obsessed and always has been. Not just TV advertising, but magazines, newspapers, trade press, bill boards and radio too. His ambition was to work for Saatchi and Saatchi and Sad Men is the story of how he tried to achieve that goal.

I have absolutely loved Sad Men. Dave Roberts is a good guy; he's sometimes made a few questionable decisions, but he's honest and his writing is so easy to read.  He has taken me on a pleasurable trip down memory lane, he's had me singing jingles that I've not heard for years. He has evoked memories of carefree, happy childhood days and he has made me laugh on quite a few occasions.

Despite the humour and the wealth of information about the advertising industry, there is an air of sadness and vulnerability in parts of his story, and it is his honesty about his disappointments and about where he thinks that he failed that made Sad Men such an enjoyable read for me.

Cheers to the author and the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Dave Roberts has been one of those annoying bike couriers, a security guard, a civil servant, a KFC chef who was fired for trying to steal a sample of the secret recipe, and a train driver - all before reaching the age of twenty. After that, he settled for a career in advertising, which was eventually cut short by illness, but not before accidentally winning a Silver Lion at Cannes. He now writes books, which all seem to have a theme in common: obsession .....

To find out more about Dave Roberts, and his books, visit his website
Follow him on Twitter @thebromleyboys 

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