October 2020


I worked for the North East of England’s biggest and best modelling agency for a couple of years.

Tyne Tees Models.

Not as a model of course.

(I know that will come as a surprise to you).

But as a Brand Strategist.


I worked with founder Lesley.

To home in on the magic of the brand.

Then to develop the outward narrative and messaging for the brand.

Then brand and campaign slogans.


I wanted the brand to be brave.

Because Lesley’s brilliant business had been going for 25 years and, I thought, deserved growth.

(And bravery.

On my watch.

Brings that).

Specifically, I thought that more agencies in the south of England should book these northern models.

Because so many southern brands used the same old southern models.

Over and over.

And from that thought.

We developed strategies and campaigns to give us the ‘in’.


I pushed Lesley to be brave.

So here are some of the ideas that did run.

And one that didn’t.

Tyne Tees Models. 

The Tyne Tees Models Slogan, which we trademarked.



It’s a double entendre.

Of course models are more often than not striking in some way.

So you look.

But this also homes in on the actual job of a modelling agency.

To raise awareness of the client brand.

To make the client’s customers look.



We also developed this line:

Matching Models to Missions since 1984.

Because Tyne Tees Models are sure about what they are for.

They really do match the best model to the precise client mission.

What I mean is.

Lesley’s models don’t just turn up and stand there.

The Beautiful North.

Then we developed a simple, memorable and slightly disruptive campaign called:

The Beautiful North.

(A riff on The Beautiful South).

This was designed to catch the eye of the southern agencies.

To get Tyne Tees Models noticed.

To make the southern agencies smile a little, too.

It looked great.

Too Far?

But is there such a thing as going too far?

Is there such a thing as being too outrageous with business communications?

My job is to get my clients noticed.

To start conversations.

To help my clients to stand out.

And maybe by being a little outrageous along the way, too.

It’s hard to find ‘the line’.

And harder still to cross it.

But I did find (and cross) the line with Lesley.

Thick and Thin. 

Tyne Tees Models is truly different.

They really do:

Match Models to Missions.

They’re commercially driven.

And the range of models they have is huge.

Many Tyne Tees Models models don’t look like models.

(That’s the point).

And I wanted to start a conversation about unusual looking and commercially aware models.

I wanted to subvert the traditional ideas of what a model was.

And I wanted to do this with a Direct Mail campaign to southern agencies.

Those that booked models.

On the cover of the direct mail I wanted there to be an attractive, slim model.

With the headline:

Thick and Thin.

That was all.

An eye-catching, daring and self-depreciating perception around models and the modelling sector.

A conversation starter.

Something arresting so that I could then lead the conversation very quickly to subvert the stereotype and say how TTM did things differently.

We’re not thick.

(We understand your marketing and brand building).

And we’re not all thin.

(We have a huge range of real-world models).

It never ran.

And I do understand why.

But I am glad I did this.

Because I pushed to ‘the line’.

The Line.

I’d encourage you to push for the line, too.

To be brave.

It’s part of our jobs as creative communicators to do that.

It’s our jobs to make clients feel uneasy sometimes.

Because in an over communicated world that’s very often what you have to do to get noticed.

So have fun!

Keep organisational objectives and strategy in mind.

But most off all.

Do be brave.

50odd is stuttering right now.

Because the world.

(And my world).

Is stuttering right now, too.


There’s Covid of course.

But I’m also moving house.

And we’ve relaunched Always Wear Red, ANGELFYSH and mychael this year.

(By choice of course.

‘Not complaining).

The result is 50odd is not being written every day.

So it’s not being sent every day.

And where I’d normally deep-dive into something emotional or ‘thinky’ with 50odd.

Three or four times a week.

Current I am not.

The 50-odd Project.

The 50-odd project is still on though.

I will still write 3,650 stories.

1 story each day.

For 10 years.

(I’m 2 years in).

I’m just a few days behind .

November 2020

So please stay with me.

Things will stabilise as we move through November.

I’ll catch up and fill the gaps.

And 2021 will be good.

I’m exploring a 50odd book.

And a 50odd club.

Both of them for you and people like you.

So thank you for being involved so far.

See you soon.

Twitter is not the world.

Twitter is mostly the noise and bluster of a moany few.

With a tiny sprinkling of useful insights and conversations.


I follow a handful of clever brand people and friends on Twitter.

They make me smile.

And they make me think.

And I occasionally pop to the dark side too.

To see what’s trending.

And since 10% of all Twitter users generate 80% of the content.

And 80% of the 10% that generate content are mad.

It comes as a relief to me.

And to you I hope.

To remember.

That Twitter.

Is not.

The world.


In the early days of newness.

We spend our time exploring.

Because things are uncertain.


And raw.


And in the glory days of success.

We spend our days controlling.

Because things are to be protected, now.




And that’s the irony.

It is for me.

Because in the early days of newness.

I crave success.

And in the glory days of success.

I crave exploration.

Little Wonder.

So it is little wonder I get distracted.

It is little wonder I get restless.

And little wonder that I sometimes can’t find peace where I am right now.

I need to think about this.

And work on this.

What about you?

I suppose I just wanted to write the headline.

Whale Catches Train.

It’s not unique.

Other people wrote it too, I think.

But I wrote it anyway.

Whale Catches Train.

A Dutch Metro train crashed through the barrier at the end of elevated tracks in Spijkenisse this week.

Near Rotterdam.

It was caught by a whale tail sculpture.

And saved from tumbling downward.


Take a look:

Push further.

If you can.

(And you’ll definitely know if you can).


I interviewed a nice guy this week.

A recent graduate.

Mid-range results so no superstar.

But he was polite.


And articulate.


He had no experience.

In fact he’d not done exactly what I wanted him to do before, ever.

But that’s OK.

Because he said he’d do his best and see how we got on.

He had (some) transferable skills.

And he was keen.

Two Weeks. 

He offered to work two weeks or  more for free.

Which was nice of him.

I said no to that.

But since the work I wanted him to do was totally fresh to him.

I did say that him dedicating up to one week of his time at no fee was the the best for him and me.


As it happens.

A day or two later.

Another chap popped onto my radar that did have experience.

This new guy fell short in one or two other areas, as it goes.

So they were pretty much neck-and-neck.

Gut Feeling.

In the end.

I chose the second guy.

I thought it was gut feeling.

But actually – it wasn’t.

It was this.

Blogs and Podcasts.

When I met the first guy.

(The one I ended up saying ‘no’ to).

I asked him if he’d read the blogs on the Always Wear Red website.

Of course, he could have said:


All 18.

I particularly liked the one about the labels.

They’re lovely.

But instead he said.


I read a few.

And I also has asked him about our 20 minute long podcasts.

If he’d listened to them.

Again, he could have said:


All 6.


Rojin interviews you well.

But instead he said:


I listened to two I think.

Anything and Everything.

If I want something.

Really want something, I mean.

I do anything and everything I can to get it.

The interesting thing here is that.

At the time I interviewed the first guy.

(The one I ended up saying ‘no’ to).

The fact that he had only looked at ‘a few’ of my blogs and had listened to ‘I think two’ of my podcasts was not a big deal really.

But it became a big deal.

It became a big deal firstly because a stronger competitor entered the arena.

And it became a big deal because secondly – well – because he’d not shown me that he’d done anything and everything he could to get something that he (apparently) really wanted.

And that stuck with me.

Push Further. 

If you really want something.

Push further.

If you can.

(And you’ll definitely know if you can).

I remember when I heard this for the first time.

I was 28.

Grown up.

It didn’t sound like music to me in 1996.

It sounded like a story.

And I remember it making me feel a little lost.

I remember thinking I was too old to be properly seduced by the drink and the drug themes.

(I never took drugs at all until I was 30.

So I was wrong about that.

But that’s another story).

And I also remember thinking I was too young to properly appreciate the sophistication of the work itself.


Now I’m older.

I realise that I am always too young for something.

And too old for something else.

We all are.

I suppose the trick is.

(And always was).

Finding out what we’re all just right for.

Right now.


The first winner of The Mercury Prize was in 1992.

Primal Scream for Screamadelica.

Then Suede

M People.

And then Portishead for Dummy.

Badly Drawn Boy in 2000.

The xx in 2010.

Michael Kiwanuka in 2020.

The Mercury Prize.

It is the music equivalent to the Booker Prize for literature and the Turner Prize for art.

The main objectives of the Prize are to recognise and celebrate artistic achievement, provide a snapshot of the year in music and to help introduce new albums from a range of music genres to a wider audience.


Here are all the winners:

And here are the 2020 judges:

I was most selfish in my thirties.

Not nasty selfish.

Focused selfish.


It was a raw selfishness.

A selfishness that led to neglected siblings.

Neglected friends.

A neglected mother.

Neglected relationships.

And probably more besides.


I was achieving, you see.

I was growing my first proper businesses.

I was afraid of failing.

And because I was doing a whole load of things for the first time.

Simple things took longer.

So to get the results I wanted.

I had to work harder.

Harder than I’d have to do now to get the same results

Because I have more experience now.

But I was young back then.

And inexperienced.

The Selfish Thirties. 

I see this now.

A mirror of me.

How I was.

I see it in people in their twenties occasionally.

And in their thirties much more often.

The Selfish Thirties.

And I just wanted to say that it may be worth pausing from time to time.

If you sense that this is you.

Or if you sense that this is someone you know.

Because The Selfish Thirties.

Like all decades.

They fly by

And I actually don’t think that selfishness or success are an either-or choice.

I think you can have both.

So check yourself.

Check your siblings.

Check your friends.

Check your parents.

Check your relationships.

Then check yourself.

Because The Selfish Thirties are real.

And they needn’t be.