16 May 2007

The joy of off-sites…

Back in the good old days, an off-site was simply a day off work and the chance to slag off your boss to his or her over-paid face. Sitting through three hours of dull presentations was the price you paid for loads of free booze and half a chance of a fumble with a new grad.

Doubtless a lot of this still goes on but, inspired by some misguided 2.0 thinking, they have also become recruitment adverts.

For example, Golin Harris (new website, I think) thought it would be just crazy to upload the highlights of its recent off-site (to Rome, no less!) to YouTube.

While doubtless it’s fun and entertaining internally, is it really a good idea to post this type of stuff publicly?

Yes, of course it is! Because then we get to see it.

On the other hand, does it not undermine much hard won gravitas? I mean, fancy a client of yours seeing you in your swimming cossie..? As one YouTube commenter puts it, "That's it Golin. Dignity's for the weak! Live the dream!"

Still, let’s not get too serious. The duet from joint MDs Jon Hughes and Matt Neale is beautifully toe-curling (0:53-1:00), as is the ‘you are the one’ section (1:58-2:04).

Actually, maybe it’s not a recruitment advert, but a tactic for driving new business. Lots of cavorting girls in skimpy clothes, boys with their man boobs on display…monthly meetings would be very entertaining. And Lord knows, the ‘for my love’ girl (2:12) would be welcome to my budget any day of the week…

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh.my.god. Spare a thought for these poor people - not only do they have to sacrifice their weekend for the company 'away day' but their company thinks it would be a 'great idea' to make this cringe-worthy video.

In all seriousness though - who actually wants to spend their weekned with their work colleagues (9-8 is quite enough, thanks), let alone being filmed leaping around 'having so much fun' in their swimming costume.

So forced, so false. No one wants to do this type of thing, why do PR companies always think it's such a 'great idea'?

PaulW said...

In all seriousness Anonymous - lighten up, just because your agency took you to a hut in Wales and made you brainstorm a new format for monthly reports.

Fun? For Free? With colleagues? In Rome? Perish the thought.

Anonymous said...

Here here - Plus, it displays an excellent use of client money and surely just galvanizes the assumption that all PR's do is sit around with their bare-feet up on a table reading magazines and blogs all day...

SpiderJ said...

You missed that this is actually the SECOND video they posted to YouTube. They did one of their trip to Palma last year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGauU7je7dk

So, as far as a recruiting video goes, the take-away is that if you join GH then you'll have to take part in one of these bloody things EVERY YEAR.

Although thankfully for their trip to Rome they ditched the matching T-Shirts and matching red Baywatch-esque swimsuits.

Can someone explain why they went to Palma to spend time inside on exercise bikes?

And why the only shot of their two black employees is a couple of seconds of them doing some sort of 'tribal' dance?

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, you sound quite angry. Perhaps you need to work at a new company?

We actually went away during the week!

Matt

....the world's leading.... said...

To be honest, I think it's credit to the GH lads that they've retained a little old school PR excess...I remember when this sort of thing was one of the reasons that young thrusting (all too literally, sometimes) PR types would choose one agency over another.

In its early days, Text 100, for instance, used to take the whole company skiing. Not a bad little perk for some who'd have been hard-pressed to pay for a skiing trip themselves (given they generally pissed their salaries up the wall every month...)

Anonymous said...

SpiderJ, the 'tribal dance' you refer to is quite clearly the "running man".

Claire

Anonymous said...

The man boobs boys look pretty buff to me

Anonymous said...

As much as the vid makes me cringe, TWL is right. There are too many sub one hour lunches with mineral water going on these days. I didn't join the PR industry to work my arse off without getting smashed as often as possible too!

Bring it on!! Just don't video it...

Anonymous said...

Actually, let's go back a few comments...what exactly is this 'tribal dance' referred to? Does somebody need to take dance lessons to know the difference?

PaulW said...

"an excellent use of client money"

How do you know GH's clients paid for this? The days of smuggling through piss-ups on client time are long, long gone.

As for the accusation of this reinforcing the stereotype of PR...please. Let's cut the fun out now then. If we're going to be judged as liggers and lazy simply because we work in an industry that's had an image issue over the years then we'd better make sure we don't give anyone the ammo to use against us. The Xmas bash is cancelled, team drinks are now a Nescafe on the sofa...actually scrap the sofa, far to chilled, bring back plastic chairs, oh, and hessian shirts to remind ourselves that press releases about 130 Terabyte storage arrays AREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE FUN.

Good on GH for treating the team to a great time in one of Europe's most beautiful cities and good on em for having the nouse to use it as a great advertisement for agency.

Judge people on their results and achievements and cheer up.

Anonymous said...

One more thing Anonymous, who says that it was forced anyhow? PRs... posing for a video. Do you really think we would need a gun held to our heads for this? Think not.

SpiderJ said...

Did anyone at Text 100 ever actually go on a skiiing trip? I remember it being talked about when they were hiring (as well as a company meeting where the purchase of a 'company ski chalet' was mooted) - but it always seemed to be just over the next hill, as it were.

Having said that, Text 100 did do a remarkable effort for it's World Service event at some big posh country manor one year. I think the surrounding countryside must have been completely emptied of any hard drugs, the bar was drunk dry (mainly by an Ozzie, and another guy who we had to force to throw up before his liver died), and the swimming pool could have been used to create test tube babies the amount of shagging that was going on in it. The piece de resistance was the Office Manager found naked, face down in the hallway one morning. Oh, and the knob-measuring going on at the front of the coach on the way home. Strange to think that almost everyone from then is now married with kids.

Re: tribal dance/running man - I'll take your word for it... still looks a bit odd to me

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous...stop hating for a second and lighten up!

Anonymous said...

Ah bless, look at all the Golly Harries on here sticking up for themselves.

Mwah mwah air kisses!!!!

Anonymous said...

SpiderJ - as the reigning dancefloor queen at GolinHarris, I am more than willing to give you a dance lesson, starting of course with the basics. Given that you seem to think that any dance by a person of African origin is 'tribal', it doesn't surprise me that you failed to recognise one of the biggest dance crazes of the 80s.

Anonymous said...

As a GH client, I am pleased that my team has had some time out. They deserve it, they've certainly earned it.

Anonymous said...

Many laughs re. anon 5.18 - that is so another Golly Harrier posing (again!) but this time as a 'client'.

....the world's leading.... said...

You're such a cynic...

Anonymous said...

Have to say I am staggered by how into extra-curricula work stuff you lot are! I genuinely cannot think of anything (well, not many things anyway!) worse than giving up my weekend for some contrived work bonding session.

Honestly, I am in no way miserable - I love TWL, how could I be miserable!! But I for one have many interests beyond work, barely a free weekend in the year, and would just hate this type of thing!

Fair dos if the GH lot love it - each to their own!

Anonymous said...

Listen anonymous chap or chapess - in response to your earlier comment, those posts by GH are clearly attributed by us and we've put our name down/and or said we're from GH.
Bob GH.

Andrew Smith said...

Off sites have been a staple of agency life for years. And let's face it, after a few drinks, everything seems like fun - its just having to do all that presentation stuff the following morning at 8am with the mother of all hangovers.

Back in the boom days at Brodeur A Plus, we had a number of foreign jaunts - flying the entire company of 50 odd people for a long weekend in New York was probably the zenith of achievement in this area. US immigration took a dim view to me not filling out the visa waiver form properly (my ability to get the pen in those tiny little boxes probably impaired by my enjoyment of the in-flight drinks).

And what about all those glorious team building exercises you get to do? Like handing everyone a video camera and a bunch of clothes and props - with the idea you film spoof movie scenes.

I live in mortal dread of somebody, somewhere uploading a clip of me dressed as a cowboy and doing a very camp impersonation of Alan Bennett....

Hey, you had to be there.

Anonymous said...

And as Matt pointed out earlier, we went away midweek and did not give up a weekend at all. I have very little free time this year, as my other half lives abroad and I spend most of my weekend time over the water with her.
Bob GH

PaulW said...

Anon 5:26, you'll notice that this took place "In the week", that's Mon-Fri, 9-5, During the Dolly's, (made that one up).

I blame all those away days at London agencies, all play, no work. See what happens when you start "rewarding staff" and "having fun". Quality of work is bound to suffer. Chain em to the desks I say. Make em read The Economist Style Guide...test em on "Crossing The Chasm", whatever you do don't send em to Rome.

BTW, I'm not GH. Honest, no really, honest.

Anonymous said...

Bob GH, fair dos mate - I'm more than willing to admit my view has been changed, and cheesy though your vid is, it sounds as if GH might actually do things slightly differently to some other 'leading' agencies.

Anonymous said...

From the looks of things it looked like a bloody good knees up. Lighten up. I'd hire them.

Loved Paul's comment by the way.

Anonymous said...

As someone who was also at that Text 100 World Service event in 1998, I'm afraid to say it's all true. It couldn't possibly be done again as the German office attendees were very very VERY offended. Not without cause. Give an Enlishman a few pints of lager and he can offend any nationality in the world, as was amply demonstrated that week. Ah, happy days. (Yes I married with kids now too).

Anonymous said...

"How do you know GH's clients paid for this?"

Hmm...are you suggesting that GH's revenue is derived from government funding / lotto grants for piss-ups?

All agency spending comes from client money - surely?

Anonymous said...

You're missing the point - off sites are brilliant. You get to fuck loads of birds and stuff, drink yourself stupid, show everyone your cock, etc - BUT if you're going to do a video AND make it public, do us all justice at come up with an effort vaguely creative. Shite, toe curling, 80s efforts like this don't do anyone any favours.

PS. Let's change the debate slightly... on the Palma video, who would you most like to fuck in the red costumes - the blonde or the brunette??? I'm thinking the blonde...

....the world's leading.... said...

I think you might have just ended the debate there...or perhaps you might just want to carry on with your one man mass debate...

See what I've done there..? Comedy genius...

Anonymous said...

To be fair - looks like they're up for a laugh. Just like any office really.

Anonymous said...

I am the blonde!!

Andrew Smith said...

Ever wondered why there always has to be a "business element" to these off-site jollies?

Because it means agencies treat the whole thing as a tax deductible business expense (though strictly, you should only be able to claim for the days/hours devoted to business - though most agencies claim the whole thing...) - if not, the Inland Revenue will tax it as a benefit - from the employee (given the cost of these things, I wonder how may employees would prefer to get paid a bit extra salary/bonus instead of ending up in a drunken heap with the receptionist).

One hears that the tax man is now starting to take a dim view of, ahem, these kind of events which are, let's face it, thinly disguised piss ups.

If the trend towards showing how little work is being done via YouTube videos, agencies better hope that the tax man isn't watching - and slapping them with an extra tax bill.

Also, you can't reclaim the VAT on restaurants, hotels, booze, etc - so best go for places with a low VAT rate. Better still, go somewhere where you bring your own chef and ingredients - cos you can claim the VAT back then.....

Anonymous said...

oh my... how boring is andrew smith...

Q said...

Rock on GH. Loving the Rome video. Those moves are up there with the Zoolander dance-off. Blue Steel my friends. Blue Steel.

Anonymous said...

BORING

Anonymous said...

Not much of an offsite if you have to fuck about for the entire time singing to someone with a camera!
Also - didn't realise Vic Reeves was working for GH - 2:10 in the Rome video.
I was at the Text 100 World Service event - and the one the previous year at some farm in the Netherlands - and everything you hear is true. That really was an off-site.
Kudos to the 2 who blagged a hot air balloon from Xerox to get them to the Text 100 Holland event - now that's true creativity!

Andrew Smith said...

Fair play - dull as ditchwater. I'll let you get back to the blonde/brunette (mass) debate.