Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Shoes and Socks in Amsterdam

By London-based SweeneyVesty EVP Glen Cameron, my frequent road manager. This time, adventures in Amsterdam.

There’s rarely a day in any week when we don’t receive interview requests for Kevin, particularly given his extensive travelling schedule across the world. Someone posts that he’s heading their way, and the requests start rolling in.

Unlike many global CEOs, Kevin doesn’t refuse requests based upon common PR standards, which is the reason he’s fun to work with. Of course, the vast majority are for daily newspapers, TV appearances, and marketing trade magazines, and they’re generally worthwhile, enjoyable, interesting for all parties.

However, every so often a request will appear that would likely be destined for the recycle bin elsewhere – but for Kevin, it’s a unique opportunity to say “Yes”.

Recently he did just that to a request from Viewpoint Productions’ Judith and Tamara. They’re shooting a documentary called “New Shoes” and took a punt at getting a global advertising CEO to stop by their house to talk about socks and consumerism over a table laden with herring (really). We walked there (Kevin knew the way and was able to do a pretty convincing job as tour guide.) As we arrived, the excited occupants of the canal side house were awaiting us, and what followed was the antithesis of a normal interview session. It was great fun.

Judith seemed to have left a space in her documentary for the advertising/consumerist to offer sound-bites to reinforce her theses. Sitting on the sofa, holding the afore mentioned pair of striped socks that had clearly caused Judith significant buyer’s remorse, Kevin spotted this immediately and set about avoiding the pigeon-hole. Questions were re-framed, turned back on the interviewer, filming was stopped for rapid ideological discussions in Dutch, camera operators exchanged, and slowly circled in on Judith’s central point: her regret at “having too much stuff”.

With perfect (comic) timing the response came straight back: “why don’t you give it away then?”
This seemed to prompt much soul searching. More philosophical discussion on the nature of consumerism, responsibility, desire, charity and humanity followed. You’ll have to look out for Judith de Leeuw’s “New Shoes” to see the final result.

We can’t wait to see it either, and thanks to Judith and Tamara for a unique opportunity. Good luck with all your “stuff”!

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