Scene of the Crime

If we are the architects of our destiny, why do we knowingly subject ourselves to such torture rather than head straight for the sublime? There’s no avoiding it anymore… I’ve been summoned to a performance review with my heart and, before the verdict is delivered, I think I owe it my sincerest apology. Encouragement is not always the best way forward, clearly.

It is hard not to goad the giddy and ignite entitlement to joy. But it’s not just me – this heart can be a problem child too. Like someone who grew up according to the rules and then discovered all the pleasures and temptations a little later than normal and hasn’t stopped to catch his breath since. And this brain? Not much better. Like the evermore School Monitor whose advice – although often true – is not always invited.

Still, an apology and a little more listening are in order. They do, after all, both speak the same language. And… rather than continuously returning to the scene of the crime, it’s time to return to the Light. To diffuse the chaos around that happiness-delay and not expect this duty to rest with another.

Ritu Ghatourey says that we wait all week for Friday, all year for Summer and all life for Happiness. We do… but… why wait?


© Dylan Balkind


Being silent to me is not the same as when you observe silence with me…
Passion that thrives in inebriation should survive sobriety.
Talking at me is not the same as talking with me,
“Sea fog comes like a river rolls a stone, it’s rolling me…”

© Dylan Balkind

Who do you think you are?

Originally written for and published on
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What’s your take on some of the fancy-pants titles doing the rounds on the circuit currently? Happiness Advocate. Social Media Trailblazer. Head Cheese. Digital Dynamo. Copy Cruncher. I can’t decide. I’ve been called a pain in the arse but hey, that’s not on my email signature or the cards in my wallet. Obviously, as a complete stick in the mud and advocate of all things old-school conservative, I find veering from the norm in any shape or form completely ludicrous. That aside – if I were to challenge myself to stretch a little – I’d still have to question the merit of some of these new offerings.

Mad Men (Season 5)Wacom Wunderkind? PowerPoint Prodigy? The list is long. But listen pal, if you’re calling yourself a PowerPoint Prodigy, you need to sit down and face the front. There’s no need for that kind of ostentatious behaviour in a creative industry like ours. These new clever descriptors to describe your business prowess have birthed a tricky trend.

Tricky because not all trends are supposed to stick. Look at Mara Louw on Idols.

In fact, look at Idols.

Your email signature that lists you as the organisation’s Dynamic Paradigm Facilitator is very exciting – to you and maybe one other daffodil on the planet (your Gran). Then you take it to the next level and hit the town talking about it to anyone who will listen. Creepy. It smacks of trying too hard to be cool and we all know what happens when you do that. Well not me, obviously, but most people.

Not convinced?

These are some very real and active titles in the mix right now.

  • “Erection Engineer.” Mm… I plead the fifth.
  • “Mighty Eagle.” Penned for the creator of Angry Birds. *cough*
  • “Swiss Army Knife.” This is a Web Developer. I’m lost. 
  • “Social Media Rockstar.” Because if you believe this to be rocket science, the title matters.
  • “IT Pro Evangelist.” Because it takes a lot of skilled preaching to advise people to reboot.
  • “Director of Intrusion Detection.” If you can guarantee NO rain spiders, sure – have the title.
  • “Kingpin of Financial Trading & …” Yawn… I could do with a manni…

It’s all about context

obn br 2Some titles and name badges are best kept for agency drinks on a Friday. Internal company relations are such a powerful forum for team morale and a great place to boost that wunderkind who genuinely doesn’t expect that he is a wunderkind. It doesn’t mean you have to change his job title, redesign his brand within yours and reprint his business cards (if you’re still doing that). It means that you have a fantastic opportunity to create an internal culture that is unique to those who eat, sleep and breathe the organisation – internally. It doesn’t have to match how you project yourself to your clients based on the services you’re selling. It also tells your team that you know them and that you’ve seen and heard the parts of their personalities that make them unique.

Pass begin. Forget the R200.

Here’s the thing: if you start convincing your impressionable team that these swank new titles are cool, they will start putting them on their CVs. And to move on with something like Erection Engineer is like having a wine-fuelled brainwave at 2am and expecting the ‘artful’ scamp you drew to wow your audience come presentation time. So I’ve heard.

Think about that CV landing on top-shop hot-shot’s desk with the title that got you so excited you actually wet yourself. He/she won’t agree. Promise. It’s like Romy & Michelle’s ‘…we invented post-its…’. It’s awkward and it’s creepy – and so is your dodgy job title.

Director of first impressions

Ergo, don’t take yourself too seriously. There must be a way to keep the spirit light while you keep people thinking but while being clear about the difference between what’s smart versus what’s simply stupid. Unlike one tepid who took all this very seriously and complained to the ASA about Johannesburg calling itself a World Class African City. It wasn’t me. So don’t get me wrong: I do believe in the value of titles. They are important for defining goals, accomplishments and a structure within the organization – even if yours professes to embrace a flat one. If for nothing other than for process-driven deliverables, they certainly have their place. Still, it doesn’t have to be brain science, but if you insist on frolicking with the flowery options of (en)titlement, changing your title as often as your mood swings is easy. Simply log onto and have a ball.

Dylan Balkind | Director of Chaos

obn br 3

PS: What do you think of these new titles? Smart? Or stupid?
© Dylan Balkind


These numbers grow. Others join at the front of this line labeled admirers. More eyes follow. More hearts treat the beat and this cuts a strut through an urge I thought was over. Sometimes not having something means no one else is allowed to have it either.

Lamed Aleph Vav

This phone screams in the silence that is hers. It is annoyed. Frayed… and unfulfilled in feeling unfulfilled. From here I can hear the silent roar at mirrors that may no longer confirm she is the fairest of them all.

Lamed Kaf Bet

The universe and all in it since this known forever have amassed much sage advice. Be true to yourself. Be kind to others. Listen to your body. You only live once. Dance. And… sometimes… it’s not a bad thing to look behind you.

Ayinh Lamed Mem


© Dylan Balkind

Advertising can be so Gay

Originally written for and published on
For engagement details, click here

It really is a fine time to be gay. The world’s getting its rainbow on more than ever despite some insistent folks who aren’t that happy about it. But, if you’re part of the Westboro Baptist Church and genuinely believe the gays to be the evil you claim, your problems are a little bigger than myself and my mincing ilk.

From Hurricane Sandy to Oscar Pistorius’ murder story, religious fanatics everywhere are blaming homosexuality for all sorts of malarkey. American Republican Michele Bachmann is having her own flap because of the abolishment of the Defence of Marriage Act; the land of the free is now the home of the gays, and what with what’s happening in Russia and the rest of Africa, we’re in the limelight now more than ever.

Commercially, this is big business and the ever-growing gay market is estimated to be worth $835 billion. Homosexuality in Advertising and Marketing is alive and well. This doesn’t mean that everyone in the agency model is gay (and now that I know this, I have to seriously question my career path), but it means that everyone is okay with it, because to legitimise this audience offers bonus opportunities for brands through an endorsement or a communication storyline.

The position these brands take (if at all) is a bold one. There’s business to be won and lost either way. The Chick-fil-A case in the States is a remarkable one that exploded because of the company’s chairman making clear his vehement opposition to the debate around marriage-equality. The backlash was enormous and business couldn’t have been good. Oh well… You win some, you lose some.

What’s more important to me are the brands willing to stand for a kinder message – and how big of a surprise some of them are: the Royal Dutch Football Association for example. Who would have thought?

There’s always the risk that someone without the chops or the know-how has a bash at it though and goes a little far. This spot for Toronto’s Gay Rugby Team has potential and then loses steam because while talking about challenging stereotypes, falls straight into one.

Still, it’s great to see that the subject matter is being covered with well-produced content. But for the relevance to resonate, I believe it’s more about the articulate subtlety in the story and how powerful this is for an audience who – in my lifetime still – will always and in some way be looking for acceptance.

I’m not here to force the issue. I wouldn’t say we need the gay version of every straight commercial out there. Noeleen going to that fancy schmancy institute to do that research for Ariel has saved us so much time, don’t put us down for a gay version of that one. And anyway, it would just be painful and very, very boring. But I am for more of the good ones. It would corroborate the work being done by shows like Glee, The New Normal and Modern Family. Shows that teach kids about how different we all are – and how cool that really is.

Advertising plays a very powerful part in the choices we make and our attitudes around them. In a country (and world) with so many closeted issues when it comes to tolerance, do you think we could help make them better?

© Dylan Balkind

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