Monday 09 October 2017

Tom Lawrence: diary from Manhattan (rooftops mainly)

This year I was lucky enough to be sent to NYC by AWARD School. The official trip was seven days, however I chose to extend it to allow for a week of unchaperoned fun in Brooklyn before the business end of the trip started. I won’t delve into the details of my first week as it involved a lot of new friends I can’t remember, way too much mexican food and not a lot of sleep. I did take a bunch of photos during this time, some of which you can see via my photography site.

I’d been in NYC for a few days when I got a message from Esther Clerehan, who came up with the idea for the trip, telling me that we were going to the Book of Mormon on Broadway. The tickets were very kindly bought for us by Ted Horton, an old colleague and campaign adversary of my dad’s during the 2007 federal election. I arrived at the Monkey Bar in Manhattan on Thursday night to meet Esther. She had arrived in town only hours earlier but I was definitely the one who looked worse for wear. After a recovery drink and a classic american burger we went to the show and had a great night.

On the Saturday I moved out of my apartment in Brooklyn and arrived at my Manhattan home, 50 Bowery, in the Lower East Side. The place was incredible and only a couple of months old. The first thing I did after setting down my bags was take out my AWARD portfolio and had a flip through. It was hard to believe that my semi-offensive scamps about simple children and Jesus turning wine into water got me here. I kept expecting someone to knock on my door and tell me there had been a terrible mistake and replace me with the real winner.

Wilf Sweetland, co-sponsor of the trip, arrived that night and we did our best to keep him awake with beers and noodles in Chinatown. We spent the rest of the weekend settling in, exploring the city and planning the huge week ahead. Obviously the major highlight of the trip was my day with David Droga. In case you missed it you can read about via Campaign Brief.

The week was an absolute whirlwind of meetings, dinners and drinks. Esther and Wilf had organised a massive line up of creatives for me to meet and I spent a lot of time running around a very hot NYC to catch them all. As well as all of the fantastic creatives at Droga 5 we met with Justine Armour at 72 and Sunny’s amazing offices in Brooklyn, former AWARD School winner Leo Premutico at Johannes Leonardo and Jordy Molloy and Toby Kennedy at Anomaly. Each of them graciously shaking my sweaty hand and talking to me about what they were up to in NYC.

On the Tuesday night I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Goodby. We sat at my rooftop hotel bar and spoke of just about everything aside from advertising. Throughout the week we spent a lot of time with Jeff who has to be one of the most humble, relaxed and friendly people I have met. Oh and he has his own tequila brand. Serious legend.

As the week went on by I met more fantastic people, many of whom were Australians who had previously done AWARD School. We met John McKelvey from John X Hannes at the iconic Balthazar bistro, Mark Carbone at BBDO, Sarah Barclay from JWT who was another AWARD School winner, Casey Schweikert from BBH, Chris Northam and Annie

Egan from RGA and Suyin Sleeman over at Edelman. Almost all of them joined a huge contingent of Aussies who came to our hotel on Thursday for rooftop drinks which was organised by Esther and Wilf. The night began with a bit of comedy as Mother Nature finally decided that the warm weather we had enjoyed all week was over and we were really not meant to be outside, with gale force winds sending napkins, drinks and Wilf’s suit jacket flying over Chinatown. Undefeated, we shuffled inside to continue a great night. It was great watching Jeff Goodby and David Droga chat to each other and everyone else.

Jeff had mentioned that he was slightly worried at the thought of drinking with a group of Australians but we (well most of us) were on our best behaviour. The trip was coming to a close but I had one more day in me. On Friday I went to meet Nick Law at R/GA. The 800 person strong, two storey office was seriously incredible and after a tour we sat down for a chat. Nick had done an inspiring impromptu lecture at

AWARD School this year so I felt lucky to able to pick his brain one on one. Another legend at the top of his game, Nick was as kind and helpful as everyone I had met. After our talk Nick introduced me to CEO and founder of R/GA, Bob Greenberg. I decided it would be good to bring up the Ducati collection I saw downstairs in his office. I then stood in fear as he talked about them hoping he wouldn’t ask me anything about motorcycles. I do not know anything about motorcycles.

That night I celebrated a fantastic week with a final drink with the team and that was that. A week in New York done right. Writing this now I’m still spinning trying to process everything that happened and can’t thank everyone that was involved enough. It’s still hard to believe that I deserved it.

I guess I am still waiting for that knock at the door.

Recent news