The Denton Diaries: How a 65 year old intern prepares for his first day

The Denton Diaries: How a 65 year old intern prepares for his first day

Why is a 65 year old intern reporting for duty?

Mark Denton Esq., creative boss at COY! Communications, 47th most influential person in advertising and author of Unleash the Power of Puerility, has started as an intern at St Lukes Communications creative agency (aged 65). 

His first role in 1978 as art director at Leo Burnett took him then to BBH, followed by Lowe Howard-Spink and a number of other agency giants. Mark continued to make award-winning work throughout his long career, gaining experience in filmmaking and directing then starting his own agency in 2008.

Wanting to find out how advertising works now, he reached out on LinkedIn to talk to people about 'possibilities'. St Lukes responded with a unique position and Creative Moment is joining Mark on this enlightening journey.

At the start of 2022 I found myself at the ripe old age of 65.

There were no directing jobs booked and no production company representation.

The only logical course of action that I could see was to put out a post on social media offering my services to advertising agencies as an intern.

And to cut a long story short, that’s why I’m now the newest/oldest recruit at one of the most creative agencies in town—St.Luke’s. (Remember folks, it’s only for a month, please keep sending the scripts).

So why was I going back to work in an agency after nearly 30 years on the outside?

Well. I had questions. Lots and lots of questions.

I knew agency life had changed, I’d felt it in the pre-pre-pre-pre production meetings and on set.

But where I’d felt it most was at home in front of the telly with a remote control in my hand. 

Question number one: Why did I fast-forward through the ad breaks now? 

After all, I LOVE advertising.

The second burning question was, could an old bloke armed solely with a bag of Magic Markers and a layout pad be of any use to a modern agency?

So there I was, up at 5.00 am raring to go.

I’d already selected my first-day outfit the night before.

It was a bespoke grey suit with a red and white window-pane check that I laid on the bed along with a red velvet waistcoat. I’d picked a lilac silk hankie for the top pocket that matched the lining of the suit perfectly.

And to finish it off, my favourite combo—a white shirt and matching white tie.

After trying it all on and parading around in front of the mirror for a good ten minutes I decided it wasn’t right. 

I looked like the boss (or a grandad at a wedding).

I was the intern! Think tea-making and sending fax’s and stuff. I needed something much more practical.

So I plumped for my navy blue and orange ‘DENTON’ tracksuit top, my own label, custom made ‘Tweans (cut like jeans but made out of tweed) and teamed them with a sage polo neck and matching socks.

Subtle, yet I felt it captured the sentiment that I was going for which was ‘COO-EE, LOOK AT ME! I’ve arrived’.

It was my first day.

All of that piss-ballin’ about had made me late. I had to get there on time. I’m still a black cab fan. I find that the generous legroom minimises any undue stress on the trouser creases.

So I marched down to St Johns wood cab rank only to find it was empty.

Fortunately I was carrying my newly acquired old-person’s tube/bus pass, so with limited options, grudgingly, it had to be the Underground.

I was sweating a bit by the time I hit Charing Cross and a brisk march up the Strand did nothing to cool me down.

By the time I got to St. Luke’s I was grateful that I was only 4 minutes late. I was greeted in reception and given a pass that would let me into the building and into my office.

Only I didn’t have an office.

So that’s what the bright spark on Twitter meant when he said “The good news is you’ll get a massive office. The bad news is, everyone will be sitting in it”.

Although he wasn’t totally right because it was mostly empty. It seems that I didn’t read the email that explained how most people worked from home on a Monday.

You can’t blame me though. I probably hadn’t seen the email. The emails had been arriving for a few days and I now had quite a collection. On top of that there were tons of invitations to Zoom meetings. I just pressed ‘Accept’ on them all and hoped for the best.

After unpacking my markers and lining up my pencils I thought I’d better familiarise myself with the office equipment and most importantly, the kitchen.

I was very pleased to see that it wasn’t all lattes, flat whites and liquorice tea-bags. They had proper tea too!

Great news. I brewed up a cup and went to the fridge for a splosh of milk, only to find they’ve got almond milk, they’ve got hazelnut milk, they’ve got soya milk, they’ve got oat milk, they’ve got coconut milk and they’ve got pea milk—YES! Peas! In milk! What they haven’t got is any full-fat red top.

On further inspection I found some kind of milk for the lactose-intolerant. But sadly no sign of any milk for people who can’t tolerate anything but real milk in their tea.

I comforted myself with a complimentary packet of peanuts and decided to go home.

I’d been given the rare gift of having a second opportunity to make a first impression.

Yes, I’d be back on Tuesday, bang on time. Airforce blue gaberdine double-breasted jacket with complimentary tartan trousers. White shirt, white tie. Pint of milk.

To be continued...

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