24 Hours with… Blak Labs’ Charlie Blower

24 Hours With... spotlights the working day of some of the most interesting people in Asia’s marketing and media landscape. Today, we hear about a day in the life of Charlie Blower, co-founder and managing partner of independent agency Blak Labs

6:45am: My body clock wakes me early from years of the school run. My alarm clock tells me I have a few more minutes before I need to get up. Big stretch and a few thankful thoughts about where I am and what I have ahead of me today.

7:00am  BeeepBeeepBeeepBeeeep! Momo, the dog, excitedly greets me. She waits for her morning backrub. Breakfast with my iPad and a quick tour of the world news on Straits Times Digital, BBC and the Guardian. No major disasters – thank goodness. Time for my morning stretches before I head to the office.

9.00am  Buggered by Grab again. That’s the third time they’ve cancelled on me. Try Uber. In spite of their dodgy GPS, these guys turn up. Lucky it’s not raining, and I don’t have an early meeting… otherwise, I would be getting antsy.  En route, my 24 hours with Mumbrella starts to take shape. As I write, I wonder whether anyone will read… answers on a postcard, please.

10:00am We start rehearsing for a big presentation this afternoon. The submission was made a few days ago, and we’ve been shortlisted. One other team has the opportunity to present. So it’s time to polish our pitch to the board before the day gets crazy.

11.13am  The rehearsal is interrupted by a WhatsApp message: do you have time to talk about a new opportunity? Yes, we’re pretty much done with the run-through, so we wrap up with a last minute equipment check, and agree a time to leave.

11.17am  The message turns into a reassuring call about our capabilities with a potential client – everything from activation to digital development to content creation. I run through our set up – a tight team of senior creatives providing counsel across the business, end-to-end on projects, listening and advising with creative care. It’s worked for the last seven years – why change a winning recipe? 

12.00pm I gather my partners around the boardroom table to ensure we’re all up for the opportunity.  It’s great having your partners/shareholders within earshot – decisions are quick. We’re good to go.

12.30pm Lunch is a sandwich from home – ham and cheese with Branston pickle today.  I flick through the daily newsletters from Mumbrella, Campaign Brief Asia, etc.  There’s usually something that catches my eye. Today, Dave Trott on Disruption vs. Interruption. Have a read and learn from one of the best. Time for coffee.

2.00pm  We gather the laptops, projector, name cards, etc. and head out for the pitch.  After about 90 seconds, any composure is scorched away by the heat on the street. We’re glad when a taxi finally decides to stop for us – AIRCON!

2.30pm We’re now safely set up in the boardroom, with magnificent views over MBS and Gardens by the Bay. While we take selfies and panoramas, the door opens and in walk the clients. Oops! Luckily, they appreciate that not everyone gets as good a view as them. Introductions are made. Name cards exchanged. Seats taken. Everyone sitting comfortably?

3.20pm The presentation ends early – including questions. We know everyone’s busy – especially at board level. They want fast and easy to understand. So they can get back to running the business. That’s why we try and keep the ideas big, simple and memorable. That way, they’ll remember Blak Labs as the guys who deliver.

4ish I play catch up on my emails before it’s time for the regular catch up with our Myanmar creative leader.

5.00pm is 3.30pm  in Yangon. The team is attending a new credit card launch this evening. The work looks fantastic, done in record time and on a budget that makes my eyes water. The clients seem to be happy if a little nervous about the evening’s event. Fingers crossed.

6.00pm Time for a Blak Labs ritual. The weekly wine shot is a chance to celebrate the end of the week and thank our clients and team for their contributions. I fire up Instagram and the social interweb to post the pic, complete with dodgy typography courtesy of yours truly. Comments and likes start to roll in.

8:00pm  I finally get home for dinner with my wife and daughter. We talk through what my daughter has been up to. Job hunting prior to her summer travels before uni. And after she’s left for drinks with her friends, my wife and I talk about our plans for the weekend.

9.40pm  As we chat, WhatsApp lights up with pics from the event in Yangon. They’ve really pushed the boat out. There’s a great pic of the team with the Chairman – all in black, naturally. And queues of people signing up for the new credit card. It looks like it was a success. Phew!

10:30pm After a quick look at the Giro/ODI, it’s time to head upstairs to Netflix and chill. A documentary on minimalism… the antithesis of what we do. Perfect.



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