Dr Mumbo

Curiously Quiet Since 21 June 2016

Grey SingaporeI Sea appIf emails and calls go unanswered, it’s always best to try meet someone in person.

Particularly if they are deliberately trying to avoid you.

So Dr Mumbo thought he’d pop around to the offices of Grey Singapore this afternoon to see how things are going since it emerged that a brilliant app the agency came up with to save stranded refugees in the Mediterranean turned out to be fake.

If you were imagining the office to be filled with demonic cackling awards junkies, well, not quite.

It’s just a normal advertising agency, with a bad carpet and a pool table, full of normal advertising people (actually, only half full – maybe the rest are in the South of France). Here’s the view of the agency through the lobby window.

Grey Singapore

However, there were a few things about it that might strike the casual visitor as ironic given what’s just happened.

First, is the large sign in the lobby that makes it seem that this agency does nothing more than do work for Cannes (which doesn’t feel far from the truth given Grey Singapore’s heavily publicised efforts this year to teach Bombay slum kids to read, prevent Malaysians from getting dengue with suped-up umbrellas, and so on).

This Cannes tribute, to celebrate their triumph of being the “Best performing [Singapore] agency of the year” at the festival in 2015 (for breakthrough work such as an iodised bindi) takes up an entire wall of the lobby.

Cannes Lions

The agency does seem to like awards rather a lot, come to think of it. They are everywhere, occasionally interrupted by a piece of art.

Grey awards

Another irony is the agency slogan emblazoned on the glass lobby wall.

Famously effective

If Grey Singapore wasn’t famous before this week, it is now. Although probably not in the way its founders Larry Valenstein and Arthur Fatt hoped it would be back in 1917.

And effective? There might be some refugees in the Mediterranean who wish it was.

Dr Mumbo is unsure what to make of the bowing red man, but takes it to be a symbol of service (presumably for real clients not imaginary ones).

Grey Singapore lobby

Anyway, after sitting in the lobby for 20 minutes or so, it turned out that the elusive person had just that minute “stepped into a meeting” and wouldn’t be able to come out, even “to say hello”, at any point in time.

Funny that.

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