In this episode, I interview Jeremy Angel, who’s been a client of mine since 2009.
Jeremy just moved from running fancydress.com to the film and costume department of the business. It’s a huge change, and one which he’s diving right into. We discuss this development, as well as the current celebrations surrounding Angels being in business for 175 years, and his father’s contributions to the business as well as his work elsewhere.
Oh, and they recently won a BAFTA, which is pretty impressive. It’s a fascinating podcast and I demand you listen to it immediately (or when it’s most convenient).
Jon: Welcome to another edition of Positive Chats. This week I talked to one of my oldest clients; not in age, but the time we’ve worked together. His name is Jeremy Angel, part of the Angel’s Family. They’ve been in business 175 years so I have a lot to learn from him because I’ve worked with my brother for nearly six years now. We talk about all manner of things and it’s well worth tuning in. I hope you enjoy it so let’s get going.
Okay, I’m here with Jeremy Angel who’ve, I’ve just remarked, I’ve been in business with in total longer than I have my brother which is an interesting one, who also is in a family business.
Jeremy: I’ve been in business longer with my brother longer than you’ve been in business. Yes, 2009, that’s a long, long time.
Jon: I’ve just looked at an email from me to Jeremy.
Jeremy: ‘Jon suggested this but he wasn’t too keen on it but thought he’d suggest it anyway just in case we look at it. What do you think?’
Jon: Are you happy or sad that the machine gun of emails has ended?
Jeremy: Messenger killed us. I think I explained to you at the time probably more during the day than I spoke to my fiancée. Even if it was just a silly thing. That was good fun.
Jon: How long have you been in this role then?
Jeremy: I’ve been at Angels now seven years; my previous role probably five or six years, so never the management type thing; in fact I didn’t come straight here as a manager so I moved up, so yes probably about five years previous role.
Jon: And now you’re moving. Do you want to give a bit of a background of what that was and now what you’re moving into because it’s a big change.
Jeremy: It’s a huge change. Everything I know I’ve just been basically told to just go, “Yes, that’s great. Forget it. Can you ask someone who can do your job?” And then you have to sit in the meetings and listen to him basically pick apart… no, it’s not. It feels that way.
So my previous role; my title hasn’t changed yet; it’s still Creative Director. The Director bit is the only bit that’s changed. I used to be Creative Manager and I got made Director at Angels.
So what was my role? I was responsible for the online marketing and design of Angels Fancy Dress including the liaison between SCO, BBC affiliates and other agencies; CRO. I’m sure there’s tons of other acronyms we’ve used over the years.
My new role is working completely on the different side of the business on the film and costume side of Angels and dealing with our customers, meeting new customers, setting them up, creating those relationships and hopefully bring in new business.
Jon: So a bit of a shift from two very different roles?
Jeremy: Yes, but it’s quite interesting. If you think going the way my career or my life’s gone, I started off in film, went into Internet and I’m now going back into film. So it’s taken me seven years to get to where I am now.
I started working film as Assistant directors; I started as the lowest of low running around getting teas and coffees to ending up as a crowd [second] so organising people and man management and event planning to a point, I suppose, and then fancy dress and the Internet side.
It started when I had to build a memorabilia website from scratch and I had zero coding experience, zero any experience. I had to lock myself in a room for two weeks and taught myself coding.
I was only meant to be here six months; six months and then I was gong to leave and go back to films.
Jon: And it’s turned into?
Jeremy: Seven years and I’m back into film.
Jon: Is there a digital element/component to the job or is not really?
Jeremy: Oh I’ll find one!
The interesting side on the film and TV thing is they’ve done everything for such a long time in certain ways, but there’s loads of things that I could probably bring in that might help but the digital side is really interesting because you still need a physical costume and so the marketing tools and things like online is an interesting one as we need it.
It sounds such an egotistical thing but if you’re going to work in costume and film you most of the time will know Angels.
You’ve been fighting for me to give you the costume side of the business for years, but it’s just not needed.
Jon: We’re the brand. I guess you don’t really want any competitors, but you’re the name that everyone knows.
Jeremy: In London.
Jon: In London.
Jeremy: For the fancy dress side in London. Outside London I’m still looking into exactly how far but he brand is known, especially in London for the costume side.
Jon: Are you; again probably maybe getting into too much detail; but replacing someone or it is a new role?
Jeremy: Ever since I’ve started I’ve always wanted to work in film; it’s not that I didn’t want to do the online side of the thing, but my background is film. I’m addicted to film. I watch far too much, I know too much about films.
What actually happened?
My Marketing Manager was leaving and so I was looking to start replacing her and then my sister was having a conversation with my dad and just went, “You know Jeremy always wanted to go back onto the costume side,” because also I’d been making a lot of noise just the past two years that I’d like to understand it and they decided well instead of replacing the Marketing Manager, why don’t you replace yourself and then move here.
What they’ve done is changed some of the other positions so I’m shadowing an existing member of staff at the moment to learn how he does his job; not to do his job but to complement him. The other member of staff who does his job is continuing to do that and he’s also concentrating on different side of the business so if that grows it means, say what I’m going to be doing increases and it reduces for him, and it’s also a shift because my brother’s role has changed the company.
So it’s all happened at a really good time, but at the time it happened at the worse possible time because the person was leaving at Christmas and we were having to search for all replacements at Halloween. Which is great sitting there running back from the website to have to sit there and do interviews all online.
Jon: So, yes, those acronyms may not be so much part of your life now although I imagine you’re still going to be tempted to have some involvement or I suppose you’ve only got so many hours in the day?
Jeremy: I’ve only got so many hours in the day. I already feel really strange because it feels like they’re separate from me, completely now, because I’ve tried to distance; I’ll try and keep my toe involved – they’re all mine!
Jon: I suppose you’ve got a whole new team now as well.
Jeremy: No because I’m a team of one now. It’s different; I’ll be working closely with the other people who do the job, so the other production directors.
Jon: Sorry for my lack of understanding of the Angels chain of command, but you’ll be working closer with your father or not?
Jeremy: It’s never a case of working closer; it’s always going to be the same. I’m in closer proximity; he can now shout out the door and literally could hit me with a stone. So I think I will have more involvement with him but it shouldn’t change things too much.
Jon: Can we talk about that at all; the family business stuff?
Jeremy: What do you want?
Jon: It’s interesting.
Jeremy: It is interesting. This is an auspicious year for us . It’s our 175th anniversary so we’ve been doing a lot of research into family; I mean to end it all in two weeks time we get given a BAFTA which is crazy.
Jon: I was going to ask you about that. How much did you know about that or was it a surprise?
Jeremy: We didn’t know about it; no we didn’t. I was upset that we hadn’t had anything last year or anything like that. Personally it was like, ‘We’re 175 years; we’ve been working,’ but there were discussions obviously going on within BAFTA but then until they’d made a decision, they didn’t ask. So we probably knew three weeks before the press release and the BAFTA announcement; when I say ‘we knew’; my dad, my brother; my family knew because they’re been dealing with my dad and then we told everyone that it got announced. So we didn’t know.
It’s not like we’ve been sitting on this massive secret for a year and it’s great and all the staff are really happy about. They’ve been getting messages from their friends and family and the biggest thing for us with this whole thing which sums up Angels or sums up my dad is when he spoke to the entire staff to tell them it was a case of “The BAFTA awarding us for this award but you need to know that this award isn’t for the Angel family; this award is for everyone who’s worked for Angels, who’s come before you for you guys and it’s the first time that we know of someone like us had been recognised, so it’s great.”
Jon: It’s really interesting. When I was looking at; this is actually more to do with the family but the business as well, of looking at the history and then just the amount, in particular, the amount your dad at the board level and the moves that he made to grow Angels, especially as you weren’t always the biggest name.
Jeremy: I say a lot in interviews and I don’t know truly whether he’s ever listened to those interviews or he takes it in. He’s leaving some massive, massive shoes for whoever one of the three of us fills then if it’s going to be one of the three.
What he’s only done for this business and actually what people don’t know what he’s done for the industry, it’s huge because and this time he’s been a trustee at the BFI, he’s been chairman of BAFTA; I mean if you would ignore the Angels for a second and just think the one thing that everyone now knows about you get the BAFTA awards first, and then it comes the Oscars – he’s responsible for that. He’s the one because originally the BAFTA awards used to be TV and film; it used to be a like a three/four hour long ceremony where everything was there and you never used to get all the actors turning up; it was all really difficult to experience.
My dad went in and he split much; everyone was arguing against. He split the TV and the film awards in half so they were separate, he moved the film awards to be before the Oscars and so all the changes he made have made a massive difference.
And the other thing is they had to change or pass a ruling because the BAFTA constitution says the Chairman is only allowed to be Chairman for two years. They asked him to do three years, so there are only two BAFTA chairmen who have done three years; one was the very first Chairman who was Sidney Sanderson, the second is Tim Angel.
So away from the family business, that’s a huge thing that he’s done but with the family business, it’s crazy.
The history of Angels – we started in 1840 however we’ve been going longer. My relative came over from Germany in 1813 who was a tailor but did the work, but the company itself wasn’t set up until 1840 by his son.
Because of that I am the 7th generation to work for the business and because of the 175 we’ve chased the history and we’ve seen; fair warning for you, usually it’s family businesses come the 3rd generation that’s when the problems start, because the first two generations are always people who have a passion for the industry. The third one is normally a child of one of those people and has just accepted that that’s how it is and they go into it for maybe financial or they don’t have any other reasons, but that’s normally where it falls down.
The third generation and that’s where it falls down and also outside influences as in partners because you then get; “Why has Jon got that new car and I’ve only got this? Jon went to Barbados and we went to Bognor,” and you should be asking for all of this; so partners.
So the fact that we’ve lasted seven generations is incredible and what we’ve only hit within that family business so about their 4th/5th generation you have the point where a daughter got her father committed to the asylum for what today we call depression.
So she basically committed her father for being depressed, took over the family business, refused to employ one of my relatives because he had polio and, “We weren’t going to have an invalid working for the family business.”
The notes from the AGMs and all the meetings they had they were arguing about money that they wanted to spend on themselves.
Jon: Have you got these records? That’s really interesting.
Jeremy: My dad’s gone through them. So yes; she almost destroyed the company.
What happened was the business was going and it got passed and we were one of the first businesses to be on what’s now Shaftesbury Avenue because we were there when it became Shaftesbury Avenue.
So the family were doing a lot of theatre and musical; that’s where it was started and then things just kept growing.
We were royal appointed tailors which meant the Army; we do uniforms for the Sergeants and all the higher ranks of the Army so they just come into us.
So we were doing really, really well and then what happens is it usually gets left to the sons of the family business, but one of the relatives preferred his youngest son to his oldest son.
Jon: I remember this and the youngest was not…
Jeremy: The youngest didn’t really want to go into it and wasn’t probably the best person and then what the relative did was he basically created the document to rule how Angels worked. So there was a list of rules. So when he died he was basically controlling the family still from the grave and part of the rules of working here was there was no female member of the family was allowed to work for the business. That was one of the by-laws. It’s crazy.
So that’s when it all started going downhill.
Then the Second World War happened and a lot of the people in the family business, including my grandfather, went to war and then they came back and the business had been going through really, really hard times.
Jon: What happens when they went away to war; for the business?
Jeremy: The thing is for people they lost, like my grandfather, was a cutter, so it was a huge person to lose from one of the senior tailors and it’s hard to replace because then there was obviously a shortage of the men doing that, but then a lot of the work would have dropped down as well and it would have changed what was going on but they weren’t running it properly; they were only looking out for themselves, not the business.
So when my grandfather came back and they refused to let my relative, because he had polio, come into Angels, my grandfather couldn’t stand the in-fighting; they wouldn’t let his brother, my great uncle, go into the business either.
So my grandfather set up his own business of Angels of Warwick Street at the same time as he had Angels. And basically the company was on its last legs and they went back to my grandfather to say, “Come back…” and he had a few conditions. One was this woman who’d committed her father had to step down; all of this, and his brother. So that what the first thing; my grandfather coming back was the first step.
And then my dad started and he had to learn things really, really quickly. He had so many things to deal with; he had a fire; the big fire we had in ’89, he had to deal with getting rid of my great uncle to get him out of the company, my grandfather dying, he’s dealt with two massive moves. So he’s dealt with a lot of things for Angels.
Jon: People probably listening don’t know the decisive way your dad does business; he had this thrust upon him that he had to make a lot of big decisions quickly.
Jeremy: No, because he started from the ground up; my father started as the lowest of the low and trained up and wasn’t given any; Okay, I wouldn’t say he wasn’t given any preferential treatment, he’s the son, he’s an Angel, but he had to train.
But my dad joining Angels happened at the same time that the TV boom picked up and the BBC started making a lot of changes and so I think my grandfather at the time looked at TV and didn’t see the potential of it and when I said, “Oh, it’s okay,” “Tim can deal with TV,” so he was going around BBC House and getting to know all these things and getting involved there.
So that started and he wasn’t involved in all that. He worked his way up but there were loads of things and changes and he had to take it.
When my uncle left the business, my great uncle, my dad had to learn pretty much how to read a balance sheet, because he was the accounts guy, and so we just fired him.
So he had to learn all of that himself.
My dad’s fantastic with maths and history but he still had to learn; he had no idea and so he taught himself how to do it before. We then got my mum’s brother, so my uncle who is now the FD working now to do that. So he’s had a lot of things to learn.
You’re right, my dad has purchased the best, the two to really mention are Bermans and Nathans who were actually two companies themselves; originally they were Bermans and a separate company of Nathans.
So he purchased Bermans and Nathans, which was a huge thing because that was one of the main competitors. Someone complained to the Monopolies Commission and we had an investigation whether it was a monopoly which was so much fun. I remember it just at home as a small kid.
So he purchased Bermans and Nathans and more recently we purchased the BBC Costume Department.
On top of that we’ve moved from Central London to Camden so moved the entire company there, then moved from Camden to the building we’re in now.
Jon: How many miles of costume?
Jeremy: Eight and a half.
Jon: So moving the entire…
Jeremy: Yes, the entire building to here. Not an easy feat, so he’d done that he was petrified about that because all the times he’s done the moves before he’d have my grandfather and he had several senior members of staff who’ve since left or retired.
Jon: It’s hard to imagine your father petrified.
Jeremy: Well the funniest thing with my father with that is if you go into the warehouse you’ll notice on one of the walls there’s loads of hats hanging, and there’s no reason why all hats should be kept hanging the way they are. But what happened was he’d gone home, he was watching TV with my mum and there were watching a period drama and a guy walked in, took his top hat off, and put it under his arm as they did. My dad just went white. He’d forgotten where we were going to put the hats in the building and everything had moved in so there was no room for the hats.
And so he was freaking out with it because of one man walking and that’s why the hats are stored where they are stored. That’s it. Nowadays you don’t see it that much.
It works perfectly for my dad in what you’re getting at with how my dad works is he sits at the top of the tree and it’s a great; you’ve got to look it from other ways, it’s a great way of running a business. Everyone can tell him, “We should do this,” “We should do that,”. He makes a decision and you go.
Jon: I know that it’s only recently been in this new role, did you come to it with a vision or are you still very much, ‘I’ve got to learn this,’ Is there a direction that you want to take?
Jeremy: There’s no direction. I want to know how the film and TV side of it works; first and foremost and for that to happen I need to know how we get customers in and that’s what I’m doing now. At the same time of doing that I will be trained again in the costume department, so I’ve already gone through that once to understand costumes. Just to get a better understanding. I know how the online side works; I know the fancy dress side, but I want to know the other side of the business but I love film.
Jon: Just seeing how the whole organisation works, do you plan far in advance as an overall at board meetings? How far ahead to you plan?
Jeremy: It’s hard to plan like that because on the film side is you’ve got no idea what films are going to be made this year until they come and you’re still not guaranteed they’re going to come to us. So you can’t plan that side. Fancy dress you can plan a little there.
So, yes, we do have AGMs every year and we sit down and we talk about things, but the planning is the best thing is controlling how we do things.
So, yes, there are loads of plans, but I’ve not really been involved in those because I don’t know the costume side what I’m now starting to do.
Jon: Here’s a question we’re going to create some content around this, but I’ll just ask on this podcast instead, is there anyone you work better with?
Jeremy: My family are going to hear this!
Jon: Probably you don’t have to answer that one actually; it’s a difficult one.
Jeremy: The easiest answer for that is I only really; up until now I’ve only properly worked with my sister, so I’ve only had interaction with my sister. I’m starting now to have interaction with my brother; actually I’ve always had interaction with my uncle.
Jon: Actually, I’ve never had any real troubles working with my brother.
Jeremy: How do arguments go?
Jon: It used to be maybe like emails chains where we’d hammer something out, but we’ve never had those shouty arguments, but then I guess neither of us are that type of person. It would take a lot.
Jeremy: Maybe that’s the difference – we’re very vocal.
That’s the one thing and I think that’s an advantage I really think is nice for the family business which is I can argue with my sister until the cows come home, I can argue with my brother until the cows come home, and the thing is that people don’t realise I can have a really bad row with my brother and you’d sit there and go, ‘If I had that with anyone else at work, you wouldn’t speak to them for two or three weeks, and because it’s my brother and sister, it’s like 45 minutes later, “Are you coming over for dinner tonight?”
Jon: That’s really cool. So you’ve definitely got a ‘switch on/switch off’; these are different roles; different hats.
Jeremy: Different hats but I definitely have that with Emma which is my sister. If I had a brother called Emma it would be very strange!
But we make it to go out our way that up until recently when we finish work we normally phone; one of us will phone each other just to have a five or ten minute conversation; not about work, so we can do it.
I see them every day, I have lunch with them, I walk my dog with her when she walks her dog, so it is needing a break.
Jon: That’s a good idea, not just for family businesses, but if you work with close friends as well, to have that.
Jeremy: You’ve just got to have something to say, “There is more to this than just work.” Everyone goes, “I won’t talk about work,”; you’re going to talk about work.
Jon: It’s probably the largest chunk of your life is spent at work.
Jeremy: True, but my grandfather could; to the point of when we were on holiday my dad gets a phone call, speaks to my grandfather for about five minutes, hangs up, ten minutes later gets another phone call from his sister and she goes, “Are you okay?” Dad’s like, “Yes, why wouldn’t I be?” She says, “Well have you spoken to dad?” “Yes, he says everything was okay. There was a few issues but he was dealing with it,” She went, “There’s been a fire.”
And my grandfather would never discuss work. If you’re on holiday or at home, work doesn’t get spoken about and we had a massive fire that basically shut us down and he never told him!
My dad’s very different. I’ve always grown up with what work means talked about and it drives my fiancée crazy at times. I’m still switched on when I’m at home with work, but it’s the nature of it. Dad’s going to phone up and say, “If I want to do this on the website, could I?” Is it better I just say, “Yes, because, because…” or go, “I’ll talk to you tomorrow morning.”
Jon: And the technology these days, I guess, with email. I remember when I went on holiday Gary did turn my email off once.
Jeremy: It’s fine as long as you have that break because it is hard not to; it works. But it’s not saying I argue with people the way I do with my brother and sister at work, but I can, but that’s the hardest thing actually; the hardest thing for me to realise was sitting in meetings with my dad and wanting to argue and then going, “He’s not your dad here, he’s your boss.’ That is the hardest thing.
Jon: I remember at one meeting, and this will bring us onto speaking about Benjamin, just mentioning him so he has to listen to this. I remember being in a meeting with him and realising my best bet in this meeting is to say nothing, so I just watched all of these other people get annihilated and I stayed quiet and I think I did the best.
Jeremy: If I remember rightly you waited to the end and at the very end my dad then asked you a question and you were completely fine and came out looking good.
Jon: Just waiting to clock out.
Jeremy: With my dad it’s nothing, it’s just I don’t know how to deal. He’s not that difficult to deal with; he has his opinion, that’s what he wants and if you don’t tell him anything different, it’s give him your reasoning and that’s it.
He’s got a very good sense of humour; he’s got a very unique sense of humour and if you get it, you’re completely fine.
What you’ve not said and if you get Benjamin to listen to this it would make more sense, is you sat in this meeting when at the gentleman who runs our PR company wasn’t always sure when my dad was joking or not. Now if I’m doing Ben a disservice he might always be aware, and just does it for effect, but if he does, he’s got all of us fooled or had all of us fooled.
So you just sat back and watched because you knew my dad was joking and making these comments; “Well, if you don’t do this we’re going to look for another company.” And you were just enjoying that and bless him, Ben wasn’t.
Jon: How did you get to start with Benjamin; probably one of the most innovative PR…
Jeremy: Benjamin with Deliberate PR?
No, he’s phenomenal. It sounds a strange thing; when you speak to certain people you always walk away from the conversation that you learn something; always with Ben. It’s always interesting. His view on things is brilliant.
Ben used to work for another PR company who were working with Angels at the time; this was before I started and as far as I understand he didn’t like the direction that company were going so he left to set up on his own.
He went to my dad and said, “I’m going to do this. Would you be willing to…” He didn’t ask him straight out and my dad figured out during the meeting, “Are you asking if you set up we would come with you? Of course we would.”
And they set up their offices in the building so they were here for two years. And that’s how he started working with Ben. So we were his first clients.
Jon: I remember, probably my favourite campaign, the Pardon the Witches.
Jeremy: He just comes up with just such clever little things. The one thing I’ve always found fascinating with the online thing is everything that you want to do you always want something to go viral; everyone does and I have to admit with us, the success rate he’s had with getting things picked up has been incredible.
Jon: He has a mind for it.
Speaking of people that have offices at your Hendon HQ. Talk about about the exciting charity that’s running…
Jeremy: Yes, Just Enough. They’re still based here.
Jon: That’s another really exciting character.
Jeremy: Yes, Phil. Phil’s brilliant. If you ever meet Phil Knight, his energy is phenomenal; his drive is ridiculous.
Jon: Can you give a little bit of introduction to the charity?
Jeremy: So basically I’m involved in a charity called ‘Just Enough UK’; actually the remit is slightly changing but our main thing at the moment is to go into schools and educate kids about human trafficking and human slavery, which you sit there and listen to and go, “I wouldn’t let you go and talk to any kids about human trafficking and slavery, because you’ll scare them, but he’s found a way to do it with jokes, with dance, with humour, but in a lively fun way and the kids learn it, the kids understand, the schools invite us back.
We’ve been told we’re the largest provider of education of this sort in the world. That we don’t obviously have the stats but it’s proven in the UK we do but to be told that is phenomenal.
So Phil who runs it, who’s created the whole thing and taken aboard, he’s like that the whole time and you know something is wrong if you don’t see that little spark inside because he’s not thinking about what you’re talking about because he’s thinking about something else which is great. He’s absolutely phenomenal.
Jon: How have you found working as part of a charity compared to; obviously you’ve always been in business. Is it very similar?
Jeremy: I’ve never felt something more rewarding than working for the charity. I genuinely enjoy what I do at Angels but when I work with them, it’s just a different feeling as well and you’re making, it’s such a cheesy phrase, you’re making a difference, but I know I’m not making a difference with what we’re doing, what we’re agreeing and we can let him do. He’s making a massive difference. The fact that you can sit there and go, “I’ve helped get 20,000 children in this country educated on one thing;” it’s phenomenal and it’s him.
I sound like I’m about 12 again, but my mum and dad were so happy that I’ve got involved in charity because they’ve always done charity work because it’s just a different experience; it really is and I just can’t explain it.
Jon: It’s something that I need to think about maybe.
Jeremy: I’ve done some different charity events like Brainmakers; a fantastic organisation; they introduce people to charities that need something, be it the money, the time or their contacts, and just listening to those charities and meeting them; even if it’s a pre conversation to go, “Oh, you should speak to this company. They’re really, really good.” It’s great.
Jon: I’ve always actually wanted to do that use the knowledge that I’ve got for…
Jon: For more than making more money… you know what I mean. I’ll always bring it back to we’re helping the economy but I’ve wanted to do charity work for a while.
So your work life balance is pretty good then; do you split it pretty well?
Jeremy: I don’t know. My other half would say differently. I’d say it’s pretty good. It’s not too bad. I’ve got is quite nicely done and what’s been incredible over the years is my friends have adapted to my workload so they know during Halloween, the month of October, just don’t speak to Jeremy; there’s no point.
Jon: For every other retailer Christmas is Christmas; your Christmas is Halloween.
Jeremy: It’s okay. My other half will argue but I’m always fiddling around the computer looking at something to do with our servers or something like that but that’s the geek in me.
Jon: Just on a humorous note I remember one year, this is more in store, I don’t know if we can talk about this out loud, but the famous sayings when it’s really busy; the quotes. “Is the upstairs upstairs?” or something like that.
Jeremy: No, we had some pearlers. Do these stairs go up? That was one. What colour is your black hairspray? Is your fake blood real? And the personal favourite. At Halloween if we work in a shop, we dress head to toe in fancy dress covered in blood or makeup and every year someone comes up to you and goes, “Do you work here.” “No, I’m here on day release.”
Jon: No, this is how I dress.
Jeremy: But the worst thing is you forget you’re dressed like that so you go out for lunch. So you could be sitting in McDonalds caked in blood and just standing and going, “I’d like a Big Mac and cheese,” and they’re just looking at you eyes wide.
Jon: And it’s not Halloween yet.
Jeremy: It’s not Halloween; it’s the two weeks beforehand.
Jon: I’ve seen people in Batman and Joker outfits in McDonalds getting looked at, but that’s got to be funny; the two weeks running and you’re looking like a complete maniac!
Jeremy: Yes, an interesting thing but a lot of the stores have got used to it, so what used to be really fun was there was one restaurant that used to be opposite us which closed down which really upset me; the staff knew us and so they were fine. So you would be queuing up to get there and everyone in the queue would be giving you really dodgy looks and staff wouldn’t treat you any differently. So, you’d just have to go, “How are you doing? Everything alright? How’s work?” And everyone else is just sitting there going, ‘What the hell do you look like?’
Jon: You know the VIPs in nightclubs; not that I go into nightclubs anymore, where you can go right in front of the queue.
Jeremy: Gary says you’re never in the office you’re out listening to a house raid at 4.00 in the afternoon.
Jon: That sounds exactly like me, but the massive queue at Angels and Halloween and just having to go right to the front and getting in; that’s the closest I’ve had to…
Jeremy: We have security guards; we have bouncers and everything.
Jon: That’s crazy.
So, yes, you’re moving into the new role? Still excited and pumped about it?
Jeremy: No. I really am; I’m looking forward to it. It’s just to see how it works and to get back into the world of films will be fantastic. The thing that worked perfectly is some of the people I used to work with are now the people who are working with Angels, so for me it’s just getting to know an old friend again.
Jon: I think we’ve been all around the houses there.
Jeremy: How long has that been on for?
Jon: 35/36 minutes. I think it’s pretty good. Unless there’s anything you want to add?
Jeremy: I don’t know what you’re wanting to cover. Are you wanting to go more about how the online stuff has worked here?
Jon: Yes, we can do actually.
Jeremy: It’s your podcast.
Jon: I guess we are…. so we should talk about some digital stuff for a bit.
Can you remember what it was like? You’ve been here before learning about a totally new discipline and you’ve learned about SEO, PPC, CRO; all of this stuff; I guess it is comparable then? Will you miss working with those skills? How did you integrate the first time?
Jeremy: It’s different; it really is, because I think that side of things is evolving the whole time so what you could learn this year about SEO could be completely… you need to forget next year because …
So there was an aspect of I had to keep up to date with everything when I was learning so you were always learning, which I love; learning something new, reading new articles. This job, once I understand what’s going on with it, it’s the same; it doesn’t change that much. What will change is how we do certain things like if they’re writing something down we might have an iPad.
So the harder part for me will be learning the costume side. The actual costume and literally brushing the cobwebs out of my head and learning what Regency costumers look like and what you could choose.
Jon: I can imagine you’re still going to read digital marketing news and stuff because that’s still going to interest you. As you say, it is somewhat of an interesting area; always changing.
Jeremy: When I was on that side of things, so I was learning; if we start with PPC because before when I started knowing what SEO was before I’d met you guys we had no idea what SEO was.
It was just very interesting learning it because it was something new that had this potential because back then it really was; no one understood it. At the time there wasn’t this explosion of companies doing all this stuff and the competition for every business was really small, so little changes that you could make could have massive affects.
And learning something from scratch that was this new computer meet this old Internet, Google and thing that was scary; it really was.
Jon: Really thinking about it, you had a lot under your remit of different disciplines. I know that we made the joke you couldn’t have everything perfect; one of them would always be an issue.
Jeremy: It used to always be the case that there was like, ‘We got he SEO right, we got something wrong with the PPC; we’ve got PPC right, there’s something wrong with this conversion.’
There was always something, but that was a great thing; I had to learn all these disciplines but it was also look at it as a negative because it meant I never specialised in anything.
Jon: You had to deal with mad out of the bue things like DDOS attacks…
Jeremy: It’s my brain; I like learning new things; I like tech stuff.
The way we used to stay with agencies when we worked with an agency, we’re a family business, we prefer relationships are very important to us.
However on top of that, it’s hard to get those relationships and to be very trusting of someone who’s given to you, “They are going to be your Account Manager;” it takes time.
I mean you and I hit it off from day one but it doesn’t always happen that way and so I had to learn it because I didn’t trust people to say, “Well this is what’s happening.” And the D-Dos thing was a perfect example because we went to switch to a hosting company and if I hadn’t learned about the D-Dos information before we went to them, when we eventually got D-Dos, got attacked, I could argue with the person going, “Well we can’t do anything.” “Well you can, you can do x, y and z.”
So from that side that’s why you do it and the small business ,that’s one of the negative we’ve had at Angels in the past which is my hat. I’m IT Manager, I’m Marketing, I’m Design, I’m Comms, I’m internal IT support, I’m responsible for the auctions for the film and TV costumes, I’m my family’s Apple conduit so any Apple iPhone issues, that’s me, and there’s loads of different things and you can’t concentrate on one.
So you could plan to do something one week and I’d never get near it because there were just too many little things. It’s great because in one sense you know everything but it’s really bad in another because you can’t concentrate just on one thing.
Jon: If you had any advice for people going into digital marketing and then secondary to world of costume and film…
Jeremy: Because it’s not a niche idea at all!
Jon: What advice would you give to those two parties?
Jeremy: Be open to learn new things. The thing I’ve always said is there are no stupid questions, only stupid people asking them.
The serious one is you learn from your mistakes and you can’t be embarrassed to make a mistake. That’s one but the biggest one which you guys know more than anything – be honest and if you don’t know something, hold your hand up and say.
That bit of advice is just basically be very open to other people’s opinions. Be honest about where your limitations are.
Jon: I think that’s in my recommendations on LinkedIn from you is that some nice words but that I always do hold up my hand up when something went wrong and you get so much more credibility if you do that rather than trying to…
Jeremy: Yes, but it’s doing it at the right time as well because it’s a case of if something goes wrong, it’s not the case of, “Well you did that;” Oh I’m sorry, no it’s more the case of the reason with you will happen is you’d come up with these mad ideas like “Pirates vs Ninjas”; you knew it wasn’t working and you’d phone up literally after the first day and go, “This isn’t gong to work the way I though it would. I think it’s because of this. I’m going to look into it. We’ll keep going.”
Jon: It was a long time ago but even then testing the content marketing stuff.
I read this today, “Instead of failures, call them experiments.’ Granted it was experiments with your budget.
Jeremy: Yes, it’s hard to look at from this side as just an experiment.
That’s what I mean because I think that’s the difference. There’s honesty, “I’m sorry it was me,” but then there’s being able to actually hold your hands up before we ask the question. Instead of sitting there going, ‘They won’t notice,’ or ‘We can hide this;’ that’s the biggest issue you have working with agencies. Some people don’t realise that it might only be a £1000 a month that we’re spending; that’s a lot of money to us therefore you need to treat me the same way you treat your [£1m].
Jon: I’ve always thought of it; I saw this on another podcast, ‘How to realise it’s a privilege to work with clients.’ There are very rare cases where there’s clients that are pretty sociopathic; that’s very rare but generally you should view it as a privilege and that’s how I’ve always seen it.
Jeremy: Yes, and as long as you have that, it works. It’s a mutual respect and that allows things to happen; that allows the relationships to happen because we started.
I don’t know how you saw Angels when we were given to you guys but it was a case of you treated Angels as if it were your own company. It’s little things like that that really put your mind at ease because it’s in all the meetings referring to it; instead of going ‘Angels’ you were going ‘we/us’; not ‘you’.
Jon: I didn’t even think about it like that; it’s like a natural thing.
Jeremy: It’s a natural thing. the best example is when we sat down with the conversion that we worked with conversion, and I’ve told them this. We knew we had a conversion issue on our website, I’d spoken to a few people, I highly respect within the industry and one of them is probably the top of the industry you can get to and I said, “What should we do?” And he said, “You need to find the conversion issue. I’ve spoken to you guys; you recommended this company.
So I sat down, went to the meeting, so I thought I’ll take my dad with me because he needs to hear this, and Geoffrey who’s the FD, he’ll come as well.
So we walk into this meeting and it’s in Farringdon’s; it’s not hipster but very cool and trendy place for all these new businesses, walk into the massive open plan office with the glass section with a …. and I’m sitting there going, ‘Oh no, I’ve brought my dad in,’ and then the guy sitting opposite us – Dave looked so young; Dave looked 12, so we’re sitting down and he’s like, “Yes, and if it works I’ll be the one…” I’m sitting there going, ‘Dad’s going to kill me. They guy is so young.’
And then Steven walked in and starts talking to us and again we’ve been looking through the website and what we think we should do is this, this and this… Dave didn’t speak a lot but when Dave spoke it was, ‘I’ve got the experience of doing it.’ and it was just the way they spoke to us and they realised, because I’d spoken beforehand, I said “There’s no point in blinding us with science.”
And it didn’t matter that he looked 12 and we’re in an open plan office and my dad was sitting next to….
Jon: They were genuine,
Jeremy: But that makes such a massive difference.
I don’t know if you guys realise it or it’s a sales technique, but when you talk as if the company is your own and you treat the money like it’s your own, you can’t but trust someone like that.
But if you were never there when I need to you and every time I did you sound distant.
Jon: It was probably at the very end where I probably chased you. I remember I would have a go at you.
Jeremy: But then things have reversed; when there are certain people that you can’t motivate, you would sit there and go, “You know you want to blow gaskets at someone, can you do it on paper for me.”
Jon: It’s an old technique but it worked to our advantage many times.
Jeremy: It did and that’s the thing; the relationships are the foundation of it because if your agency is doing really badly with us but there’s the relationship there, you’re more likely to get a second chance rather than…
Jon: If there’s nothing there….
Jeremy: So it’s again the trust.
Jon: And I guess the second one; maybe it’s too soon to ask people; film and TV you just have a passion for it, I guess, so that’s why you’re in the sector and moving back into it?
Jeremy: Yes, it’s just a passion. The film and TV industry has got a huge changes in the middle of it. If you think about what Spotify has done for music; film and TV; some people go on Netflix and Amazon, it’s still not reached to the level of what’s happened on music. That’s a massive thing for us. Technology is a massive factor for us.
We supply costumes and think about CGI. You don’t need us because you’re going to recreate so we’ve got to face that issue and yes, it’s interesting.
Jon: Technology has changed and disrupting every industry so why would it not?
Jeremy: Everyone always forgets that what you need is you need someone from outside the industry to actually come in. That’s what happened in the music industry, that’s what happened with taxis.
You want the disrupters to come in but you do sit there at the time. We’re want to be on guard and Angels are on guard; 175 of business.
Jon: I always find this funny; one of Rory’s quotes, ‘There’s a bell that’s existed, I think, for even longer than that and he’s really tempted to call them up and say, “Are you some fly-by-night salesmen that are going to scam me?”
Jeremy: But we’re the old establishment, I suppose, with costume and you’ve got to embrace it but you’ve got to be aware of it. There are some massive changes coming in film. I mean look at Tangerine last year; it was filmed solely on an iPhone.
Jon: Have you been following Serial a lot?
Jeremy: Yes, do not tell me anything about it. I will not download just one episode and listen to it and then have to wait.
Jon: What do you think about The Long Form non-fiction?
Jeremy: Absolutely, because it’s me; the way I am. I like to understand why I’m doing something and the reasoning and The Long Form really doesn’t.
But I love Serial and I hate it for the same reason. I love it because it made more people realise about broadcasting, I hate it because it’s made more people realise about broadcasting.
Jon: They’re innovated and inform which I like because no one had every done that before.
Jeremy: And then look what they’ve done for TV; the knock on with Making a Murder.
Jon: Did that follow Serial then?
Jeremy: Making Murder came after but they’d be collecting information on the Serial, but it’s the same sort of logic.
Jon: I was told Serial was influenced by The Thin Blue Line; the old documentary.
Jeremy: Oh, I was about to say, no the Rowan Atkinson police show?
Jon: And you’ve got to pretend you know that link. The documentary. Do you like documentaries?
Jeremy: Yes, I love documentaries; I mean I have to admit this with the BAFTAs, my personal feelings I think some of the documentaries are far better than some of the major films.
During the documentaries, I love sports films and you start on sports films and you get the sports [unintelligible 00:51:19] and you get the dark documentaries and you think, ‘Oh, let’s go further then.’
I love it and I love it when other worlds collide with it, so there was the Foo Fighters TV series two years ago that accompanied their album release and ease episode was an hour and a half long and each song was written about a musical history of a city and Dave [Grassman] each programme teaching you about the history… Phenomenal.
Jon: That’s really cool. I’m going to check that out. What’s that called?
Jeremy: I’ve always had a massive appreciation for documentaries and it’s even weirder because that’s what my aunt does. She’s a producer and she produces documentaries and last year she did ‘Night or Fall’ which was an award winning documentary which was incredible and that’s all she does.
It’s watching something that’s going to educate you I like that but then the worst side of it when you watch documentaries after you’ve seen it I know everything.
Jon: It’s probably one of the most interesting ways of digesting information; the documentaries.
Jeremy: I actually find that I learn it more from podcasts.
Jeremy: Yes, just because I’m not watching it and with podcast I now can’t do loads of tasks while listening to podcast; I’ve got to listen to them. I love what podcasts have done. Documentaries and sports films are where I love to be; animation to a point but documentaries and sports films.
Jon: And only in the costumes and animation?
Jeremy: No, they can base it on our costumes, maybe; so they don’t need costumes.
Jon: What are your favourite other podcasts to check out?
Jeremy: Podcasts? I’ve just started listening to The Cannon. If you’ve heard of [Wolf Pop] have got loads of really, really good podcasts. The Cannon, as two film critics deserve to be in the Cannon. They’ve won the first episode; they put forward Goodfellas. I sat there and went, well there’s no way anyone could argue Goodfellows being a great film. Boy was I wrong. I have to admit it did almost change my mind, so that was great. I love ‘How did the get made’ which is another film one with Paul Shear; that’s just about really good bad films; any Nick Clay film basically. Plus the Stone Cold podcast… but that’s for another day…
Jon: Well we’ve done 53 minutes now.
Jeremy: When you do you the WWE round table with us…I’m there.
Jon: Well thank you very much and thanks Jeremy for coming up. Let’s go back to talking like normal people now.
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