we have a great yard out the back of our building. you'd never know it was there from the lane behind us. we don't have a lawn mower though - last week we had two guys cut the grass with scissors. not joking!
we've run out of room already so will take meetings anywhere we can - the stairs, outside. probably doesn't help that the place is full of paper sculptures built by Liana. we like them though.
we have an agency dog. and have been out karaoke-ing. fun.
Sorry I know these pics are a long time coming - doesn't help that I don't have a digital camera and can't find a place to develop my film! so these are some shots of Chinese NY taken by Anne Halvorson, permanent AD here in Shanghai but placed from Portland. The other girl in the pictures is Christin, also over from Portland. There are loads of westerners here this week because all Chinese have the week off.
A quick rundown;
the red ribbon is a wish (everything will go your way) that you throw over the wish tree and hope that it gets caught in the branches - not as easy as it sounds! the tree itself is lovely and painted gold. we did that New Years day and it was complete madness down there. I can't tell you how nice it's been to be here over New Years. I've learnt a lot about appeasing money Gods and am in awe of the fireworks. And do you know as soon as they've let off crates of explosives that leave red debris everywhere they all go grab their brooms and sweep up after themselves? It's impressive.
The red underwear is everywhere, you have to wear it apparently if your year is year of the Dog - the other underwear shot we just thought was funny and a good example of lost in translation. we did get some funny looks taking photos of underwear though.
some of the other shots are us walking through some of the back streets that day too - chinese grafitti which is pretty rare, some run down houses, and lots of washing, always.
work is still crazy, made worse this week with only 20% of us being in the office, but at least the phone isn 't ringing and the client is away and I managed to drag everyone out to see Norman Jay last night to dance off some stress which was well needed. we were the last on the dance floor as we should be!
I've also been initiated into late-night foot massages whose diagnoses have been spot on - bad back, week knees and I'm not sleeping! Bang on. This place may be mad but it's in touch with its roots.
Cheryl Rogers is one of our account directors, currently on secondment to W+K Shanghai. Here's her latest news:
I’m feeling pretty lucky to have had 2 New Year's celebrations inside of a month and in true Chinese spirit think this must represent a very lucky and prosperous year ahead for me!
Thought I’d write an update on a few things that have been happening lately...
Chinese New Year
It didn’t go off with a bang. It went off with 18 million bangs over about 6 hours on New Year's Eve and to get a good view we went to the highest bar in the world to watch. So from the 87th floor of the Grand Hyatt on Pudong, we did the civilized thing until the rising smoke from the city below made us go down to the water to get amongst the action. It was truly mental. A lasting roar could be heard across the city and the smoke was so intense that by the end of the night we couldn’t see 100m down the road. Fireworks aren’t done in singular here, they’re let off in boxes, put in the middle of the street that taxi drivers swerve around. Great fun.
The next day we went down to some traditional gardens in the middle of the city to put our wishes on a tree that has all its leaves painted gold. I think every Chinese person in Shanghai was also there to do the same thing!
New Year's lasts for a week over here, so it’s fireworks every morning and night, with the 5th night being the proper fireworks night – bigger than NYE even. So the madness continues. We’ve got a few boxes to let off in our garden at work that night which should be fun. And dangerous.
Frank Hahn is one of the creative directors here and it was his birthday two weeks ago. He’s German so we had German beer, sauerkraut, sausages and mash potatoes in the dining room one evening. We ate all of the above (not the beer) with chopsticks.
Christin Spagnoli is over here on loan from the studio in Portland and it was her birthday on Friday, we dressed up her desk in pink fur for the day and made sure she had some cupcakes for a taste of home. She said it made her feel just like Elle Woods.
Interesting things/ Not-so-interesting things
This year is Year of the Dog. If your sign is the dog you must own and wear at least one piece of red underwear this year. There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, and their order in the calendar was decided by a race amongst them to find out who was the fastest. The only animal not to get his own year was the cat, who didn’t wake up in time for the race because the rat let him sleep in and then took his place. (And that’s why cats hate rats).
Everyone eats at dumplings at New Year's and making them is a family occasion. We have a kitchen in the office and someone came in on Friday to make us dumplings – so good. You’re supposed to eat fish on New Year's day because they symbolize the abundance and prosperity that you’ll then receive throughout the year.
Loud noises scare off evil spirits – hence 18 million people letting off fireworks - and the person with the loudest fireworks will be the luckiest in the coming year. Can’t wait for Thursday!
Everyone’s got the week off this week so it’s just us westerners in the office. It’s like the UN in here – we’ve had people from W+K Tokyo, Portland, New York and London here in recent weeks and more recruits arrived today to help out in the studio.
It’s getting warmer and the days of -6 seem to be behind us.
After being turfed out of a taxi by a driver who couldn’t understand me, I have finally progressed to saying a few things in Chinese that can almost be understood.
Cheryl Rogers is one of the account directors here at Wieden + Kennedy London. Except at the moment she's not here, she's in Shanghai. We've only recently set up W+K Shanghai and, with the win of the Nike account in China, things there have been manic. We got a call to ask if anyone could go over to help and Cheryl volunteered to spend a couple of months over there on secondment. So, at the start of the year, she packed her bags and headed off to seek out new life, new civilization, etc. She's promised to send us regular updates and I thought I'd post them on here so we can compare life at W+K London with how things are at W+K Shanghai. Here's the first message from Cheryl:
I am freezing my ass off and am existing solely on coffee and takeaways (chinese - such a cliche) and don't think anything could quite have prepared me for the madness that is W+K Shanghai, but it's all good.
I have to admit I haven't seen much of the city apart from my apartment, Starbucks and the office, but it's early days and I'm just settling in.
Everyone here is really nice and yes I am being looked after, although they were a little bit too happy to see me! This was quickly explained via a six hour status meeting two hours after I landed. (Translating stuff makes things seem twice as long - but at least I'm learning to speak slower and think about what I'm saying before I say it - which is a novelty!). Apart from that the work is great andthe scope of the projects we're working on is pretty amazing.
I headed across to Nike today and they have a great view of the city (if you can see it through thesmog), even if it came with two nail-biting taxi rides to and from. I was reminded by a local that cars didn't exist here 6-7 years ago and that completely explains the no road-rules policy - it's each man for themselves and no colour of traffic lights is going to stop them! it was nice to get some perspective, though. I wander through washing lines to get to work, so it was interesting to see the 'other side'.
I've taken a few snaps and will send them through when I get a chance, internet here is intermittent at best and never again will I take it for granted.