Monday, 15 March 2021


This week has been all about families, led of course, by that Meghan/Harry interview. Becoming part of a family from the outside has never been easy. Families have their rules, black sheep and in-jokes. But when it comes to the Monarchy it gets a whole lot harder especially when the Institution is heralded as the “Greatest Show on Earth” and as a newcomer you don’t have a proper part.

I felt sorry for Meghan; it must have been a shock. She’s a decent actress – watch “Suits” and you’ll see -  and like many actresses full of herself. For her it must have been like finding herself on stage and realising she didn’t know her part. Of course she felt suicidal. Isn’t this dilemma one of the biggest nightmares anyone can have?

Add to this the problem of the other family – the courtiers and Royal Household long known for their hostility to outsiders, change and any failure of protocol (did she curtsey deeply enough?) – and she was scuppered. 

Harry, unsurprisingly, is a lost soul doing his best to support her and stamping on everyone’s toes.  It was a poisonous cocktail.

But what a pity they did that interview. Better by far to have faded into the glorious Californian sunset. 

Rule One with family:  Never go against it. Go public with your grumbles and that’ll unite them against you, binding them like superglue. Oprah Winfrey may have done more to close the ranks of Windsor than anything else could have done. Families are united by love, loyalty and self-protection even when they hate each other.

In “Suits” the series about a New York law firm in which Meghan appeared, the lead figure (Harvey Specter – a great name for a lawyer reputed to one of the best in Manhattan) at some point says of the firm Pearson Specter Litt:

“We are not colleagues. We are not friends. We are family.”   

The best companies to work for are those that create the ambiance of a family full of empathy, practical jokes, the desire to celebrate success and hunker down when things go wrong. I’ve heard this described as “teamwork”. It just isn’t. It’s “family” which is teamwork at a completely different level.

The current trouble is Zoom meetings are counter family, functional affairs that eventually wear down all feelings. No wonder then that the CEO of Goldman Sachs recently described them and working from home as an aberration that he was going to stamp out as soon as possible. There’s no doubt that working from home for many is efficient and time-saving but it’s a bit like eating a roast without gravy. The essential constituent of face-to-face interaction and creativity is missing.

This may not concern some whose only mission in life is efficiency and productivity. The Times had a survey last week on “The Future of Advertising”. In it the consensus was that the key, number one ingredient of advertising was “creativity”. Surprise. Surprise. Well yes. Because marketers today score it number eight behind stuff like social media strategy. Absurd.

Family and creativity come from the same emotional stable. It’s unlikely that Saatchi and Saatchi or Collett Dickinson Pearce would have been the forces they were if they’d worked from home. Home for many in my day was the office where the real family lived, played, fought and created.

The Monarchy may be flawed but its ability to turn on pageantry and strike awe into hearts is amazing. The family from hell but what a story. Just don’t go against them.

1 comment:

John Eustace said...

As ever on the money Mr Hall. My abiding memory of a night when Mo turned up to a P&G Dinner and announced that the secret of good advertising was;
You appear to contradict that as usual with panache!
Stay well and safe
All good thoughts