Aug 2017 07

Some thoughts that have been brewing on gender, equality, SlutWalk, and my own shortcomings as I reflect on a recent cycle of my own thinking and behaviour that is hopefully coming to an end. (image: Pixabay, royalty-free)

“It’s too bad you can’t wear a tank top to work, Andrew, huh? Or a onesie.”


“Cause it’s been so hot out. Women can wear a tank top to the office but you can’t.”

I don’t know where the rage I felt came from, but I was about to let it fly.


I’ve always thought of myself as a feminist. I had a very strong mother who didn’t take guff from anyone despite her 5 feet tall (in heels) status. And as a small, visible minority man in advertising I wondered if I had more in common with women in the business in how I have been treated or dismissed.

This was an absurd myopic view of the world. But how did it take a tank top discussion for me to see? I’ve started to wonder, despite the above about my background, if I have actually been part of the problem.

Last week while out with some ad friends, I was asked why I quit being a full-time advertising employee almost 10 years ago. I waded into these waters with great passion and gallantly talked about how one of the reasons was I thought I had reached my own ceiling in terms of title and status because of my height. And I decided I’d rather put my energy into the creative work than fighting the stereotypes. Looking back, these things are true but as I reflect, I was basically saying I was giving up. It was too hard.

Today, thinking about this, that sure doesn’t feel like feminism. There is nothing brave about that.

Feminists don’t give up. They can’t. It is a never-ending battle. My silence helps nothing.

Compounding this was a recent discussion about pronouns and they/them/he/she that has stuck with me. I realized how hard it is for me to switch my language and that means it’s hard for me to switch my thinking.

Am I a dinosaur? How do I unlearn the habits I have learned? This isn’t just a male / female thing. It’s an all of us / everyone respect thing and as long as I think about equality as just strictly a binary thing, well, I am indeed part of the problem.

The above is very shameful to admit.


“What do you mean I can’t wear a tank top? Why not?”

“Cause it’s not professional.”

“That is just ridiculous.”


“You’re saying some clothing should be perceived as more ‘professional’ or appropriate than others?”

WRITER’S NOTE: [I put ‘professional’ in quotes because I may have made air quotes when I said it. Or hope I did.]

“I guess.”

“That is offensive! This is really dangerous thinking.” I was probably using my drink as a prop at this point, swinging it around stupidly to make a point. “I think anyone should be allowed to wear whatever the hell they want in the office or anywhere if they’re comfortable.”

I should say that I love this friend of mine who shall stay nameless but I was stewing about this for awhile. My friends thought I was just in one of my moods, and I guess I didn’t understand where this rage came from. But now it makes sense. I need to keep myself accountable. It is up to everyone to change perceptions by speaking out. Silence will do nothing.

To my seven readers of this blog, this week is SlutWalk Toronto. Next Saturday. We have so much to work on in this world. How we think clothing defines us in any way – whether it’s in business or social or anywhere – is just one of the things we need to rethink. Clothing is not gendered or sexual in anyway. It is our thinking that is. Despite my tirade the other night, I am not innocent of this either. It is very likely I say and do stupid things on a daily basis. I am sorry it took this surprising flip of the situation for me to think about.

I am only starting to be more mindful. It will be a long slow road. I don’t know if I can change or kill the dinosaur, but maybe there is hope.

To true feminists, and those fighting for equality on all levels, I apologize. To call myself one was an insult to the fight you are truly fighting.


Jun 2017 07


Watching stuff like this, I wish I tapped into more of the ‘half-Japanese-ness’ in me. It’s not often I watch a piece of communication from my industry and just go ‘Wow. Neat.’

It’s over four minutes long, and I present it here without subtitles cause it’s way more intriguing to not know what they’re saying. But it does feature a cute cat.



May 2017 30

Clearly, I’m looking for something to do.

I took some time off from the ad world. For most of the last six weeks, positionings like ‘Now with actual chocolate in every chocolate chip cookie’, ‘Bank like a rock star!’ or ‘The soda with extra moxie’ haven’t entered into my mind. I realize none of these are viable positioning statements, of course.

Time off is one of the big perks of being a freelancer, I know. But I feel like I never really appreciate it like I should. I always have a big list of things I intend to get done and then at the end of my time off, very little has been crossed off.

‘It’s amazing how you can fill your day with nothing’, is a frequent phrase of the freelancer. And it’s true. Walking the dog. Riding my bike. Playing (still pretty badly) the bass. Lunch with a friend. Doing the shopping and dishes (seriously). A lot of navel-gazing happens when you’re a freelancer. It’s totally selfish.

But this time, I did some hard adult work. Those of you who know me, know that ‘adulting’ is hard. I usually take the first copywriting gig that comes along just to avoid it. We sold my dad’s house. I cleaned out my own basement (to make room for all the stuff I salvaged from aforementioned house). Shredded 4 giant bags-worth of old writing. And took stock of my life as I enter ‘the back 9’. That’s a golf term. No, I am still never taking up golf.

Last week, I was having a beverage with our friends who live next door. They’re both very successful in their chosen fields and certainly aren’t people that dread getting up in the morning to go to their mindless jobs. And they asked me when I knew I wanted to pursue something around writing as a career. ‘I dunno. Maybe high school. I just didn’t know in what capacity’, I said. ‘I just knew writing was something I loved and apparently didn’t suck at.’ And they said something I didn’t expect. They said I was lucky. Lucky that I got to do something I actually liked.

Shit. They’re right.

What a ridiculously fun job as long as I’m not selling cigarettes to children, or anything close to that dastardly.

Anyhow, I’ve had enough of organizing the basement. There are spiders down there.

I’m back for hire if anyone needs my skills and experience.



May 2017 24

I lost my brand. And all sense of who I was. 

I believe in brands. I’ve made my living off of promoting them for a long time through being an advertising creative. But before that, even if I wasn’t aware of it, it always fascinated me how a product or service could form a relationship with someone in almost the same way a person can. Be it a person or brand, you have an image in your mind about what they stand for, what they provide for your life, and a history of your interactions with them. There’s a comfort and certainty around it.

But I was never a brand until 2008 when I went freelance and formed Fuji Tamale (Japanese and Latin American name, like my background). At first it was just a name to register with the government for tax purposes as a corporation. I’ll never forget the lawyer looking at the name ‘Fuji Tamale Inc.’ and then suggesting I give some options in case it was already claimed. Already claimed? “Yah, nah. It won’t be claimed. Trust me, I don’t have to give you options.” It wasn’t my ego that said it was so special, it was more that no one was as weird as I was. And then in 2010, I started this website as a place to put some of my historical and ongoing work and realized that ‘Fuji Tamale’ could really be a brand. I was reluctant to use it because the name was a personal thing and I was still coming to terms with my heritage, but then I realized that was exactly WHY I had to use it. To claim it back. This is who I am – a half-Japanese-Belizean weirdo. Also, it could represent me, Andrew Bradley as a writer, but really it could stand for more and give me more flexibility as a creative person to branch out into all kinds of things. I was more than just a ‘copywriter’ all of a sudden. Fuji Tamale could be ‘anything’, without the preconceived parameters of ‘Andrew Bradley’, a ‘copywriter’. A creative director I knew once said “Andrew, just when this advertising industry thinks they know you – change.” So I didn’t want to be handcuffed by it.

Anyhow, I took this for granted for the last 6+ years as I sporadically posted work, or some blurb, or strange stories from the short-lived Fuji Tamale News, or lately just let it grow weeds as I rethink my next Act in the story.

And then as change does when you don’t instigate it, it came for me and acted upon me. Last month my website stopped looking like, well, my website.

First the slider crashed and the dynamic first-impression of the page was gone without it.

And then, due to a further problem, I stopped being able to even access the site to post or update here. My hosting company suggested turning off my theme (a template I purchased and then ‘hacked’ slightly to make it Fuji Tamale-ish) to re-establish my ‘permissions’. But they had no real suggestions to get it back looking like it always did.

I suddenly didn’t know who I was. It was scary to be honest. 20 years of being a copywriter, and almost 10 as a freelancer, and I had no way to show any of my experience or current direction. My brand had just ‘disappeared’. Fuji Tamale was gone.

And I panicked for week or so and frankly, just didn’t want to deal with it. So I did what I always do in situations like this. I ignored it. I went into my amazing denial mode. Cleaned the basement and did some personal things, ignoring all things creative-related. Turtled. Ostriched. Scarlett O’Hara had a great attitude when she said “I’ll deal with it tomorrow”. And so I channeled her. One tomorrow turned into about three weeks of them.

And now, looking back, I’m glad I did.

Being free of my little insignificant brand for those few weeks made me realize that like any other brand, I’m not bound to it. And it’s not unchangeable. It’s elastic but also destroyable, even by choice. Although Fuji Tamale itself may not be strong enough to ‘disappear’ for months, or years, and come back, it made me realize that clinging to what I think it’s ‘supposed’ to be only made me feel imprisoned by it.

This website. These colours. The small samples of work chosen from the past and documented here. They actually don’t mean much. This was always meant to be a creative outlet for me, and losing what I think it’s ‘supposed to be’ for a few weeks actually exposed my own rigid thinking. And fear. What I thought was the worst thing that could possibly happen professionally, sort of did.

When I returned from the underworld as Joseph Campbell describes, I was determined to figure out a short-term solution for the website while I thought about a new look and theme. And then … I stumbled across the glitch in the template code.

The great thing is that Fuji Tamale, as it has always looked, is back. And maybe that’s a bad thing, too. It’s possible I may keep this as an ‘advertising and related things’ only brand and spin-off my other creative desires somewhere else on the internet under a pen name.

Although I’m glad I figured out the glitch and my hosting company and I fixed it (saving me days of creative time creating I could devote to other things), it was actually a great experience to feel so vulnerable and lost for a little while. In my mind I started to cook up all kinds of new brand identities and possibilities since I wasn’t sure I could go back to this one.

And I realized, people are like this too. Everything is elastic. We can constantly tear down and recreate ourselves. But by clinging to old models, or thinking, or holding onto what we think people ‘expect’ us to be, there can be no growth. And that is certainly a death model for a brand, be it a product or person.

What will become of this thinking and Fuji Tamale, and me, I don’t know yet. But I hope you lose yourself for awhile like I did.




The RBC Avion is a credit card with Travel Rewards perks. Their main point of difference from others? A lot less restrictions like blackout periods, seat restrictions, airlines. It’s a category where we’re mainly trying to cannibalize from other credit cards IE: new applicants are secondary to converting people who have other cards.

During my recent freelance stint at BBDO Toronto, I was tasked with coming up with a new radio platform to demonstrate that with AVION, you experience fewer pain points (see the above crappy things) than with other cards.

The idea?
The Avion Travel Rewards Card Phrase of the Day.

How it works?
Learn how to complain about your current travel rewards credit card in other languages. A subtle nod to travelling and a bit of humour to drive the points home. Avioners can do that. Coincidentally, a tagline I actually wrote 7 years ago and came full circle on.

Thanks to BBDO for the opportunity. Lots of fun.

‘Not Worth a Bag of Olives’ :30

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‘Hit Me In The Head With a Wooden Clog’ :30

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COPYWRITER: Andrew Bradley
DIRECTOR: Clive Desmond, TA2
PRODUCER: Adriana Laborde


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