The “MySac” Phenomenon: Bite Summer Party August 2006

At this point you’ll be asking what the fuck is a “MySac”, and even if you knew what it was, you’d be wondering why it was once a phenomenon. Well read on and all shall be revealed…It was early August 2006 and I was working for the busy PR Agency Bite Communications in London, and Bite prides itself on creativity, innovation and more importantly “the people.” Staff matter in any job, honestly, it makes such a big difference in a person’s day if the staff care and look enthusiastic. Bite also choose staff partly on personality, so I was honoured to be given the position in Bite, and although I eventually left the company in June 2007, part of me wanted to stay, but most of me thought “I’ve done it, I’ve enjoyed, and its time to move on.” As such I enjoyed many and various events, busy times and nights out with the staff and people from Bite Communications and our various publics (media and clients). It was all a kind of iceberged dream, smooth and to the point, and even if it sunk the Titanic, we can forgive it. So the story begins…

Every year Bite has a “Summer Party” for staff, and the only one of these I attended was in August 2006. It is basically a full day and night event, where the company directors and associates do presentations, there is a lot of team bonding, organised games and all the staff spend a full day together away from the office. It is one of the perks of PR and an excellent day in the Bite Communications calendar. In the build up to the day out, the managers and directors had begun a serious of silly billy office tricks to play on the higher paid staff. Each day of that week we would do something different. One day we all wore hats, one day we all wore pink, one day we all wore school ties, one day we all queued for a piss at the same time, something was funny, and it was all very random, anyhow, the summer party…

The day began at an unbusy pink Shepi B tube station as I waited for my normal “Hammersmith City line train to Hammersmith. The next station is Goldhawk Road.” Then on arrival at Bite Communications, at Ravenscourt Park, a coach waited for us all, staff got on board and drove to Ealing, which was where the “secret location” kept quiet by the Bite ‘socialites team’ was. We stopped at Ealing Sports Stadium, which is where the cricket and even Ealing FC play their homes matches, another football ground to add to my illustrous list of those visited, and the start of a cracker day out with work.

Early on the speeches took on a partly serious and partly comedy tone, with the year’s turnover figures being read out in amongst speeches by Bite staff on their life story. I wasn’t asked to do a speech, I was quite new at the time. Speeches also included one from the Finance Team Director, Hamish, whose wife actually came from Bangor in Northern Ireland. We had mid morning coffee and tea and then after more speeches we enjoyed a full barbecue and salad in the London sunshine. All this paid for by work, which was fab. Then the afternoon saw us all split into groups for some competitive stuff. The team I was in was a good one, because I was with workmates who I didn’t normally speak to, as they worked on different accounts and brands. As I remember it, the Team 4 that I was in was: Jonny Rosemont, Emma Collier (now Coleman), Foo Dowling and myself. The task we were given was that we were to imagine it was the year 2010 and we had launched a new product for one of our brands and were hoping to pick up an award at PR Week. The winner would be announced over dinner at the restaurant we had booked for later on, which was at this stage again a secret.

So in our group, we thought of a product, which could have been anything we wanted. We decided to go with an “invisible man bag”, basically a bag for any man to keep everything in and carry around with him, plus it was invisible and had no weight restrictions. This creative and genius idea could only have come from staff at Bite Communications, and even though the product will never exist, we had to “PR it”. Then we thought of a name, which was “MySac”, we used this as some kind of play on the Apple brand at Bite, which had “iPods”, originally we were going to call it an “iBag” or an “iSac”, but went with “MySac”. In our group we were then given a video camcorder and asked to compile a 15 minute video on the product, using various props and whatever else we wanted. The props came at a price, we were given tokens and had to exchange them. Jonny Rosemont was always a strong character at Bite and Foo was an expert in media and design, so he did the filiming. Props included me playing an acoustic guitar, before Jonny R said “you know what mate, you can put that in your MySac. It was all a bit surreal, first inventing a product and then promoting it. We also did a bit of video where a robber (played by me) had been released from prison and thought the MySac would be perfect for stealing things. As it weighed nothing, you could put a car in it! In then end we went for the fact that the MySac was the ultimate new consumer product for the British man in 2010. Then the bar opened and we could all relax, have a drink and get changed into evening attire…

Fancy dress for the evening had been named in advance, something with a Mexican flavour, or related to Cowboys and Indians. This hint meant we expected we were going to a Mexican or an Indian restaurant for dinner. We all got changed in Ealing Football Club and I had bought a cowboy suit and was going to mix it all up with my Northern Irish green, to be some kind of “Northern Irish Cowboy.” Just to be different and there was to be a prize for the best fancy dress. Jonny Rosemont wore a large Tequila bottle, as we mingled with more beer before the coach would leave.

We did pose for some group photos in our fancy dress before the coach left, these photos I don’t have and I’m not sure who took them, but one thing was for sure, we were all in fancy dress and all enjoying it! The coach then dropped us off at a Mexican Restaurant in Ealing, where a wheelbarrow filled with beer greeted us on entrance. Well I never!! It was a full day out of paid work and then suddenly I was getting drunk for free on the company. That’s how to build team and staff morale and it works wonders I tell you.

After a few beers we were getting stuck into our main meal, after which we would watch all the groups videos on the big screen! The beer was flowing and it was going down a treat as we got stuck into Enchiladas, Tortillas Chips, Wraps and Mexican Spicy Chicken. I cant remember who I sat with, though I think it was with Heidi Jutton, Katy Cook, Sally Plant, Jon Bawden and Nadia Guirirem. After this we gathered at the front and we all got embarrased as our faces and voices appeared in front of the rest of the company as the “PR Week 2010 Awards” ceremony began.

The other groups ideas were great as well, though the “MySac” was untouchable, well literally…Other ideas included a “PR Dolly”, basically a lady who does all the PR for you meaning you can chill out and get a robot to do your work. A teleport machine like Doctor Who’s Tardis was another group’s idea. Oh and one thing I forgot was at Ealing Football Club earlier that day, we had met Anton Ferdinand of West Ham United and England. He posed for autographs, and even appeared in one of the Bite fake videos for the day! Once all the videos had been watched the panel, and the promotions company who provided the days entertainment revealed the winner…which was…

US – Team 4 of course, and the “MySac”, we went up to the front and were given medals! It was a nice gesture and I still have the medal, which I also wore the next day at the Leyton Orient v. AFC Bournemouth match. It was great craic and the beer continued, I must have been on my 15th free bottle by that stage. Then there was another competition and it was for the best fancy dress. The judges for this narrowed it down to 3, most people had just dressed up as an “ordinary” cowboy or indian, however, the 3 on the podium that night were myself, Jonny Rosemont and Craig O’Boyle.

I was in a Northern Ireland football shirt, a green hat, chaps and the usual cowboy attire with guns. Jonny R was a brown and yellow Tequila bottle and Craig O’Boyle had added his own pun and comedy, with a take on the word “cow boy.” He had taken it literally and was actually a boy dressed like a cow, well he was a cowboy. When we all did our speeches and the votes were cast I came a respectable third so I took home a bronze for Northern Ireland. Jonny R came second and Craig deservedly for the effort he’d put in, won it! The photos tell some of the story…

Then Claire from finance in work led the show and had us all line dancing, not really my thing, but I joined in none the less, and soon I was drunk and talking with all sorts of people in work. We had the place totally booked out, so nobody else except Bite staff was there. The next day would be a Saturday so no office hangovers! The bar closed at 11 pm, and a few of us wanted to keep partying so Jonny R talked us into a nightclub in Ealing/Hammersmith were I sank gin and tonics and chatted to random girls. It was actually in this bar on that particular night that I met the curious Mary Kolo, a pretty Ugandan lady who gave me some spice some weeks later, and as I shared a taxi home with Alison and Emma from work the night was over, but two years on, the memories are vivid and are a joy to relive. If you do ever see a “MySac” anywhere on your travels, I was one of the elite few who invented the product, back in August 2006.

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