Mayhew holds mirror up to advertising

Content creator and satirist Rob Mayhew was a guest of the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (IAPI) at a members event facilitated by Aoife McCleary (pictured) of Forsman and Bodenfors Dublin. Mayhew’s agency career informs his amusing and novel take on advertising. His social media sketches hold a mirror up to adland. He related how a bit of confidence, a lot of posting and a €20 ring light from Argos changed his life.

In his performance for IAPI members, Mayhew explained how he and his team were about to meet with a potential new client for a ‘new business chemistry meeting’ which some of the morning’s audience referred to as “equal parts funny, and embarrassingly relatable”. From a complicated check-in process, to tech issues, wrong slides and missing team members, he had the room in stitches with how accurate (and awkward) these meetings can prove.

Mayhew explained how he became “adland’s favourite social media star” and how agencies can learn about putting fun back into the work. He fell out of love with social. He felt brands were paying big bucks for high production videos that nobody was seeing. Everything was so samey and boring. But everything changed for him with the arrival of TikTok. Embracing the platform’s freedom, he became an expert on everything there was to know about it.


Using his comedy experience, he wrote scripts and filmed them at home. ‘Not knowing how to behave when you show a mood film in a pitch’ was one of his most popular sketches. In it, he awkwardly bobs his head along to Justice’s We Are Your Friends, smiles nervously, mouths the lyrics, and gives the audience a thumbs up. His ‘Telling Gen Z what Fridays in the office used to be like’ sketch was a major hit across TikTok and LinkedIn.

He’s worked with many advertisers, and shared why he thinks content creators can help brands inject more humour into their social presence. “We creators spend thousands of hours making mistakes and learning the craft. So, we truly are experts. In truth, humour doesn’t work for every brand, but once you find that unique insight, there are so many opportunities to stand out and be funny. Brands need to be more agile and not afraid of being original.”

Mayhew’s tips to win on social: 

“Just go for it. I thought I was too old and too late. And this was 4 years ago. I had written strategies for TikTok, but like most people in strategy, I had never been on TikTok myself. What completely changed everything for me was buying a cheap €20 ring light from Argos, then picking up my phone, and just going for it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re too late. Follow your dreams.”

“Find your voice. When I first started making my silly sketches, I was posting eight times a day. Then six months in, I did my first office sketch and that changed everything. People like relatable things, so I decided to go even more niche with agency life. And I went from hundreds of views to tens of thousands overnight.”

“Write everything down. I’m always watching and taking notes because the real world is so funny to me, and it’s why my sketches are almost always true. Once you start paying attention to the world around you, you find so much inspiration in daily life.”

Mayhew is a judge at this year’s Cannes Lions; you can follow him here

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