Each year, around the anniversary of the founding of Cog, we take a day out of the studio to reflect on the past year and plan for our future.
This year, marking Cog’s 27th year, we spent the morning in discussions: we talked about the cost of running a design studio, Jack led a workshop around audiences (similar to those that we run with clients), and Matt talked about our own website.
Then, in the afternoon, Michael sent us off in teams for a scavenger hunt around London.
Dan, Emily, Matt and Tom were in Team One. Me, Anna and Razvan formed Team Two. Each team was given a list of variously bizarre items to collect, and a budget of £50 to be used in any way we saw fit.
The list of items for us to find was pretty varied. Some items could be gathered local to the studio, in Greenwich, some involved trips to central London, and some included our clients.
A number of items on the list required photographic, or video, evidence, so those items had to be sent to Michael’s mobile by the end of the hunt.
Before venturing out, both teams spent some time in the studio discussing their strategy for the afternoon. Basically how to get the most points and beat the other team.
Team One ventured into Greenwich, gathering items such as photos on the Meridian line and on the deck of the Cutty Sark, a VHS tape from a second-hand bookshop and, we were told, a coffee cup from Waterstone’s, though apparently the café doesn’t have branded cups.
Those of us in Team Two decided that we could gain the most points in central London. But before we hopped on the train, we grabbed a printed prospectus from Trinity Laban (just around the corner to our studio), and walked on to the Albany (one of our clients) to get a team selfie with Nadia, their marketing manager. We also got a video of us ‘dancing’ on stage, earning us extra points.
After grabbing a pair of chopsticks from a Chinese takeaway in Deptford, we took the train to London Bridge, heading for a photo at City Hall and more points.
Team One had similar ideas and took a bus, for 75 points, for their own photo outside City Hall.
Unaware of the other team’s tactics, me, Anna and Razvan journeyed along the South Bank, scoring a professional actor’s signature (50 points), a selfie with another client (Jen at South Bank Employers’ Group), a menu from a restaurant at the Southbank Centre (another 50 points) and then a photo of two team members on the opposite side of the river. Now, honestly, Anna and Razvan were on the pier. Can you spot them?
After much scouring for items, sending photos from buses, taxis and red phone boxes, both teams ended up at Soho Theatre at exactly the same time.
Both teams picked up a receipt from the Soho Theatre bar for 40 points. And both teams together had a selfie with Peter from the marketing team. Thank you Peter for being such a good sport.
Then it was a race to get back to the studio for 5.45pm, for the end of the hunt, to hand our items over to Michael for judging.
With a few minutes to spare, we returned to the studio, and for a sneaky final 25 points, we had a selfie with Michael in his capacity as a client, in his position as Executive Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts.
We listed our items, including some personal sacrifices by Dan, in the form of brown laces from his shoes, and Anna, offering her nose ring as a body-piercing ring. Each team tried to work out how well the other team had done. It was anybody’s game.
As we headed off to the Cutty Sark pub for dinner, Michael totted up the scores. Between the starters and the mains, he announced that Team Two (me, Anna and Razvan) were the winners with a total of 715 points. It was a close call with Team One scoring 690.
As winners, we were given custom Cog badges, a certificate (who doesn’t love a certificate?), and our winnings – £50 cash each.
Next year’s away day has got some big, fun shoes to fill.