Chapter 1: A Glossary of HOCO Terms
Language is a beautiful gift that keeps on giving.
Sometimes, we say things that we don’t really mean, and it takes a little help figuring out what we’re actually saying. Here are a few real-life examples, guaranteed to be heard at least once a day, somewhere in the vicinity of the office.
“Fantastic!” — Go die.
“WHY ALWAYS ME?” — Yeah, I’ll get it done.
“I have this really cool idea…” — It’s crazy and impossible but you’re going to have to do this anyway because I pay you to do it. (Also, I know you can do it.)
“You’ll get a reward for it!” — You get nothing horrible, which is good enough.
“Good morning!” — Another day of hell with you people.
“Let’s meet in an hour.” — *meets three hours later*
“Working hours are 9.30am to 6.30pm.” — Psyched, we never stop working.
“P*ch*ng” — Use when appropriate. (All the time.)
“Lunch?” — Let’s GTFO of this office before I murder someone from hunger.
“Wake me up in ten minutes.” — *quietly snoring for the better part of half an hour*
“Oh, you know what would be really cool?” — MORE WORK.
“It’s going to be okay.” — We’re gonna die several times doing this, and there will probably be tears and even more swearing, and at least three things will get thrown around in the span of this project, but… It’s going to be okay.
Chapter 2: Once HOCO, Forever HOCO
Individually, we’re pretty awesome, or at least that’s what our Instagram profiles would like you to think. But as a team?
Well, why don’t you find out for yourself?
At 9.43am, the office is quiet, aside from the occasional sips from large coffee mugs and unhurried typing. If you concentrate hard enough, you could probably hear the eggs boiling over the stove in the pantry.
At 9.44am, the peace and quiet is violently broken by a single, vehement, “F*CK!” as the office door gets blasted open.
The sips continue. The typing stays unbothered.
A couple of seconds later, a long wail of frustration erupts in the distance, and then the dragging of feet as the wail tapers to a sigh.
Someone, probably with coffee in their veins and no regard for their own safety, says brightly, “Welcome back to work! Did you miss us?”
More sips. The typing slows to a stop. And then—
“… I should’ve stayed in Budapest when I had the chance.”
It’s always good to have a bit of a break, but sometimes your team might have missed you a little more than you would have expected.
“So, I couldn’t find the files you asked while you were away, but I did manage to find some others that might work as well. I need help tweaking them to fit this concept though, and….”
“I’m… Almost finished with this video, but what do you think? ‘Cause I wasn’t sure if this shot works, or…”
“Can you please organise your stuff properly next time?”
“Did you see my message about the new video for IG? Client wants it tomorrow morning instead. Could you edit it by today?”
(Like, really missed you.)
“UGH. WHY ALWAYS ME?!”
“... I mean, good job, guys. Really, so damn proud of you all! You totally handled everything on your own just fine. I should go for a longer holiday next time, haha.”
“Thanks. That sounds fantastic.”
Chapter 3: Meet the Misfits
We had absolutely no idea what we were walking into when we accepted those seemingly favourable offers.
They say life has a funny way of bringing people together. For us, it was more than mere coincidence. We met at the wrong time, but we were brought together by the same goal: to make a difference by design... with no short of laughs and antics along the way, of course.
Randy — Master Chief (Gryffindor)
Josh — The Think Tank (Ravenclaw)
Erwan — Actually Beyonce (Hufflepuff)
Laura — Everyone’s Right Hand (Wo)Man (Ravenclaw)
Matt — The Hopeful Metalhead (Ravenclaw)
Adam — Starboy (Hufflepuff)
Michelle — Erwan’s Keeper (Ravenclaw)
Jimmy — “Cheerful, even when he shouldn’t be.” (Gryffindor)
Sherly — Girl with an Iron Fist (Gryffindor)
Riza — Office Mother
Fatin — Miss All-Smiles (Gryffindor)
Karen — The Panic-Proof Secretariat (Ravenclaw)
XX — “Her bark is worse than her bite.” (Ravenclaw)
Howard — The Night Owl (Hufflepuff)
Faris — Aladdin (Slytherin)
Eric — Epitome of RBF (Hufflepuff)
Joon Mann — The Guy with the Phone (Ravenclaw)
Mauzira — Actually a Cat (Slytherin)
Lance — “Cheers!”
Khairul — “Silence speaks louder than words.” (Slytherin)
Chapter 4: Battle Tactics
Honestly? Half of the time we come into our internal meetings, we’re completely clueless.
“Hey team! So, I’ve got this really cool idea—”
(Oh God, not again)
Everyone thinks the meetings with clients are the real battles, but that’s because they’ve probably never been in a meeting, trying to come up with “innovative, one of a kind, never before seen” ideas while you’re on your third cup of tea for the day, and four million other illustrations, scripts and accounts are sprinting through your head.
“Anybody else have another idea? What about you?”
Magic doesn’t happen in an instant. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither were those giant, colourful billboards with the catchy, quirky phrases we came up with while half out of our minds brainstorming. But the audience is ever restless; and that’s when we learned how to make magic look as if it’s something natural, instantaneous.
(Like we’ve got all of our sh*t together.)
“Okay, so we need to get this ready by… Monday.”
“But, today’s Friday?”
But, in the mess that is too many Google Docs, illegible scrawls in notebooks and unending updates in the group chats, there is a high borne of too much caffeine and borderline insane inspiration, and what once looked impossible and unattainable is now:
On your phones.
On the streets.
On your minds.
(That’s when we know we’ve won another battle.)
“Doooone! Good job, team!”
“Yay! Oh, don’t forget, meeting at 3pm later, okay?”
Chapter 5: Intermission
We didn’t know how good we had it twenty years ago with nap time.
There’s a gigantic bean bag in the corner of the already cramped media room that was brought in for a shoot, and never left the office, along with another one in the mini library.
No one knows how much drool the things contain at this point, but nobody really gives a sh*t about it when they’re comfortable as hell, and nap time can range from a respectable five o’clock in the late afternoon, to a questionable 11am, and even a three-in-the-morning, “can’t be bothered to go home at this point”, full on crash after a difficult project and unforgiving deadlines.
The trouble is, there are only two of those things, and twenty-strong people in the office in need of a nap.
(Some of us need it a lot more than others.)
Which means sometimes, we have to get a little more creative when it comes to getting in our daily allotted nap times.
“Hey, wake me up in 10 minutes?”
“... If I even wake up before you.”
Chapter 6: A Pocketful of Stars
“I got a pocket, got a pocketful of (stars) — do what you want, but you’re never gonna break me, sticks and stones are never gonna shake me” - Pocketful of Sunshine, Natasha Bedingfield
A day in the HOCO office doesn’t usually include leaving the place before the sun sets.
And if you’re cooped up in the media room, soundproofed and completely devoid of any windows, it can feel as if the world hasn’t been turning for the entire day; like lunch time was two weeks ago and not a mere few hours past.
It’s a disconcerting feeling, to say the least. The streets are noticeably emptier, dim shop front lighting barely illuminating the path to your car; there’s a constant ringing in the back of our heads that sounds suspiciously like echoes from the day’s meetings and the need to claw out time to breathe.
And don’t get us started on those days when deadlines seem to sneak up on us, when the time ticks way past sunset and too close to midnight.
(For real, don’t. We’d be here all f*cking night, and we have more important stuff to deal with. Like trying to remember where the hell we kept those files from that one shoot two years ago.)
It’s a thing we take for granted, being able to walk out of the office with the sunset hovering in the distance.
But sometimes, we spend so much time looking for the sun, we forget to look back up to see something just as lovely.
“My God, isn’t it weird that we don’t get to see the sun anymore, the moment we enter this office for the day?” Disgruntlement is a common voice here in the HOCO office; today, it’s a media team member.
A contemplative hum. And then:
“You could always, you know, go out for a couple of minutes?” Just as there are disgruntled HOCO team members, there’s always someone who’s pretty cheerful as well. Like, incredibly cheerful.
“It’s not the same, is it? I mean, technically, I could do that. But I’ll still have to go back inside. And when I can finally f*cking leave, it hits me all over again that I spent a day’s worth of sunshine in a room where the brightest thing is a stupidly expensive desktop.
“And, I don’t know, man. Feels like I’m always missing something, every time I leave when it’s dark and I have to rack my brain to remember where I’d parked my car.”
Suddenly, laughter echoes from somewhere in the office; bright, sunny and carefree.
“Oh, they’re still here?”
“Preparing a deck for tomorrow, I think.”
Quiet falls all around again for a moment.
“Hey. Did you know you can see the stars from here?” It’s a lighthearted question, as expected of someone so obliviously cheerful.
“What? We’re in the city though, how’s that possible?”
“Dunno. But look—there, you see that?”
“You sure those aren’t like, satellites or something?”
“I’m like, 72% sure they’re stars. But you can see them, right?”
“Yeah, I mean, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of clouds tonight. They—they actually look pretty bright, huh?”
“Yeap. Nice, right?”
“I guess, yeah.”
“It’s not as bright as the sun, but… They’re still kinda pretty, you know?”
“… WTF, that was so cheesy. Wait—no, actually, write that down, we could probably use that for something.”