The Secret Marketer

Our ‘man on the inside’ provides a view from the top of the marketing tree

This week, I was pleased to discover that our ad agency has made a few small cutbacks of its own. Gone are the extravagant fresh flowers in reception, as indeed are most of the receptionists.

I have often been puzzled as to why it takes multiple receptionists to answer the phone and sit behind one computer. Still, I guess you need to provide lunch cover when at least one receptionist is permanently occupied ordering yet another bike to deliver a hard-backed A3 envelope 200 yards down the road.

We were escorted to our plasma screen-infested meeting room by what must now be our fifth account exec in under three years (is it just me or are they always called Gemma and go to that same school in Surrey?). As we made small talk in the lift, I began to worry that the cost reduction programme may have extended to meeting room catering. I needn’t have worried. There were mounds of sandwiches. Just why is it that every agency gets the sandwich per head ratio so lavishly wrong?I have worked on big and small brands during my career and there is definitely a correlation between company size and the number of non-value adding agency staff who turn up for meetings. Larger company; more useless bodies.

On this occasion, we had gathered to discuss a completely new launch campaign. Such an event demands a 58-page scene setting presentation by the ad agency planning department. After nearly two hours of incomprehensible charts with words that I could barely understand, Dave from the creative team finally unleashed his big idea.

Dave doesn’t get out of Soho much, but does claim to have once shopped in a Morrisons with his mum when he was little and have some insight into the average family and what they buy.

As it happens, I rather like Dave and rate him more highly than anybody else in the room. Sadly, the agency cutbacks have predictably extended to the size of my pack shot, but overall I am very excited with our new direction. I can’t really complain about Dave either; he has even worn a suit jacket over his T-shirt today. Dave is a man of few words, but at least I understand them and I respect his refusal to work with Powerpoint.

The next step is to get Dave out for a quiet beer so that we can thrash out what really needs to be done without his multiple colleagues getting in the way. Perhaps our process-obsessed account director can cover on reception while we shave weeks off his timetable.

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