The entire event should be renamed brand idol, sponsored by our agencies

I took the team off site this week to get them thinking about our 2011 brand plans. It might seem a long way off, but our business planning process requires more sign-offs than I care to mention.

When I started in marketing, away days were a marvellous excuse to dress down for the day.

Every day is now dress down day and the away day represents a reverse opportunity to dress to impress. Well, at least it does based on the appearance of a couple of our assistant brand managers, who took the opportunity to enter into the spirit of London Fashion Week.

Most other aspects of the away day remain remarkably familiar. The flip chart sits in the corner of the room waiting for a volunteer scribe, Post-it notes and marker pens sit ready for their busiest day of the year and the hotel staff deliver the same meeting room fare as I enjoyed in the Eighties.

The hotel levies an impressive surcharge for the right to hi-tech luxuries such as an overhead projector, though it does throw in a pull-down screen as a free gift with purchase. At least we don’t have to bring our own acetates these days. Shame actually, I used to love acetates, particularly the line by line reveal that was achieved by covering up your next sentence with a piece of paper. Powerpoint’s custom animation has never quite delivered the same level of drama.

“The entire event should be renamed brand idol, sponsored by our agencies”

We spent the morning enjoying stewed filter coffee, unbranded biscuits and nibbling on endless mints in search of insights that will inspire our forward brand plans. I had done sufficient pre-event planning to ensure that each of my brand team got an hour slot on the agenda to convince me that I should spend more money with them than their colleagues.

The entire event should be renamed brand idol, sponsored by our agencies that have donated all manner of concept boards and other lavish props in pursuit of supporting their acts.

Most of my teams chose to go entirely digital with their presentations, even handing me a removable drive containing their works as a takehome gift. Flash it may be, but practical it is not.

Have they not understood the target audience? I still operate with a red Biro rather than a USB pen. Their homework will only get the feedback it deserves when they submit it in the correct hard copy form. For those running late, fax is fine.

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