E.THE LAST WORKING DAY: In an exclusive feature for Campaign, Matt Beaumont, the author of this year's must-read satire on the advertising industry, reviews the highs and lows of the Miller Shanks year
By MATT BEAUMONT, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 15 December 2000 12:00AM
re: Christmas address
Dr Mengele (that name does nothing for doctor/patient bonding) has confined me to bed for another six days so it looks like I'll be spending Christmas here. While I'm incapacitated, here are some last minute jobs before you disappear to Godalming for your turkey.
1. Send case of Moet and kilo of Beluga to Campaign. I know we don't stand a rat's chance of making Agency of the Year but we should at least go through the motions.
2. Tell Liam O'Keefe that the mistletoe in reception is not a licence to molest clients. Amanda Platell may have been up for it but the love bite he gave Michael Ancram blew any hope we had of landing the Tories.
3. Please send a happy Christmas all-staffer on my behalf. Play down the disasters and focus on whatever minor triumphs you can dredge up - you know the form. But remember this isn't the Gettysburg Address. For God's sake keep it real.
Have a nice one, Dan, and I'll see you in Jan.
re: Christmas address
Tragic news about the leg. I speak for the entire agency in wishing you a speedy return - Gstaad is splendid for a few days but it can grow stifling.
I shall immediately set my mind to composing a message to the hoi polloi.
Fear not, Harriet, I embody vox populi in its literal sense.
Daniel Westbrooke - 22/12/00, 10.53am
to: All Departments
re: a year in review
In the unscheduled absence of our CEO it falls to me, as Director of Training and Resource, to impart the customary festive message. Allow me to begin by reflecting upon what has been our annus mirabilis.
Last January we began at the summit. Let it forever be remembered that we were custodians of Coca-Cola, the capo di capos of brands. The almost-twenty-four hours that we held the account were perhaps the headiest in our illustrious history.
More recently our failure in the British Telecom pitch was an unmitigated blessing. Winning this massive piece of business would only have clogged up our finely-tuned systems and made us less fleet of foot in answering the needs of our existing clients - a fact that St Luke's will surely discover to their cost.
I would like to scotch the unsettling rumours of merger and buy-out that have plagued us throughout the year.
The trade press had it that we were 'touting ourselves around the globe' for any network that would have us. In fact quite the opposite has been true. It was only after repeated rejections from our executive board in New York that the French settled for Saatchi and the Canadians had to make do with Leagas Delaney. The press conference where our president, James F Weissmuller, stated categorically that 'Miller Shanks is not for sale at any price' is a matter of record. The journalist heard crowing 'Liar, liar, pants on fire' merely displayed the cynical depths to which his profession has sunk.
2000 has been the year when the unique Miller Shanks Culture of Creativity received its most resounding endorsement yet. I refer, of course, to the refusal of all the awards juries to honour our work. Proof positive, if ever it were needed, that genius is never celebrated in its own time.
Peer approval did, however, come from Larry Barker at BMP, who has been heard to threaten the more lacklustre of his young charges with 'a job at Miller Shanks' - testimony to our unparalleled reputation as a creative training ground.
Indeed, the high wire artistes of the Creative Department deserve special praise. They failed by a whisker to land us the M&S business. Transposing those famous initials and accompanying this with some stunningly noir Helmut Newton images truly is une idee grande. Am I alone in believing that this would have been a much more impactful relaunch of their brand than a plump, naked lady jogging up a hill?
We must not forget Pinki's and Liam's seminal sanpro film. The ingredients are now familiar to the whole nation: the 'happening' sounds of S Club 7; the poetic solitude of the beach at St Ives; and that spirited icon of post-modern femininity, Anthea Turner, dressed in only white bikini and supa-lite panty pad as she awaits the perfect wave upon which to 'shoot the tube'. Andrew Cracknell would surely not have panned it quite so vindictively in Private View had it not been for the debut a few days prior of an advertisement for a well-known Irish beer. If the churlish Mr Cracknell had bothered to check his facts he would have discovered that our script had spent a record three years being crafted, honed and perfected in research and, therefore, could not possibly have been an act of plagiarism. Indeed I will posit here and now this question: had the so-called Tom and Walt's consciences been clear in this matter, would they not have asked their client to splash out the extra on colour film stock?
The creative zenith, however, was our corporate campaign for Railtrack.
Can any one of us deny feeling a surge of pride as we watched the news and saw those commuters march on Paddington and Hatfield holding blow-ups of our 'Safety First' ad? As a result our client enjoyed the kind of coverage that even our superlative media department cannot buy.
Account Management, our own Corps Diplomatique, warrants mention in despatches.
Their efforts have kept this year's account losses safely out of double figures. And only yesterday a senior client congratulated me on the total positivity shown by the team running his business. His exact words are worth repeating so that we may all bask in their glow: 'In the three years you've had my business I have not once heard the word no.'
Account Planning had a vintage year. Their groundbreaking case study, Deconstructing the Mindset and Targeting the Emotions of the C2D Homemaker in the Added Value Rehydratable Impulse Snack Beverage Sector, directed the shimmering light of clarity upon the instant soup market. Their failure in the Advertising Effectiveness Awards and the IPA's subsequent grass roots re-evaluation of their competition is surely no coincidence.
Creative Services, too, has performed in exemplary fashion. I am informed that this year only five of our ads appeared upside down - our best since records began in 1973. Furthermore, I would like to take this opportunity to exonerate them over the unfortunate appearance of the launch ad for Indulgent Desserts' Death by Chocolate in September's World Famine Aid Bulletin. I can say no more at the present time as the matter is sub judice.
And we must reserve a very special thank you for the unsung heroes of Despatch. They have despatched packages large and small with courteous aplomb.
A breathtaking year, then, with better still to come. Last week's de-hirings mean that we are in excellent shape to face the rigours of 2001.
Please join me in reception at 1.00, where the vino spumante will flow unchecked. If further temptation is required, vol au vents and mince pies left over from yesterday's client soiree will also be served!
I look forward to personally thanking each and every one of you for making Miller Shanks London an agency where talent, not title, reigns supreme.
Acting Chief Executive Officer and Senior Director (Europe) in Charge of Training and Resource
Liam O'Keefe - 22/12/00, 11.00am
to: All Departments
re: Christmas Bonuses
As Dan pointed out in his uplifting email, 2000 has definitely been an annus mirabilis. So you will be delighted to hear that the traditional brown envelopes will, of course, be distributed. When you receive yours, please put in as much money as possible and return it to Nigel Godley in accounts.
Remember that every pound goes towards saving a job in the January cull. Please, please give generously.
(Meanwhile in Romania)
re: you been stealing my lines?
Ben, I may be a couple of thousand miles from the Ivy but word has reached me that you think you're as tough as me. Well, big boy, would you have the brass bollocks to send an all-staffer like the attached?
As they sing down the Ceaucescu Arms at chucking-out time on a Saturday, 'Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough.'
David Crutton ? 22/12/00, 10.31am
to: All Departments
Pressure of work means that I expect you at the office on the 25th. It's not all bad news. You don't have to be at your desks until 9.30, so you'll have plenty of time to enjoy the festivities with your families.
For anyone who chooses not to turn up, I have in my possession the schedules of numerous cattle trucks, which will be making the journey to London. Many of your countrymen are already there and earning a decent crust cleaning windscreens on the North Circular.
Matt Beaumont is the author of e and The e Before Christmas, both published by Harper Collins.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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