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Diary: How Marco Pierre White came to eBay's rescue

Creating work that challenges ad convention is the calling card of every agency. But since it pipped Mother to the eBay account earlier this year, everyone has been asking themselves what exactly the boys at Albion can offer that their Shoreditch compatriots can't.

Well, now we know: a five-second live feed to eBay that picks an item in real time and embeds it on TV screens together with its bidding price. In doing so, those tech-heads at Albion have shunned sensible three-day advance TV playout times, favouring instead a cutthroat seat-of-pants system that means ITV logs into eBay moments before the ad goes live, picks an item and superimposes it seconds before it goes on air.

After five weeks of solid testing, the big night arrived, with its long-awaited debut planned for the ad break during Hell's Kitchen. So, with all systems go and the spot just moments away, the cogs start whirring, ITV logs into eBay, picks its first item for campaign and ... CRASH - the whole bloody channel goes down.

Black. Silence. Nerves jangle among client, agency and media owner as ITV bods scratch their collective heads wondering why their channel has temporarily stalled. Out comes a contingency screen of eBay products meant only to be used for an emergency. Then, three seconds later, the confusion comes to an end as viewers are returned to the culinary expertise of Marco Pierre White.

Diary hears there's been no glitches since, but perhaps this will teach Jean-Marie Dru a thing or two about the meaning of disruption.

- Got a diary story? E-mail us at campaign@haymarket.com or call (020) 8267 4656.

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