If you phone someone with a press budget of pounds 80 million and
can’t be arsed to find out what accounts he’s got beforehand, you
probably deserve the kind of response you’d get from Paul Thomas. But
just for the record, they include Sky TV, Motorola, Nestle, Coca-Cola
Schweppes, L’Oreal, Gateway and Somerfield Kwik Save.
Now 33, Thomas kicked off his career as a management trainee at Gillette
14 years ago, when he was just old enough to use its products. He then
joined what was then McCann-Erickson’s media division as a planner/buyer
five years later. His climb up the ranks there was punctuated by 18
months at The Mail on Sunday as senior sales executive, but he returned
to be head of press four years ago.
He’s a very busy man. If he tells you what his target market is, for
God’s sake don’t come offering him another one. He’ll probably tell you
that if you want a planning job you should join an agency. At the same
time, if you don’t know your own products and those of your competitors,
you’ll definitely wind him up. Just make sure you know what he’s trying
to do with his clients.
Another thing that gets his goat is your being unable to make a decision
on prices. We know it’s probably not your fault, but as he says: ’It’s
pointless having reps if they don’t have the power to make deals.’
And if you get as far as having a social chat with Thomas, be careful
who you slag off; his industry mates include Stuart Taylor at The
Guardian, Rob Atkinson and Steve Atkinson (they aren’t related) at The
Mail on Sunday and Jason Dawes at Adidas.
While inviting him for a relaxing 18 holes might soften him up a bit,
you are more likely to impress with a Formula One jolly.
As for restaurants, his favourite is Sharrow Bay by Ulswater in the Lake
District. But often he’s more than happy to have a curry or a few jars
down the pub.
He’s also a bit of a sucker for getting cool stuff like toys and gadgets
through the post. And his PA, Rosie Elie-Vidal, does have influence over
his diary, so be sure to be nice to her.
So to really impress Thomas, take him for a slap-up curry at
Silverstone, talk knowledgably about his products and follow up by
sending him a SwingMate (see page 27) by first-class post.
Goodies in the post
Reps who understand his aims
Being called Thomo or ’mate’
Lack of product knowledge
Reps’ indecision on prices.