ANALYSIS: HOW TO SELL TO ... Paul Thomas - It’s an F1 pace for Universal McCann’s press buying director. By Ashley Davies

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.

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.



LIKES



Formula One



Goodies in the post



Reps who understand his aims



DISLIKES



Being called Thomo or ’mate’



Lack of product knowledge



Reps’ indecision on prices.



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