The Annual 2004: The 10 Top diary stories

1. Express aims to profit at expense of callers

Hats off to Richard Desmond. At a time when the newspaper industry is plagued by plummeting circulations, Desmond has come up with an ingenious new way to generate revenue.

As you may or may not know, Desmond's Express Group is moving out of its Blackfriars HQ and into the old HSBC building by the Thames.

There, it will enjoy better facilities, a better view and, we hope, any old stationery HSBC has left behind. But the ingenious part of the whole operation is the fact that these new offices come complete with 0871 phone numbers.

Now 0871 numbers aren't quite as pricey as your standard premium-rate lines (you know, the type you found in Desmond's old top-shelf titles, such as Exotic Stories or the timeless Asian Babes), but they are paying numbers. So now, when a middle-Englander phones the Daily Express to complain that it lacks the spittle and bile of the Daily Mail, they'll be charged for it.

A Northern & Shell spokesman said: "Would you please call us back. We don't move into the building until next week."

2. Walker worries about her new-found wealth

What have Robbie Williams and Christine Walker got in common?

No, it's not a penchant for tattoos (they don't, do they?), but for the fact that they can both shout from the rooftops: "I'm rich! I'm rich beyond my wildest dreams!"

While Walker's M&C Saatchi windfall might not be as hefty as the £80 million that Williams reportedly pocketed from EMI, she can still afford to not worry too much about leaving the oven on when she goes down the shops to pick up a pint of milk and a copy of the News of the World on a Sunday morning.

Walker says she is embarrassed by news of her £6 million, fearing she'll become a target for spongers and unwanted financial advisers (the same thing). Good luck to anyone who fancies their chances.

So just what can you do with £6 million? One investment could be an aeroplane - a very modest one, mind - to ferry the Walker clan over to her chateau in France.

But, as you would expect from someone dubbed the Maggie Thatcher of media, Walker promises it'll be business as usual and the money won't change her (too much).

In which case, if she really doesn't know quite what to do with her new-found fortune, she could just buy 1,276,595 packets of cigarettes.

3. Georgiadis shows off cheetah-like prowess

The dramatic fight on the train from Live and Let Die was nearly re-enacted on a recent South Africa media adventure.

The Adshel trip saw a host of glittering media lovelies being entertained aboard a train as it made its way through the vast South African veldt.

Following a dinner, the train was due to stop overnight, allowing the party to retire to their cabins for the night.

But clever old Phil Georgiadis, keen to avoid shuffling slowly down the train to his cabin with the masses, thought he'd save some time by alighting and then walking down the embankment to find his berth.

But as he made his way down, there was a sudden jolt and the train started to move off.

As it gathered speed and left him standing, Georgiadis realised that if he wanted to avoid being stranded at night in the depths of the veldt, he'd better make a run for it.

Georgiadis managed to make it to the viewing platform at the end of the train and attempted to clamber aboard.

Julie France, the managing director of Adshel, who was out on the viewing platform enjoying the African night, understandably startled by the sight of a man struggling desperately to board the moving train, fought him off with her handbag.

4. JCDecaux's super-loo shows how explosive outdoor media can be

Can it be coincidence that JCDecaux chose to showcase all of its most recent innovations (interactive bus shelter posters, clever "day and night" printing technology, etc) in the same week as one of its Automated Public Conveniences - or superloos - blew up spectacularly?

(Well, yes, it can actually.)

Police were called to Hanley town centre, Stoke-on-Trent after residents reported an explosion in the early hours. They rushed to the scene and found that the roof of the JCDecaux superloo had been torn off and that smoke was billowing out of it.

Sadly, it had nothing to do with the JCDecaux Innovate showcase. The explosion was apparently caused by a fault in the cables that ran underneath the toilet. This led to a power surge into the (vacant) loo, blowing its roof off and lifting the pavement.

It seems a shame that JCDecaux is not choosing to roll out these exploding loos across the UK. Surely even the laziest creative could see that Imodium would be a good fit.

5. Mother pays the price for awards success to top sick-in-taxi table

Nothing rounds off the great British Friday night binge-drinking session like parking a doner kebab on the floor of your cab on the way home.

Extensive research by those chauffeurs to the C-List, Addison Lee, has elevated the practice of losing one's lunch en route to a near-national sport.

For years, a nameless driver tells Diary, Addison Lee cabbies have kept an unofficial league table of the most emetic accounts on their books.

And for years, the company that has led the pack in the chunk-blowing stakes was MTV. How rock 'n' roll.

But MTV's porcelain bus-driving record has been wrested from the music broadcaster's clenched fists in a hotly contested campaign played out across the floors and seats of the capital's cabs. There can only be one winner, and the award for doing the big spit most frequently at last returns to its rightful home: adland.

And the champion of vomit that has restored advertising's reputation for bingeing with no regard for the consequences? Addison Lee's most nauseous account? Step forward Mother, and claim your crown.

6. Philip Green sees red, pitch teams turn white

Philip Green, the Arcadia boss, is not a man to take setbacks with a philosophical smile and a shrug. Oh no. Just ask the four agencies pitching for Green's Bhs and Dorothy Perkins accounts on the day the billionaire withdrew his bid for Marks & Spencer.

To describe his mood as filthy doesn't begin to do it justice, as Delaney Knox Warren & Partners, Euro RSCG London, Lowe and Grey London found.

Swooping in to the presentations, he would pause, spark an argument over what was being suggested, then storm out again.

One agency had the disconcerting experience of having to make its case to the accompaniment of Green's apoplexy in the next room. "I didn't ask you to fucking do it," he was heard to roar at a doubtless cowering minion. "I told you to fucking do it!"

A medal for courage under fire goes to the so far unnamed agency that is reported to have sung part of its pitch.

7. Stainer's made to look a fuel after his life imitates VW's viral art

Do you remember last year's viral Volkswagen ad from DDB, which used a little girl saying the word "bollocks" whenever something went wrong?

At the end of the ad, it becomes clear that she has picked up such language from her father, who is seen putting petrol in the tank of his VW instead of diesel, causing him to exclaim: "Bollocks."

It's a pity, then, that the whole point of the campaign seems to have been lost on Richard Stainer, DDB's account director on VW, despite him having seen it about 10,000 times. You see, Stainer was using the VW team diesel pool car the other weekend and - yes, you can probably guess what happened next - he filled the tank with 40 litres of unleaded.

8. Dane's bons mots will not be forgotten

Campaign was sad to hear about the death of Maxwell Dane, the last of the Doyle Dane Bernbach founding trio, at the age of 98, but glad to know that his legacy of wry wit will long survive him.

Dane wasn't just renowned for his principled behaviour (he once refused to take the business of an advertiser who was a prominent supporter of the Communist witch hunter Joe McCarthy) but could match Jeremy Bullmore when it came to the one-line put-down.

One story is about how Dane, the money man, protected DDB from a bit of creative expense claiming. A senior account executive was on a TV shoot in Las Vegas, which was delayed for a few days by bad weather. This left him not only with time but a lot of money on his hands, both of which he frittered away in a casino.

However, the executive had a cunning plan. Because his losses had resulted from the shooting delay, then surely they would be reimbursed by the agency.

So he asked Dane where he should put the losses on his expense form. "On the same line you would have put your winnings," Dane replied. Not bad for a bean counter.

9. Hacker hits the mark with the Saatchis logo

If there had been any doubt that tensions between M&C Saatchi and its former incarnation Saatchi & Saatchi had withered, they have been re-ignited with a little help from an undergraduate jobseeker.

For its graduate recruitment drive, Saatchi & Saatchi set eager young creatives the task of developing the agency's philosophy: "Nothing is impossible."

Graduates were charged with placing a sticker carrying Saatchis' logo in an inventive location, somewhere it had previously been presumed impossible to stick it.

One clever entrant decided to add a bit of comedy value by hacking the website of Saatchis' bitter rival, M&C Saatchi, which was set up after Maurice and Charles Saatchi were ousted from the agency they founded in the 90s.

News reaches us that M&C is so incensed it is considering suing. Surely it would be better for M&C to hire the graduate before Saatchis does.

Anyway, doesn't M&C know students never have money worth going to court for?

10. When Crouch junior's skills unnerved Mead

Nice to see Peter Crouch, the footballer son of Soul's creative director, Bruce Crouch, knocking on the door of first-team action at Aston Villa.

The striker has always had a talent for finding the net, though not always to everybody's pleasure.

Crouch senior still remembers what happened when watching his lad play a blinder for Spurs youth against their Millwall equivalents.

Soon after kick-off, a Bentley pulled up alongside the pitch. Out stepped Peter Mead, now Omnicom's vice-chairman, then the chairman of Millwall. He had come to run the rule over his son, Billy, whose role it was to mark Peter. Alas, Billy was having a nightmare. After Crouch had completed his hat-trick, Mead senior could stand no more.

Drawing on his Silk Cut, Mead buttonholed Bruce. "Do me a favour," he pleaded. "Tell your boy to stop my boy looking like a c**t!"


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