BACKBITE

The most fascinating thing about the Marketing Forum on board the Oriana a couple of weeks ago was not trying to stay awake while a futurist called Watts Wacker told us about the importance of the five-hundred-year plan, when, as we all know, five-minute plans are the exception in most ad agencies. No, it was discovering the reasons clients were there, and indeed why some keep coming back year after year to indulge in what sane people would describe as social torture. Some of them offer absorbing insights into the state of agency/client relationships. One client, for instance, told me that, contrary to persistent rumours, he would not dream of changing his agency - well, not since they had fired the creative director and rewritten the work at his insistence.

The most fascinating thing about the Marketing Forum on board the

Oriana a couple of weeks ago was not trying to stay awake while a

futurist called Watts Wacker told us about the importance of the

five-hundred-year plan, when, as we all know, five-minute plans are the

exception in most ad agencies. No, it was discovering the reasons

clients were there, and indeed why some keep coming back year after year

to indulge in what sane people would describe as social torture. Some of

them offer absorbing insights into the state of agency/client

relationships. One client, for instance, told me that, contrary to

persistent rumours, he would not dream of changing his agency - well,

not since they had fired the creative director and rewritten the work at

his insistence.



At least he had a reason. Other client behaviour was less

explicable.



Me, to an fmcg client with a pounds 10 million annual budget: ’Of all

the agencies you met here, which ones stand out?’ Him: ’Well, none of

the big ad agencies, of course, but I did meet an interesting woman from

a direct marketing agency. She talked a lot of sense, but the real

reason I remember her was because she had a bowl of sweets on her

meeting table instead of one of those electronic handbag laptop

thingies.’



There is some innocent fun to be had from reading between the lines of

this type of comment, of course, for the client in question has enjoyed

a successful relationship with a major ad agency for as long as I can

remember. It’s just that he didn’t expect to be surprised by any of the

ad agencies he met, while the marketing services companies, he reported,

were bursting with new ideas.



To end, some good news. The Visa Delta campaign that inspired the joke -

Q: What’s the difference between ’kerching’ and a bucket of shit? A: The

bucket - is no more. Mel Smith’s character has been killed off and the

creative has passed into the safe hands of Matt Ryan and John Pallant at

Saatchis. What a relief.



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