DIARY: BMP wants to replace its armchair ad critics

For all those of you who thought that the ladies and gents in the suits ran agencies - forget it. It seems the real power behind the industry lies in those evening boozing sessions put on to encourage ordinary bods to talk about whether ads are good or not.

Yes, those harmless-looking souls, who between them make up the imaginatively named focus group, hold the strings of power. This was perfectly illustrated this week when BMP DDB said goodbye to its veteran nit-pickers after ten years of sterling service.

Once a month for a decade these eight ladies - chosen because of their 30- to 50-year-old status - met every week for nibbles and a glass of wine to pore over BMP's latest offerings. They've okayed ads for Marmite, Volkswagen, Barclaycard and Hovis, and could even be blamed for axing the PG Tips chimps and giving the thumbs up to those annoying plastic birds.

Now officially out to grass due to "changing ages", which roughly translates as "too old", BMP's now on the hunt for another posse of ladies to help it get through the catering packs of crisps and wine. Oh, and to look at some ads too.