Diary: FCB keep its pre-testing in the Williamson family

You know that times are tough in the industry when the bowl of complimentary sweets in reception suddenly disappears, the agency bar turns into a bring-your-own or instead of taking a private jet up to Scotland for a client meeting you find yourself making the seven-hour trip by rail.

Now, there's nothing wrong with being shrewd and watching the pennies when the industry is in the final throes of a lengthy recession, but down at FCB London, they give a whole different meaning to the words "cost-cutting".

Most agencies wanting to ensure that their responses to client briefs are on the money would hire a focus group to carry out the research, but at FCB they have gone for the bargain-basement version and employed the mother of a member of staff to cast a watchful eye over their ads.

Enter Helen Williamson, mother to the agency's new-business director, Jessica Williamson.

The former teacher, who even has her portrait installed alongside the FCB regulars, is their version of the man on the Clapham Omnibus.

Maybe this is how FCB will fill the gaps following the departure of the planning director, David Bain.

What next? The FCB chairman, John Banks, going cap-in-hand to Nabs for some cold, hard cash?