DIARY: Which London shops gave best reception to an undercover Aussie?

All this information superhighway stuff is clearly endangering the

commercial faculties of famous clients. Give some people a PC and,

before you know it, they think they're the next Stephen Hawking,

unravelling the mysteries of the advertising universe with a laptop and

a modem.

A certain client has come up with a witty wheeze to launch a new agency

on the internet - hire an actor, pretend he's working for a start-up

called Bing! Bang! Boom! in Sydney, arm him with a secret camera and

have him visit London agencies and ask to take snaps in their reception

areas "for my personal photograph album, because I love British


So what did the exercise say about the agencies involved? Bartle Bogle

Hegarty said no, and don't think you can even get past the downstairs

security guard without an invitation. J. Walter Thompson said yes,

implying we're corporate and proud to have a picture of the Commodore in


M&C Saatchi said no, perhaps because it ordered a Schrager hotel

reception by mistake. Saatchi &Saatchi said yes but just wait until you

see the new one. Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO said no, and muttered scary

things about copyright issues if by some slim chance a client's work

were to sneak into the shot.

Mother said maybe later and a bemused staffer crept back into the agency

caravan. Lowe Lintas said no, but invited the tourist to have a look

behind the scenes. It's lucky that Wieden & Kennedy has moved for

although it said yes it didn't appear to have a reception. And St Luke's

was too busy announcing over the Tannoy that Karen and Tracey's birthday

cake was about to be dished up.

The advantages to this exercise are manifest. First, you can make

serious points about agency culture for, as we all know, clients can

judge an agency by the welcome they get (or don't get) at reception.

Second, rather than spend £11,750 on a colour DPS in Campaign to

launch your agency, you can do it for nothing on the Diary page. And the

identity of the client? All will be revealed in due course.


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