DIARY: National Trust ad joke sees Nolan being put in a delicate situation

Mike Nolan was really looking forward to his hols. The Banks Hoggins O'Shea/FCB man in charge of its National Trust account had just overseen the agency's debut work for the client, which was ready to roll. What could possibly go wrong?

Well almost everything. On his return from his break, the hapless Nolan found his boss going ballistic, the client apoplectic and himself being accused of a Brobdingnagian miscalculation.

The cause of all the mayhem was one of a series of ads for a £1.5 million campaign designed to jazz up the Trust's worthy image - "Visit Lyme Park and see the lake that Coin Firth's Mr Darcy jumped into, etc." You get the idea.

Alas, the creative team got a bit carried away and produced an idea that gave a whole new meaning to droit de seigneur.

For an execution promoting the charms of Hanbury Hall, the lads took their inspiration from the antics of the depraved 18th Century duke who lived in the stately pile. "He smuggled the maid through a tunnel then took her up the back passage," they wrote. Fnarr, fnarr.

Worse, Nolan stood accused of bullying a graduate trainee into sending the ad to the client.

Cue a furious e-mail to Nolan from the trust's Lisa Bragger. "We feel that if you don't by now understand our brand values we have serious problems ahead. We are losing confidence fast."

Before he had a chance to change his underwear, Nolan was called to an emergency meeting with Jo Blundell, the head of account management.

"The account looks shaky," she warned him.

Showdown time with the creatives. What did they think they were playing at? Not to worry, they assured him, the ad didn't have to run that day.

And what day was that by the way? Erm, 1 April.


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