DIARY: New-business frenzy in vain - thanks, CIM

With the new-business market still looking less than verdant to many a keen agency eye, it was with particular relish that European networks eyed a letter from the Chartered Institute of Marketing sent out on Monday 2 December.

Said letter, which arrived on Wednesday, lightened the new-business gloom with the upbeat news of a pan-European client looking for a new agency.

To this end, it requested a host of information about network offices - all by Friday.

Agencies duly leapt to the task, dropping their other affairs to plough through the volume of work requested. And it wasn't a small job - sources say compiling the goods took more than 20 man-hours in the UK alone, let alone cross-European discussions.

So it was rather a bugger when a letter (not on CIM-headed paper) arrived on agency desks late on Thursday morning that ran something like this: "It's come to our attention that the client isn't affiliated to the CIM. Therefore, we can't offer it advice, so please stop what you are doing."

Although it did apologise for the waste of time, mightn't it have been a good idea to check this out first, before agencies spent a load of time and expense on the brief?

"The individual concerned has mistakenly used Institute-headed notepaper to conduct a survey, and has sent a letter to the agencies concerned, apologising for her error," Chris Lenton, the CIM's acting joint chief executive, said.