Mark Fiddes risks singling out ten expressions likely to form common parlance
‘Supplicate.’ Zack Troutman is pointing at the floor. For nearly a
decade he’s ruled with fear and food parcels the creative department of
Christ Buddha and Saatchi (Integrated). I press my nose into the
shagpiled scalps of less resilient copywriters and listen hard.
Bad timing. It’s lunch and he’s still chewing on my script.
‘This is junk,’ he munches. ‘I have more than 950 channels to fill and
you give me one Godzillion dollar ad like I was British Airways. Oh, and
it’s not even funny’.
Why argue? Troutman was the dark eminence behind the European Community
Intrusion of the Headspace Law that effectively banned broadcast
advertising. Troutman it was who offered Brits the chance to trade in
their right to vote for a luxury edition of the Encyclopedia
‘Arise mortal and accept this microchip FREE with compliments on a 300-
word, no obligation home trial. No salesman will call.’
It all goes fuzzy and suddenly my hand is seized by a virtual, almost
three-dimensional Harry Secombe in a red V-neck sweater.
Together we pass through a computer screen. Just like on Highway,
Harry’s presence brings with it comfort and succour. Behold, a granite
wall etched with these words in Garamond bold.
‘Jargon-buster.’ Below-the-line meanings with above-expectations
1. Database A Yellow Pages of your customers. Good for telling you that
they all like gardening, Elaine Page, buying things and filling in
coupons. Always ABC1.
2. Profiling An updated version of the 80s dance sensation, Vogueing.
Also a watertight way of selecting those hard-to-find affluent classes
who buy garden equipment and Lloyd Webber CDs.
3. Personalisation A great opportunity to affront a punter by getting
their name wrong, as in ‘Dear Diane, Princesss of Whales. You too could
go topless through London’s SW1 district in the new Skoda Estelle
4. Regression analysis A statistical tool for tracking daytime TV
viewership. Also useful for modelling past spending habits...number of
seeds bought versus bulbs.
5. The bang-tailed bound-in insert with self-moistening horseshoe
gumming Positively the world’s most successful response stimulator.
Always order them in confidence from a consenting adult printer.
6. Pump crowner Never demand one at the end of an evening out with
consenting adult printers. Admire them instead when filling up on garage
7. Shelf-wobbler According to top shelf sales promo execs: ‘When in
doubt wobble.’ Unkind adfolk use this to explain comrades’ vacillation
over brand strategy.
8. Mail-shot A condition of extreme direct marketing not unlike shell
shock. Dulce et decorum est pro brandiae mori, as the poem would have
9. R. O. I. Bizarrely translated as ‘return on investment’, this chronic
affliction has, until now, been contained within the below-the-line and
client community. Image advertisers have not been determined a high-risk
10. BRE (business reply envelope) Not to be confused with the French
cheese called Camembert, which should only be mailed at times of
I turn to Harry and ask the response marketing question that’s been
bugging me: ‘When you call the 0800 coneline, does John Major take all
the calls personally?’
Mark Fiddes, consulting creative, is lecturing on the Institute of
Directors ‘Absolute Essentials’ tour