I read a fascinating article the other day. It was amusing, insightful,
Now if that sounds like the glib talk of a pompous PR clever dick, I can
assure you that I am a dick.
And true, my descriptive words may have erred on the side of
the...well...the over euphoric - but at my life stage I need all the
support I can get, I can tell you.
Let me elucidate. Having published the tome in 1991 to much hype,
moderate acclaim, muted hysteria and modest sales, I was shocked to
discover that, like re-experiencing an old black and white film, I’d
entirely forgotten the plot. Tragic, isn’t it?
But by reading it totally afresh, like a stranger, I couldn’t help
feeling (like the first time I had sex) that warm glow
of...er...satisfaction at the realisation that, unlike Ratner’s gold, it
wasn’t total crap after all. (Just mostly so.)
My literary amnesia made me wonder how much effort and dosh marketers
and agency folk alike flush down the pan each year by forgetting their
own past ideas; only perhaps to re-invent them at a later date.
What about those internal agency team presentations where successes, and
failures, were discussed over Chardonnay and canapes? Or the caper of
clients shadowing their agency counterparts in order to develop the
relationship. Forgotten ideas?
Talking about client relationships, one of the least turgid parts of the
book was a section on ‘How to be a useless client’. Brace yourself for
* Invite an agency to travel to Scunthorpe for a credentials...and then
after keeping them waiting 45 minutes in your paint-peeling reception,
tell them the directors have been called away suddenly to an important
meeting - in London from whence you came.
* Ensure throughout the agency pitch that there are a number of
interruptions, where the managing director exits several times to take
phone calls from his demanding chairman, only to cause mayhem on his
return by asking questions about the parts he missed.
* After the pitch, tell the agency you’ll make up your minds quickly
‘because you want to get things moving’ and then keep them waiting for
six months without returning their calls in the interim.
Ha, bloody ha, I hear clients cry: but what about a useless agency? Fear
* Always ensure that the heavyweight team that pitched never appears on
the account again - and field only inept or unskilled juniors.
* Ensure straight after your appointment that your key director leaves
for a competitive agency, taking his entire team, leaving you with the
* Always increase client expectation by over-promising early on, and so
succeed in losing respect right away rather than giving them any benefit
of the doubt.
Striking a chord? If not, you’ve led a charmed life, or you’re self
deluding. Or, like me, you have a bad memory.
Quentin Bell is chairman of the Quentin Bell Organisation and the Public
Relations Consultants Association