MARKETING MIX: SOAP BOX; Lest we forget: our old ideas are often the greats

I read a fascinating article the other day. It was amusing, insightful, provocative...and mine.

I read a fascinating article the other day. It was amusing, insightful,

provocative...and mine.

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 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

tea lady.

* 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