BRAIN FOOD: Decisions - Chris Moss, The Number 118 118

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010


Taking on the role of chief executive at 118. After launching Orange, I set up my own marketing and communications agency and I loved it. I'd been running that and working on the 118 account for about nine months, helping to shape and create it, and they kept trying to persuade me to become CEO. I wasn't really interested - I thought it would be like working for a slightly dull directory enquiries agency, and I was happy running my own business.

The turning point came when I gave a brand presentation for 118. I was arguing how it could be an exciting business that extended beyond directory enquiries, when I realised that I had started to believe my own argument and that I actually felt quite passionate about the business. I'd sort of said yes without realising it. Since then, I've worked a seven-day week, including working across time zones when I'm travelling, but the adrenalin keeps you going. In previous jobs, I've stepped down a bit too early. This time, I'm going to see it through for longer. The past year alone has been the most amazing fun.


I once managed to send out about 60,000 bomb hoaxes by accident. I was working at Virgin Atlantic and wanted to publicise a new London-New York flight. Our advertising agency planned to post 60,000 Statue of Liberty models to potential customers, but it was too expensive.

Instead, they thought of 'two bites at the (Big) apple'. We could post apples at a cost of only 4p each.

I was relieved - I thought it was a brilliant idea and I told them to get on with it. But the apples were packed in small boxes that didn't fit through standard letterboxes. One chap came home and saw this parcel by his door. He was in the Territorial Army and the package made him instantly suspicious.

He sniffed it and grew even more worried - it smelt slightly of apples, like Semtex. He called the bomb squad, which obligingly blew it up for him. Of course, the story made the papers. Richard Branson thought it was good coverage, but I was annoyed with myself for not thinking the stunt through more carefully. It taught me that you need to think a bit further than five minutes down the line.

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