John Weak's Diary: Weak at the top

John Weak's Diary: Weak at the top - MONDAY

by JOHN WEAK, at
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010


As a marketing-led, customer-focused company we continually update our brochure. Well, every time some Johnny No-stars at BT changes our telephone numbers. Organising the corporate brochure is like organising a wedding: everyone wants to be included and you're bound to upset someone somewhere. IT Director asked why we needed a brochure at all when we've got a million-quid web site. I said it's because 95% of the hits on our web site ask for a brochure (subtext: IT know precisely FA about marketing). Human Remains have called me in for a quiet word, which probably means some girlie's weeping into her fruit tea over some constructive feedback I gave her. In fact they told me they've noticed Bill Peters' binge drinking and they think it's a cry for help. I immediately volunteered to help.


Time to ruin someone's life by giving them the corporate brochure monkey.

Asked Hayley (secretary) if I was supposed to be mentoring anyone and if so send them up. Someone called Angela Cowley shows up; low tot factor and nasty pencil-case mind. I tell her we should start by getting a good photo of Chairman. She says we should start by talking to customers and added that she majored in internal communications at Business School.

She'll be the expert then. Bill Peters rang and I heard his cry for help.

Had lunch and even after three bottles of red we still couldn't see what the drink problem was. We committed to exploring it further if we could put it on HR staff welfare budget. Sir Marcus rang through to say brochure should start with a fantastic quote he'd heard but couldn't remember.

Felt sure we'd know it.


Photo-shoot with Sir Marcus and board. I told Angela that her job was to swoon over photos of Sir Marcus even if he looked like Goofy's dad.

She said that Business School said contents of brochure should be consistent with company mission statement. If that meant one long cliche from beginning to end then they're spot on. Got photos back. Board all looked relatively human except Bill, who looked like an oversized scrotum with a '70s hairstyle.

Sir Marcus loved the photo of himself and asked Angela if she'd like a copy. Before she blew it, I jumped in and said she already had one blown up on her desk. Bill Peters got very upset about photo and wants us to use one taken 30 years ago when he had a chin.


Sir Marcus asked whether we'd found his quotation. Said it had word 'retail' in it, or 'detail' possibly. Promised it would come to me in time (but not in time for brochure). Went for lunch with Peters and spent almost four hours listening to him cry for help. Bill said his real drink problem was that he had two arms and only one mouth. When I got back Angela told me that while I had been wasting my time at lunch she'd organised everything and was circulating final text for approval. I said what she really needed to worry about was the Chairman's completely gratuitous last-minute changes designed to show everyone who's boss.


Angela in tears. Chairman wants type size of entire brochure half a point smaller, his quotation is 40 lines of Kipling, everyone's butchered her copy and the printers need everything by end of play. 'What would the Business School recommend?' I asked her. I could see a big blub coming on so I told her to increase the size of the Chairman's photo to leave no room for his quote, paste in last year's copy in new typeface and then reduce brochure on copier by 4% to show 'new point size' to Sir Marcus.

She perked up, then remembered Bill Peters' photo spat. I told her he'd signed off the chinless version after yesterday's fourth bottle. Angela said I was a one-man business school. I'll drink to that.

Contact John Weak at

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