WEAK AT THE TOP: John Weak's diary

WEAK AT THE TOP: John Weak's diary - MONDAY

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010


It's the end of the tax year and I'm way below budget. There's no better way to burn money fast than appoint an agency. It's the business equivalent of going out with a woman: you haemorrhage cash for very little excitement. Had lunch with Bill to discuss money-wasting push. He suggested a rigorous lunching programme - he gets through 26% of his R&D budget with his. After a fourth bottle of red we got creative and made a bet on who could hire the most ridiculous-waste-of-money agency. We've got an above-the-line agency for advertising, a below-the-line for direct mail and a through-the-line that does both badly, so we made a rule the new agency must feature the word 'line'.


Decided to read my junk mail instead of immediately binning it. There were a couple of desperate final demands from suppliers and interviewees I'd forgotten all about, and also a flyer from something calling itself a behind-the-line agency which did some kind of guerrilla marketing. That's just the sort of expensive rubbish I'm after. Asked them to contact me and do a presentation. Bill called to say he'd found an end-of-the-line agency that was basically a team of bailiffs with a nice brochure. Went to the gym after work with Howard and concentrated on push-ups (and other bra varieties). On the way home was accosted by market researcher, who asked me a fantastic number of detailed questions about Smokehouse. Probably told her too much, but she had this great way of resting her charlies on her clipboard.


Got stuck in the lift this morning. I got in with Celeste Nibelle as normal, because seeing her tidy little body in the morning is an emotional double espresso. Suddenly five people in white coats got in with us. I thought they were an HR psychometric SWAT team. As soon as the lift broke down they all turned their backs on us. I noticed they all had writing on the back of their coats, but I didn't take it in because when Celeste is in the lift there is only one place to look. Finally got out in time for presentation by a couple of pathetic dot.com losers who had an on-line agency. Why they couldn't just e-mail, I've no idea. They explained how they could reach a billion people on the web and give us global awareness. Their trick for doing this was to spread our money so thinly it disappeared. They left quickly as they probably had to sign on.


Waited for the behind-the-line agency to show up. Nothing happened, apart from the window cleaners' cradle appearing at my office window. Bit of a shock, as I could have been shunting some bright-eyed graduate totty round the carpet. Then for some reason a light went on, the cleaners got out a laptop and started trying to project something into my office. Bloody working class. The sooner they're all automated the better. I closed the blinds and gave Bill a call for an early lunch. I was getting a bit tired of our bet and was tempted to just call our PR agency, which works on the principle that the best way of keeping your drains clean is to throw money down them.


Got in late due to being boxed in between four giant advertising trucks. Admitted defeat and Bill won the bet with a between-the-lines agency. They gave us a two-hour presentation. We understood nothing, except they only worked on a massive retainer. Priceless. It's a shame the behind-the-line lot didn't turn up. I'd have given them the cash. Over lunch, Renton- Willets (weirdo HR director) suggested the money could go down the line. I was quite excited - I hadn't come across a down-the-line agency and that might just pip Bill at the post. Renton-Willets said he meant sharing out the money with the people I line-managed. I told him I didn't empower my team to start giving them money. I'm afraid that's where I draw the line.

- John Weak can be contacted at john.weak@smokehouse.co.uk.

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