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Saturday, 8 October 2011

Children are suffering because of these crass oafs - or how to make 100% sure your marketing money is wasted

I sometimes have an uneasy feeling that there is a great alternative recruitment agency in the depths below which seeks out idiots for big jobs.

They probably run ads headed “A unique money-making opportunity for gormless twats.”

Such seems the only conceivable way a man could have become, some years ago, a senior marketing man at Saga, the people who flog stuff to the elderly.

When Saga started up it was something new – well, fairly new: there was already the American Association of Retired People which it copied in many ways.

If you are lucky or clever enough to have or steal an idea like that, a trained chimpanzee could do the marketing director’s job. The man I dealt with, besides being obnoxious, was a few evolutionary stages behind the chimpanzee.

Not all of us are blessed with native wit. Not all of us are given a smidgeon of commonsense. But some of us really are thicker than pigshit, as was this man.

He had been persuaded by his database man to get me to come and review their creative work, which was mostly rubbish (you don’t need good creative if you have a great idea and a big customer file). I liked the database guy, so I did the job on the cheap.

However, to analyse why some of the rubbish was slightly better than the rest I needed to know the context. Who was it sent to? When? What was going on in the market? What were the results? What was it tested against? (The answer to the last question was nothing, of course, as they were clueless – still true of most marketers).

But the man wanted me to guess what the results might have been. So I could only do half a job – not helped because he was a bully and his staff were all frightened of asking questions. The man who had arranged the talk was embarrassed, gave me a slap up lunch and has gone on to thrive and prosper.

That day was a waste – but one eclipsed for arrogance and folly by the recent actions of some oiks at a children’s charity. A friend of mine offered to do some work on a results basis. At the last minute the fundraising boss said he couldn’t attend and sent a substitute – without bothering to brief him, the lazy sod. My friend had to do that, and afterwards the substitute, who was in charge of legacies, agreed to take matters further

My friend said: it is hard for me to comment on this area of your business without seeing the kind of pack you send to supporters. The arrogant buffoon not only gave no information: he said my friend should find out for himself – do his “homework”.

Direct mail is not a public medium. Even God would find it impossible to know a) what had been sent out b) when c) in what circumstances d) with what results e) what the competition was doing f) what the average legacy was – in fact all the things you need to know to do a good job.

The man actually wrote: “You cannot expect me to devote my time to helping you to win my business. That cannot possibly be my role.”

What a useless prick. He brings a new depth of meaning to the word unemployable His job is to do anything and everything to help anyone who could help raise money for children – not make it hard for them.

But as Goethe put it, with idiots even God is helpless. And as God might put it, children are suffering and dying because of idiots like him.

There are an awful lot of people like that around. I would shoot the lot.

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