Marketing farces

One lesson they really ought to teach from day one at PR school; never annoy a proper journalist, and never, ever use a public forum to say they are dishonest. Even if you think you only said it to a safe little audience of muggles you can push around, a proper journalist can find out – and then stitch you up just for fun.

For example, an unpleasant character whose global interests are overseen by an offshore entity which specialises in such ‘high risk’ clients recently came to the attention of the press. The 80’s burn-out who was tempted out of retirement to oversee said offshore’s rebranding then sent a pompous e-mail around to staff. All were warned that: ‘…journalists being the sneaky creatures they are, they do not always reveal themselves as such..’, and so unknown callers should be referred to ‘members of staff who are media trained are (sic) so ordinarily these are dealt with by the marketing team.’

Ah, that marketing team. What a sterling collection of highly trained professionals, and all at the top of their game, we can be sure.

Well, actually…. Just days before sending it, the author of the e-mail was judged surplus to requirement by management and will soon be permanently half-drunk in bad restaurants again, swapping memories with other privately educated ‘gels’ who used to pose with minor celebs while selling things back in the Thatcher years, and who have called themselves marketing consultants ever since.

Her protege (so tutors at a higher education establishment she nominally attended say) was usually too busy shopping to attend class, and was not even required to turn up for the mandatory work placement Daddy finally fixed for her. Despite this, and on the college dean’s instructions, she was eventually deemed qualified because rich student failure is seen as a poor advertisement for vanity courses which those from ordinary backgrounds cannot get funding to attend.

The third marketeer was another nominal attendee of a very average course on graphic design. His contribution to the ‘rebrand’ was, firstly, inserting an odd typographic character into the company letterhead which clients, customers and government employees politely enquire how to pronounce (apparently the squiggle is silent), and secondly to insist all managers rigorously police employee e-mails to ensure a bland Microsoft typeface is used throughout all external communications. Being, like Marketeer 2, practically illiterate, the only real question is why anyone in ‘Marketing’ is so concerned about either the deliberate or subliminal effect of communications none of them can even read.

The biggest irony of all is that the media will not need to approach employees of the offshore entity to confirm the facts. So nobody lacking that vital media training ever needs to worry about inadvertently spilling the beans.

Because a month or two ago, a very drunk marketing team at a sponsored corporate bash were overheard doing just that at the top of their posh little voices to anyone who could not escape them. It remained only for diligent, and sober, hacks in compulsory attendance at the bash to check everything against easily obtainable public records the next day and fill in the gaps. It was such an easy story – and such a classic cock-up by a pseudo-profession hated by all journalists – that they gladly shared it with their peers throughout London.


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