My biggest gaffe: expecting reason from a four-letter-word tirade

David Fraser, managing director of Ready10, recalls the four-letter-word-riddled response he once faced when pitching to a high-profile businessman.

A collection of infamous Anglo-Saxon monosyllables were hurled in David's direction
A collection of infamous Anglo-Saxon monosyllables were hurled in David's direction

Early in my career, I worked for a brand owned by a high-profile business figure, whom I’ll call Sir Gary* (and to clarify, it wasn’t Lord Sugar). With colleagues indisposed, and Sir Gary no fan of big teams, I was due to have a one-to-one meeting about a plan already signed off by a marketing director.

Sir Gary asked where I lived. "East Finchley," I replied. "Hmmmm," said Sir Gary, "they have f***ing sh** curry houses there."

As it turns out, that was as good as it got. I started to recap our pitch but got only as far as the first slide. "Stop, stop, stop," Sir Gary said. "What the f*** is that f***ing writing? I would not show that to a kindergarten class. Who the f*** do you think you are?"

I told Sir Gary we had been in talks with a high-profile boy band about a brand partnership. He said it was a terrible idea, decree-ing we would use Elton John. At each stage, I got through about four words before being interrupted, told I was stupid, the idea was bad and that we would do it Sir Gary’s way.

On it went for what seemed like hours, but was probably 10 minutes. In finishing, I said: "That’s the plan you ‘ve signed up to, we’d love your feedback." Prolonged silence, then: "OK. Off you go. Get out."

And so I did. It turned out I had been caught in a power struggle between the marketing director and Sir Gary, with the latter not wanting any PR company, regardless of which it was. We lost the account. Oh, and that marketing director doesn’t work there any more.

*Not his real name

David Fraser is managing director of Ready 10 

Thumbnail image: ©ThinkstockPhotos

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