Last week I was sent to Iceland to act in a role I wasn’t qualified
for, on a brand I know nothing about, with people I had never met and
with the brief to keep my gob shut. Even by GBH standards, this was a
But this week I got hold of a top secret document written by Lord Bleak
and the head of corporate planning that explained it all. Well, Donal
got hold of it and showed me. Anyway, it looks like my pointless trip
was just the beginning. It was in fact the harbinger of a state of
affairs so mind-bogglingly ludicrous that you can’t imagine who could
have constructed such a thing unless Franz Kafka has teamed up with Coco
the Clown over at global HQ.
The document starts off on a shocking but sane note. Apparently GBH is
in crisis, severe crisis. As Billy Bolleaux told me last week, trading
conditions in the Far East, which was to have been GBH’s engine of
growth, have deteriorated drastically.
This means that all marketing budgets have been slashed by a minimum of
15%. All new capital investments have been frozen. The crisis is viewed
as all the more severe because we have started the company-wide ’Triumph
Of The Will 2000’ programme (motto; alacrity, elasticity) which is
supposed to see us embarking on a decade of double-digit growth.
Then it starts getting a little strange. ’The entire company must put
itself on a war footing. Scarcity will be endemic. Spies will be
We must root out the twin evils of profligacy and negativity. Remember
careless talk costs brand share.
’From this day forth, there will be no meetings other than those people
can attend by foot or bike. All managers above K grade will be issued
bus passes. They will be expected to come to work in full combat gear to
communicate to all our corporate citizens the gravity of this
’There will be no more training, no seminars, no conferences. All
non-essential work from outside suppliers will cease as of now. There
will be no more free use of ash trays, no free drinking water for staff,
use of company air will be kept to a bare minimum consistent with
corporate objectives and the presumption of the right to free and
unlimited amounts of toilet paper must be seriously reconsidered.’
At the same time, an ’Alexander the Great’ strategy (or multi-tasking
approach) is being introduced to conceal massive staff cuts from the
outside world. (He marched his troops up and down a riverbank to fool
the enemy on the other side into thinking he had a bigger army than he
So all managers will be called on to double, treble or quadruple up.
Apart from my European role on Gnats US-style beer, I will from tomorrow
be representing GBH as a junior surveyor (silent) in the property
department during negotiations with Preston town over a new depot. I
have certain ceremonial duties for catering procurement (Scotland) and
have also been seconded as a medical expert to the joint United
Nations/GBH task force to combat alcohol abuse. It’s going to be an
interesting few months.
This article was first published on Marketing