The greatest advertising account coup in British history

In 1977 British Rail was under a lot pressure to turnaround its loss-making business. So BR chairman Peter Parker decides to hire an ad agency to create a series of commercials.

Allen Brady & Marsh was one of the agencies invited to bid for the British Rail contract. The other agency was ABM's biggest rivals Saatchi & Saatchi. 

11 am, pitch day. Parker and his team show up at ABM's office for the pitch, but the office was deserted. 

Parker looks around. He wasn't impressed. 

The reception area looked filthy. There were cigarette butts on the floor, crumpled newspapers and half-empty plastic coffee cups everywhere. And cushions with holes.

Then a woman walks in. She sits behind the receptionist desk and says, "Sorry. I'll be with you in a minute, have a seat."

Then she takes up the phone to chat with a friend while she smokes a cigarette and files her nails.

Parker coughs politely, but she ignores him. 

Parker coughs again. This time she looks up and says, "Yes?"

Parker says, “Excuse me, we’re here to see….” 

“Be with you in a minute love.” and continues chatting with her friend on the phone. 

Tic toc...tic toc...tic toc...the minutes ticked by and no one from the agency comes. 

Parker was furious. This was outrageous treatment. 

20 minutes later when Parker and his advisers were about to storm out, Peter Marsh (ABM's co-founder and Chairman) and his team finally show up. 

Marsh shakes hands with Parker and says, "Gentlemen, this is what your customers have to put with every day. Now come down and see the solutions."

ABM won the contract and created "The Age of the Train" campaign.

Facts don't change people's minds. You have to show them that your interests are compatible with theirs.

Your pal,

Miguel Ferreira
Founder & Chief Copywriter, Teardwn + Nishi + Jack Had A Groove FM


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