15 February 1999
Excerpt from minutes of Marketing Committee meeting.
In attendance: Angela La Croix, marketing manager; Tom Henderson, managing partner; Robert Pinton, head of property.
Ms La Croix: ...and now on to our primary initiative - Rebrand '99. For six months, we've focused on grouped finance directors in top 500 FTSE companies and asked - "what core values represent The Firm?" Some described us as "that firm under investigation on three counts of money laundering", another said "The Firm is an archaic and malignant cancer in the belly of English justice". Others were less positive. After feeding the information into a complex marketing model, I've discovered that we are officially in a great deal of shit. We need to tell clients that money laundering...
Mr Henderson: Alleged money laundering.
Ms La Croix: ...alleged money laundering, is only a tiny fraction of The Firm's operation. We are a global firm with an office in Hull and a representative office in Palermo. We are a market leader - according to Chambers Directory - in quarrying law. We are the firm of the future. And how do we intend to achieve this turnaround in our brand image? To recruit the red-hot young-bloods? To pick up the quality work?
Mr Henderson: By slightly altering the typeface on our letterhead?
Ms La Croix: Correct. I didn't know you had marketing training Tom. We've brought in top image consultants Scatty & Scatty. Market data suggests that lower case initial lettering shouts "I am alive, I am sexy, I'm the sort of firm which likes drum and bass music and dancing to raves". So our first thought was - tHE fIRM. But psychological corporate profiling studies prove that shortening the name of the firm screams "I am confident, take me, take me!". For example, Biddle & Co sounds so 1980s, whereas Biddle doesn't sound silly at all. So we dabbled with either simply "tHE" or "fIRM". But why stop there? We eventually decided to break the mould and become the first City firm to have no name at all. Like rock star Prince, we will be represented by the symbol.
Mr Pinton: How much did this cost?
Ms La Croix: u235,000. To launch the new brand, we've actually recorded and released our own CD under the name "Big Swinging Dick and The Fat Cats". Chalmers and his mop-tops have covered "I Fought The Law", "Jailhouse Rock" and "Money's Too Tight To Mention" in a self-parodying wink at our colourful past. They close with "The Future's So Bright, The Magic Circle Of Firms Have Gotta Wear Shades", throwing down the gauntlet to those who stand in our path. I'm told the CD entered the chart this week at number 3247, only four places behind eDgE AND EllisOns. And to re-inforce our youthful, forceful profile we will be sponsoring an association football team called Leyton Orient.
Mr Pinton: What do our clients think about us spending all of this fee income on advertising, rather than either reducing billing, or improving quality of service?
Ms La Croix: Errm, I could pay Scatty & Scatty u50,000 to workshop with them and find out.
Mr Pinton: Couldn't we just ask them ourselves?
Ms La Croix: Ha, ha. Robert, what a quaint idea.
Mr Henderson: You see Angela, I'm confused. When I appointed you, I made it clear that your job as director of marketing was to produce glossy brochures, make sure the canapes were tasty at our client bashes, and organise trips to the go-karting. And now I hear that you've spent a quarter of million pounds making The Firm the laughing stock of the City. Where did you get the money from?
Ms La Croix: I found it in a box hidden in your office.
At this point Mr Henderson left the meeting.
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