What is now Adam & Eve DDB used to be BMP.
It was the second best agency in the UK, when the UK was the best in the world.
Some years it was actually the best.
I worked there for the first ten years of my career.
It was my first job after I got back from New York so I pretty much grew up in advertising at BMP.
Recently there was a reunion to coincide with Martin Boase’s birthday and I did something I should have done a long while ago.
I thanked Martin for not firing me all the times he should have.
Compared to New York I found London agencies, and Martin in particular, very tolerant of talent.
If they decided you were worth it, they cut you a lot of slack.
Even if it sometimes upset clients.
Martin always handled everything very coolly and calmly.
For instance, one day he sent his PA round to the creative department.
She very politely said “Martin has asked me if I could get Trott to shut his office door because the clients can smell the marijuana in reception. Would you mind terribly?”
And she gently closed my office door and left.
I don’t think most agency chairman would react like that.
But, as I say, Martin was very tolerant.
On a particular Friday, we had a big presentation due.
The client was expecting to see a new campaign.
I was briefed on Monday and I worked flat out until midnight all week.
By Friday morning I had around three dozen pretty good scripts.
We cut that down to around eighteen very good scripts.
And finally to about ten scripts we’d be really proud to make.
The client was due just after lunch, so I thought I had time for a quick pint to relax me before the presentation.
At the pub, I found you can fit a quart into a pint pot.
In fact you can for four or five pints into the same amount of time it takes to drink one.
I thought I was doing a great job at the client presentation.
But it appears I was the only one who did.
In fact everyone else thought I was well out of order.
Martin got his PA to tell me there was a phone call.
But when I left the meeting to take the call, I found the caller had mysteriously hung up.
I tried to get back into the client meeting, but they’d locked the door.
So I started banging and yelling to make them let me back in.
Eventually Martin’s PA took me by the elbow and guided me back towards the pub.
Out of harm’s way.
In those days, the pub was really the creative department’s annexe.
One day I came back a little over-refreshed and decided to slide down the agency banisters.
If you’ve ever seen the BMP banisters they’re two stories high, very round and very fat.
They’re built that way to make it impossible to slide down them.
Any sensible, sober person would know this.
Unfortunately, at that time I was neither.
I threw one leg over the banisters, then the rest of my body followed it as I tried desperately to hang on.
The people in reception tell me it was a comic sight watching my fingers lose their grip.
Eventually I hit the floor, about thirty feet below.
Where I cracked a vertebrae and passed out.
The creative department sprang into action.
They ran down the stairs and drew a chalk outline round me, like they’d seen on Starsky and Hutch.
Then stood round laughing like drains.
Until someone remembered Martin was in a meeting with one of the agency’s most important clients.
So they tried to get me though the heavy revolving door.
Every time the door closed on my back, the pain made me pass out again.
Eventually they got bored and everyone abandoned me, except Dave Christensen.
Dave is quite small, and he was struggling to lift me, to help me stand up.
A little old lady saw him doing it and started attacking him with her umbrella.
She was hitting Dave, yelling “Leave him alone you bully.”
So he gave up and just left me there on the steps.
At that moment Martin and the very important client came out of their meeting.
The client fell over me and down the steps.
Without missing a beat, Martin said “I’ve told the police about moving these people on before. They wander over here from Paddington station.”
And he dusted the client down and ushered him into a cab.
After each of these situations, and many more, Martin never mentioned a word about it to me.
As I say, he was very tolerant of the talent.
Not at all like New York.
Without Martin’s tolerance, I’d have been fired several times and I might not have had an advertising career.
Am I exaggerating?
At my previous agency, in New York, I’d been fired just for drinking some cans of beer out of the client refrigerator.