Corporate values

Helen had been attracted to the advertising company by the honesty of its values statement. ‘Scraping by is just fine,’ it said. ‘Make it up. No sweat.’ Not only was the text free of the usual empty buzz words, it was memorable and described the agency’s actual work ethic. Bored to distraction one afternoon by a client’s obsession with phrases like ‘cutting-edge innovation’, ‘diversity’, and ‘customer focus’ the agency team had let off steam in a nearby pub inventing something more truthful.  These spoof values were later stencilled on the walls of the meeting room in the office where visiting clients took them to be a satirical dig at companies without ethics. Some, however, recognised the pertinence of the statements to their daily experience. ‘We’re all flying by the seat of our pants,’ said the sales director of one major company. Over the following months the agency acquired more clients wanting honesty. ‘We like your frankness,’ they said. ‘You cut through the bullshit.’ Helen had been hired to manage several new accounts, including a government quango needing an image refresh. ‘Here are a number of ideas we’ve thrown together over the last few days,’ she said in her first presentation to them. ‘Apologies for the typos, I was still working on this at four o’clock this morning.’





Simon Collings

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