Thursday

Thursday 8/5/2003Talking of such things, it's always a particular pleasure to drink BT's beer. This evening, a small delegation from ZDNet UK and Silicon are being entertained by BT PR flack Michael Wadley in a local tourist trap, the Dickens Inn.

Thursday 8/5/2003
Talking of such things, it's always a particular pleasure to drink BT's beer. This evening, a small delegation from ZDNet UK and Silicon are being entertained by BT PR flack Michael Wadley in a local tourist trap, the Dickens Inn. Used to the ways of journalists, he takes it in good spirit as we vigorously toast bloated monopolies, price-gouging broadband strategies and mobile service mishaps. In the spirit of true objectivity, we also pass on our opinions, gossip and other actionable items about BT's competitors, ex-executives and other industry notables. Outrageous. A rather scurrilous tale surfaces. One of the aspects of being a head honcho in a major corporation is that you're always having your picture taken -- company brochures, newspaper articles, magazine profiles and so on. A photo agency had been called in to snap the head banana of BT Retail, Pierre Danon whose name, as I've said before, I can never hear without the sensation of a female voice cooing "Ooooooh, Dannon!" over a picture of some artificially sweetened yoghurt concoction. But perhaps that's just me. Anyway, the snappers from the agency called up Danon's chief of staff to discuss how to photograph the great man. There are only so many ways to produce a corporately acceptable snap of your senior executives: sitting at a desk in a suit is OK, dangling upside down covered in clingfilm is not. One of the standard images is to have your Armani-clad exec leaning over the top of a spiral staircase, looking down in a sort of "Ah, there you are. Come on up!" moment. It's replete with the sort of symbolism that appeals to our status-conscious betters, and at least proves that the bod in question is allowed near dangerous drops without a bodyguard. But not in this case. No sooner had the agency suggested this, than there was a sharp intake of breath from the other end. "No way. Danon doesn't do stairs," said his aide de camp. The last person to use this line was reportedly Mariah Carey, apparently unwilling to have her behind hoisted to eye level, but as far as is known there's nothing untoward about the dapper Danon derriere. It turned out to be "something of a misunderstanding", and Lucky Pierre was more than happy to look down from on high at his adoring congregation. It's an exciting life in corporate communications.