The Gate Keeper (Chapter 7 In which the bottom line buckles)
by Andrew Miller TBW Smith Jones Wallace Broadbent and Ndimande is an agency in crisis. Their ‘basket of boutique services’ strategy has bombed. Only a massive new project can keep the doors open – all eyes are now on the corporate tent at Mangaung. Far in the background, an emergency replacement executive PA with decades of experience makes important decisions. Interns rise, board members take unexpected steps and things begin to change…
The agency regrets its past strategy and lays plans for a miracle Mangaung escape. The Gatekeeper moves an important piece across the board…
In which the bottom line buckles
“Look, there’s nothing for it, we need to cut the living hell out of everything if we’re going to survive. Viral was just the start.” Isaac Ndimande tapped the living hell out of his gold plated pen as he spoke. The board sat meekly and accepted the lashing. “We have to admit we made some big mistakes. We got suckered by the whole boutique basket thing and now we don’t even know who the f*#!k we are any more save for a crèche for little pimply post grads with smart phones. As someone who has managed and watched over the finances of this company for 15 years my view is that we need to kill it all and go back to making adverts for people who want to advertise.”
Anxiety splashed audibly across the room.
Nonhlanhla Mofokeng cleared her throat carefully. “Well, we still don’t know what will happen with the Mangaung thing. He is very well placed to pull something off for us.”
“Oh please. That’s the kind of delusional hope that got us into this kak in the first place.” Isaac Ndimande threw his gold pen onto the table. “We all know He has a brain the size of a pea and disturbingly inappropriate tendencies. Yes, He could pull something off, but He could just as easily end up under the cocktail table with the waitress. If we rely on Him we’ll all be out on the street in our G strings by the end of the year..”
Mama E took off her stenography headphones and clicked the audio feed from the boardroom off. She had heard enough. As she suspected, things were not peachy on the TBWSJWBN front lines. She felt overcome by a powerful need to help, but was unsure exactly how. Clearly a lot rested on His shoulders, and that, of course, was most of the problem. Still, as they always said, behind every great man is a designing woman, or something like that. She may only be a secretary, Mama E thought to herself, but she was a secretary in the right place, at the right time.
She rifled through the presentation notes handed in by the Mangaung strat team and settled on Vati’s submission, entitled Hip Hop and Oral Tradition as Drivers of Social Entrepreneurship – a micro financing proposal for South Africa’s rural areas. As titles went, it had the right kind of bluster to it – this was the kind of thing you could sail up the river without bothering about a rudder. Mama E called up the power point presentation and clicked Begin Slideshow.
Later, in his Hyde Park home office, Tim Broadbent stared at the wall. He had missed most of the early lives of his children, the majority of his relationship with his wife, the 1995 World Cup final, the 2007 World Cup Final, the funerals of both his grandparents and the better part of his own late middle age – supposedly the years when executives wield their power, money and influence.
Tim Broadbent wondered what the hell had happened.
He also wondered why, even though he had three holiday homes and more family vehicles than any one family should ever come onto contact with, even though his wife smiled frequently and all three kids were breeding their own sets of brats, he felt like the loneliest man in the world. Like the only man drowning in paper work; in spreadsheets and retrenchment packages and these stupid, inane, and, yes, now, after all these years he finally had the balls to say it, sinister, communications strategies.
Something had to change.