“Enemy in our ranks,” muttered the foot soldiers. I remember well the gallery of blank faces at my first news conference and feeling like I was looking into the eyes of a tiger. But which one of us was more scared?
But we got through it and over the next six months I was gradually forgiven for wearing the mark of Satan as I gleefully plundered some of the talent from my former employer and we settled into a competitive routine of digging out the best stories of the day. There were incidents along the way, including a fall from grace, well a table actually, at the Battersea Oktoberfest.
The team expanded, with more features personnel and with a talented news team, most of whom have moved on to national newspapers. The awards shelf continued to bulge.
Some stupendous stories we got too – we got stuck into numerous campaigns including a stance on mutuality which led to Money Marketing being the first-ever trade newspaper to give evidence before the all-powerful Treasury select committee.
Myself and reporter Gregor Paul sat behind a glum-looking lain Lumsden, then group finance director of Standard Life, as he took a terrible hammering from the committee.
Gregor and I unsuccessfully tried to stifle a smirk as he denied being a self-serving elitist. The firebrands on the committee were just trying to score points from the unfortunate man. It was great copy and it was gleefully reported by our first-ever political editor – one John Lappin.
But perhaps the most fun campaign we created happened almost by accident. No one really remembers whose idea it was or how many pints in the Star & Garter in Poland Street it took for Bungle Busters to be born.
But born it was and it went straight to the heart of the IFA’s most sensitive part – his wallet – as readers up and down the country grassed up providers on our hotline. We called them and they panicked, one even threatening libel action – and his company had only got one vote, compared with hundreds we had taken back to the companies with a “what are you going to do about it?” message. I now know that at least one company held a meeting at the highest level after its bungles had been busted.
It sort of summed up for me what Money Marketing was about – sharp, robust, challenging and fun, all traits for which it is still respected. It was hard work but great fun. I have no doubt there is another 20 successful years ahead for Money Marketing.