BOFH and The Art Of Brand Management

T-shirts hurt

Episode 18 BOFH 2002: Episode 18

"I've got some concerns," The Boss says, trundling into the office after the noontime feeding frenzy that the rest of the world calls lunch.

"Concerns!" The PFY gasps.

"Yes. I was talking to some blokes this lunchtime, and they said that we're unapproachable."

"Unapproachable?" The PFY echoes. "Us?"

"Yes. They say that we're not really part of 'the team' - that we think we're above them?"

"That's only because we are," I respond, trying to quell his angst.

"Wha? No, we're not! We're all working for the same Company - we're all on the same side! We should be working WITH people, not against them!"

"Of course, you're right," I respond, seeing the futility of arguing. "And I'll make a note of it for the future."

Before The PFY can add something derogatory, The Boss blunders on.

"I think this is more than a note situation! I think we should DO something!"

The thought of a Company group-hug flashes into my head, including the image of me wedged between the sweaty mailroom bloke and the woman from accounts receivable who uses a gallon of perfume a day.

The Boss's monologue is interrupted by the sound of a large bottle of highly flammable cleaning liquid smashing at his feet...

"Woopsy," I cry, sneakily reaching for a box of matches, "Clumsy old me."

"No harm," The Boss burbles on. "So anyway, I thought maybe we should do something about Branding."

"Branding?" I ask, match poised against the striker behind my back. "You mean as in burning a mark onto any user that complains?"

"No," he chuckles. "Corporate Branding. Shirts, Caps, that sort of thing."

"Freebies you mean," The PFY blurts, warming to the idea - which is what The Boss will be doing if he doesn't hurry up.

"Yes, but with the Company Logo, our IT Department Logo - to show we're part of the organisation - and some dinky catchphrase to use; you know, like 'IT for everyone'."

"How about 'Giving I.T. to you'."

"I suppose it could work," The Boss responds, mulling it over.

"What about SLIPPING I.T. to you?" I add. "That way the image is that we're doing it quickly and efficiently."

"WHAT ABOUT: SLIPPING I.T. TO YOU FROM BEHIND!!!" The PFY cries. "For the people who like the quick and efficient, but would also like it dont out of hours."

"Slipping I.T. to you from behind.... It does have a certain ring to it.. Tell you what, I'll see what the IT Head says."

"You mean run it up the flag pole, see who salutes?" The PFY says.

"Yes."

"Install it in the BIOS and see how it POSTs?"

"Huh."

"Chuck it on the Bus and see what recognises it?"

>ZZZZZZERT<</b>

"Sorry about that", I say, wheeling The PFY away. "But you really shouldn't mention free stuff around him - he just gets all excited. He'll be fine in an hour or so. So yes, I think passing it by the IT Manager is probably a good idea as he needs all the brownie points he can get at the moment."

"Really, why?"

"Well, his contract's up for renewal, and the Board are a very peculiar lot. Anyone who could WOW them with an idea like this is bound to get reappointed."

"Reappointed?" he Lady Macbeth's like a trooper. "Really?"

"Oh yeah, they LOVE that sort of innovation. Anyway, it's a great idea. In fact, you might even suggest to the Head that we do it as a Logo COMPETITION for the staff - and the Board could pick the best entries at lunch?"

"Yes, that is a good idea..." he murmurs, switching down to power save mode to come up with a sneaky plan...

. . . 1 hour later . . .

"Well I've talked to the Head," The Boss lies, "and he thinks the idea's great! So if you could pass it quietly around the department, for say, Friday - everyone to come in with their T-Shirt and Logo and the best one wins a box of Champers! Oh, and the Head is fairly busy at the moment, and doesn't want to be disturbed with this, so if you could just avoid mentioning it in his presence, he'd be chuffed."

Like Lambs to the Slaughter...

. . . Friday Dawns . . .

I bowl into office early - in my "Slipping IT to you" shirt, passing by The PFY in his "..from behind" edition and pausing briefly at the coffee machine to grab a morning brew.

Our cabling contractor, who isn't officially onsite this month, NOR part of the staff, bowls up in his "For those who like IT rough!" T-shirt and registers a vote for his particular favourite on one of the Helpdesk staff - "Doing IT on your desktop".

The Boss, between times has muddied the water by suggesting an alternative to the IT theme, centreing around the "Talk to someone who knows" theme, which has borne some fruit, namely - in order of excellence: "Talk to someone who cares", "Go call someone who cares" and finally "Go call someone who gives a Shit" - obviously hoping to appeal to the younger audience.

"So, how do you think it's going?" The Boss asks, chuffed at the turnout.

"Good, but where's the Head today?"

"Oh, he's on holiday, but left me in charge of the arrangements. So what do you suggest - I get the board together and we all meet them at lunch?!"

"A Scorcher, and good as done!" I respond.

Now, to compose that message to the Slave Traders... ®

BOFH: The whole shebang

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