Memoirs of a Marketing Man

24 Jul

By Tim Mckane

1 – How I got my start….nepotism…

Cookstown Sausages Image

I was sitting at the dinner table in May 1968. It was sunny (wasn’t it always). There were butterflies flitting in and out of the open windows, and bees buzzing around the roses that were beginning to bloom. The shafts of sunlight showed the midges having a great time.

We were sitting down to a salad. A real salad, not one of your new fangled comes in a pot with lots of peppers. This was a hard-boiled egg, a tomato, a slice or two of ham, some lettuce, there was only one kind of lettuce, green and floppy, some new potatoes and dollops of salad cream.

Dad looked up.

“Guess who I was talking to today?”

I guessed. Bobby Charlton. No, Dennis Law. No. The Queen?

“George Best”

No. Impossible. No-one spoke to George Best. He was a God. He was the superstar of Manchester United. He had scored in the European Cup final a couple of weeks before. He had beaten Scotland single handed. He was my one and only hero.

“He’s agreed to do an ad for us. Cookstown Sausages.”

The rest is history. I got to meet George, in Newtownards at a Northern Ireland training session. He was a nice guy, and I was very nervous and small (that changed, the last time I met George I was my fully grown 6-4).

But when Dad talked about the ads that he made, he would always bring it back to the reason for Cookstown paying George £500 and for the media time on UTV.

Sales went from five tons a week to over 100 tons a week.  Ivan Bell, the sales manager at the time, told me about saying to the van drivers that if George scored (a goal) to tell the shopkeepers to remind the Mums, and they would buy another packet of sausages.

I started work when still at school in the afternoon. I worked in the summer, doing anything that was needed, including reception, answering calls, driving the van to the papers to deliver the copy. I learned how to use the bromide camera (high tech).

Yes, I got my opportunity through nepotism, but I also put my time in. I didn’t put on a suit until I was 24, and by then knew all about production, media and creative (Letraset anyone?)

And I knew the secret. It is all about sales.



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