The tension had been building all day, rules were clarified, presentations were perfected (or begun), and finally the time came for the debate-off. Three members of the account management department pitted their wits against three planners in a battle for ultimate supremacy. There were only three rules: no swearing, no Powerpoint, no YouTube. Capably chaired by Ross Neil and his novelty whistle, the competition began.
The first debate on social media ended in a narrow victory for the planners, as the assembled crowd waved their yellow and orange post-it notes furiously in a ‘Ready Steady Cook’ style setup, giving Liz Baines the win. She managed to point out the weak points of Mike Stern’s arguments and delivery (’That is just a splash in the pan, a flash in the ocean’) while only infringing the no-swearing rule on one occasion.
There followed a tour de force of rhetorical, and – unexpectedly – musical skill, as the two debaters played devil’s advocate and talked up the merits of their opponent’s role. Heather ‘the Cuss Bus’ Cuss’ witty defence of the role of a planner (aka ‘those clever little monkeys’) looked to have secured her, and account management, a vital point, until Amy Lewis drew on her musical theatre talents and wowed the audience with a rendition of ‘Razzle Dazzle’. The audience was thrilled, and promptly awarded the planners a decisive second point.
Now it was down to Anna Covell to restore some pride for the account management department as she came up against Jean-Francois Hector to debate the relative importance of awards versus commercial success. After a series of revelations from JF, including the various means he used to get a job here, and also about his preparations for this debate (which included ‘talking to someone in the street’, and ‘asking my mum whether me winning creative or planning awards was more important; she said she loved me either way’), Anna did eventually get the point.
Final score: Planners 2 – 1 Account Management – a score that Head of Account Management, Rick Hirst, somewhat glossed over in his closing address. A huge thank you to everyone who took part yesterday for the entertaining, informative, and (mostly) expletive-free arguments.