Last October trains were the big story.
The Department for Transport was receiving a lot of flack over the collapse into farce of the West Coast Mainline franchise bid.
In August FirstGroup were told they’d won it. This left Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains a bit miffed. So they launched a legal challenge. This led to the discovery that the civil servants at the Department for Transport aren’t very good at maths. They’d got their sums all wrong.
So newly appointed FirstGroup were given the heave-ho, and the franchise was handed back to Virgin Trains. Large-bearded smiles all round.
No laughing matter though for the three hapless civil servants who were suspended while an enquiry was launched. Yawn…
While all this incompetence was being played out in our newspapers and on our TV screens, someone spotted an opportunity.
That someone was Mr George Poole, the Marketing and PR Coordinator at Bigjigs Toys Ltd. Manufacturers of, among other things, wooden toy trains.
Mr Poole immediately sent a letter to Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport, suggesting that Bigjigs Rail and its rolling stock of wooden toy trains be appointed to the West Coast Mainline franchise.
This wonderfully-written, very-plausible letter may or may not have made it onto Mr McLoughlin’s desk, however it was considered a serious enough offer for a response to come from the Secretary of State’s Private Secretary.
His considered and amusing letter is proof that there are least some people in the corridors of power who have maintained their sense of humour.
But the real lesson that this story teaches us is that when your marketing and PR budget is tight, you have to be quick to spot an opportunity, and very quick to act.
So well done Mr George Poole.
Right, I’m off to buy my friend’s little boy his birthday present.
I bet you can’t guess what I’m getting him…