The blag

In advertising circles the blag is the stuff of legend.

From Graham Fink being told he wasn’t old enough to join CDP and returning disguised as an old man, to those guys I remember trying to get into AMV by ‘living’ in the phone box across the road, the circumventing of rules and rejections to gain an advantage is as common as an idea that originated on YouTube.

I was listening to Dave Dye’s excellent chat with Dave Hieatt, which featured a fine blag story involving Dave H getting into Saatchi and Saatchi by pretending he had to deliver something to Jeff Stark. Dave’s previous chat, with Carlos Bayala, also involves a fine blag story about pretending to be a placement to get in at Leagas Delaney.

And that reminded me of a creative whose name escapes me, who was fired from BMP/DDB many years ago. He got around this by simply ignoring it and coming to work as usual the following day. His boss was too embarrassed to re-fire him, so he just let him stay, which he did for a couple of decades.

I have my own blag story: when I was between jobs in 1997 or 1998 I called up John Hegarty’s PA and told him John had seen my book and like it so much that he’d personally sent me a note telling me to make an appointment to see him. The PA had a good go at suggesting this was unlikely, but I kept up my subterfuge long enough to get that appointment. The fact that Sir Hegs was not actually a fan of the book was a disappointing ending to an otherwise successful blag.

I also did a semi-blag, whereby my partner and I had come to end of our placement at AMV. In theory we needed the sign off of the ECD to return on Monday, but he’d gone home, so what were we to do? Well, we were in the middle of a VERY important small-space price ad for Homebase, so we used that as a kind of bridge to Monday. No one noticed or cared about the ‘blag’, but we rode it to an actual job that lasted several years.

I think the blag has been much-maligned; when they fail people tend to think the people who tried them are a bit sad. But many have succeeded, conferring upon their practitioners the kind of legendary status that means they get celebrated on a blog several years later.

Did you blag? Do you know of anyone who did? Chuck your story in the comments and let’s celebrate true advertising creativity!