My secret bodybuilding past

Well, I never knew so many people were so seriously fed up with gyms. This confirmed my maxim: “Nothing fails like success” (© Drayton Bird) – which I find applies to most industries and people.

Before enlarging on that, I have a confession: forty odd years ago I was partly responsible for the success of a gizmo called the Bullworker. I worked with a very large man called Dave Prowse who later played Darth Vader. It is not true that I was Mr. Before to his Mr. After.

Ads I wrote ran all over the world – to such effect that two years ago a US internet whizz called Joe Vitale did a one hour interview with me, partly because he bought one. I get lots of e-mails from Joe who seems to specialise in miracles as far as I can tell, but sure knows how to sell them.

Anyhow, reverting to my maxim, somebody wise – maybe Warren Buffett – said a good trigger for getting out of an investment is when you see the firm has built a big fancy office – giving the example of Sears, Roebuck.

(No chance there with us; our office is a former basement brothel in the West End. Same principle; less pleasure for the clients.)

I think a good indicator of impending catastrophe is when the person in charge starts rushing around giving speeches about how wonderful he is – a good example being Mr. Bannatyne. Another was the late Saint Anita Roddick whose principles had far too little to do with her practice.

Before you lot in the back row say it, yes, I do make speeches – but if you ever catch me telling you I’m wonderful, shoot me.

About the Author


<p>In 2003, the Chartered Institute of Marketing named Drayton one of 50 living individuals who have shaped today’s marketing.</p>
<p>He has worked in 55 countries with many of the world’s greatest brands. These include American Express, Audi, Bentley, British Airways, Cisco, Columbia Business School, Deutsche Post, Ford, IBM, McKinsey, Mercedes, Microsoft, Nestle, Philips, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Unilever, Visa and Volkswagen.</p>
<p>Drayton has helped sell everything from Airbus planes to Peppa Pig. His book, Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing, out in 17 languages, has been the UK’s best seller on the subject every year since 1982. He has also run his own businesses in the U.K., Portugal and Malaysia.</p>
<p>He was a main board member of the Ogilvy Group, a founding member of the Superbrands Organisation, one of the first eight Honorary Fellows of the Institute of Direct Marketing and one of the first three people named to the Hall of Fame of the Direct Marketing Association of India. He has also been given Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Caples Organisation in New York and Early To Rise in Florida.</p>


  1. The thing is, people get distanced from clients the more successful they get.

    And the distance then extends to service.

    That’s why we decided to build what jargon-lovers would call a customer satisfaction index.

    In other words, we give clients a forum to complain.

    And to that we have attached (jargon alert) a business process which gets it straight to the top.

    In other words, if the clients don’t think we were top-dog each month, the directors are videoed taking a very public forfeit and it’s plastered on our web-site.

    You can bet that we’re interested in seeing each and every response to the monthly survey!

    Suspect it will help with PR too. In the launch month, my rugby and kick-boxing-loving colleague, Steve, was forced to walk around the commercial district in a 3-piece suit, a luminous orange dunce’s hat, and hand out leaflets explaining why we was being punished.

    Next month, I am being custard-pied while strapped in a chair by volunteers who are paying £5 per go for the privelege! Sent an email out inviting custard-pie-chucking enthusiasts.

    Expecting a fairly low response to such a weird request, have 30 odd willing volunteers – some of them wanting to throw 3 or more (in case they miss they said).

    The video of Steve stopping traffic, “herding” people into walls, forcing heavily laden people to take one, and stopping the aggressive preacher we all give a wide berth to (outside HSBC) in his tracks is now playing (for a limited time only) at

    Bet Mr Bannatyne would create a custard-pie-chucking world record if he asked his clients to have a go.

  2. My last office was a complete dump too. And now I’m working from home again. But, we’ll probably expand into another cheap shithole fairly soon.

    When I was a Rainbow franchisee they tried to force me to get a huge fancy office, so that loss adjusters could drop by for coffee and hang round.

    I still don’t understand why they thought I would want to waste time chasing the business of people who had time to travel over 60 miles to drink coffee and hang round in some flash office.

    But I do remember those bullworkers. My dad had one and so did all of his neighbours. I never saw him use it, but we thought it was a great toy.

    By the way Drayton, the article Clayton Makepeace wrote about you recently was pretty good too.

  3. Phil Alexander

    I think it was Peter Lynch who discussed investing in Pep Boys when cab drivers refused to take him to that area of town.

    Love the blog, Drayton.


  4. For some strange reason my first thought was this old joke:
    An old dodderer of seriously advanced years stopped someone in the street and asked them what the sign outside a nearby building said, because his eyesight was so feeble. They read it aloud for him: “Grandma’s Massage Parlour — Come in for the wildest ride of your life!”
    After mulling it over he finally decided that life was getting shorter every day, so in he went — and was met by Grandma. On enquiring about prices he was offered three levels of service, price rising steeply with each level.
    He eventually chose the basic level, because it was all he could afford, and after paying the eye-popping fee, he was told to go through the red door at the end of the corridor and prepare for the surprise of his life.
    Filled with anticipation and trepidation, he opened the red door and stepped through — only to find himself in a back alley. Turning back to the door, he discovered that there was no door handle, and no way back inside. But there was a sign on the door, although he was unable to read it.
    Before long a passerby walked down the alley, so he asked the stranger if he’s mind reading the sign out loud for him, because of his etc.
    The stranger happily obliged… “Thanks — and enjoy the surprise of your life: you were just screwed by Grandma!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *