Jinnie had no idea how radio advertising worked, what it cost or how effective it was. She had heard adverts on the radio and seen adverts on the TV and had her own views as to what she liked and what she didn’t. With several of the radio stations now simultaneously broadcasting on TV she saw the need for an advert that worked both visually and audibly. The current crop of glossy car adverts on television always looked like they had cost a fortune, were filmed in the South of France or a twisting mountain road in Switzerland, made no sense to her and she guessed would be way outside her budget. Thinking back, the only adverts that stuck in her mind had been series of related stories that had developed, like ‘Nicole and Papa’ selling cars, the ‘PG Tips Monkeys’ and the ‘Cinzano’ ones.
She knew what she wanted to avoid. There were several on the radio/TV that she hated because they looked amateur and done on the cheap. Immediately one for a South Wales jewellers and a one-off Midlands furniture store came to mind. As she sat thinking about how to go about things another thought popped into her head. Phone one of the radio stations they advertise on sales teams who will help you with the advertising and making the advert. Glancing down at Larry, she was suddenly certain the cat was reading her mind and planting messages in it. She said, “Thank you Larry, it’s Felix Chicken for your dinner tonight,” and was certain he winked at her!
Before phoning a radio station Jinnie wanted to run the idea past Brian, it was no good if the Trattoria Trevi had no spare cash for advertising. Anyway, she wanted a second opinion, as she was thinking that the best thing to advertise was the new events business. The two restaurants were full every night and didn’t need money spending on them but Trattoria Trevi (Events Management) was a new business and after the Christmas party rush they needed to get more business in for the new year. Brian listened to Jinnie’s pitch before replying, “I like the idea, but we have a few problems. We don’t have a very big advertising budget, it’s mainly spent on menu leaflets for the sandwich business. In addition, the events business is only majority owned by Trattoria Trevi and I wonder if the board would accept spending ‘their’ money on it.”
Jinnie thought for a moment before saying, “Events is soon going to be cash rich. The SIS are paying a big upfront deposit. The winery parties are almost sold out and that is based on tickets that are purchased in advance. I think that business might be able to pay for its own advertising, in fact Miranda is already doing so on the internet. I am willing to gamble some of my own money, as a director’s loan, if it is needed in the short term as I think this business is going to fly.” “I might just join you,” replied Brian, “Let’s see what Miranda thinks.”
Brian set up a conference call and explained what they were thinking about to Miranda, who listened without interruption. Having heard them out Miranda said, “I have been worrying that we are looking at a sharp fall-off in business in the new year. I have been pushing the website on social media but I’m not sure that the people who hold corporate events, host large dinner parties or lavish birthday parties are on Facebook. I have had several enquiries for weddings, but they are almost all for the spring and summer when the weather is better. I have used my IT skills to get the website on the first page of Google, but it is below the paid-for advertisements and several companies who have been in the business for years. I investigated paying for a Google advertisement listing but they are currently going for an exorbitant amount. So if we can make this work by getting just a few more enquiries I would be delighted.”
Jinnie said, “I have been thinking about a series of adverts, a wedding, a dinner party, a garden party like your sister’s engagement, but first a push to sell the Christmas party tickets. I would love to see the website address plastered across the screen and you getting loads of hits.” Miranda jumped in saying, “Did you know we filmed loads of footage of Mel’s engagement do, I am sure it could be cut into something spectacular by a professional and a professional voice-over added. I’m sure Mum and Brian would let us use their house to film a dinner party, she has a huge dining table, I think it seats 24. But best of all, just yesterday I had a desperate girl on the phone asking if we could help her and her fiancée. Just a month before her long arranged wedding the hotel hosting the reception has cancelled due to a double booking. She has got the deposit back but it hardly helps when there is just not a free venue capable of hosting a sit-down three-course meal for 200 with a DJ for the evening within a 50-mile radius.”
“Here’s what I have been thinking. Brian, do you think we could hire the paddock and put up a huge marquee? We could put in hot air blowers, hire toilets, get Trattoria Trevi’s dark kitchen to supply the food, and Uncle Neal to supply waiters. Sue, the bride, has organised and paid for the DJ, and a master of ceremonies. The menu is fixed, a prawn cocktail or tomato soup, chicken breast in white wine and mushroom sauce, a veggie option, and trifle for dessert. Oh, and chicken nuggets or sausages for the kids with ice cream to follow. Not my choice of menu but the bride and groom love it, and it would be easy for the Trattoria Trevi. It has just struck me what a great story it would make. We could even offer them a reduced price if they agree to it being filmed for an advertisement.”
Brian answered, “Of course you can use the paddock and I won’t charge you, however if the guests want a look at our garden I think we could have it available. Belinda is collecting for Macmillian Cancer Support this year so I’ll put the collection tins out. I think we should do the reception at cost if the bride and groom agree to us filming them and liven up the menu by throwing in a gin and tonic sorbet between the starter and the main course.”
Alan walked into the SMG office and closed the door behind him, before calling, “Gather round troops. I have just been in a video meeting between ‘C’ and the PM and he has approved the mission. Penny, Les, you fly to Belfast on Friday. It’s an EasyJet flight from Gatwick to Belfast City but as it’s a late afternoon flight you’re going to be booked into the Belfast Europa for the night. It is an upmarket hotel as befits a millionaire couple. Then it’s the morning train to Dublin. First Class of course.”
As Alan left to go back to his office he said to Penny, “Can you spare me a few minutes in the office please?” Penny noticed the office still had the picture wall of Nice sea front & beach. Alan saw her looking and asked, “Any reason Jinnie choose that picture of Nice?” Penny laughed and replied, “That’s where we were for D-Day. We trained the Resistance, lead the troops up the beach for the landings and joined in on an attack on a German base. Besides two of Jinnie’s university friends live there with the beautiful little daughter Juliette.” “Now I understand, it represents a triumph for the Department, more people should know about it.”
“OK, now the real reason I wanted to talk to you, we have ‘acquired’ a German G24 sniper rifle set. It is exactly the same as the sniper rifle you are familiar with, the Germans took loads of them back with them when they were kicked out of Britain. However, I have matched it with a lot of German kit like the scope and packed it in a foam-lined carrying case, quite smart really. I want you to go down to Pirbright tomorrow and have a day’s practice with it at extreme range using all the German kit. Les can go with you. The rifle will travel over in the diplomatic bag and be delivered to you in-house. We also have Heckler &Koch P30 pistols at Pirbright for you both to try. These are standard issue to German special forces and I wonder if one could be ‘lost’ in Ireland. Again they will be delivered to you at your accommodation.”
Penny found the German sniper rifle to be virtually the same as the British one she was used to and the telescopic sight to be excellent, but she wasn’t keen on the infrared sight it wasn’t a patch on the British one. She just hoped she wouldn’t be called on to shoot at night. Les quickly picked up the job of a spotter, but with only one day’s training he was very raw. However, she was happy that he would have her back. She quite liked the H&K pistol, it was accurate, light and quick & easy to load, but it was not what she was used to. She fired round after round on the range, at first at up to 1,200 metres with the rifle, making delicate adjustments to the telescopic sights until she was satisfied that she was constantly hitting the bull’s eye or the inner ring.
Then she switched over to the pistol at 25 metres and found the pistol constantly pulled to the right by about two inches. If she aimed two inches left of the target she could constantly hit the target. She fired about fifty rounds until she was happy. She then stripped both guns and cleaned them, before reassembling them and handing them back to the range master for transmission to London and onward transmission to Ireland.
Miranda phoned Jinnie to update her on the plans for the wedding. Brian had promised to cut the grass in the meadow using his ride-on mower and Belinda had roped in Andrew, Peter and Jason to direct cars into the part of the meadow that was to serve as a car park and get them parked neatly. The marquee supplier had come up with a couple of huge tents that could be linked together to form a big enough space and had recommended a company for furniture hire. Belinda had been able to find the portable toilet renter, the industrial heater supplier and, most importantly, portable generators for lighting and power.
Alberto had spoken to the Manor Royal kitchen and they had confirmed they could produce the food and transport it what worried them was that it might need heating or cooling before being served. The company that supplied kitchen fit-outs for Belinda’s business came to the rescue when Belinda remembered they also hired equipment for outside catering. That took care of the ovens, fridges, crockery glassware and cutlery. Trattoria Trevi organised the wine with the meal, a bar for the evening and a temporary license from the council.
Jinnie and Brian had taken on the task of organising the advertising. Jinnie had made the initial contact with the sales department of a national radio station who also broadcast their programmes on terrestrial TV, satellite TV and the internet to find out costs. They had offered the services of their in-house commercial production company and Brian had accompanied her to a meeting with them at their London Bridge office. The station’s team comprised a salesman, several creative people and a director of TV commercials.
Jinnie explained what she wanted from the adverts. She told them the aim was to drive people to the TT Events website. In the short term, she wanted to push the Christmas party at the Showground where 2/3rd of the tickets were still available. The Vineyard was 95% sold out and didn’t really need pushing. But, she continued saying, “After Christmas we need to advertise our other events expertise; weddings, large private parties like engagement and birthdays, home dinner parties, and corporate events”. She said, “I envisage a family of adverts showing each of the various offerings, with a professional voice-over and website prominently visible.”
Then Jinnie explained how she hated to see the same advert every advertising break, especially when it looked amateur and done on the cheap and she named several that were currently showing on the station. The director laughed and said, “Two of those are mine, and I hate them. You are right they were made on the cheap and the budget didn’t allow for actors so we had to use actual staff and it shows. I would hope that if we are chosen for your project we would be able to afford to do a lot better.”
Jinnie then told them how they had video of an engagement party they had organised. That they could arrange a house dinner party for 24 with entertainment that could be filmed. In two weeks they had a wedding they could film, she told them how it was all being arranged in a mad rush because the happy couple had been let down by having their booking cancelled under four weeks before the big day. How they had stepped in and with assistance from their parent company, Trattoria Trevi doing the cooking, it was all being arranged to go ahead on the designated day.
The salesman suddenly spoke up, “You are part of Trattoria Trevi?” he asked. “Yes,” replied Jinnie, “Trattoria Trevi (Events) is a subsidiary. Brian is the finance director and I am the chief operating officer.” “Gosh,” said the salesman, “I have eaten at Turners Hill several times and it is my favourite restaurant. The food is fantastic and the service immaculate. Tell me will they be providing the food for all events?” “They will,” said Jinnie, “even the Christmas parties, but it will be made at their kitchen facilities that supply their takeaway business or by our chefs in their kitchens. We currently have takeaway kitchens in Potters Bar and Crawley, but I think we will be opening more soon.”
One of the media people said, “This is really good, it’s a great selling point ‘TT Events food is from Michelin Starred Trattoria Trevi’.” “Not so fast,” said Jinnie, “it’s only our Potters Bar restaurant that has a Michelin Star. So you can’t say that, but you could say that all food is produced by Trattoria Trevi chefs.” “Right,” he said, “are the press aware of the ‘wedding story’? “I don’t think so,” replied Jinnie. “Well please do not tell them. I would like to get an advert on air very quickly after the wedding and plaster it with the revelation that ‘this is a true story’. We can then get a double dose of extra advertising for free because the dead tree press will love it. I can see the headline, ‘Trattoria Trevi to the rescue’. Would you consider doing an interview on one of our programmes?”
“I was interviewed by Mike Graham a bit back,” said Jinnie, “and I survived so I don’t see why not. Brian knows him as well, he entertained him at our Turners Hill restaurant.” “That’s true,” said Brian, “he was not as abrasive off air and loved the food.” The salesman was smiling happily, “I can see a series of 30 or 45-second adverts. We could have the ‘Engagement Party’ on air quickly if the video is good, we only need post-production editing some graphics and a decent voice-over. The ‘Dinner Party’ and the ‘Wedding’ need to be filmed but are straightforward. But the ‘Corporate Event’ and the ‘Christmas Party’ are a bit more difficult.” Jinnie replied, “But we really need the ‘Christmas Party’ advertisement as quickly as possible. We only have a few weeks before they begin.”
The media people and the director went into a huddle before one of them said, “Is it possible to show us what you have planned? Maybe we could create a series of images showing people enjoying a party, eating, entertainment etc., with a voiceover.” Jinnie thought for a moment then said, “We might be able to help a lot there. We have a series of Christmas parties booked for a corporate client, I am afraid I can’t tell you whom as they want no publicity. But we prepared a number of rendered images of the proposed party site showing the area decorated, I’m sure we could add people. How about photos of the Showground and the Vineyard and food.”
The director then said, “I think that could work, if we start work immediately on the scripts and other ideas how long before you can get us the ‘Engagement Party’ film and the rendered images and set up the ‘Dinner Party’? “Hang on a minute,” said Brian, “we haven’t talked about costs, or when the ads would run.” While Brian and the salesman moved to a side room to talk costs, Jinnie phoned Miranda who was in her new office and explained what was required. Miranda replied, “Give me five minutes, I need to talk to Andrew and Belinda. Can you talk to Alberto about the ‘Dinner Party’ and food? We already have external stills of the Vineyard and the Showground, on the website.”
By the time Jinnie had finished her call to Alberto, who had quickly agreed to supply dishes to be photographed and sort out the ‘Dinner Party’. Brian was back and whispered in her ear, “That was painless, the total cost is less than we budgeted, but I have thrown in 50 half-price tickets for the TV company staff at the Showground and the salesman and his wife a trip to the Trattoria Trevi Turners Hill chef’s table for his wife’s birthday. I have shaken hands on a deal and he will draw up the contract.”
When Miranda rang back, both Belinda and Andrew had joined her on Miranda’s speakerphone. It was quickly agreed that the video of Melissa’s engagement party would be uploaded to a Dropbox the TV company maintained, as would the still of the party sites, Andrew went off to start work on adding people to the images which he promised for the next afternoon. Belinda had a quick discussion with Brian and they said they could organise 24 for dinner any time. Alberto could do the food, Neal could organise the staff, Miranda the entertainment and the TV company, the video crew. By the time Jinnie and Brian left the meeting the director was reviewing the video and had declared he could definitely make something of it.
Penny and Les got off the train at Gatwick Airport, took the escalator up to the airport departure level and headed for the EasyJet check-in desk. EasyJet was a bit of a comedown for the pair but at least the team had paid for seats together, hold baggage, priority boarding and it was a short flight. The plane was on time and Penny thought the flight OK but was glad that it wasn’t any longer as it was a bit basic. The pair picked up their luggage and grabbed a cab to the Europa Hotel. Their suite was exactly the opposite to the flight, it was luxurious. After dinner in the hotel restaurant, Les said how good it had been, but he was delighted he wasn’t paying for it. Penny agreed.
The following morning Les was anxious to try a full Irish breakfast but Penny stuck with the Continental as she was not that hungry after last night’s big meal. Penny used her Black Visa Debit card to settle the bill which was accepted without question. So far the SMG’s planning was faultless. A cab to the Lanyon Place Station dropped them in plenty of time for the 10:35 Enterprise train to Dublin. The journey was just over two hours so they decided it wasn’t worth eating on board, instead they each had a coffee. The couple took another taxi from Connolly Station the short distance across the Liffey to their hotel, The Merrion. They only had two nights booked in one of the hotel’s deluxe king size rooms so needed to be noticed by staff.
The ‘experts’ at Vauxhall Cross had advised them the way to this was to ask questions at reception, get the concierge to get them tickets to a show and tip heavily, tip everyone and be polite to everyone. They started by giving the person who showed them the room a big tip, and followed that by tipping the young man who delivered their cases. The concierge was asked to get them tickets for ‘Beauty and the Beast’ for the following evening and got a big tip, the waiters in the restaurant got big tips, the maid got a big tip. Then they were seen with a road map planning their route to Cork by the waiter who served them drinks and later studying a family tree when served coffee. It became common knowledge that they were heading to Cork to research the wealthy Mrs Weeke’s Irish roots.
In Chapter 24 – Portmagee
© WorthingGooner 2023