The client who cried ‘urgent’

Tom Albrighton

ABC Copywriting


Chapter 1 · The big shiny agency

Once upon a time there was a man who worked at a marketing agency. The agency was a big shiny building in the middle of a city, and the people who worked there were so clever that they had a red pool table to play on when they couldn’t think of any ideas, which was very rarely.

Now, this man worked as an Account Executive. His job was to listen very carefully to what the clients who used the agency wanted, and then make sure the creatives who worked in the agency did it properly.

It was very important that the clients and the creatives were all happy. If the clients weren’t happy, they might stop spending money at the agency. And if the creatives weren’t happy… well, something terrible would surely happen.

Chapter 2 · The grumpy Copywriter

One day, a client asked the Account Executive to get something written really, really quickly. And even though the people in the agency were all very clever, there was no one who could write it in just the right way.

So the Account Executive sent an email to the Copywriter. He explained very carefully what had to be done, and how urgent it was. He even flagged the email as ‘urgent’, in case the Copywriter did not understand the word ‘urgent’ in the subject line.

The Copywriter was a queer, grumpy old fellow who lived in a yellow house under a tree at the edge of the city. He never went out because he was always writing things for people, and in the night-time he drank wine and shouted at the adverts on telly. He had a family, but he was still lonely because they did not understand about things like brand values and social media and how important they were.

Chapter 3 · The long wait

When the Copywriter saw the Account Executive’s email, he felt even grumpier than usual. He already had an urgent job to do, and in the afternoon he had been hoping to go to Homebase to get some screws. But he knew that the Account Executive would not care about things like that. So he got to work and did the best job he possibly could, combining some text that another client had rejected with some rehashed content off Wikipedia.

The Copywriter sent in his text and waited to hear from the Account Executive. He knew that people always wanted to change what he wrote, and since this job was urgent, he would hear about the changes very soon.

A day passed. Then another. And another! The Copywriter waited and waited, but the email did not come.

‘I do not think that job was really urgent,’ thought the Copywriter. ‘I could have gone to Homebase after all.’ And he finished off the bottle of wine he had opened, even though it was Sunday night.

Chapter 4 · Chimps on speed

The next day, an email arrived from the Account Executive. It had taken him quite a long time to write. He knew that if he was not nice enough to the Copywriter, the Copywriter might not do what he wanted. But if he was too nice, the Copywriter might try and ask for more money.

‘The client loves your ideas,’ he lied. ‘Just a few little tweaks and we’re good to go.’

But the Word document he attached did not just have a few little tweaks. It looked like a hundred amphetamine-crazed monkeys had been let loose at the keyboard with Track Changes on.

‘Just one more thing – could we have this back by COP today please?’ added the Account Executive.

Chapter 5 · The naughty Copywriter

I am sure you can imagine how angry the Copywriter was. But this time, he decided to pay the Account Executive back!

Instead of doing the amendments, he switched off his computer and went on the train to see another writer that he knew, who was almost as grumpy as he was. They ate scampi and drank beer, and moaned on and on about how everyone else apart from them was rubbish and knew nothing.

When the Copywriter got back to his funny house, it was dark and stormy. As he opened the door, there was a great crash of thunder. He peered timidly into his office and saw that the red light was flashing on the answer machine. But the Copywriter did not listen to any of the messages. He went to bed instead.

Chapter 6 · The blown deadline

The next morning, the Account Executive felt very worried. The client had rung him up to ask when the amended copy was coming over. But the Account Executive had heard nothing from the Copywriter at all!

The Account Executive was so anxious that he called the Copywriter from a networking event at a hotel near the airport. ‘We really need that copy,’ he said. ‘Is it nearly ready?’

‘Oh yeah, I just saw your email,’ replied the Copywriter. ‘I might be able to have a look at it on Monday? If that’s OK?’

‘No, it bloody isn’t!’ shouted the Account Executive. ‘I said it would be with them today at the latest! You’ve made me look a right prat!’ And he pressed the ‘end call’ button so hard that he made a little crack in the cheap, inferior plastic casing of his Blackberry.

‘Bloody freelancers,’ said the Account Executive to his friend. ‘I’m not using him again.’

And he never did!


  • This is a work of fiction and any resemblance between the characters and persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

  • 2dR8U5u


25th June 2012

Lauren John

Monday laughter is much welcomed, great spin on the tale, though using wikipedia and rehashed content, what did fictional beast expect!

12th July 2012


I cannot tell you how much I smiled reading this.
“But the Word document he attached did not just have a few little tweaks. It looked like a hundred amphetamine-crazed monkeys had been let loose at the keyboard with Track Changes on.”
This is the perfect description of what happens!

26th February 2013

Lisa Valentine

May I speak a word of defence for freelance copywriters? As a self employed copywriter I see day after day just the type of rehashed copy of which you speak; churned out and used as guest blogs, or heaven forbid, their own blogs, or even as newspaper articles for certain mainstream newspapers written by qualified journalists who should know better. These are writers and copywriters who no doubt sit at their desks in their shiny offices being paid mega bucks to update their social media networks and to participate in pointless meetings about how to effectively brainstorm ideas.

Meanwhile the lonely freelancer, who has a lot more to prove than the loftily employed, sits alone at home sourcing work, contributing to discussions, commenting on blogs, researching topics and spending a large amount of time writing top quality, unique and audience focused copy. How do I know this? Because the freelancer knows that the key to success is recommendation. Without recommendation and endorsements their work might dry up and then they would have to work by candlelight and the heat of a one bar electric heater.

The full-time contracted writer doesn’t have to worry about this. He has a permanent post so he doesn’t have to try quite as hard to get that copy just right. He can get away with rehashed content and an article that was written hurriedly in a 10 minute gap inbetween playing Bejewelled on Facebook.

So whilst you might find the odd grumpy freelancer – ok, I WILL concede that most of us may have a tendency towards grumpiness – who doesn’t have a clue about audience focused copy; for the most part these are few and far between because for many of us, getting enough work to keep the wolves from the door takes up most of our time and we’d be foolish to allow poor work to undermine our reputation. We’d be out of a job in fact. Just like the freelancer in your rather well-written and humorous tale.

Do spare a thought for us poor freelancers therefore and remember that for every one bad experience you have, there are a dozen more good experiences out there just waiting to happen 🙂

(See how I tried really hard to throw off my natural grumpiness there?)

12th January 2017

Dawn Baird

I’ll forgive you for “rehashed content”, but your comments on “amphetamine-crazed monkeys” are pretty accurate.

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