Bigger isn’t necessarily better Dave Trott tells me

Dave Trott of agency CSTTG has replied to my article of earlier today about Media Square with one of his justly celebrated blog posts.

I wrote that Media Square was never going to work because if you start small you tend to stay small. I also questioned the merits of ‘predatory thinking.’

Here’s Dave’s view.


In 1943 the Allied armies were marching up Italy.

The Italians were ready to surrender.

So they arrested their leader, Mussolini.

They decided to make a deal by handing him over to the Allies.

But they knew the Germans would try to rescue him.

So they moved him to the top of a mountain.

The only way to get to it was via cable car.

Then they surrounded the mountain with troops.

While they were doing that, Otto Skorzeny and a few German commandos, came in behind them.

They landed silently on the mountain in gliders.

They freed Mussolini while no one was looking.

Put him in a small single-engine plane, and took him back to Germany.

All without a shot being fired.

Before all the soldiers surrounding him knew anything about it.

It was incredibly daring and brave.

But what I like best is, it was creative.

Everyone was looking one way, so Skorzeny came the other way.

Everyone had all their guns pointed toward a ground attack, so he came in from the air.

Everyone was listening for noisy tanks and armour.

He came in silently, in a glider.

And his few men beat an army.

About a year later the Germans were fighting the Americans in France.

Skorzeny was looking for a creative way to even the odds.

How could his few commandos make a difference against hundreds of thousands of soldiers?

Again he was creative.

Don’t oppose force with force.

Find your enemy’s weakness.

Let their own fear do the work for you.

Skorzeny got hold of five captured American jeeps.

Then he got hold of twenty American uniforms.

Then found twenty German commandos, who could speak American.

He put four commandos in each jeep.

Then they drove through the American lines.

To the unsuspecting soldiers, they looked and sounded just like GIs.

Once behind the lines, they created havoc.

They destroyed any military objective they came across, spreading disorder and confusion.

But that wasn’t their real objective.

Their real objective was to be captured.

Once captured they’d be interrogated, and forced to reveal their ‘mission’.

To assassinate General Eisenhower.

Of course that wasn’t their mission at all, it would have been impossible.

But by now the Allies were in a state of panic, they’d believe anything.

They saw spies and saboteurs everywhere.

Ordinary soldiers couldn’t trust each anyone.

In some cases, soldiers even shot each other.

Each believing that the other guy was a German in disguise.

Everyone lived in terror.

Morale plummeted.

The effectiveness of the entire army was reduced.

Plus, the Allies took the threat against Eisenhower seriously.

Thousands of soldiers were diverted to guard him from a non-existent assassination attempt.

Soldiers who would otherwise have been fighting the Germans.

Job done for Skorzeny.

His twenty men had tied up, and reduced the effectiveness of, tens of thousands of allied troops.

Otto Skorzeny was a creative thinker.

As I also said, the man’s an advertising genius. But Skorzeny and his chums still lost didn’t they Dave?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.