How a lad called Toby unwittingly gave us quality control at OBB.

40,000 years ago Jon and I had the idea to convince the then great Saatchi & Saatchi to give us a work placement.

Back then Saatchi’s had amazing brands coupled with amazing people in its creative arsenal. Think James Lowther and Inter City, Bill Gallagher and Silk Cut, Alex Taylor and Castlemaine XXXX.

On our first day, we duly sat in our shared office amid our fellow creative hopefuls – an affable pairing by the names of Toby & Joel.

There was also another bloke in the office who claimed to have been on work placement ‘terms’ for nearly four years. These terms amounted to £35 a week for the first fortnight, then you stayed for the love of it. Forget his name though.

We all got on well and had a laugh but took the viciously competitive nature of our joint predicament very seriously. For we knew it was a battle of wits to impress the decorated creative deities seated upstairs on the posh floor.

Briefs were issued and we had a pretty free rein as to what we chose to work on. However, our output had to be both prolific and high quality – not the happiest of bedfellows to many a creative it’s true to say.

Endless Silk Cut 48 sheet scamps, tireless TV daubings for Inter City, infinite attempts at crap Ozzie satire for Castlemaine lager… all recorded in the brutal nakedness of black and white bullet market visuals.

Toby (of Joel and Toby) went balls out for quantity not quality and would proudly ship pile after pile of his scamps to one of the hallowed creative directors or an overburdened group head. Just a few minutes later he’d return crestfallen and fizzing with irritation because one of the decorated deities had dared to question his efforts with the rebuff:

Quite a withering put down for a creative you’d think. Unrecoverable even. But not for our Toby:

Toby. Oh Toby.

You really never will appreciate the enormity of what you started that fateful day.

For since then, all those years ago, ‘BUT TOBY…’ has been used on pretty much a daily basis as a sardonic but quality control focussed put down inside the walls of One Black Bear. Junior creatives frequently look puzzled (who the fuck’s Toby?) and planners likewise (I don’t even look like a Toby). We even use it regularly on each other in the embryonic stages of cracking a brief.

Yep, he may not be present in our Birmingham based agency but Toby is our patron saint of avoiding average bollocks at One Black Bear. Now canonised not cannon fodder, Toby’s momentary pain was our long lasting gain.

So Toby, if you’re reading, we will be forever in your debt for your elegant coining of a truly unforgettable and concise phrase for creative benchmarking all we do.

Toby or not Toby? Never in question me thinks.