THE BOOK OF LISTS: The 10 Best Letters in Campaign
campaignlive.co.uk, Tuesday, 17 December 2002 12:00AM
OK, hands up - this letter was anonymous, and didn't actually make it into the pages of Campaign ... until now. It followed the surprising news that Procter & Gamble, in one of its infamous agency memos, was encouraging its agencies to enter creative awards:
Jim Stengel's letter asking his above-the-line agencies to pull the stops out and win more awards will have left many of us gobsmacked. Failing to appreciate the real issues, it could have come from David Brent in The Office.
On behalf of us all who have worked with Procter & Gamble, we'd like to suggest that Jim sends the following letter to his own teams:
To all my wonderful staff who deal with our agencies, above and below the line.
You work for one of the most respected marketing departments of any company. But that respect doesn't extend to our work.
Together, we can change that!
By treating agencies with respect, they'll respect us too.
So please listen to our agencies - and stop treating them like contract cleaners. We pay them for advice not just to do as we ask. (We have studios for that.) They really do know what they are doing.
Instead of sitting in three hour meetings in Geneva, with 12 P&G staff all trying to rip the agencies' work apart, we can have just a few people approving the work. We all know what committees produce.
No more closed door sessions, when we treat them like naughty school boys and make them stand outside in corridors without even offering them a drink.
Discuss things together, it's so much more positive to play as a team.
Fax and e-mails are for communicating, not dishing out orders because you are too scared that the agency will argue because you know your comments are stupid. If you fancy yourself as a writer or art director, do an evening class.
We shall not hold any more pitches such as the Bold one last year. Where we asked more than 30 agencies to pitch via video. We didn't have the decency to run a proper pitch, ripped off the industry to the tune of more than £600,000 when there was a recession on and angered the industry.
And then we lied to the press that only a few had pitched, because the DMA's and IPA's guidelines suggest only four. No wonder they are still upset with us and many have vowed never to work with P&G again.
And can our American friends (or vice-presidents as you all like to have on the business cards) remember that in England you can't lie on British TV about what anti-ageing cream does. It's a pain, but they have rules about honesty there.
We need to evaluate work for its ability to sell effectively not just its cost. And we'll pay agencies a decent price for the work because that way we'll get better work and commitment.
We'll take risks instead of always worrying about making mistakes or what can go wrong. You don't get great work unless you stick your neck out. Good management allows you to cock up occasionally.
Many of those clients that do both award-winning work and also win effectiveness awards behave like this, so why can't we?
So when we think P&G, let's think Professional and Great not Pain in the Groin.
Go win those gongs!
I love you all.
PS If creativity was good enough for God, it's good enough for me.
Letter from a group of agencies who wish to remain anonymous.
2. JOHN HEGARTY
When Paul Belford and Nigel Roberts were caught submitting doctored ads to Campaign's Press Awards, the chairman of the jury spoke for most of the industry in condemning the scam:
Over the past 30 years, it has been increasingly recognised that creativity is the vital ingredient in an agency's armour. Our ability to transform strategy into something magical, memorable and, above all, valuable for our clients, is at the very foundation of our right to exist.
Awards shows, such as Campaign's and before them D&AD, have established themselves to recognise and applaud that achievement. That's what it's all about. As soon as you pervert that relationship you undermine our existence. Not just of an awards show but of our business, the business of advertising.
Creative people fought long and hard for the part they play to be rightly recognised. Great agencies, such as DDB in the 60s and CDP here in the 70s, helped show what could be done with imaginative creative thinking.
They changed the face of advertising and were rightly rewarded for their daring and courage. They convinced clients that creativity could make a difference. And it did. It is that heritage we constantly honour when we hand out awards. It is their shoulders we stand on to push our work further.
As any creative director will tell you, it's difficult at times to police all your awards entries, things do sometimes slip through. Steve Dunn has assured me he had no knowledge of this action. It requires all of us to be more diligent.
However, Paul Belford and Nigel Roberts think they've done nothing wrong.
"Everyone does it," they say. Let's not mince words here. They cheated.
They cheated the people who justly entered, they cheated the clients who stuck their necks out and bought great work, they cheated the business that employs them and, no doubt, pays them handsomely. But most importantly, they cheated all those who have gone before us, who fought long and hard to get us to this place.
If there's no honour in what we do, what point is there in honouring it?
John Hegarty, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London W1
3. NIGEL ROBERTS, PAUL BELFORD
Not that Belford and Roberts weren't contrite. Campaign received the following heartfelt and humble apology:
We would like to offer our sincere apologies for the recent events regarding the Campaign Press Awards. Entering the work in anything but the form in which it ran was a bad error of judgment. And one that shall not be repeated.
Nigel Roberts, Paul Belford, Ogilvy & Mather
4. ROBBIE SPARKS
Who would have thought Campaign's apostrophes would get people so heated?:
Why oh why oh why?
Campaign, 25 January, page 20; the apostrophe on "Adland's" is a foot or minute mark and not an apostrophe. It may seem a very small point to make but it's wrong, it's like a spelling mistake and it heralds the appalling standard of typography since we started using computers.
When I started out at Ogilvy & Mather in the late 60s the storeman, Old Mac, told me not to be like "them typographers in there". I asked why and he said: "Small print, small mind ..."
Maybe I should have listened ...
Robbie Sparks, Typographer and storyteller, St Luke's, London WC1
5. MARTIN LOAT
The 2002 award for the silliest pun goes to:
Thank you for reminding us that the kitchen company Moben "fell foul of the ASA for using an umlaut in its name" (Campaign, 1 November 2002).
In a cruel blow to brand developers everywhere, this ploy was judged misleading as it would give consumers the false impression that Moben was German.
If nothing else, this proves one old adage, namely: "You can't make an umlaut without breaking regs."
Martin Loat, Propeller Communications, London W1
6. FIONA MCANENA
Even writing a letter to Campaign can disrupt the work/life balance, which became such a topic of debate this year:
I wanted to contribute to the debate on the work/life balance, but I'd have to stay late in the office to do it.
Fiona McAnena, Mediaedge:cia, London SE1
PS. I don't write to The Guardian about Julie Burchill either.
7. JOHN MCGEOUGH
More grammatical pedantries:
In the article about the Market Research Society debating the originality (or otherwise) of ad agencies (Campaign, 5 April), Merry Baskin (pictured) reportedly accused Mark Earls of Ogilvy & Mather of talking "oninistic nonsense".
I don't know the man, but I think she has misconstrued his ironic intentions.
He sounds like a bit of a winker to me.
John McGeough, Via e-mail
8. JAMIE PRIESTLEY
And, yes, Campaign can be a bit pedantic too:
Finally, a serious article about seating plans makes it to the front page of a Haymarket publication.
Following your forensic investigation last week into where people actually sit at HHCL & Partners, I wonder if I could interest you in a story on our 2002 plans for indoor plants.
Jamie Priestley, Claydon Heeley Jones Mason, London SW11
9. ROBERT HOWELLS
OK, sometimes Campaign gets it wrong. But heck, some people take it all so seriously, as proved by this tear-jerker from Robert Howells chief executive of Mendoza, Dillon & Asociados:
Recently, I was interviewed by someone at Campaign for the article "Ethnic stories from the States" (18 October). The problem is that the featured ad in the article (an ad for Zespri Gold Kiwi) is an ad that Mendoza, Dillon & Asociados developed for the New Zealand Kiwi Growers for the US Hispanic market. In the article you erroneously gave credit for the development of this to Orci & Asociados in the caption under the picture, and not to Mendoza, Dillon & Asociados.
This is quite a mistake and very disconcerting to us at Mendoza, Dillon and our New Zealand client. It is unbelievable to me that a publication with the reputation and stature of Campaign could make this kind of unfortunate mistake and not realize it.
I would appreciate some type of reconciliation of this problem to mitigate some of the damage that it has caused. I remain shocked that a competitor of ours is taking credit for our work in such a significant way in your publication. I anxiously await your response as to what will be done about this mistake.
Robert Howells, Mendoza, Dillon & Asociados
10. RON BERGER
Well, we just couldn't resist ... Berger's reply to the Worst Jobs entry in last year's Book of Lists was too good not to reprint:
We read with dismay your recent listing of the Ten Worst Jobs in Advertising (Campaign, 17 December 2001). We take great offence at your listing our agency's receptionists, who are indeed required to say our agency's complete name, as number ten.
We feel, given the physical risk involved in wrapping one's tongue around so many syllables in one continuous breath, the job should have taken the number-one spot.
By the way, we noticed a curious surge in calls to our main office after 17 December with accompanying sniggers and hang-ups. A testament to your publication's wide reach.
Ron Berger, Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer Euro RSCG, New York
001 212 886 4100
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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