Media: A moment with Marquis

By Simon Marquis, the chairman of ZenithOptimedia, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 10 December 2004 12:00AM

This is a Christmas fairy tale. "Jenny" is a 44-year-old mother who has had an enjoyable and fulfilling career in advertising sales, four lovely children aged nine to 18, and a husband who works in PR. She had everything she needed in life to make her happy ever after.

And then she developed breast cancer. Unfortunately, it didn't stop there and she learnt recently that the disease had spread into her bones. The prognosis is not good and it seems she faces months, rather than years, left with her family. Her husband, "Richard", cut down his working days to two a week so that he could look after Jenny and the children. Sadly, a longed-for holiday, already planned and booked, was now looking doubtful because Richard's earnings had plummeted and the holiday was becoming unaffordable.

Luckily, in the nick of time, a fairy godmother appeared with the money to pay the balance owing on the holiday - quite possibly their last together as a family. Jenny could look ahead, after all, to a happy time with her loved ones and creating poignant memories for them all.

Regrettably, even in adland, even at Christmas time, there is no fairy godmother. But there is the National Advertising Benevolent Society (Nabs), our hard-working, cash-strapped, unsung industry charity. Jenny's story is true, but it was Nabs that doled out the money in the nick of time, just as it does throughout the year in countless other difficult real-life situations.

I guess even the most steely-hearted of us feel a twinge of charitability at this time of year. A few quid for Guide Dogs for the Blind or Save the Children or that irritating friend who keeps climbing mountains in Borneo for Save the Rhino.

Quite possibly, advertising and media don't rank all that highly on your list of deserving causes. We are, after all, an industry better-known for the well-heeled than for the down-at-heel.

And yet, of course, even in our relatively prosperous patch, there are those who trip up or fall by the wayside or lose the plot or grow old or lonely or find themselves out of work or in a financial tailspin. Or they get ill like Jenny did. Comfortable worlds like hers can fall apart with astonishing speed. It doesn't bear thinking about.

But it must bear thinking about and we are fortunate to have Nabs to do most of the thinking and doing for us. We don't have to do much ourselves.

Just remember to spare a few more quid so Nabs can go on being a fairy godmother.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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