CLOSE-UP: ON THE CAMPAIGN COUCH ... WITH JB
campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 07 December 2001 12:00PM
Q: I am a junior art director at one of the top London advertising
agencies. Recently, a new executive creative director has been appointed
who, for some unknown reason, has taken a dislike to my partner and
As a result we are always given the uninteresting briefs. How can we
make him take us seriously? Or should we just twat him and tell him his
A: I can tell you're an art director from your hazy grasp of grammar.
("My partner and me," please.) You should remember the words of the
great Dave Flower (1933-1988): "There are no boring briefs: only boring
The way to impress your executive creative director (and every other ECD
in town) is to produce outstanding advertising. Next ...
Q: I've heard that my agency is a place where the staff regularly uses
mood-altering substances to improve their creative powers. How might I
drop the hint that I would like to purchase some of these substances for
my own recreational use?
How do you manage to get taken to Twickenham every year?
Q: Me and a few chums are setting up an agency and we think we need a
catchy name, such as Mother, St Luke's, Soul. We've toyed with
"Grannie", "St Trinians" and "Reggae" but are still in a quandary.
Should we continue to pursue the trendy route or simply name the agency
after its founders?
A: A few chums, eh? Catchy name? Toyed with? Trendy? I'm far from
persuaded you're serious. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it has
a considerable bearing on the question you pose.
The thing about trendy names is that, like the word trendy itself, they
quickly become sublimely dated. Think "with it". Think flares. Think 60s
haircuts. But perhaps you don't mind.
Perhaps you just want to launch a high-fashion agency with a
high-fashion name, attract a few vain clients, talk up your billings,
schmooze the trade press and flog yourselves to an international network
naive enough to believe that your fragile creative reputation will
polish up their share price. If this is the business plan that you and
your chums have in mind then you should call your new agency GumDropz.
(It is not currently registered in your category.)
If, on the other hand, your heroes are David Ogilvy, Leo Burnett and
Bill Bernbach; if you want to found a legendary business; if you intend
to stay with that business until, as President Emeritus, they put a
green baize bag over your head and carry you out: then go for the
surnames. But please: keep them in number to three or under. More than
that provokes derision.
Q: Ron Moss writes: Although my agency has no budget for trainees, a
hopeful slipped through the net. She has an Hons Degree in
Communication, Media and Creative Studies, but she is also quite
incredibly beautiful with a skirt up to here. In reception our biggest
client dropped his Psion in awestruck disbelief. If I hire her, how
could I be sure it was for the right reason?
A: Dear Ron, thank you for your kind enquiry. Perhaps I'm being a bit
slow here: but what specific reason would you regard as being right?
Surely it is your duty to hire people, irrespective of looks, who will
help your company grow and prosper? If the reaction of your biggest
client is anything to go by (and if you are prepared to replace all your
clients' Psions should the need arise), this media studies graduate will
repay her salary in incremental fees within months of joining. That you
should contemplate discriminating against her on grounds of appearance
is both deeply shocking and illegal. She would be perfectly entitled to
take you before an Industrial Tribunal.
So I'm afraid you have no choice here, Ron. Whatever your personal
feelings may be, you owe it to your agency to hire this girl.
- Jeremy Bullmore is a former chairman of J. Walter Thompson, a director
of Guardian Media Group and WPP. He also writes a monthly column for
Management Today. A compilation of his business advice, Another Bad Day
at the Office?, is published by Penguin, priced £5.99. Address
your problems to him at campaign@ haynet.com, or Campaign, 174
Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk