ON THE CAMPAIGN COUCH ... WITH JB

Q: The most senior person from one of our biggest clients is obsessed by porn and continues to bring in VHS's for our telecine department to copy for him. How do I discourage him from doing this without upsetting him and losing the business?

Lie. Get your studio to mock up a letter from New Scotland Yard addressed to your company secretary. A dossier of evidence has recently been compiled listing the widespread abuse of the technical facilities in metropolitan advertising agencies for the duplication of obscene and illegal material. Agencies are warned that they may expect random raids from now on, with public prosecution the likely outcome.

Tell your client that, quite by chance, you've caught sight of this letter and have managed to smuggle out a photocopy. Let him have fleeting sight of it. Explain that you're only too happy to continue duplicating his tapes, but - in order to protect your agency from the charge of commercial exploitation of obscene material - you will need to mark all such tapes from now on with the client's name and home address.

If that doesn't do it, nick his nasty tapes yourself and tell him you've been raided.

(I do hope that the size of his budget really does justify this unseemly trimming of principle.)

Q: Got any useful euphemisms for "there is no money"? I am the MD, and for some unfathomable reason, the staff seem to hold me responsible for their lack of pay rises.

Are you old enough to remember the time when you were able to hand out pay rises? I expect you handed them out one by one, didn't you - accompanying each with a few buttered words and graciously accepting the gratitude?

So it's possible, I suppose, that your staff have foolishly concluded that the man who was once happy enough to take the credit for dishing out company money should now accept some responsibility for withholding it. Silly, silly people.

You will, of course, have played the Them card. You must have a Them, surely? Them can be New York or your regional president or your holding company - which should ideally have a name totally devoid of humanity such as Qavex Inc. By blaming Them for the absence of money you may temporarily avert physical assault; but only, of course, at the final expense of your already tattered authority.

You do not need a euphemism. When there is no money, there is no money. You are the managing director. Just say so.

Q: I'm increasingly convinced my agency suits are in danger of becoming an endangered species. What are my account men actually supposed to do all day?

I will tell you exactly what they're supposed to do. Then you can tell me whether or not they do it.

Think of your ideal advertising campaign as if it were a feature film.

You need an idea: an original idea, one that will appeal to many people and have a long and profitable life. You need a timetable. You need a budget. And you need writers and art directors and photographers and music makers and directors to apply their alchemy, subjugate their egos and make something remarkable live where before there was nothing.

All the above is impossible without a supreme voice, of infinite wisdom, cunning, passion and selflessness. In the making of the best movies, such voices are called producers. In the making of the best advertising, they're called account directors.

By the sound of it, you need one.

Q: What's the best way to motivate my agency?

Demonstrate sustained and consistent unpredictability. Threaten to fire them on Monday, lunch them lavishly on Tuesday, show them a competitor's reel on Wednesday, praise them publicly on Thursday, leave a disconcerting voicemail message for them late on Friday. Just make sure that everything you do, hot or cold, blazons your belief in the importance of their work.

Jeremy Bullmore is a former chairman of J. Walter Thompson and a director of 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

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