A: The advertising industry doesn't exist. You and I are the only people who know this. The principal distinguishing characteristic of any industry is that it has shared interests. If the waste management industry experiences year-on-year growth of 10 per cent, everyone in the waste-management industry is pleased. If the advertising industry experiences year-on-year growth of 10 per cent, the media are pleased and the agencies are pleased but the advertisers, without whom there wouldn't be an industry, will not be at all pleased. If advertisers could be 10 per cent more successful while spending 10 per cent less on advertising they would be very pleased; but the rest of the industry would be very displeased indeed. So you can see why there is no such thing as an advertising industry.
You then need to remember that the most influential people in advertising aren't in advertising. The critical decisions about advertising are made not by advertising people but by people who run businesses - who may know a great deal about advertising or absolutely nothing about advertising but in neither event would describe themselves on an application form as being in advertising.
These are points you would do well to bear in mind when contemplating an advertising career. In that part of the world characterised by high-disposable incomes and over-production, the invention and promotion of competitive goods and services will continue to be one of the most harmless and entertaining ways to earn a good living. Just don't think of it as advertising, that's all.
Q: I am told by the optician in our high street that my eyesight is fine, but I keep being embarrassed by failing to spot the client's logo - or indeed to be able to read much of the copy - on the ads our art directors show me. Is it a conspiracy or do art directors have particularly keen vision?
A: Never can irony have been quite so leaden. If you adopt the same facetious tone when discussing advertisements with your art directors, you may confidently expect the client's logo to disappear altogether.
Do not invite them to make copy and logo legible because the client insists on it; you will only lose what last shred of respect they might still feel for you. Remind them that they are professional communicators; and that communicators who fail to communicate are not professional.
Q: I am a medium-sized marketing director (based on my budget, sadly not my girth) and suddenly find rather a lot of graduate trainees and younger, less experienced agency executives working on my business. Admittedly the agency has had to make some significant redundancies recently, but how can I be sure I'm getting the right people on my account rather than just the cheap labour the agency has left?
A: You sound like the sort of marketing director who pins every decision on measurement and is deeply distrustful of judgment.
Ask yourself this. If demanding a new account person from your agency's chief executive, would you rely entirely on things you could attach numbers to? Would you specify a 33-year-old, with six years' FMCG experience, 2:1 degree, earning £63k+ and taking shoe-size 9? And would you be happy to accept such a person, sight unseen, with not even a lunch as reassurance?
Of course you bloody wouldn't.
All over the world, marketing directors of every size are getting disgraceful levels of service from hugely paid agency veterans and wonderful levels of service from graduate trainees. (And, naturally, vice-versa.) What you seem to be telling me is that you can't tell the difference. Should this be the case, you may find yourself medium-sized for some time to come.
- Jeremy Bullmore is a former chairman of J. Walter Thompson and a director of WPP. He also writes a monthly column for Management Today. Address your problems to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.