A: For many hundreds of years, it was perfectly evident to everyone that personal and corporate authority could most easily be established and maintained through the use of visual clues.
Judges wore wigs, policemen wore uniforms, schoolmasters wore gowns, banks built marble palaces, churches built cathedrals - and Important Objects, Important People and Important Institutions unthinkingly employed the use of Capital Letters. When you were seven, who did you stand in awe of? Not the head mistress, but The Head Mistress. Today, which would cause you the greater trepidation: to be summonsed to the bar of the house of commons or to be summonsed to the bar of The House of Commons?
Many hundreds of years later, a few illiterate design consultants unilaterally decide to ignore many hundreds of years of experience. capital letters are suddenly out. A new, cool banking experience, as evidence of being a new, cool banking experience, calls itself egg. Its name dies on the page. Almost at once, if only to be comprehensible, financial journalists are forced to refer to it as Egg. go as the name for an airline was insubstantial from the start. it soon went.
Tell your client that your name is four; then ask him why he doesn't seem to respect you.
Q: What do you make of this payment-by-results method for agencies? As an FMCG client, if we sell more products should we give the ad agency a percentage? I have my doubts that the brand advertising is solely responsible for achieving sales uplifts.
A: Let us say you make pot noodles. They contain a little-known variety of soybean oil - oraki - grown only in the tiny region of Ngui. On a television programme, watched by four-and-a-half million people, Nigella Lawson reveals that in some parts of Asia, oraki has long been reputed to prolong vigorous life. According to The National Geographic Magazine, the mean terminal age for Ngui men is 86 and for Ngui women, 92.
A year later, the front page of the Daily Mirror reveals, so great has been the demand for oraki, that production standards in the Ngui soybean processing plant have been deliberately subverted. Some of the output of the secondary fermentation process, previously destined only for the manufacture of printing ink and paint stripper, is now being sold for use in certain popular prepared foods - for which purpose it commands five times the price per kilo. Of the popular foods named by the Daily Mirror, your brand of pot noodles is by far the most famous.
Before you even begin to draft a payment-by-results agreement with your advertising agency, test them on these two scenarios: but strictly one at a time. When introducing the first, do not even hint at the existence of the second.
First, establish what part of the credit for your post-Nigella 400 per cent sales increase your agency believes they are entitled to. Translate that into cash terms. Surprise them with your benevolence.
Then reveal the Daily Mirror story.
You may very well find that your agency is marginally more predisposed to share in any inadvertent windfall than it is to help you cover the £5 million cost of product withdrawal. Anyway, ask them. It should certainly help clarify your views on the workability of payment-by-results.
- 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 campaign@ haynet.com or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.