Q: I work my heart out to put my agency on the map. Unfortunately,
my brother, an equal partner, does not. He's far too 'busy' swanning
around so-called art galleries and getting me bad press with the News of
the World's anti-kiddie porn brigade. What can I do to make him pull his
weight? PS: I'd be very much obliged if you could maintain my
A: I find the predicament you describe an improbable one and remote from
anything I've encountered in real life. However, in the unlikely event
that this is a real problem, this is what you should do.
First, discard all thought of making your brother pull his weight.
People who enjoy swanning around so-called art galleries are never going
to pull their weight. Instead, you must aim to put clear blue water
between your brother and your agency.
You will, of course, have considered changing the name of your agency or
alternatively requesting your brother to change his; and I can well
understand why this came to nothing. I also assume that the name in
question is a distinctive one? Had you been called Smith, for example,
you would not have felt the need to write to me. So you are left with
only one course of action: the deliberate creation of maximum
Leave your agency and start another one, ensuring that both your old
agency and your new one share the same name. Then do it again. And if
necessary again. Aim high: think Delaney. There are so many agencies
called Delaney that no amount of scurrilous innuendo in the News of the
World could possible damage any one of them.
Should this plan prove impractical, make a massive contribution to a
political party, acquire a peerage, and embark on a career in
PS: How many of your potential clients read the News of the World
Q: Brett Gosper writes: We are a six-year-young agency with a strong
culture and our own way of maximising the probability of success on our
clients' businesses. We have never felt the need to bore our clients and
prospects with a 'Positioning' or 'Mission Statement' as prevalent in
the traditional American network. Are we missing a trick?
A: Dear Brett, thank you for your kind enquiry. It is commonly believed
that, when clients first agree on a shortlist and then conduct a beauty
parade, they are looking for the perfect agency. They are not. Being a
committee, they are seeking objective reasons for eliminating the
candidates, one by one, until only the eventual winner is left. So it is
that Agency A is bumped for its failure to have an office in Kuala
Lumpur and Agency B because its Reykjavic associate handles a
competitor. Any such fact is greedily seized upon: it makes
consensus-style decision-making so very much easier.
So, yes: I'm afraid you should have a Mission Statement. Spend no more
than ten minutes writing it. Have it set professionally in a
well-branded booklet, send one copy to the AAR and keep another in a
filing cabinet somewhere. (Under no circumstances allow your planning
and creative departments to know that it exists: any such respect as you
might now enjoy would be swiftly dissipated.)
Some day soon, you will be asked by an important prospect if you have
Remembering only to blow the dust off first, you can hand it to him
And if he can't find another reason to eliminate you, you might well end
up with the business; in which case, I shall expect a small glass of dry
Jeremy Bullmore is a former chairman of J. Walter Thompson, a director
of Guardian Media Group and of WPP, and the president of NABS. He writes
a monthly column for Management Today. A more serious look at problems
in the workplace, it both inspired and complements On the Campaign
Address your problems to him at Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Road, London
W6 7JP. Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.