Q: Terry Howard writes: Dear Jeremy, I seem to remember that you
were quite good on the old Olivetti. So I was wondering ... what was
your opinion of the new campaign from Ikea, the one that is tailed by
the memorable line: 'Come and see us or we'll come and see you.' Where
would it stand in your pantheon of all-time greats? Please feel free to
Dear Terry, thank you for your kind enquiry. I no longer comment on
other people's advertisements: friends are hard enough to keep at the
best of times and, besides, there are none that I understand. The most
recent advertisement I remember with affection was called 'Luton
Q: I've got to assess someone who is central to my team and is related
by marriage to a key client. She is badly under-performing in the agency
and has lost all credibility. I'm really not sure I want her to stay.
What do I say in her assessment?
I was once faced with exactly this problem myself. The person in
question was a memorably untalented copywriter who was also, as it
happened, related by marriage to a key client.
My solution was to let it be known on the grapevine that he'd been the
inspiration behind three award-winning campaigns. Within the month, he'd
been poached by a rival agency. (Few people deny in interview that they
have been responsible for three award-winning campaigns: and he may well
have been in the building when they were conceived.)
As you will appreciate, this was a highly satisfactory outcome on three
counts. He left the agency in high good humour; his client/relation was
delighted for him; and I'd planted an extremely expensive piece of dead
wood in the very heart of a competitor. So I suggest you nominate your
own problem as a Campaign Face to Watch and await events.
As for the assessment, you should write: 'Sarah is in a category of her
own. I wonder if we will be able to keep her?'
Q: My agency has worked hard to position itself as a thinking client's
media operation. We now have the chance to scoop a large media buying
account but the client wants to give the planning to a strategic
hotshop. Should we undermine our positioning and go for the money, or
should we hold out for business where our planning and strategy can play
a key role?
It is beyond the stretch of the human mind to accept that Frank Bruno
could ever debate on level terms with Stephen Hawking. You should have
remembered this before settling on your brand position. The concept of
the brainy bruiser is not just oxymoronic: it precipitates in people an
acute attack of what we academics call cognitive dissonance.
What most clients want from their media agencies (even thinking clients,
as you cringingly call them) is brute force. Your recruitment policy
should reflect this fact. Never hire thin people in steel-rimmed
spectacles: go for those with shaven heads. In-house training should
coach staff in the art of concealing their intelligence. Bin the bone
china and serve your clients pre-sweetened tea in enamel mugs. Install a
punchbag in reception, and replace Admap with Loaded.
For that rare occasion when evidence of brainpower becomes a business
necessity, you should keep one person, of impressively under-nourished
appearance, in a back room. Refer to him as Uncle.
From all this you will gather that your present predicament is easily
resolved. Go for the money.
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 email@example.com.