CLOSE-UP: ON THE CAMPAIGN COUCH ... WITH JB

Q: I got absolutely wrecked at the pub last Friday and I'm almost

certain I told my managing director he was a complete tosser. I'm not

sure if he remembers this fact, although he's been looking at me rather

strangely. Is he plotting some sort of revenge?



Do not jump to conclusions. Managing directors are often profoundly

insecure people. They are secretly astonished to have been made managing

director in the first place and their insecurity levels are regularly

topped up by reports in the trade press of competitive managing

directors abruptly deciding to spend more time with their families.



That your own managing director is one such is confirmed by the fact

that he wants to be one of the boys - believing, poor sod, that buying a

couple of rounds in the pub will secure his popularity.



So do not feel fearful. What happened last Friday is this: your managing

director, who has long suspected himself of being a complete tosser, was

much impressed by your perspicacity, honesty and courage in saying so.

He is looking at you strangely because, surrounded as he is by cringing

sycophants, he now respects you.



Seen in this light, you are, of course, in an extremely strong position.

From now on, he will be craving the smallest word of encouragement from

you. The faintest hint of your approval will see him flush prettily with

pride and gratitude. But watch out for two things.



Be very sparing with your words of commendation: overdo it and he'll

start to despise you again. And under no circumstances allow yourself to

be talked of as his successor.



Q: William Eccleshare writes:



Dear J, I'm confused. In the UK we've always been told that it was Lord

Leverhulme who said that he didn't know which half of his advertising

was wasted. In the US there seems to be an equally strongly held belief

that it was John Wanamaker who had first coined this epigram (a recent

Ad Age described it as his 'century old dilemma'). I seem to remember

you once writing that there was no evidence that either had originated

it. Did anyone ever actually say it? Should they have? Does it really

mean anything? Should we care?



Dear William, thank you for your kind enquiry. The Unilever archives

reveal no evidence whatsoever that the first Lord Leverhulme expressed

this lament; which is just as well for his Lordship's posthumous

reputation since the remark is inane.



I once proposed to the Market Research Society that it could put his

dilemma to the test once and for all. All they had to do, I pointed out,

was to persuade an advertiser to undertake a rigorously conducted

expenditure experiment. It should take their annual advertising

appropriation - of, say, pounds 10 million - and divide it in half. It

would then spend the first half, exactly pounds 5 million, in exactly

one half of the country; and the second half of its budget, again

exactly pounds 5 million, in the other half of the country. At the end

of the year, if the apothegm was valid, sales in one area would greatly

exceed those in the other. To their lasting discredit, the MRS declined

to shoulder this important task.



That the remark lives on at all is wholly attributable to the venom of

financial directors who use it to bait their marketing colleagues in

board meetings. If there is evidence that its originator was, in fact,

John Wanamaker, it would be an unwise American who took pride in this

fact.



Winston Fletcher believes it to have been said by a third person

altogether. Or not.



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

Couch. Address your problems to him at Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Road,

London W6 7JP. Or e-mail campaign@haynet.com.



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