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

Q: I have a very dear client who has become a born-again Christian.

After a few glasses of wine at dinner he invariably becomes affectionate

in a deeply Christian way and expresses his delight that our friendship

will be eternal when we meet in Heaven. Do you think, for the sake of my

conscience, that I should let him know I am, in fact, Jewish or should I

let sleeping gods lie?



I'm sure it's my own lack of imagination, but what I want to know is

this: when a born-again Christian, after a few glasses of wine, starts

becoming affectionate in a deeply Christian way - precisely what takes

place? Are we just talking words here? Does he just mumble, in his

vinous but deeply Christian manner, about your rendezvous in Heaven? Or

does he speculate about the nature of that yearned-for rendezvous? And

does he, I wonder, become increasingly specific and decreasingly deeply

Christian?



You may find these questions prurient: what business is it of mine, you

might think. Well, you started this - and on the basis of what you've

told me, I can't for the life of me work out why your conscience should

be troubling you. You're keeping a valued client happy, having the

occasional good meal with someone who's dear to you, and - with an

absolutely clear conscience - putting the whole thing down on

expenses.



So what's bugging you? I suspect it's because you know very well that

the only reason your very dear client is very dear to you is because

he's a client. So imagine, for a moment, that he isn't. How do you feel

now about another long, deeply Christian evening with a rambling old

bore?



Never underestimate the influence that a generous advertising budget can

have on your affections. As long as he's a client, go on holding him

dear. The moment his company fires you, tell him you're Jewish. And if

he demands to know why you never mentioned it before, tell him it's a

very recent thing: you're born-again Jewish.



Q: We're a small shop down by the river and deadly keen to make a go of

things. Trouble is, we're finding it awfully difficult to get the trade

magazines to take us and our work seriously. Do you think if we ran a

press campaign for one of our clients with the word 'bollocks' in it, we

might have some luck?



You show excessive timidity. If that's the best you can come up with,

prepare for a long stay down by the river. Draft a press release now

explaining that, in the interests of creativity and senior partner

involvement, it's been a deliberate part of your growth strategy to stay

small. You're going to need it.



It clearly won't come easily to you - but what you must strive for is a

reputation for heroism. The trade press - and certain attention-seeking

clients - are much taken by heroic little agencies. Heroism in an agency

can best be demonstrated by doing all those things that the big,

multinational agencies are too craven or too greedy or too bureaucratic

to do.



It means refusing to pitch for Nike because of sweatshop allegations

(no, you idiot - you don't have to be invited in order to refuse). It

means resigning your biggest account on a point of creative principle.

It means giving every member of your staff an equal share in your

business. It means employing Tony Kaye.



If you still think that using the word bollocks in a press advertisement

is evidence of a fearless, fifth-wave agency, abandon all ambition

now.



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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