As we all know, persuading a creative to put bullet point to marker pad can involve all manner of cajoling and badgering. So as a gesture of goodwill towards all the suits I've made fun of on this blog, here are my TOP SECRET- super-classified-insider-tips on how to get a creative to do their job.
May I suggest you adopt what I've dubbed "The Ronan Keating approach to account management"? Quite simply, it's all in how he phrases it.
He wrote the following about his wife: "You say it best when you say nothing at all." Now. Let's apply that to what suits do.
You're briefing something. You want the team to put in that extra 10 per cent (so that's 12 per cent). What do you do?
Here are my top tips:
- Tell them how brilliant they are.
- Tell them another team couldn't crack it, so you're coming to them because they've got a reputation for always coming up with the goods.
- Tell them there's a massive budget on it and it's a really exciting opportunity - but could they also do some low-budget solutions, just to show a "range of ideas"?
- Give the job an exciting name like "Project breakthrough" or "Awards job".
These are almost guaranteed to give you the desired effect.
If, however, none of the above work, and you feel the situation warrants it, you can go for "The slightly scary brooding Ronan approach".
This is where you threaten to get the planner to come and provide a bit more background.
The prospect of a couple of hours of "insights" and "brand essences" will, I promise, put the wind up any creative. Just watch them scuttle back to their desk more anxious to please than, well, a suit.
Ronan and I look forward to hearing how these tips have boosted productivity in YOUR creative department.
The reality is funnier than fiction
Advertising's a joke, isn't it? In the same week as some newspaper TV sections were trailing a TV programme about a man who can't stop hiccupping, a new comedy about the advertising world, The Persuasionists, kicked off.
When you hear that the fictional outfit is called HHH&H, that either amuses you or it doesn't. Me, it amuses very much.
But it does raise the question of whether the agency is based on HHCL. God, I hope it is. Anywhere that was as dysfunctional, f*cked-up and hopeless as HHH&H would be a good place to work.
Although I like to think that there may be some very minor nuances of difference between me and the babbling, violent and catastrophically inept egomaniac of a boss. I may be wrong.
I really wanted to like it. I wanted to laugh like a drain that's been smoking spliff and then been told not to laugh.
But it didn't quite grab me in the way I wanted it to. This episode had some inspired comic acting, but, in my view, not enough situation. It just didn't seem real enough.
Some years ago, Les Blair made a film about advertising called Honest Decent and True, which was so well-observed and so close to the reality of advertising that it was almost unbearable to watch.
It was brilliant. And that's how I'd want to do a comedy about advertising right now. Keep it close to reality - because the reality of advertising is crazy enough to be funny without being underscored with hyperbole.
It's got real potential - some funny characters and the writer, Jon Thake, knows how to come up with great lines.
In terms of the characters, the central figure is a copywriter played by Iain Lee. This is his first character part, and I thought he was really good in it.
Adam Buxton plays an account man who's terrified of everybody. But the main comedy plaudits go to a scary cockney client who shouts "Gertcha" when he orgasms, and a crazy head of global played by Simon Farnaby who strides around with an oversized pencil, the maddest hair since Kramer from Seinfeld and a very funny accent that could be Eastern European, Dutch or Finnish. It's worth watching the show just for him.
In terms of the writing - I hired Jon twice. First time through, he wrote some of the funniest ads ever to come out of HHCL, including Pot Noodle's "slag of all snacks". I always knew that he was a naturally gifted comedy writer.
Second time through, at TBWA, he arrived on the very same day I left, an incident of such poignance and sadness to me that I fully expect to see it recreated as a side-splitting scene in episode four or five of the series.