Opinion: On the Campaign Couch ... with JB

Q: I'm an account manager enjoying an illicit affair with one of the marketing team on our flagship client. They've just announced a review - any advice on etiquette in what is proving to be a tricky situation?

A: Your use of language is looser than your morals. Unless your paramour is underage or a goat, your affair is unlikely to be illicit. On that assumption, you face embarrassment rather than imprisonment - which should be of some comfort to you. And no book of etiquette that I've consulted covers your specific predicament. It's more a matter of damage limitation than social protocol; and furthermore, the potential damage slight. You claim to be enjoying this affair - so I rule out the possibility that you're pleasuring your client dutifully, as might befit a conscientious member of a full-service agency. So why is it all proving tricky? Are you worried about losing the paramour or losing the business?

If your client is enjoying it all as much as you are, surely this works in your favour? (Unless, of course, your client makes it clear to all the contenders that being pleasured is an understood part of the unwritten contract. Were that to be the case, you're well out of it.)

So use your privileged status ruthlessly. Practice pillow listening.

Glean details about the shortlist, the brief, the preferences and prejudices of other members of the client team, about other agencies' creative strategies.

With such an unfair advantage, you should certainly be able to retain the business. The absolute worst that could happen is that you lose both the business and your own job; but in that case, wouldn't you feel confident that your close friend in the client company would put in a compelling word for you at the new agency?

The more I think about it, the more comfortable your situation becomes.

Jammy sod.

Q: Dear Jeremy, I've been the managing director at a creative London agency for 15 years, and up until recently have been very happy in my job. However, recently the agency has appointed a new chief executive who I just don't see eye-to-eye with. I've put out some feelers and there is the possibility of me going to work abroad for a DM agency but I'm just not sure whether it would be a good move. What advice can you give me?

A: You've been the managing director for 15 years - yet when the chief executive job became vacant, they brought in someone else. What does that tell you?

It tells you this: nobody in your company would mind that much if you chose to push off. They may not want you to go, it's true; but there's not a lot of dignity (or security, for that matter) in working for a company that rates you so unenthusiastically.

So don't flounce: take your time and look around; then find somewhere where you'll be valued rather than tolerated. This could be your direct marketing company, but don't take it for granted. Your reference to DM and abroad makes me deeply uneasy. Please don't be tempted to believe that the combination of an inferior discipline being practised by foreigners means that, in such low-calibre company, you'll automatically shine like a beacon. To start with, at least, you'd have a great deal more to learn from them than they from you. And I bet you don't even speak their language.

Q: I run the sales team at a Sunday newspaper that has just launched a major editorial campaign to raise awareness of the health dangers of heavy drinking. Last Sunday I counted ten full-page ads from alcoholic drinks advertisers in our various sections (our food and drink supplement does very well). Does this compromise our editorial message and, if so, should I even care?

A: If it did, you should care. But since it doesn't, you needn't.

The worst you face is sanctimonious know-alls cornering you in pubs and at parties, wagging their forefingers as they breathe in your face and accuse you of hypocrisy. Do not try to reason with them; they enjoy their occupation of what they believe to be the moral high ground and no presentation of fact, however watertight, will persuade them to relinquish it.

It's good that your paper is running an editorial campaign on the dangers of binge drinking. And it's good that, apparently, none of your drink advertisers has complained.

To believe that banning drink advertising would discourage people from heavy drinking is as batty as believing that ordering turf accountants to black out their windows would discourage them from becoming addicted to gambling.

- "Ask Jeremy", a collection of Jeremy Bullmore's Campaign columns, is available from Haymarket, priced ú10. Telephone 020 8267 4683.

Jeremy Bullmore welcomes questions via campaign@haynet.com or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.

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