Opinion: On the Campaign Couch ... with JB

Q: Dear Jeremy, I am a student at Watford. Every week I pilfer Campaign from a well-known magazine retailer by pretending to drop money into the honesty box. Am I furthering my career in advertising or am I destined for a life of crime?

A: For many worthy commentators, of course, a career in advertising is a life of crime; so perhaps you're optimising your time at Watford by rehearsing for both.

Your obvious sense of guilt encourages me to believe you'll soon stop stealing. Nicking things from WH Smith is what silly little boys and girls do. You shouldn't. Nor should you believe that by confessing to Campaign that you regularly steal Campaign, you've in some mysterious way exonerated yourself. You haven't.

Reading Campaign won't guarantee you a rewarding career in advertising but you're better off reading it than not. Surely Watford has a copy or two lying around the common room?

But if they don't, and you really can't afford your own, send me a supply of large stamped envelopes, and I'll forward my own copy to you, at least for a week or two. You will, of course, need to include your name and address ...

Q: Dear Jeremy, I am a junior copywriter, and just started a new job at a prestigious agency. My creative director is great (inspirational, supportive, nurturing), everything you could want as a junior just starting out. Only, he is quite old-fashioned, and insists I write all my copy on paper with a pen. He says that computers are what killed body copy in the first place.

If this was the only problem, I could put up with it. But in addition, he also has this habit of nicking my pens. Almost on a daily basis, he strolls over to my desk and asks if he could borrow my pen. I have never had them returned. Now if these were those cheap 15 pence Bic Biros, I wouldn't care. But since writing all my copy by hand has caused me to grow a small callous on my finger, I have been using those special easy grip pens. At £2.99 a pop, they are not cheap.

On a bad week, I would lose four pens, totalling more than a tenner. If I was getting a fat wage packet, I wouldn't really care, but as a junior I can barely struggle to get by on what I earn.

I have tried to prevent this pen-theft by putting cheap Biros on my desk as decoys, but he always seems to spot the fancier pen. Once, I tried to enquire casually if I could have my pen back, and he went off to fetch it, but never returned.

I would feel petty pursuing this in a more serious manner, and do not want to alienate him over this, as he is such a wonderful guy. Do you have any suggestions as to how I should deal with this? Should I just cut my losses and accept this as necessary expenditure? Anonymous, for obvious reasons.

A: Blimey. I have two suggestions for you. First, in the manner of old post offices and mean banks, chain your pen to your desk. Second, if you ever want to become a senior copywriter, for god's sake learn to write succinctly.

Send me your question again, rewritten in fewer than 100 words but with no important points excluded; and in return I will send you an easy grip pen with a length of chain attached. You will, of course, need to include your name and address ...

Q: Dear Jeremy, I'm a multinational client who's rather bemused by all this "global holding company" stuff. What might be in it for me?

A: You're right to say might: it's early days. But ponder this. As a multinational client, you can no longer appoint a single multinational advertising agency and get everything you want everywhere. Once they boasted dozens of specialist departments. Now, not only have most of those specialists set up in business on their own but there are more of them around every week.

Ten years ago, you wouldn't have known what online, ambient, internal marketing, branded content or product-placement even meant. Now you'd quite like to know what they can offer. You'd also quite like your marketing budget, so agonisingly extracted from your sceptical management, to be prudently, seamlessly, synergistically co-ordinated and monitored. Integration may be the world's most boring word but you know that disintegrated campaigns not only waste money but also confuse the punters. So, how many egos from how many companies from how many countries can you handle yourself? Global holding companies don't do the work, of course: all those specialist companies do the work. The holding company simply promises to stop them squabbling and make it all happen for you. (Did I say simply?)

- "Ask Jeremy", a collection of Jeremy Bullmore's Campaign columns, is available from Haymarket, priced £10. Telephone (020) 8267 4683. Jeremy Bullmore welcomes questions via campaign@ haynet.com or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.

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