Opinion: On the Campaign Couch ... with JB

Q: I'm the financial director at a large network agency. We've recently had a crackdown on spurious expense (cab pick-ups from nightclubs at the weekends, £250 bottles of wine ... that kind of thing).

The new policy isn't Draconian - everyone has broadly come into line, apart from our "flamboyant" executive creative director, who insists on flouting the rules. My chief executive is clearly scared of him and won't address the situation. Should I cancel the executive creative director's company credit card?

A: No. If it came to the crunch, your craven chief executive would back his flamboyant executive creative director and you'd be looking for a good executive placement counsellor. Which, come to think of it, you should be doing anyway.

The lifecycle of high-flying executive creative directors is tragically predictable. They go from good ... to very good ... to exceptional ... and it's then that they become convinced not only of their papal infallibility, but also of their exemption from the reasonable constraints accepted by lesser persons. You know that stage has been reached when the first unapologetic expense claim arrives for a £250 bottle of wine. And that's the time you know they have got to go: not because they're too expensive, but because they've lost the very quality that once made you prize them - their judgment.

So have lunch with your headhunter and conspire. Play your cards right, and within three months, your executive creative director will have received an offer his vanity prevents him from declining - and you'll be free to recruit. Your chief executive will pretend to be distraught, but will be secretly ecstatic. For the perfect finish, your flamboyant executive creative director should be taken on by the agency you fear and loathe the most. This is known as a double whammy.

Q: As part of our group's drive towards integration, I've moved over from our DM operation to head the client services department in the ad agency. I'm coming up against that tired old below-the-line prejudice time and time again. How can I win over the troops?

The only way you can win over the troops is the only way anyone can ever win over the troops and that's to be seen as a winner. Agency troops are touchingly simple. Their most dismissive comment on a colleague is: "He's a loser." They shrink from losers for fear of contamination. Winning is their uni-dimensional obsession - and it hardly matters what. New business, new assignments from old business, gongs, Lions, Pencils, quiz nights, headlines, high-profile recruits: anything counts as long as it leads to a podium place.

There are two ways to become known as a winner and they're not mutually exclusive. You can actually win things yourself, which is admirable, but hard. Or you can become seamlessly associated with winning, which is a great deal easier. Tony Blair knew this. Remember his demand for "an eye-catching initiative with which I personally can be associated"? Association is everything.

So dramatise and publicise every tiny triumph that happens in your agency - and do it personally. Invite Sebastian Coe and Lewis Hamilton and Amy Winehouse to judge your internal awards.

As the head of client services, you should have plenty of client contact. Whenever one of them admits to some small success that might arguably have been at least in part achieved through integration, buy a second-hand, silver-plated cup and get the client to hand it to your stroppiest, snobbiest creative person. Make sure that everyone claps and cheers when he modestly accepts it. It's not within human nature to despise something that you appear to be very good at.

The funny thing about all this contrived achievement is that it will actually work. Ask Sir Clive Woodward (another member of your panel?): a feeling of success is the essential precursor to actual success; soon you'll be winning real things. And you, personally, will be firmly associated with them. And soon the troops will follow you anywhere.

On the other hand, you could put together a deck of 72 PowerPoint slides and call the agency together for a 7.30am meeting - the purpose of which is to demonstrate to destruction the commercial importance of DM; how it's so much more immediate, cost-efficient and accountable than the so-called creative media; and why those who refuse to accept this hard-nosed truth are quivering aesthetes of questionable sexual orientation.

Troops sometimes follow men of courage so I suppose it might work. But if I were you, I'd try the other way first.

- "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@haymarket.com or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.

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