On the Campaign Couch ... with JB
A view from Jeremy Bullmore

On the Campaign Couch ... with JB

Q: I'm the publisher of a niche magazine for young men and every awards season I get a flurry of bookings for ads that only seem to appear in my pages.

Then I see some of them picking up creative awards and, naturally, I offer to repeat copy, but no-one ever does. Do I need an ad sales director?

A: You know perfectly well what's going on. If I had my way, all art directors would be subjected to compulsory biannual urine tests. Where's the joy in winning if you have to cheat?

Q: We blagged one of our clients into letting us design a mascot as well as just doing their sales promotion.

Now the toy is out there, it has been slagged off big time. I think we should swallow the medicine and keep schtum, but our CEO is still ranting on to anyone who'll listen about what a great job we did. Now he wants to write a letter to the press to answer the critics but this will remind everyone which agency delivered this pup. How can I stop him?

A: Adopt an intelligent facial expression. Remind your chief executive that cognitive research clearly demonstrates that people who arrive at conclusions through their own internal thought-processes invariably hold those conclusions with greater conviction than those who've been influenced by external prompting.

Remind him, too, of DAA - or Delayed Aesthetic Appreciation. From Picasso to the Olympic logo, the history of graphic experiment is littered with images that were greeted on birth with universal derision, only later to be perceived as masterworks. Sensitively managed, your CEO's beloved toy stands every good chance of joining them.

But only if your CEO exhibits the wisdom you know he possesses. Let him take no action that could jeopardise the natural mutation of this toy from ridiculed pup to internationally awarded icon. Let him remain loftily silent, secure in the knowledge that time will surely vindicate him - and bring vast fame and wealth both to him personally and to his agency.

You need to be very stupid, of course, to swallow this sort of guff - but it's clear that your CEO qualifies comfortably.

Q: I'm a creative director and every young grad I seem to see at the moment has a book full of ambient work. Why does this seem to be the case, and isn't it just an example of the next generation getting lazy?

A: Every thrusting young creative thinks first of a creative expression and then looks around for an appropriate product to which to attach it. "A Cut Above The Rest! That's an interesting phrase! Could be great for a lawnmower ... or an electric carving knife ... or a handmade suit ... or a trendy hairdresser!" I bet that the books that you see have been mostly constructed on this basis. It's not only understandable, it's inevitable.

The trouble is, as a creative director, you get absolutely no idea whether these people are capable of doing the only thing you really want them to do: and that's to find original solutions to existing problems. To find such people, it's pointless spending hours looking at ads for products that have been retro-fitted to solutions. Anyone can do that. Set promising applicants a real brief against a real deadline and then talk it through with them. You'll be doing a far better job in far less time.

Q: I'm a woman in my early thirties, with ten years' experience in advertising, and I have a tendency to be quite flirtatious when I am drunk. I'm worried it has stopped people taking me seriously and scuppered my chances of promotion. Is there anything I can do to improve my reputation or is it too late?

A: I wonder if you've considered not getting drunk? If this reasonably simple thought has never occurred to you, perhaps it's not only your flirtatious behaviour that's holding you back.

Q: I work in the TV team at a major media agency and a colleague who has the same level of seniority and job title as me has been invited to the World Cup by ITV. I love football and thought I had a good relationship with ITV. Do you think I should ask them why I wasn't chosen?

A: I'm sorry I've left this question a bit late but I'm glad I did. With hindsight, it's clear that ITV holds you in such respect and affection that they wanted to protect you from pain and humiliation. Count yourself one of the lucky ones; I bet your colleague has returned a broken man.

"Ask Jeremy", a collection of Jeremy Bullmore's Campaign columns, is available from Haymarket, priced £10. Telephone (020) 8267 4919.

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

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