On the Campaign Couch ... with JB

On the Campaign Couch ... with JB

Q: Dear Jeremy, I am a digital marketing director but it seems many disciplines are amalgamating in the industry, so I'm afraid this will lead to me losing my job. Is this likely and, if so, how long will it take?

A: I'm afraid I don't know what a digital marketing director does all day. Does your company also employ an outdoor marketing director and a radio marketing director and an ambient marketing director? If so, your brand's consumers must be extremely confused.

When new media turn up, as happens now and then, common sense gets forgotten and we scuttle into two groups.

The first group, established practitioners all, and confronted by a medium with unfamiliar characteristics and an impenetrable vocabulary, simply wishes it would go away. And the second group, seeing a long-awaited opportunity to outflank the established practitioners, embraces the new medium unconditionally - claiming it to be the answer to absolutely everything. But only, of course, if its implementation is entrusted to specialists such as themselves.

Television with ads came to this country in 1955. It took the best part of ten years for advertisers and their agencies finally to accommodate this troublesome upstart into mainstream thinking. Only then were the specialist television agency and the specialist television marketing director found surplus to requirements.

So when you say that many disciplines are amalgamating in the industry, you need to recognise that they're not so much amalgamating as re-amalgamating - having briefly de-amalgamated only a few years before.

As a fluent geek-speaker, it will have been to your advantage to delay this re-amalgamation for as long as possible. When re-amalgamation is complete, you too will be surplus to requirements.

So you are right to be concerned. Media marketing directors have never made any sense. But if you can embrace the whole of your brand, and confidently allocate resources to it, ranging from online stuff to stunts and branded content, you'll be just fine. As I should have said at the start, when disciplines re-amalgamate, so must marketing directors.

Q: I had a meeting with our incumbent ad agency recently and the creative director was on his iPhone the whole way through it, while another person on the team spent his time rolling his eyes at everything I said. It is an extremely creative shop and they make great ads for us, but they really patronise me every time I'm in there. I don't want to rock the boat as long as the ads do well, but I would like a little more respect. What do you advise?

A: It's in the nature of respect that anyone who has to demand it doesn't deserve it. Clients, as the ones with the wallet, are usually treated with at least the semblance of respect - though ask any agency if they can distinguish between clients who simply buy respect and those who earn it through ability and behaviour and there won't be a second's hesitation. Everybody can.

In your case, you've clearly neither bought it nor earned it. But that's not to say that I sympathise with your boorish, ill-mannered agency. The use of smartphones in meetings, whoever is using them and however talented they may be, is intolerable; so I suggest you don't tolerate it.

Next time it happens, rap the table twice. Say to the senior agency person present: "Barnaby, I will say this just once. I expect your team to be not only talented and reliable but also well-mannered. The unrelated use of mobile phones in our meetings will not occur again. Now, shall we continue?"

They will be stunned into silence. And will look at you, perhaps for the first time ever, with something that could easily be interpreted as respect ...

Q: Dear Jeremy, we have just launched a multimillion-pound brand campaign for a big FMCG client that we're very proud of. Now the client wants to go back to a boring style of advertising, marketing individual products instead. Should I quit the account?

A: The only responsible reason to be proud of a multimillion-pound campaign is if you have every reason to believe that it's making the client more successful than he would otherwise have been. And if that's the case, why should your client want to change?

The nagging suspicion in the minds of many clients is that their agencies, talented and lovable though they may be, sometimes prefer creative approaches that attract peer praise for the agency while doing bugger all for the profitability of the client whose money it is.

That couldn't be you, surely?

"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.