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

On the Campaign Couch ... with JB

Q: My wife does volunteer work in a local charity shop and keeps bringing back these dauntingly thick leather-bound hardbacks that she thinks might be relevant to me as a planner.

Knowing you're very widely read, I wonder if you could let me know which of the following would be worth me wading through? The Principles Of Psychology, Volume 1, 1890, by William James; Emotion, Obesity And Crime, 1971, by Stanley Schachter; and The Psychology Of Self-Determination, 1984, by Edward L Deci.

A: The Schachter monograph has the great advantage of being short. William James is not as compelling a writer as his brother Henry. I know nothing of the Deci.

Don't wade through any of them. Open them at random, look for the first clear and assertive sentence (this may take some time) and store them on your computer for use as future footnotes. No-one will question their relevance; and all will be impressed by the breadth of your learning.

Q: Dear Jeremy, in hindsight, were McDonald's and Coca-Cola suitable partners for the Olympic Games?

A: In hindsight, yes. In hindsight, just about anybody would have been a suitable partner as long as they paid up and did the job. Success envelops all concerned like sunshine.

Q: We're a DM agency, and are currently in the process of hiring a new digital creative director. We've narrowed it down to two people. They're of a similar age and both are supremely talented. One has spent his entire career client-side, the other has always been at digital agencies. What will be more beneficial - someone who has experience as a client, or someone who is used to working in agencies?

A: You're extremely fortunate to have the choice of two supremely talented candidates. If they both conform to stereotype, the one with the agency background will be vain, impractical and occasionally inspired and the one with the client background will be more grounded, slightly superior on account of having a client background and rather less versatile.

But however talented they may be, never hire people you don't like. So simply pick the one you like more.

Q: Jeremy, there have been a few examples recently of adlanders moving into other related businesses. What do you think are the really transferable skills that we agency execs should be honing?

A: Two, mainly. First, to understand the all-important value of mood. And second, to master the ability to put a case. The coalition Government possesses neither skill. So far, it has managed to reap all the disadvantages of an austerity programme while failing to introduce one. It is, when you come to think of it, an extraordinary achievement.

Almost all actions incur a cost. It's at the heart of good marketing to dramatise the rewards of any action so that they can be seen to more than compensate for the cost incurred. The coalition Government has achieved the opposite. We have no clear picture of the putative rewards yet remain deeply depressed by the attendant costs; despite the fact that they have yet to be felt.

As any sales director will tell you (and almost certainly has), the only difference between a stumbling block and a stepping stone is the way you look upon it. Sales directors know that facts are important but that mood matters more.

Faced with identical circumstances, a bunch of people full of hope will achieve ten times as much as a bunch of people full of apprehension. It's not cheating; nobody's been conned; the most unpromising of battles have been won because of this truth.

The best of adlanders (as you so cringingly call them) know all this and put it into practice: on behalf both of themselves and their clients. May they continue to hone those skills - and, please God, then be invited to apply them for the national good.

Q: Would agencies be able to produce good, effective campaigns if there were no planners?

A: For more than 100 years, they did. It's that knowledge that keeps planners on their toes: they know they're an optional extra.

The best creative people are natural planners. You can't sit down to write a single ad, let alone a campaign, without planning: however primitive or instinctive.

Good planners help good creative people do good creative work more often. When they do that, they're worth every penny. When they don't, they're not.

"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.