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

On the Campaign Couch...with JB

Q: Suki Thompson writes: Dear Jeremy, I was talking to a non-industry person this week and they asked me why a tissue meeting is called a tissue meeting. Not entirely sure of the real answer, I have asked a variety of creative and agency heads who have given me a variety of answers. As the fount of all knowledge, please can you enlighten me?

A: Thanks, Suki. Shamingly, the fount of all knowledge can't enlighten you. So I turned to more reliable founts. And this is what I learned. Jon Steel says they're called tissue meetings because they always leave creative people in tears. And John O'Keeffe claims that after two tissue meetings, the final presentation is such an anticlimax that the client rejects it all and demands a fresh start. Hence the old saying, "A Tissue, A Tissue ... Then It All Falls Down."

Inventive, certainly, but neither entirely convincing. So readers' alternative explanations are invited - the more fanciful, the better.

Q: Amelia Torode writes: Our agency is partnering with a fantastic organisation - the Social Mobility Foundation. The Foundation works with state schools and sixth-form colleges across the country and targets the very brightest sixth-formers from disadvantaged backgrounds. It helps them with university admissions (often they are first in their family to consider university), degree choices and career options. Once they have identified specific professions they are interested in, the students get help with finding placements and e-mentors in those areas.

This year they are working with 650 students, of which only three have expressed an interest in advertising. I was shocked at how low the number was.

Since when did our profession get so un-cool? Or maybe it's me that's out of touch? Should I, and the advertising community, be worried about the tiny figure and, if so, what on earth should we be doing about it?

A: Thanks Amelia.

I wouldn't have expected the number expressing an interest in advertising to be high but I might have expected it to be slightly higher than three out of 650. Before we despair, here's a possible explanation.

The excellent work done by the Social Mobility Foundation concentrates on the brightest of those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Those selected, almost by definition, will be more conscientious than their peers. As the first from their families to consider university, they'll surely feel that there's an enormous weight of expectation on their shoulders. It's serious stuff.

Serious stuff implies becoming a doctor or an accountant or a physicist or a diplomat or an anthropologist or a politician or a teacher or a climatologist or even a journalist. But it just doesn't seem credible that a sixth-form college would publicly applaud Marian for achieving a place at a respected university where she plans to gain the degree ... that will help her launch a career in advertising.

Marian will know this.

It would seem too frivolous, somehow; too much of a waste of a momentous attainment.

I bet that an analysis of the responses of the other 647 students would reveal an overwhelming preference for the heavier, more serious professions.

It's entirely natural that that should be so.

In any case, it's much too early. The time for the advertising business to dangle the undoubted attractions of advertising in front of intelligent inventive people is either just before they graduate; or when they're two years into a serious job that turns out to be not only serious but seriously dull - using neither their wits nor their imagination. We need both.

Q: I accepted the offer of a lift back from an event with the marketing director of our biggest client, an alcoholic drinks manufacturer. He got flashed for speeding, and claimed he risked losing his job if he lost his licence. As my licence is clean, and in the spirit of "taking one for the team", I foolishly agreed to be the "driver". Now he seems to have forgotten this and is threatening a review. What should I do?

A: There are a great many services that even the fullest of full-service agencies shouldn't provide; and lying to the authorities on behalf of a client is one of them.

You could easily have been done for perverting the course of justice.

If you'd been a better class of liar, you'd have told the client that, much as you'd like to help, your own licence was unfortunately already full. The fact that he's now threatening a review is irrelevant. He never thought he owed you anything; and a little light blackmailing on your part will simply consign your agency to oblivion.

"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.