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

On the Campaign Couch...with JB

Q: I've had a bit of an early mid-life crisis, left my stable-yet-boring job in finance and want to follow my heart and get a job that gets my creative juices flowing. Advertising really appeals, but at 37 I already seem older than most agency employees. Does the industry hire old gits anymore?

A: Advertising has never hired old gits. It doesn't need to. Like most trades, advertising develops more than enough old gits quite naturally. If you were destined for a job in advertising, you'd already have asked that most fundamental of questions: what's in it for them? Why should any agency take on a 37-year-old with no advertising experience, no evidence of creativity and a background in finance?

There's only one possible answer. You'd need to persuade someone that your insider's knowledge of the financial world could provide them with a multimillion gateway to financial new business. Remind them that most financial services marketing is crap, which, in turn, presents a glittering opportunity. Persuade them that an inventive grown-up such as yourself - truly bilingual and with platinum contacts - could make them the hottest financial shop in town.

Tell them that if you haven't paid for yourself three times over within 12 months, you'll refund your salary. With interest.

That just might work. It should also get your juices flowing.

Q: On 1 July, in this column, Suki Thompson asked me if I knew the origin of the term "tissue meeting". I didn't. Neither did Jon Steel or John O'Keeffe, though both, as you'd expect, made creative suggestions. So I offered the question up to Campaign readers - and Campaign readers responded. Here's a selection.

Mike Morgan of The Red Consultancy writes: I, too, puzzled long over the origin of the tissue meeting. I was relieved and yet stunned to learn it is inspired by a gathering of transplant surgeons. When they assemble to assess the suitability of a donor organ for a recipient, it's called a tissue meeting.

That the marketing community has had the chutzpah to adopt this life-or-death assessment as the basis for a new style of preliminary pitch meeting is both staggering and yet somehow impressive. Perhaps Campaign could continue the theme by renaming pitches as agency transplants?

Paul Harris of COI writes: As a young graduate trainee in the mid-80s at Leo Burnett, a tissue session was explained to me as this: they are named after the thin, tissue-like A3 art directors' layout pads upon which various initial creative ideas were roughly scrawled out, usually for press ads or posters, and then presented to clients as "work in progress" thoughts by the creative team.

I suspect that the paper needed to be thin (and cheap) judging by the amount of screwed-up bits that invariably got lobbed into waste paper bins in the creative department or, on occasions, at young suits like me. I hope this is the right answer as I have been giving clients this explanation for more than 20 years!

Marc Michaels, also of COI, writes: Your On The Campaign Couch query on tissue sessions (which was so brilliantly positioned directly opposite Sir John Hegarty's criticism of the same) set me to thinking.

Having been around in the direct marketing world for 25 years, I've encountered more than a few tissue sessions - some of which have been very good for the eventual outcome (so I'm not entirely with Sir John). However, when asked (as I invariably was), I always used to tell people that they were so called because the agency, at this point, was somewhat trepidatious of client reaction to initial ideas and was putting up something that was perhaps as flimsy as a tissue and that it wasn't necessarily going to defend if it got shot down at that early stage.

Rather, they would take the idea, blow their nose on it, "catch it, kill it and bin it". A bit like that other similar concept, the "straw-man". A straw-man carrying a tissue really suggests a certain lack of confidence.

I'm fairly certain I didn't make this up, but can't for the life of me remember where I got this explanation from, so maybe I did.

Billy Mawhinney writes: Is TISSUE an acronym for "The Idea Should Stay Un- Exciting"?

My thanks to all. And the offer stays open. I'm quite taken by this new wheeze of reader-generated content. It not only demonstrates that I'm "with it" (I trust that's the correct phrase to denote being right at the cutting edge of contemporary communications?) but also saves me lots of work.

"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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