My partner has a problem - rules. Restrictions of any kind. He
hates them. Maybe it’s because he’s an Army brat. Maybe it’s because his
mum made him fold his underpants. Who knows? But he really hates rules,
and it’s the reason why he also hates below-the-line stuff.
Below-the-line folk are always quoting rules. He says that we in above
the line are more creative because we break rules rather than blindly
In some ways, he’s right. But we do have our own set of rules to follow.
However, unlike below-the-line rules, they are unwritten. Until now.
Here’s a baker’s dozen:
1 Thou shalt cover thy arse. This is the first and greatest of all
2 Remember, the client isn’t a moron, he’s your creative director.
Nothing gets sold unless he or she buys it first.
3 When in doubt, shoot it both ways. It gives you time to come up with
an air-tight excuse for why your way is the best.
4 If you don’t have a good idea, hire a great director or use surreal
5 Avoid overtly selling the client’s product. Ronseal ads may sell
Ronseal, but they don’t win awards.
6 If you win awards, do not display them in a place of honour. Instead,
stack them neatly in the corner of your office - out of the way, but
where everyone can see them. The only exception is your first pencil.
This you can display prominently (until you win your second).
7 Never look at someone’s stash of awards. It’s rude.
8 If possible, don’t show the product. It’s not cool.
9 Never accept a brief without whingeing. And always complain that you
have so much on that you couldn’t possibly start until next Tuesday.
Then take a long lunch with your mobile switched off.
10 Never ask anyone’s advice; never keep a dictionary or (worse still) a
thesaurus in your office; never wear smart clothes unless you’re a girl
or real old; and never admit to being able to visualise.
11 Proudly admit you read The Sun and point out the enormous knockers on
page three to female members of staff.
12 Never suggest a long copy ad. David Abbott has retired and nobody
ever read them anyway.
13 Secretly hate your creative director but unabashedly brown-nose him
at the company pub or company functions. He’ll think it’s genuine and it
will do your career a world of good.
Follow these rules and you are likely to rise to the top. You’ll also be
able to call the landlady at the Dog & Duck by her first name (Jean)
when asking for a pint.