It’s the big fight day at the International Advertising
Association’s London 2000 Congress (6-9 June this year) and the audience
awaits the main bout of the afternoon - the ethics debate.
In the red corner sits Archbishop John Foley, the Pope’s official
In the blue is Rupert Howell, the ebullient president of the Institute
of Practitioners in Advertising, who makes even Prince Naseem seem
lacking in self-esteem.
Saint Rupe vaults up to the podium and raises his hands for silence.
’Just to let you know we’ll be keeping this as informal as possible,’ he
says. ’So there will be no genuflecting and kissing the ring. Chris
Satterthwaite and Robin Azis have worn out enough trouser knees
A chime of bells - a neat touch from the prez - signals round one. He
opens with a swift jab. ’Ethics. There’s no hotter topic in the
business. And I should know because I’m always telling you. As I was
only saying in my Guardian column last week ...’
The Archbishop’s eyes already begin glazing over as he parries and
counter-punches. ’False pride is a serious sin, my son. When was your
Howell goes groggy for a moment but swiftly recovers. ’Confession?
Wasn’t it Oscar Wilde who had nothing to confess but his genius. And,
talking of genius, did I tell you HHCL & Partners is agency of the
’Yes, you did,’ the Archbishop responds gloomily. ’In fact, I doubt
whether there can be anybody left on the planet apart from a couple of
missionaries travelling the upper reaches of the Limpopo that you
He opts for a change of tactics, figuring that to take on Howell you
have to get in close. ’I was only discussing the question of ethics with
my chairman - sorry, the Holy Father - last week,’ he declares. ’But he
seems very distracted. The latest focus group reports are so depressing,
not to mention the brand tracking studies.’
’Sounds like you need a good agency,’ Howell says. ’You’re right,’
replies the Archbishop. ’I’ll take any suggestions - as long as it isn’t
that awful outfit that created ’Tis the season to be Tangoed!’’