A: Are you a male model, a cosmetic orthodontist or a gigolo? If so, I might have some sympathy with this question; but then what are you doing reading Campaign?
I have to assume you're an advertising person - and an unusually silly advertising person at that.
Even in advertising, people are still occasionally judged by how useful they are. How useful are you? Perhaps you've never asked yourself this rudimentary question. Perhaps you've spent the last 20 years being the decorative front man: tan suits in summer, Hugh Grant hair and a wonderfully winning way with clients' wives.
If that's been the sum of your usefulness, your concern is both well-founded and well-deserved. Furthermore, your proposed solution confirms your vacuity. You seem to have forgotten that, if you did grow a beard, it would be white; or do you propose to dye that as well?
For an advertising person whose only value is ornamental, the loss of youth is serious. You have, however, survived for 20 years and this entitles you, however spuriously, to lay claim to Experience. I therefore recommend that you jump before you're pushed; that you grow a neatly trimmed white beard; and that you set yourself up in business as a marriage-broker between clients and agencies. Clients will pay you; agencies (including your present one) will feign respect and buy you lunch; and you can confidently look forward to another 20 years of doing nothing useful.
Q: The senior directors of my agency are shortly due to get a significant payout following the sale of their network to another. I'm worried that this will affect the quality of service I receive. Am I over-reacting?
A: If, as it seems, they are the senior directors not just of an agency but of a network, you may take it for granted that these people have made no personal contribution to your business (or any other client business come to that) for a great many years. Further riches cannot make them any less engaged than they currently are.
You face, however, an interesting opportunity. Just below the level of those entitled to massive slugs of cash and options lie some brilliantly able people who have missed out on the bonanza by a fluke of birth and who are already deeply pissed off. Court them, stroke them, buy them drinks - and hint that they should one day set themselves up in business on their own. You will never have received such service.
Q: I'm the chief executive of an agency and recently spent a lot of time persuading a client to use a high-profile media personality for his new (and expensive) campaign. News now reaches me that the celebrity has a dark secret which the tabloids are sniffing around. Should I come clean with my client and advise him to pull the ads (and so, perhaps, precipitate the possible scandal) or keep quiet and hope it all blows over?
A: When will you ever learn? All high-profile media personalities have dark secrets. There is no exception to this rule.
Furthermore, no dark secrets remain secret. Furthermore, the fact that you spent have a lot of time persuading your client to use an expensive, high-profile media personality is clear evidence your creative department suffered from yet another power failure. You deserve every bit of the hole that you're in.
Your only hope is to bribe, flatter and blackmail your creative director into producing the campaign you should have produced in the first place and present it proudly to your client as an insurance policy.
You might even emerge from this fiasco with credit.
- Jeremy Bullmore is a former chairman of J. Walter Thompson and a director of WPP. He also writes a monthly column for Management Today. A compilation of his business advice, Another Bad Day at the Office?, is published by Penguin, priced £5.99. Address your problems to him at campaign@ haynet.com or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.