CLOSE-UP: ON THE CAMPAIGN COUCH ... WITH JB

An anonymous media person writes: People used to refer to me as the Maggie Thatcher of Media. Now some insensitive and shortsighted Campaign hack has likened me to Christine Hamilton. I am worried that I'll be seen as C-List and not queen of the A-List. Also my husband is cutting up about being called Neil. How do I kill off Christine Hamilton and how do I placate Dennis?

A: At the risk of enraging you still further, I must gently chide you. As you of all people should know, it is not very A-List to worry in public about being thought C-List. A-List people feign total indifference to the views of lower ranking persons.

To fear that an insensitive and shortsighted hack on a trade paper could materially diminish your reputation is to reveal a damaging degree of insecurity. A-List people take pains never to reveal their insecurities.

Ask yourself this: would Baroness Thatcher, however disturbed by a serious decline in self-related column inches, have volunteered to take part in I'm a celebrity ... get me out of here? Exactly; and nor, I hope, would you.

So continue to display your natural imperiousness: hacks are mere gnats, to be brushed aside contemptuously.

Your correct response, enunciated with a touch of the Edith Evans, should have been: "And who is Christine Hamilton?" "The oxygen of publicity" was one of Mrs Thatcher's more felicitous phrases. The way to kill off Mrs Hamilton is to cut off her supply.

As for Dennis (I'm assuming you do mean Dennis rather than Denis? I've no idea how you could placate Denis nor indeed why you should wish to), I suggest he adopt the same strategy. There's very little joy in ribbing a fellow for being Neil when the fellow clearly doesn't know who Neil is.

Q: We all know that my creative director has a favourite team. I put their initials on a script to get it bought. It has now been bought. What do I do?

A: Congratulate the favourite team on the brilliance of their script. At first they may seem a little startled but they will not disown it; in the long history of advertising, no-one has ever disowned acclaimed work.

Then congratulate your creative director on his judgment, hint at an unlimited production budget and submission to all known creative festivals. Your only problem now is the team that actually wrote the script.

Since you have already committed yourself to a reckless programme of deceit, you might as well dig yourself in still deeper. Buy them the lunch of their life, tell them exactly what you've done - and invite their praise and gratitude for exposing the double standards of their creative director.

Q: As well as working within ITV, I'm a supporter of a Nationwide League division club. I'm worried that one of my friends from football will realise what I do for a living and I'll get abused at the start of the new season. How can I keep my identity secret and who should I pretend I am?

A: I'm surprised that you want to conceal your occupation only from your football friends - I'd have thought you'd be keen to keep the truth from just about everyone. After 47 years enjoying wealth, admiration and envy in equal share, it is now ITV's turn to be strapped in the stocks, while a joyful populace pelts you with jibes and decomposing vegetables. Deeply unfair, I agree; but it can only get better.

As soon as the jeering onlookers can identify a leader, a clear strategy, some chart-topping new programmes, a confident ratecard and the beginning of the end of the advertising downturn, you can begin to raise you head again; except, I daresay, when you stray through the turnstiles. To your football friends, you should continue to be a gynaecologist.

- 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.

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