A: (New readers start here. This persistent correspondent, then working in despatch, first wrote to me in February 2001. He'd told the girl in Pret that he could get her into films, was now meeting her for a drink and wondered if he should come clean. I gave it as my opinion that there was no point in his coming clean since it was extremely improbable that she had believed him in the first place.)
I do not expect people to take my advice and am always dismayed when I learn that they have. Advice has a value, but only as a basis for disagreement.
Sensible people seek advice; listen to it; dismiss it with a contemptuous shrug; and then follow their own instincts with enhanced confidence. Did you not have parents?
You assume that this girl failed to respond to your clumsy advances simply because you were poor and unimportant. My own view is that she failed to respond because she found you sad and unattractive. Now that you're rich, you can put these alternatives to the test. Shower her with extravagant gifts, book the Presidential Suite at the Lanesborough and see what happens.
The trouble with buying your way into bed, of course, is that there are always going to be others even richer than you. So I strongly advise you on this occasion not to take my advice.
Q: A consultant writes: Having made shed loads redirecting and evolving, innovating and conceptualising, I am starting to worry that the gravy train may be coming to an end. Now it seems that every time I mention "taking people into their stretch zone" or how "every idea is a good idea", or even just how "we're here to have fun", everyone just laughs at me. It's not just ruining the group dynamics; my new commissions appear to be drying up. A close friend tells me that it could have something to do with a programme called The Office. Surely, one TV show can't possibly kill a whole industry, can it?
A: Oh, I do hope so.
Q: I've heard on the grapevine we're already being talked about possibly being Campaign's Agency of the Year. I can't believe it. Apart from sending some cash round, what really makes you win the accolade and when you do is it any use?
A: Save your cash. Being nominated Agency of the Year is not quite as terminally catastrophic as being nominated dotcom entrepreneur of 1999 but very nearly so. Skillful agencies, when becoming aware of their imminent sanctification, arrange to get fired by an important client, so contriving to come in a much safer second.
The added advantage of this tactic, of course, is that you can let it be known on the grapevine that the ultimate winner only won because more creative agencies deftly dodged the honour.
Q: I think the fact media departments no longer exist alongside creative departments is putting the brakes on advertising creativity - in all media. I'm sure the bosses of the media independents agree. How long before they (Zenith, Carat et al) begin to hire creative directors?
A: Not for the first time, I urge you to remember 1864. That was when American media houses, unable to compete any further on price, began to offer advertisers free words and pictures as well - and so the full-service agency was born. You are right, of course: they will return - and with a welcome humility.
- Jeremy Bullmore is a former chairman of J. Walter Thompson and a director of WPP. He also writes a monthly column for Management Today. Address your problems to him at campaign@ haynet.com or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.