A: Here are four dynamic actions I would suggest you resist.
Issuing an agency-wide memo entitled Raising the Bar.
Firing half the department you inherit and hiring, at three times the cost, the last two creative teams to have won obscure awards for obscure charities.
Publicly declaring that your deputy, an older person, will be responsible for the work on the agency's five biggest clients since they are endemically incapable of recognising leading-edge creative work. You will, yourself, work only on enlightened clients' accounts and new business.
Hiring, at your company's expense, a public relations adviser to raise your personal profile.
Once you've decided against the above, the rest is simple.
Attack the problem bottom up, not top down: account by account. As soon as you've helped improve the work on the first account, move on to the second. By the time you've had an impact on four, the world will begin to notice. This will take 18 months.
And never forget the words of Harry S Truman: "Anything is achievable as long as you don't care who gets the credit for it."
Q: We've just lost a pitch for a multimillion-pound account and we're feeling pretty sore. The client gave us just 12 days to answer a complex brief, failed to give full attention to our proposals, is making no contribution to our pitch costs and is keeping the business with the incumbent. Should we go public about our disgraceful treatment and be cast as serial whingers or bite the bullet and wait for the next client to screw us?
A: The client presented you with a complex brief and gave you 12 days to answer it. You could, politely, have declined; instead, you accepted it. You knew there were other agencies in the running, including the incumbent.
You could, politely, have withdrawn; instead, you carried on. You knew that no pitch fee would be forthcoming. You could, politely, have pulled out on principle; instead, you acquiesced.
In other words, you knew from the outset that the pitch was going to stretch your people cruelly, that it was certain to cost you an arm and a leg and that actuarially you would probably lose.
So please tell me: in exactly what way do you feel that your agency has been the subject of disgraceful treatment?
Finally, as you could have worked out for yourself if you had a modicum of wisdom, you now have a golden opportunity to win this multimillion-pound account without further competition.
History teaches us (though apparently not you) that incumbent agencies that perilously survive the repitch process seldom retain the account for very long. The promises they made were always undeliverable and the client's subsequent disappointment will be compounded by embarrassment. The last thing they'll want is another public pitch.
So stop feeling sore and vengeful. When writing to the client (and when drafting your all-staff e-mail), accept your defeat with grace and generosity.
Offer to provide the client with all the insights you gleaned while working on his fascinating brief. Book him for lunch in three months' time. Make it extremely easy for him to re-open negotiations; and I bet you he does.
Q: What's the form on blokes wearing shorts around the office? We've long tolerated it among the creative types. The recent sweltering conditions have encouraged the suits to follow suit. Is this taking "dressing down" too far?
A: You show unmistakable signs of old-fogeyism. As recently as 1960, lady copywriters in the New York office of the J. Walter Thompson company were all expected to wear hats. I'm afraid I don't know what account handlers will be wearing in 43 years' time but I expect it will be cooler by then.
- 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.