A: Being an unusually charitable person, unfailingly anxious to put the best possible interpretation on other people's actions and opinions, I conclude you are not who you pretend to be. Not even the most insensitive of ITV salesmen (a title for which competition is fierce) would have the gall to put this question. You are clearly a life-long enemy of ITV salesmen, hoping to scuttle any late surge of sympathy they might otherwise attract in this their time of trouble.
Envy, my friend, is a vile and corrosive emotion. Oh, yes: I understand you well enough. You've worked a six-day week, 50 weeks a year, have seen far too little of the twins and were never once invited to Wentworth. But as you know perfectly well, there are no other jobs in advertising - nor will there ever be - like the jobs that were enjoyed during the first 50 years of independent television.
So be grateful that you still have a job. Show that you have a heart. Invite an ITV salesman and his family to join you for Christmas dinner.
Q: A good friend has taken over the running of a large shop. Frankly, it has been run badly for the past couple of years. One of his agency's high-profile clients has approached my agency with a view to holding a pitch. They have asked us to keep the approach in strict confidence. I am torn between my friendship and my duty to my agency. Could you guide me in my dilemma please?
A: Is your thinking always as muddled as this? I do hope not.
Let us assume that you tell your good friend that his client is holding a review. What does he do with this information? He confronts his client.
So the first thing the client learns about his potential new agency (you) is that you can't keep a confidence. You're therefore dropped from his shortlist: and quite right, too. And what benefit does your good friend gain from this act of loyalty on your part? Instead of being granted a decent dismissal, complete with face-saving press release, he is invited to embark on an expensive and morale-sapping six-month repitch that he is condemned to lose. Thanks, friend.
The dilemma you describe is no dilemma. The only thing that keeps you awake at night is what you're going to say to your good friend when he finds out. Well, stop fretting. If he's got an ounce of competitive spirit in him (and you know as well as I do that he has), he'll pretend he knew about it all along. And if he does start to cut up rough, just show him this answer and buy him lunch.
Q: I'm a creative services procurement manager and am negotiating fees with an agency that keeps telling me they're "about doing great ads". What exactly is a great ad?
A: Aha. A great ad is an ad that can multiply the value of a marketing budget by a factor of 750. It can energise both the workforce and the salesforce, galvanise the trade, vastly improve recruitment efficiency, propel the parent company into the FTSE 100 and earn its CEO a knighthood. In these days of restricted marketing budgets, over-production and intense pressure on profit margins, your CEO will be more than usually interested in the acquisition of a great ad. As a procurement manager, you will therefore go to extreme lengths not to demotivate your agency by haggling over the price of paperclips.
Perhaps the only other thing you need to know about a great ad is that it can be identified with certainty only after it has been running for 18 months.
- Jeremy Bullmore is a former chairman of J. Walter Thompson and a director of WPP. He also writes a monthly column for Management Today. He welcomes questions via campaign@ haynet.com or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.