A: There are two points I would like to make about truly original ideas.
The first point is that they don't exist and the second point is that the closer an idea gets to true originality, the more likely it is to be a turkey.
In The Act of Creation (1964), Arthur Koestler took 700 pages to explain that new ideas are the result of the collision of two existing ideas - what he calls bisociation. (How the first ever two ideas came into being remains a puzzle of Adam and Eve inscrutability.) I challenge you to have an idea that has absolutely no discernible parentage. A virgin birth is as improbable for an idea as it is for an infant. It follows that any idea claiming orphanage - owing nothing to its antecedents because it has none - is certainly lying and probably a turkey. Big clients and big studios are right to view it with extreme caution.
The traditional "meets" movie pitch is a perfect example of bisociation: Hedda Gabler meets The Simpsons, for example. The offspring will be different from anything that has gone before while owing everything to its origins.
I hope that's clear.
Advertising's failure is not that it copies ideas but that it copies techniques; and a technique is no more an idea than Times Roman is a newspaper. A great advertising idea attracts admiration not to itself but to its subject.
Q: When do you think I might get my next pay rise? It's been a very long time since the last one. I'm working my nuts off and love the agency I'm at but more money would be great.
A: I hold the sentimental belief that if the agency you love is actually deserving of that love, they'll come good over your money just as soon as they can prudently do so. But it's also true that it's the squeaky wheel that catches the early oil-can - so even the most honourable of bosses sometimes needs a nudge. "Dear Lawrence, I'm very happy here and not even thinking of looking around - but I'd dearly love some more money. Happy New Year." Alternatively, see below.
Q: My boss keeps on telling me that I am doing really well, and have done so all through the year. Does that mean I should expect a New Year pay rise? He has also said that he is separating pay reviews from performance reviews. Should I insist that he does it together?
A: Why don't you try the insisting route and see how it goes?
"Look here, Lawrence," you could say, first pinning him into a corner of the wine bar. "Hope you don't mind a bit of plain speaking but this idea of yours of separating pay reviews from performance reviews flies in the face of every contemporary HR-approved practice. I mean to say, what do you actually pay me for? Exactly! Performance! And what you've told me no less than seven times this year is that I'm performing really, really well. Am I right or am I right?"
You should now be close enough to Lawrence for him to feel your breath on his closed eyelids. "So what I'm saying, me old cocker, is this: why not put your money where your mouth is? I'm not just suggesting you pin my pay to my performance - I'm insisting on it!" This last sentence should be emphasised by a sharp and repetitive jab of your forefinger deep into Lawrence's belly and ideally accompanied by a juicy seasonal sneeze.
Do you now feel more or less optimistic about being awarded a New Year pay rise?
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.