A: Last week I said: "It's 50 years since it was first suggested that writers and art directors, rather than inhabit segregated ghettos separated by three flights of stairs, might be more productive were they actually to meet and work together. So successful did this suggestion prove that the custom has now become a restrictive practice. Give me a day or two to think - and I'll try and say something helpful next week."
Well, I've thought. And the more I've thought, the more foolish this inflexible addiction to creative teams seems to be. Of course it makes sense for a writer and an art director to attack a problem simultaneously rather than sequentially: but there's all the difference in the world between a writer and an art director working together on a particular brief and a writer and an art director swapping eternity rings.
There is no inherent virtue in creative monogamy. Like other kinds of couples, creative couples can become smug, self-congratulatory and set in their ways. Where challenge and originality are demanded, they deliver the predictable. The brand shrieks out for its own brave style, but what it gets is Baz 'n' Daisy's style: the one they've made their own.
No great revolution is required to solve these problems. All that is needed is a little planned promiscuity. Working with an unfamiliar art director is unsettling. Excellent. Working with three different writers on three different accounts rattles the prejudices. Even better. The wise agency will hire a few creative teams, certainly; but will also hire some brilliant individuals. And then subject them all to serial speed dating.
The diversity of the resulting work will amaze and delight.
I recognise, dear correspondent, that this outpouring of wisdom is of little immediate help to you. It's quite absurd that a talented person such as you should be regarded as only half a person until securely betrothed. But it's just possible that some enlightened creative director, on reading this, will be encouraged to meet you. So in the hope of promoting more promiscuity in the workplace, let me invite both my anonymous correspondent and any interested creative directors to make their names known, in confidence, to email@example.com.
I'll report on results, if any.
Q: Is there any point in being a member of the Solus Club now that its status as stuffy and old-fashioned has been confirmed by the vote to exclude women?
A: I don't know a more congenial club than WACL: I've been letting it be known that I'd like to be a member since 1968. They have yet to elect me and they're absolutely right. I've even stopped whimpering about it.
One thing that Groucho Marx didn't say about clubs was that it's much more satisfactory, at least economically, to be a guest than a member.
Q: Why is "fly copy" so called? Is it linked to the use of the word fly meaning "sharp and cunning"? Or is it because it makes the ads on which it appears look like something which, proverbially, flies find very attractive?
A: The only good fly copy is the copy that Charles Saatchi wrote about flies for The Health Education Council in nineteen-seventy-something. "Flies can't eat solid food so to soften it up, they vomit on it ... Then when it's good and runny they suck it all back again ... And then when they've finished eating, it's your turn."
All other fly copy is excrement.
- 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.