Close-Up: On the Campaign Couch ... with JB

Q: Radio says it will be a 10 per cent medium by 2010, regional newspapers have grown their share of advertising for 12 years in a row, outdoor has already busted the 10 per cent share of the advertising barrier and the internet is doing quite well. Since I became a creative to make cool telly ads, should I be worried?

A: Going into advertising with the sole intention of making cool telly ads is like spending three years at the Royal College of Music with the sole intention of becoming a professional triangle player.

Anyone in advertising who is interested only in advertisements will: 1) soon be making bad advertisements; 2) soon thereafter begin to find advertising boring; 3) soon thereafter that be invited to spend more time with their family.

Listen to the great James Webb Young: "The best books about advertising are not about advertising." Working in advertising pays you to be fascinated by everything you ought to find fascinating anyway: What's fame all about, then?

What's the difference between price and value? Why don't people tell the truth when you ask them perfectly straightforward questions? Why won't your mother have that plastic bottle of ketchup in the house? What's the difference between a tabloid and a compact? Why are some things In and how long will it be before they go Out? Open up any one of the 35 sections of a Sunday newspaper: and - if you're interested in advertising - you'll find something of interest.

There is no other trade in the world of which this is true.

And all you want to do is make cool telly ads. At least you're bright enough to worry about it.

Q: I'm a modest-spending client who has approached a major agency to talk about our account. I reasoned that, what with the recession, our £2 million budget would be of interest. The agency tells me I'd be better served in a new division it has set up to look after business like mine. I'm fearful of getting a cheap-and-cheerful offering although the agency insists that won't be the case. Should I look elsewhere?

A: Not yet. You should investigate this new division with an entirely open mind. They may well be able to give you a better class of service, a great deal more efficiently, and with far few temper tantrums than their high-profile parent ever could.

High-profile agencies still employ and pamper high-profile creative persons whose only reason for being in advertising is to make cool telly ads. (See above.) I very much doubt, from the size of your budget, that your business needs cool telly ads. You could well spend the first six months of your relationship with a major agency failing to get them to accept that, far from wanting a cool telly ad, you want a sleeves-rolled-up analysis of what you should be communicating to whom and the most effective way of reaching them. Get to know the people. Look at the work they've done for others. Ask them, in the light of experience, what they'd now do differently (always an amazingly revealing question).

You'll soon know if they're just the people you want to work with; or if they're a bunch of disillusioned second-raters who've been shunted into a siding - their only function to take money off clients whose work would add no lustre to the main agency's reel.

Q: Why can't ad agencies resist blabbing to Campaign?

A: Agencies blab to Campaign in the touching belief that Campaign will be grateful and thereafter favour them with praise and recognition.

Since Campaign's hunger needs to be satisfied by a regular diet of indiscretion, it will, indeed, be grateful. But what Campaign will have now ascertained is that this particular agency is not to be trusted.

I do hope that this revelation doesn't stop agencies blabbing to Campaign.

- "Ask Jeremy", a collection of Jeremy Bull more's Campaign columns, is available from Haymarket, priced £10. Telephone: (020) 8267 4683. Jeremy Bullmore is a director of WPP. He welcomes questions via campaign@ or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.


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