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

Q: I have recently read Private View to find my work, of which I'm very proud, mercilessly ridiculed by one of adland's "heroes". Advertising is a confidence game and I'm struggling to pick myself up. What should I do? A: I've deliberately waited a couple of months before addressing this pathetic plea for help. If you have a wisp of objectivity in you, you will by now have realised that, in a country of nearly 60 million people, you are the only person to remember that one of your not very important advertisements came in for a bit of self-serving bile from a nationally unknown advertising person in the columns of an advertising trade paper with a print run of less than 20,000 copies.

Pride in your work is one thing; a deranged loss of perspective is quite another. You'll find picking yourself up extremely easy as soon as you realise that you were never knocked down in the first place.

Q: I've been asked to combine my role of executive creative director of a large agency with the chairmanship. I notice that Trevor Beattie, James Lowther and Steve Henry have taken on the job. I also notice that Gerry Moira stepped down after only a few frustrating months. What would you advise?

A: It was Anthony Jay, the co-creator of Yes, Minister, who put forward the most convincing argument I've ever heard for this nation's otherwise inexplicable affection for hereditary heads of state. He wrote: "The strength of the monarchy does not lie in the power that it has but in the power that it denies to others."

I do not know which part of your management (could it be some lofty regional person?) has invited you to take on this chairmanship but you'd be wise to inspect their motives. You'd naturally like to believe that they simply believe you to be the perfect choice for the job. But you should also entertain the possibility that they want you in only as a means of keeping somebody else out; that they are primarily concerned to deny power to another. And by appointing an already over-worked executive creative director as chairman, they will not only thwart the ambitions of some tiresomely thrusting executive; they will also trumpet their commitment to creativity and save most of a mouth-watering salary into the bargain.

I realise that you won't find this a flattering scenario, but you wouldn't want vanity to cloud your judgment, would you?

There's another possible explanation - but no more comfortable as far as you're concerned. Your management may well be anxious to make room for that young and bumptious deputy of yours - the one who's steadfast rejection of seductive competitive packages is so mysteriously widely known.

Whatever their motive, you should ask yourself this: why does your company see the job of chairman as being so easy or so unimportant that it can be done in someone's spare time? They may, of course, be right: but that, again, makes the offer rather less attractive, don't you think?

Q: The venue for the agency party, the brief for the agency Christmas card, they're all a nightmare. Shouldn't someone set up a seasonal design agency to do them?

A: I really don't think that a seasonal design agency is a very good idea. What kind of creative people would be happy to work exclusively on corporate Christmas cards and have nothing whatever to do for most of the year?

Not for the first time, let me recommend you to brief a competitive agency to sort all this out for you. This is what we in the communications elite call a win-win proposition. If your chosen agency comes up with the goods, it will be seen as a triumphant vindication of the value of detachment. And if they balls it up rotten, you fire them. Publicly.

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


Become a member of Campaign

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to, plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events.

Become a member

What is Campaign AI?

Our new premium service offering bespoke monitoring reports for your company.

Find out more

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an alert now

Partner content