Q: Terry Howard writes: Dear Jeremy, I seem to remember that you

were quite good on the old Olivetti. So I was wondering ... what was

your opinion of the new campaign from Ikea, the one that is tailed by

the memorable line: 'Come and see us or we'll come and see you.' Where

would it stand in your pantheon of all-time greats? Please feel free to

speak frankly.

Dear Terry, thank you for your kind enquiry. I no longer comment on

other people's advertisements: friends are hard enough to keep at the

best of times and, besides, there are none that I understand. The most

recent advertisement I remember with affection was called 'Luton


Q: I've got to assess someone who is central to my team and is related

by marriage to a key client. She is badly under-performing in the agency

and has lost all credibility. I'm really not sure I want her to stay.

What do I say in her assessment?

I was once faced with exactly this problem myself. The person in

question was a memorably untalented copywriter who was also, as it

happened, related by marriage to a key client.

My solution was to let it be known on the grapevine that he'd been the

inspiration behind three award-winning campaigns. Within the month, he'd

been poached by a rival agency. (Few people deny in interview that they

have been responsible for three award-winning campaigns: and he may well

have been in the building when they were conceived.)

As you will appreciate, this was a highly satisfactory outcome on three

counts. He left the agency in high good humour; his client/relation was

delighted for him; and I'd planted an extremely expensive piece of dead

wood in the very heart of a competitor. So I suggest you nominate your

own problem as a Campaign Face to Watch and await events.

As for the assessment, you should write: 'Sarah is in a category of her

own. I wonder if we will be able to keep her?'

Q: My agency has worked hard to position itself as a thinking client's

media operation. We now have the chance to scoop a large media buying

account but the client wants to give the planning to a strategic

hotshop. Should we undermine our positioning and go for the money, or

should we hold out for business where our planning and strategy can play

a key role?

It is beyond the stretch of the human mind to accept that Frank Bruno

could ever debate on level terms with Stephen Hawking. You should have

remembered this before settling on your brand position. The concept of

the brainy bruiser is not just oxymoronic: it precipitates in people an

acute attack of what we academics call cognitive dissonance.

What most clients want from their media agencies (even thinking clients,

as you cringingly call them) is brute force. Your recruitment policy

should reflect this fact. Never hire thin people in steel-rimmed

spectacles: go for those with shaven heads. In-house training should

coach staff in the art of concealing their intelligence. Bin the bone

china and serve your clients pre-sweetened tea in enamel mugs. Install a

punchbag in reception, and replace Admap with Loaded.

For that rare occasion when evidence of brainpower becomes a business

necessity, you should keep one person, of impressively under-nourished

appearance, in a back room. Refer to him as Uncle.

From all this you will gather that your present predicament is easily

resolved. Go for the money.

Jeremy Bullmore is a former chairman of J. Walter Thompson, a director

of Guardian Media Group and of WPP, and the president of NABS. He writes

a monthly column for Management Today. A more serious look at problems

in the workplace, it both inspired and complements On the Campaign


Address your problems to him at Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Road, London

W6 7JP. Or e-mail


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