Q: I am working my way up the slippery agency management pole but

have had to turn down two recent offers to go on golfing days, one with

a client and the other with senior agency management, because I don't

play. I know that the real business is done on these days. What should I


A: I hope you won't mind my saying this, but you sound a bit of a creep;

and a creep, what's more, of limited imagination. The scene you describe

is lifted straight from the worst kind of sitcom. You actually admire

these golfing super-bores and long to join them, not because you like

golf but in petty pursuit of career advancement.

There was once a time when agency account people were wonderfully


There were portrait painters of private means; lawyers on an open-ended

sabbatical; Armenians of mysterious origin who spoke five languages

fluently and occasionally English; bookmakers' runners and the

occasionally laird.

In the good old days, client people and account people were never, as

they are now, depressingly interchangeable. Clients may have hugely

enjoyed the company of their agency counterparts but would never have

employed them: far too colourful for the Great West Road.

I'd like to believe that you could help start a renaissance of the

colourful account person. It's high time it happened and it would

certainly grant you escape from your self-inflicted predicament. But I

sense from your question that it is quite beyond you to be interesting -

so either jack it in altogether or take golf lessons.

Q: What the hell is a GRP and could someone explain it to me in plain

English. While you're about it, what does Media Neutral mean?

A: It is not at all advisable for marketing people to understand their

own jargon. I would be happy to explain a GRP to you but it would in no

way improve the quality of your life. You'd soon be challenging people

in meetings, slowing everything down terribly and earning a reputation

as a pedant.

I don't know what Media Neutral means either, but I use the phrase

frequently and have never felt handicapped by my ignorance. I think you

should stop being quite such a perfectionist.

Q: An old agency colleague of mine, now a client, says she can't give me

her business because it would ruin our friendship. How can I convince


A: For an agency person, you seem very naive. This former colleague of

yours is clearly lying. Her reluctance has nothing to do with your

friendship; it's just that she knows your agency too well.

She knows that your international president would instruct you to resign

her account the instant a juicier assignment became available. She knows

that your executive creative director maintains his fragile self-esteem

only by hiring lickspittles. She knows that your internal

cost-accounting system is by far your most creative product. Above all,

she knows you.

Against all this, consider her alternative. Fawning invitations from

agencies she has long admired; speculative campaigns, produced on time

and for no money; and the chance to work with people who've never

witnessed her inability to judge creative work or her paso doble at the

last office party.

No argument exists that would persuade this person to bring her business

to your agency. If you have ruled out bribery as an option, you should

cut your losses and look elsewhere.

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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