Q: I have worked as an account man in advertising for many years
but have never had the nerve to tell my parents. They would not see it
as very worthwhile, they think I am an accountant. They are getting old
and I would like to clear up this little deceit. What can I tell
A: I am shocked that you feel so ashamed of your profession that not
only have you concealed it from your parents but you actually prefer to
be thought an accountant. An archeologist, I could understand, or an
anaesthetist; but an accountant?
There are two courses open to you. The first requires you to show some
pride and confidence in your chosen career. So ready yourself for an
encounter with your parents by assembling a dossier containing details
of every noble contribution made to mankind by account people across the
Make a list of account people who have become world-famous. Remind
yourself of account people who have written great books, painted great
pictures and composed concertos which have moved the hearts of
As I write, however, it occurs to me that the results of such a trawl
might prove somewhat meagre; in which case, you should opt for plan
By dropping a series of hints and clues over a period of time, and
through the judicious use of old press cuttings, lead your parents to
suspect that you are a convicted abortionist. When you ultimately reveal
that you work for an advertising agency, their relief and delight will
Justin Cernis writes: We seem to be in the grip of merger mania. Q:
Honestly, are we all going to end up one day working for Martin Sorrell
or that French bloke?
Q: The son of one of our most important clients is doing a holiday job
at the agency. He is good looking and hard working but a little innocent
in the ways of the world. One of our more mature secretaries has now
made him the target for her considerable charms and I'm afraid things
could get out of hand. Any advice?
A: What things? And whose hand? I can't for the life of me work out
what's bugging you unless it's envy. Here's this lad (and who says he's
so innocent, anyway?) having the time of his life in his dad's
advertising agency with his very own Mrs Robinson thrown in for good
At the end of the holiday, what happens? The lad goes back to school
with a grin on his face the size of a barn door, Mrs Robinson cuts
another notch on her bedhead and your important client overwhelms you
with gratitude, saying his time at the agency has given his boy a much
better understanding of work experience.
Just keep Mrs Robinson away from the father, that's all.
Q: Chris Macleod, age 45, writes: They say advertising is not as much
fun as it was. Is that just a sign of me getting older?
A: Dear Chris, thank you for your kind enquiry. Your mistake was in
allowing yourself to get promoted. Advertising is just as much fun today
as it's ever been as long as you carry no responsibility. Advertising
has never been fun for chief executives.
You enjoyed yourself in the early days not because you were young but
because nothing that went wrong was your fault. Now, absolutely
everything that goes wrong is your fault and yours alone. And it is no
easier to get unpromoted than to get un-old. Sorry about that.
- 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 email@example.com.