Q: We're pitching a big account. I (I'm the account director) had a

drink with our potential client last night and she told me that she

can't stand my boss, who's leading the pitch. He knows I don't really

like him either and thinks I'm after his job. Should I tell him what she


A: I know what you're up to. You don't see this as a problem at all but

a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: keep your boss out of the

presentation, win the business on your own and become rich and famous

overnight. All you want to know is how to do it: so here goes.

Of course you don't tell your boss what your potential client said: he'd

see it as a threat - a transparent power-play on your behalf - and

insist on attending.

What you do is draft a letter for your potential client to sign and send

to your boss. It should say: "Dear Nigel: Here at Anglo-Galvanized we

are anxious that our advertising review be conducted on a level playing

field. I am therefore writing to all participating agencies laying down

certain ground-rules. Any agency failing to comply fully with these

conditions will be eliminated. First, our knowledge of the respective

senior managements is already more than adequate. Only full-time members

of the potential account group are therefore required to take part in

the final presentation."

That should do the trick, don't you think? Grateful client awards you

the business; the Financial Times declares it a personal triumph; the

international president sends congratulatory e-mail; Nigel discovers

latent affection for family; and, bingo, you've made it.

Goodness me, how naive can you get? Brilliant schemes like this

invariably backfire with humiliating consequences. In this instance,

your friend the client turns out to be far less important that she led

you to believe; PowerPoint crashes half way through your introduction;

the business stays with the incumbent agency; and your draft letter to

Nigel is discovered by his PA. Boring, I know; but keep your mouth shut

and get the business on merit.

Q: I've recently been promoted to deputy MD and currently I am lunching

for England. Clients, journos, mates, staff, prospects, the lot. My

girlfriend mentioned to me the other day I was beginning to look a bit

porky and would soon need to wear a bra. Could you suggest a plan that

allows me to continue the entertainment strategy without piling on the

pounds? (Please don't say eat lettuce or give up puds!)

A: You are a greedy person. You've been a greedy person all your life

but suddenly (or so you tell yourself) your greed has been transformed

from a matter of guilt into a professional obligation. As the deputy

managing director, you owe it to yourself, your company and your career

to eat excessively. What bliss.

All this I know from your use of the word puds. Only very greedy men

pale at the prospect of being denied jam roll and custard.

As I'm sure you've realised, your problem is not so much with your diet

as with your girlfriend: she seems to put appearance before


Furthermore, she's clearly disrespectful: no deputy managing director

with any self-respect should tolerate being called porky by his


So I'm afraid you've come to a crossroads in your life. Determined as

you secretly are to become a portly and profoundly self-satisfied member

of the communications elite, you must ditch your girlfriend (lucky her)

and seek a more appropriate accessory.

She should be blue-eyed, bubble-haired and possess limitless reserves of

uncritical devotion.

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