Q: After an unexplosive number of years in mainstream advertising,

I saw a chance to transform my moribund career and jumped on the dotcom

bandwagon a few years back. I became a true believer and clients,

promotion and pay rises soon followed. The wheels have now fallen off

the boom and I'm having to make cuts to staff and my overspending habits

and, frankly, I feel quite exposed. Do I stick to my guns as a dotcom

prophet or do I start looking for the next big thing that clients and

agencies will be throwing their money into without a great deal of due


A: You're far too young to remember, of course, but you may find some

comfort in the events of 1955-1965.

Back in 1955, enthusiasm for commercial television was by no means


Many advertisers declined to use it. Many agencies openly described it

as a flash in the pan - and serviced such television clients as they had

from small, off-shore departments who were keen on entertainment values

but found the concept of brands and selling disturbingly, well,

commercial. The jingle prospered.

Myth has it that commercial television took off like a rocket. It

didn't. Commercial television took off like one of those brainless

beings who, once a year, strap on a pair of plastic wings, hurl

themselves from some south coast pier, and plunge into the sea some

seven yards out. One of the most potentially lucrative franchises was

held by Associated Rediffusion - of which a significant shareholder was

Associated Newspapers.

After a year or two of haemorrhage, Associated cut its losses and pulled

out. This was only shortly before Roy Thomson described a commercial

television franchise as a licence to print money - which by then it


Dotcommery and commercial television have this in common. Opinions about

both have been extreme. Both have experienced irrational exuberance and

a severe recoil of enthusiasm. Both, in an initial burst of untutored

excitement, chose to brush aside the basics of good business. And both

will have an important if competitive part to play long after you've

been elected vice-president of the bowls club. Apply the knowledge

you've so painfully acquired - and stop describing yourself as a


Q: I seem to be buying too much dodgy creative work. The problem is that

whenever the agency presents, I can't take my eyes off the account

director and, consequently, don't listen to a word that is said. I've

tried thinking about Anne Widdecombe or Michael Winner but it's no use.

When it comes to my turn to comment, I simply say it's wonderful work,

especially as I don't want to upset the apple of my eye. Shall I profess

my love or just start rejecting all the work?

A: Neither. Take your loved one aside and tell her that one of your

colleagues has confessed to losing his critical faculties while in her

presence (it would, of course, be a breach of confidence to tell her

which). Explain that, for this reason, your future comments on the

creative work may seem unduly critical, but standards must be

maintained. And suggest that any serious differences of opinion should

be sorted out between the two of you at subsequent off-the-record

meetings. Pretty nifty, eh?

Q: I am trying to change careers into advertising - I used to be a

teacher. I have already given up on recruitment agencies and I am now

contacting ad agencies direct. Are letters and CVs likely to be read or

should I consider painting myself blue and donning a sandwich board in

an effort to secure a foot in the door?

A: Attracting publicity to yourself is only a good idea if the way you

choose to do so shows evidence of wit, intelligence and originality.

That you should even consider painting yourself blue suggests to me that

you should return to teaching.

- 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