Q: In pursuit of the hallowed 360-degree communications solution,
my ad agency has developed a number of joint ventures with companies in
areas such as sponsorship and PR. As a marketing manager, I'm keen to
explore their promise of more integrated communications. But my company
employs a sponsorship manager and a head of PR, both of whom are
fiercely defensive of their own territories and budgets and determined
to pick their own suppliers. Any advice?
A: There are two people not worth writing to about this: your CEO, who
is in a perfect position to help but will choose not to understand the
question; and me, who understands the question perfectly but is in no
position to help.
At the root of the problem is a combination of snobbery and lunch.
Because brand managers have been allowed to become lowly people, the
function of brand management is now seen by top people as a lowly
occupation from which they themselves have escaped. So instead of
remembering that their corporate success depends on the aggregate
success of their brands, CEOs, out of pure occupational snobbery, prefer
to concern themselves with higher matters such as investor relations and
the CBI. As the importance of integrated brand communications becomes
more recognised, so CEOs detach themselves more disdainfully from their
management. The result: a fragmentation of brand responsibility to make
the management of our railways seem like a case study in single-minded
This unfortunate state of affairs is confirmed by the importance of
You like being given lunch by your suppliers; and so does your
sponsorship manager and your head of PR. If you did the sensible thing
and amalgamated territories, budgets and responsibilities, the number of
lunch opportunities would shrink proportionately.
I can only suggest you show this answer to your advertising agency and
see if their creative Johnnies can come up with anything.
Q: Do you think clients give a monkey's about the awards that agencies
win, unless it is on their own business?
A: As long as it works in the market, clients don't mind whether the
work you do for them wins awards or not. They may, however, allow
themselves the faintest expression of disappointment when the work you
do for all your other clients is consistently honoured. So unless you
can win awards for everything, I suggest you give up the game
Q: I am a marketing director preparing to review my ad account. But my
superiors have told me that, in light of the economic picture, our
company's purchasing department will be playing a key role in making the
agency appointment, based on cost considerations. How do I make sure I
get the agency I want while keeping the procurement guys happy?
A: I take it that you've already made your decision and are calling a
beauty parade for the sake of your superiors and appearances? Then your
problem is easily solved.
Believe it or not, procurement people are human beings. While
occupationally hostile to any woolly talk about quality, they are deeply
sensitive to the accusation that they are blind to its value. You
should, therefore, brief your favoured agency thus: "Make your lead
executive a chartered accountant. Restrict your agency presentation
exclusively to price. Equip your meeting room with jugs of tap water and
When you all meet later to decide on a winner, your procurement people
will voice their unease. They're more than satisfied about cost-control
and financial discipline, they say - but might they not come at the
expense of quality?
Nod sagely, rifle through your briefcase and reveal, as if surprised,
that for three years running the agency in question has been rated top
Bingo, I think you'll find.
Jeremy Bullmore is a former chairman of J. Walter Thompson, a director
of Guardian Media Group and of WPP. 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 Couch.
Address your problems to him at Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Road, London
W6 7JP. Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.