Q: Patrick Collister writes: Dear Jeremy, I am honoured to be a
juror of this year's Cyber Lions in Cannes. All my fellow judges are
wired dudes in their twenties. One or two may have nudged thirty. I am
in my maturing forties. How can I get them to see me as "one of them",
even though when, recently, I tried to buy a pair of Twist Levi's they
refused to sell them to me?
A: Dear Patrick, thank you for your kind enquiry. Are you really only in
your forties? I've always admired your personal packaging and had
assumed that the tweed jacket and donnish air were conscious and highly
successful ruses designed to sidestep the age issue altogether.
So it distresses me to learn that a person of your distinction should
yearn to be accepted as a wired dude. (When we next have lunch I hope
you will remind me, if necessary with the aid of diagrams, exactly what
a wired dude is.)
The strategy I had wrongly believed you to have adopted instinctively is
the strategy you should certainly adopt at Cannes. Imagine yourself in a
Merchant Ivory movie, based on a novel by Henry James and with
additional dialogue by Ian Fleming. Sport a panama hat and a manservant.
Leave your open-topped Bentley unattended on La Croisette. Arrange for
someone delicious and coffee-coloured to greet you as you leave the
juryroom on your first evening. And another on your second.
Enjoy yourself - and leave envy to others.
PS: What is a Twist Levi and why did you want two?
Q: Mark Wnek writes: The Cannes awards shortlist screening is the most
instructive and dramatic exercise in understanding commercials. Unlike
the British, Johnny Foreigner doesn't stand on ceremony when it comes to
making feelings about commercials known: gratuitous product shots,
marketing strategies posing as commercials, inelegant and overpowering
logos, all this and more is instantly greeted by a thousand whistles,
catcalls and seats hurled at the screen.
Clients of the kind who perhaps undervalue the minutiae of our craft
would benefit enormously from sitting in that audience and seeing how
massively influential these minutiae are. Trouble is, dare one take
clients to Cannes where, in an untended moment, they may stumble across
elements of the ad industry (tiny elements and entirely unrepresentative
of the industry as a whole, of course) quaffing Dom Perignon, guzzling
caviar and shagging anything that moves?
A: Dear Mark, thank you for your kind enquiry. You get to the nub of
your problem with the use of the word untended. Clients should never be
left untended, whether in Cannes or the Twickenham car park. You could,
I suppose, warn your client of the presence in Cannes of a gang of
notorious kidnappers, well known to Interpol, who specialise in holding
multinational marketing executives to ransom. (Only last week, you
happen to know, a European fried chicken president was found hideously
dismembered near Cap d'Antibes.) This would at least explain your
insistence on remaining in close proximity with your client at all times
- and protect him from stumbling across that tiny and unrepresentative
minority of which you so properly disapprove.
But, on reflection, I wonder if your initial assumption is correct. Just
as few creative people respect the creative judgment of clients, just
how many clients will respect the opinion of whistling, catcalling,
seat-throwing foreigners? To return to the UK with a client now more
committed than ever to gratuitous logos and pulsing packshots would be
poor reward for six abstemious days and nights handcuffed to a
humourless marketing director.
Go on your own; and join the minority.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.