Q: A top client of ours is a major sponsor of a rugby tournament
and quite frankly I loathe the game. I have to endure endless days in a
hospitality tent making small talk about a game I neither understand nor
care for. Everyone seems so brutish. I am a ballet man myself.
A: I don't think you've given a moment's thought for your client. How do
you suppose this red-blooded rugger bugger feels about having to spend
endless days in a hospitality tent listening to an obsessive balletomane
wittering on about a game he not only fails to understand but actively
Do a deal. Promise you won't expect him to come to Covent Garden if you
don't have to go to Twickenham. Just make sure the ads are good.
Q: I am an account director and have just presented a new print campaign
to my client. The award-winning, senior creative team who did it have
gone on holiday, telling me before they left that on no account were we
to accept any changes to their layout and that our creative director
(who's terrified of losing them, as they're the best team he's got) has
agreed. The client has now told me that we have to make the logo much
bigger. The copy date is tomorrow. My senior director is off sick. What
shall I do?
A: Sorry to be a bit late answering this one. If the IPA still ran
examinations, this is exactly the sort of question they should set.
Forget your familiarity with BARB or BRAD: the combination of
experience, wit and downright deviousness required to emerge
triumphantly from this kind of predicament is precisely what marks out
the world-class agency executive.
Do let me know how you did it.
Q: I'm an account director at a major international agency. I'm always
under pressure to cross-sell other parts of the group to clients, but I
am reluctant to do so as I am worried they'll screw up and the client
will blame me. What should I do?
A: This would make another good IPA exam question. The answer (which
will come as something of a thunderbolt to an experienced practitioner
such as yourself) is: play it absolutely straight.
The phrase that sticks in your gullet is "cross-sell". Quite right; so
it should. "Sell" is a dodgy word in this context.
Good advertising campaigns should never be "sold". Account executives
like using the word because it suggests they've done something immensely
difficult and courageous, thus earning the rare gratitude of the
creative team. Good advertising campaigns should be exposed, explained
and allowed to linger a little in the client's mind. Occasionally, of
course, a little added conviction may be called for - but they should
never be sold.
And what is true for advertising is true for the companies in other
parts of your group.
Get to know them. Buy them a beer. Ask to see their work. Volunteer to
show them yours. Make a note of both the sane and talented and the empty
shysters: as in your own company, there'll be some of both.
Then talk to your clients. Remind them of the growing value of
integrated communications. (As you know, there are a dozen or so fancy
proprietory names for this: my advice is to stick to the generic.)
Tell them that there are interesting people with complementary skills in
other parts of your group who you know and could work with very
fruitfully on your client's behalf.
Suggest that they meet them - and at least two of their competitors.
Keep out of all the meetings yourself.
If your client chooses to work with your sister company - and they often
will - it won't be because you sold them but because the client wanted
Very sorry, very boring, dead obvious, really - next?
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.