CLOSE-UP: ON THE CAMPAIGN COUCH ... WITH JB

Q: I have been a major advertiser on ITV for many years but have

always been appalled by their lack of client service and understanding

of my business requirements (and the tales of the lavish lifestyles

enjoyed by their sales chiefs). I hear there are some good deals to be

had on ITV right now and I have some money to spare, but I'm quite

enjoying ITV's misfortunes. Am I being petty or can I relish their agony

for a little longer?



A: I'm afraid to say you reveal a level of professionalism I find

profoundly shocking. As a major advertiser, you owe it to your company

and to your shareholders to invest your advertising budget in whatever

media and at whatever level you and your advisers deem most likely to

achieve the highest ROI. Even to contemplate allowing your own corrosive

sense of envy and spitefulness to influence what should be a detached

and scientific set of calculations is to abdicate your corporate

responsibility to an indictable degree.



(Sorry about that, but as I'm sure you understand, I really had to get

all the responsible stuff out of the way first. Now to your

question.)



With airtime supply finite, and demand both high and apparently

inexhaustible, ITV sales directors don't really have to be sales

directors at all. They're more like wartime shopkeepers, grudgingly

granting you two ounces of margarine while plainly expecting gratitude.

In a seller's market, not every TV salesperson manages to remain a truly

caring human being, responding with psychic sensitivity to their

customers' business preoccupations. George Cooper remains the model.



It may well be the case that now, suddenly, ITV sales directors are

plying you with long-forgotten attention, hospitality and special deals.

Enjoy them while they last.



Yes: you are being petty. Yes: you may certainly enjoy their agony for a

little longer. And, yes: you can also pick up a few bargains at the same

time, thus ensuring that you continue to serve your company and its

shareholders by investing your advertising budget in the way that you

and your advisers deem most likely ... oh, you know - see above.



Q: I am a marketing manager and have been told by our new marketing

director that he wants to review our creative agency. He has made it

explicitly clear that he would like to appoint a particular agency he

has worked with before (not an agency I admire). He is insisting,

however, that I hold a proper pitch and invite the incumbent to

participate. Should I go along with this charade and, if so, is it best

to warn the incumbent that their chances of retaining the business are

almost non-existent?



A: This has all the makings of a career-wrecking opportunity for you.

Left to yourself, this is how the plot will unwind. You first make it

clear to your new marketing director that you have no time at all for

his agency of choice. Ideally, communicate all this by means of deep

sighs and long sulks rather than putting it in cool and well-supported

writing. You accede to his request to invite the incumbent to

participate; but over your fourth drink that evening, you tell 'em they

haven't a snowballs of keeping the business as old Fartface (as you have

wittily christened your new boss) has as good as guaranteed it to the

other lot already.



When the other lot come to make their presentation, you move into

truculent mode and challenge three of their key market assumptions, all

of which turn out to be correct. Your incumbent agency, totally

demoralised by your briefing, brings the wrong PowerPoint disk and drops

heavy hints that it has been seriously approached by your closest

competitor. Days after appointing his favoured agency, old Fartface

calls you in and questions your ability to get the best out of

them ...



So: go with the flow, Joe. Or go.



- Jeremy Bullmore is a former chairman of J. Walter Thompson, a director

of Guardian Media Group and WPP. He also writes a monthly column for

Management Today. A compilation of his business advice, Another Bad Day

at the Office?, is published by Penguin on 5 November at £5.99.

Address your problems to him at campaign@ haynet.com, or Campaign, 174

Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.



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