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
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
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
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.