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

Q: I am an agency creative who has toiled night and day on a great

campaign for my client. Unfortunately it has been pecked to death by the

client and is so bad that it has been selected as Turkey of the Week in

Campaign. How can I redeem my reputation with my peers?



A: Your peers will be thrilled. Remember that, for true happiness, it is

not enough to succeed; others must fail.



With commendable selflessness, you have done much to make your friends

happy - and for that they will be grateful. (If, as frequently happens,

your campaign is subsequently chosen by another Campaign journalist as

Pick of the Year, your reputation will suffer a severe reverse.)



A: With communications immediacy, converging markets and consumers and

pressure on costs, what is the future for the multi-office international

network?



A: I have studied your question all week and still fail to understand

it. Please translate into English and resubmit.



Q: I have recently accepted a job at a rival client firm and been sent

on a period of gardening leave. As I hate gardening, what books would

you suggest I read during this time to make me a better client?



A: In the words of the great James Webb Young: "The best books about

advertising are not about advertising." He is right. However, you should

read How to Become an Advertising Man by James Webb Young. It is the

best book about advertising that is also about advertising. No-one from

your agency will have read it so you need never again feel inadequate in

meetings.



Q: While scratching their behinds one of our "star" teams has written a

one-off ad for a shoe repair shop. Our creative director wants to keep

the boys sweet and has challenged me to sell the idea to anyone who'll

listen so it can go up for an award. This I am told will enhance my

career. I think the ad is crap and I loathe the spiky pair of creatives

who wrote it. Could I say I'm allergic to boot polish to get out of

it?



A: I take it that your final question was put with comical intent? Thank

you.



Your problem exposes the Great Unspoken Truth of 21st century

advertising.



For reasons now lost in the aimless vacuities of the 80s, only creative

people in advertising agencies are now allowed to express an opinion

about advertisements. Let me correct myself: only creative people in

advertising agencies are allowed to express a critical opinion about

advertisements. An account executive who opines that an ad is, for

example, "fucking great", is widely acknowledged to have excellent

creative judgment. The same executive caught expressing tentative

surprise at the absence of the brand name is equally clearly a dickhead.

The demarcation lines in agencies are now firmly drawn and tacitly

accepted. Creative people are there to produce advertisements. Everyone

else in the agency is there to admire them.



Let us now return to the question of Turkey of the Week (see above).



Is it not strange that a creative person will confidently dismiss any

critical sentiment expressed by even the most experienced of account

executives - yet will break down in tears if the same opinion is

expressed by a Campaign journalist who, until the previous week, was

almost certainly a trainee reporter on Forecourt Weekly?



My advice to you is stern and unequivocal. Be the first in your industry

to challenge this cowardly conspiracy. You think the shoe repair ad is

crap? Then tell your creative director that the ad is crap. And having

told him that the ad is crap, look him steadily in the eyes until his

own turn away in shame. The counter-revolution will have begun - and

account executives everywhere will praise your name.



It will help if you've read How to Become an Advertising Man.



- 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, priced £5.99. Address

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

Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.



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