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
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
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
A: I take it that your final question was put with comical intent? Thank
Your problem exposes the Great Unspoken Truth of 21st century
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 email@example.com, or Campaign, 174
Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.