News to strike terror into your heart: ‘JWT links remuneration to
creativity’, was the provocative headline on the fax from that
venerable, admirable and not at all paranoid agency. ‘J. Walter Thompson
is making creativity a top priority by linking the remuneration of its
agencies’ chief executives and heads of planning as well as that of
creative directors, to the agency’s creative output.’
Ignoring the obvious ‘why wasn’t creativity already a top priority’
question, there was only one possible response, ‘gulp!’. It got worse.
‘The improvement in quality...will be measured not against some abstract
or theoretical standard of excellence, but against comparable output
from the previous year.’
Lordy! The mind boggles at the thought of Allen Thomas, Chris Jones et
al deciding Dominic Proctor and Stephen Carter’s salaries on the basis
of whether Jaspar Shelbourne’s mob have cracked it. Please, please,
please can I sit in on the deliberations? I wouldn’t tell - much.
As it happens, I saw JWT’s reel the other day, and it’s miles better
than it has been in the recent past: the agency’s making real strides
with Kellogg’s, some interesting Entemann’s Cakes work (a tad
pretentious?), Madame Tussaud’s, Nestle Fruit Pastil lollies, a lovely
last Dulux film, good RAF work, a stunning Persil ad, and cable. Compare
this with all the wasted opportunities of recent years: Nintendo, Kodak,
Esso, Boots, and most of all, Barclays - a sorry list to which I’d add
current Nestle Rowntree work and Stena as the latest disappointments.
Proctor and co will be quids in - although, personally, I’d issue
penalty fines for Lux, Organics and Timotei. But there are so many other
pitfalls looming I’d pay to be a fly on the wall. How about if Nick
Welch and Billy Mawhinney, the previous creative directors, chose to sue
for libel by juxtaposition. They’d have a good case (believe me, I
know). In fact, the bigger the current boys’ pay rises, the more
interesting the old boys’ case. Who defines the top 5 per cent of staff
worldwide? Isn’t JWT Europe always banging on about how all the offices
work together, so how can any one office’s managers take credit? Will
the managers pass the bonuses on to the people who actually do the work?
It’s a great idea - as long as they publish the results. Most of all,
I’m struck by the prospect of the Haymarket big cheeses, Lindsay Masters
and Simon Tindall, sitting in judgment over my work, versus the previous
editor’s. Not financial performance, mind, which is a shame just now,
but creative. How would they judge? Line me up against Julie Burchill?
Compare the number of interesting words used or moody pictures taken? Is
this year’s Campaign better than last year’s? I trust the cheque’s in
the post, Lindsay - along with a writ from Dominic Mills.