Opinion: On the Campaign Couch ... with JB

Q: I am a marketer of a large FMCG company. I notice that since the advertising economy has picked up, so has the number of "jollies" being offered to me and my staff. Where do you advise that one draws the line?

A: You should follow the lead of the Houses of Parliament and their Register of Members' Interests. Just be a bit more exacting in its implementation, that's all.

Have a special page set up on your company intranet. Any form of jolly accepted by any member of your company from any supplier or other outside company must be listed. Details to include: name of beneficiary, form of jolly, date, length of jolly, provider of jolly and approximate market cost of jolly - all to be entered within 24 hours of jolly having been enjoyed. This declaration register should be printed out on a weekly basis and stuck on two prominent notice boards: one on the management floor and the other in reception where it can be clearly seen by visiting clients and journalists.

Every month, a running-total page should be displayed on the same two notice boards, presented in league table form, with the highest-scoring beneficiaries at the top. Aggregate benefits to be expressed in sterling or - in the case of international networks - in dollars and euros as well.

A companion page should list the worth of the assignments and projects allocated by your company to supplier companies over the previous four-week period with any interesting correlations tastefully highlighted.

You might like to add a message along the following lines: "Anglo-Galvanized Inc. imposes no limits on the value of gifts or other considerations that may be accepted by its people from outsider suppliers. Ours is a company founded on Trust."

Q: I've been offered a good job at a company where a very close friend of mine already works. Our roles would involve quite a lot of overlap, but generally I like to keep work/play separate. What do you think?

A: I can understand your hesitation but the offer of a good job doesn't come up that often - so give it a go. Assuming that your close friend has much the same misgivings as you do, you should confront the potential problem openly and propose a creative solution.

Let us say that your names are Will and Barnaby. (They may, of course, be Joy and Gwendolyn: the principle remains.)

Each of you adopts a nom-de-travail. At work, you, Will, will be known as Fraser - and Barnaby will be known as Chuck: but only to each other.

Nobody else need know what's going on. After a vitriolic dispute in the course of which each rubbishes the other's aesthetic judgment, Chuck and Fraser are no longer on speaking terms. That's when Will and Barnaby go to the pub.

"So what got into Chuck, then?" you ask when the first has been poured.

Barnaby takes a deep and grateful draught. "Exactly what got into Fraser, if you ask me. Stubborn buggers, the pair of them." After the third, Will and Barnaby, close friends and men of infinite wisdom, have got it sorted.

"See you at the weekend, then," you say to each other as Chuck and Fraser prepare to return to the office.

It could not only be very productive; it could be fun.

Q: I'm the chief executive of the London office of a global network. We are about to embark on the production of a new AAR reel. My creative department (which I suspect has seen Mother's reel) wants to embark on a narrative route that shows we can be creative as well as large. I think we should let our ads speak for themselves. Any advice?

A: I've long believed agencies should sub-contract their own house ads to a competitor. We severely discourage our clients from producing their own advertising in-house on the grounds that they lack the necessary objectivity; then confidently turn out our own brain-numbing and self-congratulatory AAR reels. The other great advantage of getting a competitor to do it is this: if it's fantastic, your agency looks fantastic. If it's a turkey, you fire the competitor. Publicly.

It's what's called being a client.

Whichever way you go, don't just let the ads speak for themselves. Ads never speak for themselves. If ads spoke for themselves, the IPA wouldn't insist on thousands of words of back-up and econometric modelling before dishing out their effectiveness awards. Also, potential clients touchingly like to think that great agencies don't just fluke great ads but have a way of going about things that makes their creation marginally more likely than monkeys with typewriters could manage.

- "Ask Jeremy", a collection of Jeremy Bullmore's Campaign columns, is available from Haymarket, priced £10. Telephone (020) 8267 4683. Jeremy Bullmore welcomes questions via campaign@haynet.com or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.


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