A: In what fundamental way, I wonder, does your work differ from cold calling? And why, I wonder, do you want to distance yourself from sales targets? And shouldn't you brush up on your grammar?
You wonder if there is any words to distinguish yourself from salesmen. But you are a salesman. Such craving for spurious respectability has turned undertakers into funeral directors, rat-catchers into rodent operatives and led Safeway's into offering an ambient replenishment opportunity when they wanted a shelf-stacker. I expect you'd like to be able to tell the outside world that you were a creative communications consultant? Well, feel free. The outside world won't have the faintest idea what you're talking about and will entirely correctly suspect you of pretentiousness.
One of the greatest of many pleasures of working in advertising is that it's almost completely immune to occupational snobbery. Helping to increase the sales of Toilet Duck, and being unaffectedly delighted to have done so, keeps feet on the ground. It's true that creative agencies believe themselves to be socially superior to media agencies and that everybody above the line believes themselves to be superior to everybody below the line - but these are minor family differences of no interest whatever to anybody else. Fund managers can pretend, not least to themselves, that they're not gamblers. If you're in advertising, you can't pretend that you're not a salesman. Nor should you want to.
If that, to you, implies a belittling of your role in life, thus incurring a lifetime of ridicule, I suggest you become an aspiring something-else-altogether. An ambient replenishment executive, perhaps.
Q: The chief executive of a Bristol-based PR agency writes: We are pitching for a chunky piece of FMCG business with a London advertising agency. However, whenever my team make any kind of strategic point, it's returned with patronising smirks and sniggers from the ad agency. Last week we caught one note left in the meeting room saying: "PRs can't plan." This has been devastating for my team, who have lost confidence three weeks before the pitch and feel as though they're in an inferior profession. How do I reassure them and motivate them?
A: See the section on occupational snobbery in the question above. PR people have always presented a problem for ad agency people. They assume PR people to be inferior professionally but, disconcertingly, frequently find them superior socially. This leaves ad agency people only one pigeon-hole in which to pop them: the gin-and-tonic brigade or witless toffs. It's the only way they can preserve their own unfounded sense of precedence: "PRs can't plan" is a perfect expression of this insecurity.
While this sadly accurate analysis doesn't help your immediate problem, a related thought may. To the bafflement of many ad agencies, PR companies often have far better access to client chief executives than they do; or, to be precise, individual PR practitioners do. Read the City Diary columns. Named, celebrated PR personalities are regularly recorded as having been summoned over the weekend to advise the executive chairman of Anglo-Galvanized on whether or not to merge with GBH plc. When was the last time you saw an ad person so featured? Exactly.
For you to be on the shortlist, you must already have a good relationship with somebody senior at this chunky FMCG company. Ask him/her, in their own interests, to chair a briefing meeting at which both your company and the ad agency are to be represented. I think you'll find that once the ad agency lot have witnessed their potential client deferring to your opinion - particularly on the subject of corporate strategy - their tune will subtly change. And the morale of your own troops will lighten perceptibly.
Q: Because I have a private jet, and a huge collection of classic cars, along with any number of non-eco-friendly pursuits such as my wife's insistence that she take the kids to school in the Chelsea tractor, I have a carbon footprint the size of a small African nation. I don't want to give this up, so how do I hide it from my COI clients?
A: They won't be your clients for very much longer. They already know.
- "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 email@example.com or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.