Opinion: Perspective - Wanted: elite Private Viewers to overcome shyness

This week's Private View by Mark Wnek (p38) makes an interesting read. It contains an attack on Campaign's news editor and "the adland in-crowd", whoever they are. The first version of this Private View also contained an attack on a famous advertising person. The lawyers might have beckoned so I pulled out the red pen.

The need for such editing is not unusual and indicates the importance of Private View. It delights and has the power to make people froth at the mouth in equal measure (see Gerry Farrell's Exocet on p24).

It has the highest page traffic in many of our issues, suggesting that leafing through the rest of the magazine represents little more than a heroic struggle to stay awake for a large proportion of our readers.

On the face of it, Private View holds out infinite promise for the many advertising obsessives out there. The best and brightest talent from the best and brightest agencies offering mature and considered constructive criticism of the very latest work. And all published with credits for the talented craftspeople involved in creating the ads.

And the reality? Here I hesitate. The trouble with Private View is that a lot of the best and brightest talent declines the opportunity to write Private View. Oh yes, they want their work in there, and they want to know who's reviewing it that week, but they prefer not to be nasty about other people's work in public. Step forward Fallon, CDD, Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Mother - to name but four.

There appear to be two main reasons. Some of our best agencies want to be seen as decent and generous places to work, holding on to this as a founding principle. They therefore won't criticise others' work in public.

Equally, a word of commendation from such places is extraordinarily treasured by the young and not so young creative talent in the business.

Prime among this group is John Hegarty of Bartle Bogle Hegarty. He has never written Private View, never will, and refuses to allow his executive creative director, John O'Keeffe, to do so. The loss, I'm afraid, is Campaign's and no amount of begging over a number of years has worked.

Allied to this, and infinitely more sinister, are the agencies that refuse to write Private View on the grounds that if they criticise an ad in public in those pages, scores will inevitably be settled in private during D&AD and other awards judging. This is a pretty unforgivable excuse and highly dubious.

So what exactly should be done? Refresh Private View itself, invite media experts and clients to contribute regularly - well, that's an obvious one.

Also, the naysayers might be persuaded to consider my Five Benefits of Writing Private View. 1. Writing Private View makes a pleasant change from meetings and appraisals and, while undoubtedly a skive, it is a legitimate use of company time. 2. Showing the contents of the Private View bag to your whole agency or creative department and asking their view - as many reviewers do - provides useful information about your colleagues. It tells you who is bright and who is a fool. 3. A bit of light showing off can do you and your agency good when it comes to hiring the best talent and getting on client radars. 4. The ritual of reading Private View is made much less irritating if you try to write one yourself. Gerry Moira's effortless prose is deceptive. It is really quite hard to do well. 5. The editor of Campaign will be pathetically grateful.