On the Campaign Couch with JB
Q: We have a room in the agency where we allow our regional clients to work from if they are in the area. It works well but we have one particular client who has virtually decamped there and it's proving a distraction and occasionally an irritation. How do we politely discourage him from visiting so often?
A: Find a broom cupboard you can live without. Furnish it with basic worktop, lighting and wi-fi. Sparing no expense, engrave a brass plate with your client's name and screw it to the broom cupboard door. Tell him that he's such a valued visitor - and such a regular one - that you've created his very own, personalised, dedicated work-station: nobody else, however important, is to be allowed to use it. He'll not only have to use it but also pretend to be deeply grateful. And you don't have to worry that all your other clients will each want a broom cupboard for themselves: they'll know exactly what you've done and why you've done it.
Q: I run an agency and we've just won a hard-fought pitch for a great client. Our celebrations were dampened somewhat when the client told us they are going to spend half the amount on advertising they promised at the start of the pitch. If we had known that, we probably wouldn't have bothered. Needless to say, this is dreadful behaviour on their part. Do we have any recourse?
A: What's your definition of a great client? One who encourages you to do exceptional advertising? Or one who spends an exceptional amount of money?
If you rank clients on the single criterion of advertising expenditure, you should pack it all in and start trading in copper futures. You won't need to like copper, handle copper or even know what copper looks like. That should suit you perfectly.
It's true that some clients take advantage of their agencies' unworldly attitude to finance. But if you're fortunate enough to find your work fascinating, expect to pay a little something for the privilege of doing it.
Stop sulking. Do an amazing job and money will surely follow.
Q: Who invented advertising?
A: Most people say the Greeks. But most people say the Greeks invented most things. In fact, it was Wilma Pebble Slaghoople Flintstone who invented advertising. She was the highly intelligent wife of the person who was the first person in history to have more than he needed of something that other people didn't have enough of. Without such a circumstance, it would not have been necessary to invent advertising.
It happened like this. One summer's day, Fred Flintstone had been exceptionally fortunate when out hunting. He consequently has an excess of woolly mammoth meat. Since it's summer and he doesn't have a freezer, he knows it won't keep. He offers to give some to his neighbours, Barney and Betty Rubble, but the Rubbles are also up to here with woolly mammoth meat, thank you very much. Fred's pretty certain that somewhere in Bedrock there must be lots of hungry cave people who'd jump at the chance to get their hands on some fresh woolly mammoth meat but Fred doesn't know who they are and they don't know Fred, let alone that he's got more woolly mammoth meat than he knows what to do with. What a waste! All that woolly mammoth meat about to go rotten and all those ravenous cave people out there and no way of bringing them together!
And that's when Wilma Pebble Slaghoople Flintstone invented advertising. With a sharpened chunk of chalk, she drew an appetising picture of a piece of woolly mammoth meat on the side of the rock that bordered the path that passed their cave. And she drew an arrow pointing to the entrance to their cave and added several exclamation marks. And by nightfall, every last joint of their surplus woolly mammoth meat had been carried away by grateful strangers, many of whom left tokens of appreciation behind them. With the possible exception of the woolly mammoth, absolutely everybody was extremely happy.
Wilma Pebble Slaghoople Flintstone not only invented advertising but was also the first person to realise that advertising had a huge social value. She may also have been the last. They really should have named eBay after her.
Q: As this is your last column for 2010, do you have any wise words for your readers?
A: I can do no better than to quote the great Dave Flower: "Always remember that tomorrow, today will be yesterday." Happy Christmas.
"Ask Jeremy", a collection of Jeremy Bullmore's Campaign columns, is available from Haymarket, priced £10. Telephone (020) 8267 4919
Jeremy Bullmore welcomes questions via firstname.lastname@example.org or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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