On the Campaign Couch ... with JB
Q: Dear Jeremy, as a marketer with an award-winning and commercially successful ad campaign under my belt, I'm frequently invited to speak at conventions on the secret of my success.
While I appreciate its efforts in creating it, my agency also insists on elbowing itself on to the platform, thereby denying me my moment in the sun as the person who bought this work. How do I subtly tell the agency I want the fame?
A: Perhaps you're happy with the thought of being a one-hit wonder?
That award-winning and commercially successful ad campaign of yours will provide you with fame and platforms for no more than two years. And if you accept too many platforms, it will be yesterday's story by the day after tomorrow. After that, you'll need another one. And while you undoubtedly displayed some acuity in signing off this great campaign, even you must concede that it was possible only because someone else had already created it.
If you deny your agency its rightful share of the limelight, it won't exactly sulk. It won't throw its crayons out of the pram or stick pins in a little wax effigy of you. But, without ever quite knowing why, it'll never again give you work of that quality. Don't ask me how this happens; I've no idea. I only know that it does. Conversely, clients who naturally, consistently and publicly acknowledge their agencies, on platforms and off, have every chance of chalking up multiple triumphs.
As a result, of course, they acquire long-lasting personal fame: and not just for their skills in inspiring great advertising but also for their humility.
How does that grab you?
Q: Dear Jeremy, David Hockney has received some criticism from his former art teacher for now jobbing out work on his iPad (I saw him do one on Countryfile the other week and it took him minutes), but he has still managed to pack out the Royal Academy with this work. Are there lessons for the creative community from this?
A: It's high time that paintings were valued not by experts or art collectors but by procurement executives. Any painting that's been knocked out on an iPad in a matter of minutes can't be worth more than a tenner, if you ask me. Say ten an hour: reasonable wage, that; over ten times the legal minimum. I bet you could get them even cheaper from China. (I wonder if David Hockney fills out timesheets?)
Apart from all that, I'm not sure what sort of lessons there might be for what you like to call the creative community. They already know it's not the iPad that matters but the hand that holds it. They already know that the length of time it takes to conceive a 30-second commercial has absolutely no relationship - not even an inverse one - to the effectiveness of that commercial or its chances of getting gold. They already know that work expands to fill the time available for it and that, were it not for deadlines, nothing whatsoever would ever be finished.
Did you have something else in mind?
Q: Dear Jeremy, I read somewhere that Twitter is now for losers. Do you think that it's now safe for me to stop Tweeting? Having to Tweet something sensible every day is driving me mad.
A: As gently as possible - and rather more gently than you probably deserve - may I suggest that you're about to replace one misconception with another?
Not so very long ago, you came to believe that you had to post a daily Tweet. Not because you had anything interesting to say or had any clear purpose in mind - but because you thought that not posting a daily Tweet would mark you out as an analogue man, unfit for purpose in this white-hot cyber-century of ours. You thought that, were you to remain Twitterless, colleagues and clients and media journalists would single you out for contempt and derision. You thought that your professional survival, your mortgage and the respect of your children were all dependent on your being known to be a daily Tweeter. And so you Tweeted.
That was your first misconception. While a great many people have personally suffered as a result of posting ill-considered Tweets, no-one has ever suffered personally from not Tweeting at all.
So of course it's safe for you to stop Tweeting. It always has been. But don't immediately leap to your second misconception that Twitter's now for losers. The only true losers are those who delude themselves that they're hip simply because they send out vacuous little daily messages that make your average pub bore sound like Bertrand Russell.
"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 email@example.com or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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