Like all youngsters, you want to be a hero.
You love your job, you want to look good, you want people to like you.
When I was a young copywriter at BMP, I was the same.
I didn’t want to be a prima donna.
The account men would come to me with a tough brief.
They’d say, “Everyone has tried to crack this and they can’t.
Everything has bombed out in research and we’re now out of time.
If we don’t get something out fast we’re going to lose the account.”
I’d say, “Well I can write something that’ll solve the research problems.
It won’t be great but, if it’ll help the agency, I’ll do it.”
They said, “You’re a star.”
So, lots of times, I wrote something, shot it, edited it, ran it.
We saved the account, everyone was happy.
So I thought.
Usually about 6 months later, John Webster would be reviewing the recent work the agency had done.
He’d be playing the commercials and he’d stop at one I’d done.
He’d say, “That’s not very good, who did that?”
Someone would say, “Dave Trott.”
John would grunt, as if he was thinking, “That’s disappointing. It’s not as good as the rest of the department’s work.”
I’d wait for the account man to speak up and tell him that the ad I did helped save the account, and made money for the agency.
Why would the account man associate himself with work John didn’t like?
This happened to me a few times.
I was a sucker for any account man who asked for help.
Then they always forgot about it immediately it was done.
Then John would be disappointed in a lot of my output.
Eventually I learned.
You work only for your boss, or it gets political.
My boss was the creative director.
If he asked me to do average ads to hold the account, then I knew he’d remember.
So when the account man asked me to help out, I’d say, “Sure, tell John Webster the problem. And, if he asks me to do it, I’ll get right on it.”
The account men didn’t like that.
They wanted an easy life.
If they asked John, he’d give them a hard time.
He’d want to know why they couldn’t sell the good ads.
There’d be a big row.
The account man would have to choose between pissing off John, or pissing off his client.
In which case, he’d have to get his boss involved: Martin Boase.
Which made the account man look like he couldn’t handle his accounts.
No wonder he wanted to bypass John.
As long as the client is happy, the account man’s done his job.
If the creative product isn’t great, well take that up with the creative department.
As a youngster you need to get burned a few times like that before you learn the rules.