My daughter once went out with a captain in the Guards.

It didn’t last long.

At dinner, she told him all her relatives had been sergeants.

In the police, in the army, in the marines.

He rolled his eyes, he said “Oh God, sergeants. They think they run the bloody army and us officers just get in the way”.

My daughter said “Yes, that’s true isn’t it?”

The evening didn’t go well and the relationship ended shortly after.

I was brought up in a family of sergeants and, consequently, so was my daughter.

Sergeants can make thirty tough soldiers do what they say, because they know the sergeant knows best.

Sergeants are people who’ve worked their way up by learning every job a soldier does.

Officers are people who’ve learned it in a classroom.

I used to have a quote by Napoleon on my office wall.

“Officers don’t win wars. Sergeants win wars”.

Officers talk about things.

Sergeants do things.

I once saw Michelle Platini, one of France’s greatest footballers, interviewed.

Interviewer: “You were a great midfield General.”

Platini: “Why do you insult me?”

Interviewer: “Why is that an insult?”

Platini: “You are saying I do nothing but give orders”.

Interviewer: “Then how would you describe yourself?”

Platini: “A Sergeant”.

The difference is, officers are educated people.

But sergeants are smart people.

Educated people learn answers.

Smart people invent answers.

Educated people satisfy examiners.

Smart people bypass examiners.

Educated people stick to the curriculum.

Smart people go off piste.

Educated people have degrees.

Smart people have achievements.

Educated people fit in.

Smart people stand out.

Educated people look for the right answer.

Smart people look for the exciting answer.

In advertising and marketing we have an awful lot of educated people.

People who have been educated into complicating things.

Because educated people find reassurance in complexity.

Which is what’s currently wrong with advertising IMHO.


Too many officers, not enough sergeants.