My big sister is 11 years older than me, she was a teenager in the 1950s.
Like most teenagers she used to go out with her friends on Saturday nights.
My dad was a police sergeant and quite strict, especially where young girls were concerned.
So he’d want to know where she was going before she went out.
Shirley told him she was going dancing at Ilford Palais, she was wearing a wide pink below-the-knee skirt, lots of petticoats underneath, with a poodle embroidered on it, also a pink angora cardigan, all very ladylike.
Once she left the house she went to Barking tube station and into the Ladies’ room.
She changed into tight black peddle-pusher leggings, a black polo-neck top, black pump shoes, and dark glasses.
Then she got the tube into Soho and went to the basement jazz clubs where she danced to Ken Collier, Si Lori, or Chris Barber jazz bands.
On the way home, she’d stop at Barking tube station and do the same thing in reverse, so when she came home she was wearing all the cute pink clothes Dad saw her go out in.
Dad was happy that Shirley had a nice, safe time dancing at Ilford Palais.
Shirley was happy that she’d had a great time dancing in basement jazz-clubs in Soho.
Everyone was happy and there was no need for a row.
Everyone got what they wanted.
This used to be the role of the best account-handlers at the best ad agencies.
To make sure everyone got what they want.
Paul Simons once put it to me like this:
“The client knows what they want. The agency knows what they need.
It’s the account handler’s job to get the client to want what they need.”
The client’s job is marketing, not advertising.
Advertising is just one of about a dozen things the client has to do.
So they can’t possibly do it was well as someone who’s concentrating on it 100%.
It’s just a part of the client’s job, so mainly they want to make sure it doesn’t go wrong.
The safest way to do that is to make sure it looks like all the other advertising in their sector.
Don’t take risks, but of course with that attitude it becomes part of the wallpaper.
If you’re the market leader this is not a problem, if you’re not it’s a waste of money.
As a client you haven’t got time to concentrate on what needs to be done to make all your ads look different, to stand out.
So you need someone who has that as their whole job, in other words you need an ad agency to do that for you.
But of course, you may not immediately like the result, simply because it looks different from everything in your sector.
As a client, you want what makes your life easier, there’s a lot of reassurance in that.
But what you want, what makes your life easy, isn’t in your brand’s best interests.
Because what will work will make you feel uncomfortable, so it won’t be what you want.
That’s why the best account handler’s jobs were to get the client to feel comfortable with something that would normally make them uncomfortable.
Knowing that when the results were in, the sales figures were what would actually count.
And that would be the final basis for the client’s judgement of the ads.
Not, “Did I like it?” but, “Did it work?”
As Maggie Thatcher said to Tim Bell: “I don’t like the advertising. But you’re supposed to be the advertising experts so I suppose I’d better let you get on with it.”
With that attitude, she and Saatchi’s won 3 elections in a row.