Campaign Middle East - - NEWS -

De­spite years now of all this ‘flex­i­ble work­ing’ talk, our boss de­manded that we come into our cen­tral Lon­don of­fice dur­ing the Tube strike – com­pletely un­nec­es­sar­ily in my view as we had no ur­gent or ex­ter­nal meet­ings. I feel like it’s too small a griev­ance to take fur­ther but also too big to ig­nore. Should I get over it or risk look­ing like a whinger? Train­ers of race­horses like to walk around their sta­bles check­ing on their charges. To find a loose box empty would cause se­ri­ous mis­giv­ing. Prison warders do much the same.

Many bosses feel con­fi­dent of be­ing a boss only when they can walk around their work­place check­ing that their work­ers are all in place. To find work­sta­tion af­ter work­sta­tion empty de­prives them of the ev­i­dence they need that they’re in charge; you can’t feel in charge of an empty space. To in­se­cure bosses – and most bosses are in­se­cure – work­ers don’t have to be seen to be work­ing; they just have to be seen.

Your boss is not, of course, go­ing to ad­mit to all this. Your boss is prob­a­bly un­aware of all this. But your boss wants you in the of­fice – so you’d bet­ter be in the of­fice and you’d bet­ter make the most of it.

Pre­tend it’s the Blitz or the Three-Day Week. Pre­tend there’s a na­tional emer­gency. Pack your knap­sack with corned-beef sand­wiches and a ther­mos f lask of sweet tea. Wear week­end clothes. Strug­gle to work feel­ing heroic, meet up with mates and have a hi­lar­i­ous time think­ing up wild ideas; some of them will turn out to be sur­pris­ingly promis­ing. You can’t do that at home.

Yes: you do come across as a bit of a mini-minded whinger. Work­ing in ad­ver­tis­ing de­mands an abil­ity to turn just about any­thing to an ad­van­tage. You’ve yet to ac­quire it. Dear Jeremy, My boss seems to have just dis­cov­ered this ‘con­tent rev­o­lu­tion’ and wants to lever­age the eq­uity of our brands to pro­duce con­tent that could be sold, which we can then put back into the mar­ket­ing for those brands. I’m not too con­vinced orig­i­nal con­tent from our clean­ing prod­ucts could be sold on to me­dia com­pa­nies – my boss’ ultimate am­bi­tion. How do I con­vince her that we don’t quite need to cre­ate an in-house stu­dio? Not yet, any­way. Or am I miss­ing the boat? Your boss is clearly not an early adopter. Most peo­ple’s en­thu­si­asm for the “con­tent rev­o­lu­tion”, now well into its second decade, is be­ing sub­jected to a healthy dose of re­al­ism.

But if you fail to show in­ter­est in your boss’ new dis­cov­ery, you’ll be for­ever branded as a wet blan­ket – and mar­ket­ing has no place for wet blan­kets.

In­stead, en­cour­age your boss to com­mis­sion some con­tent from an out­side sup­plier: you’ll find plenty of­fer­ing their ser­vices on­line. Don’t penny-pinch. Go for the best, even if the most ex­pen­sive. Then put the re­sult up for sale.

If me­dia com­pa­nies out­bid each other in a frenzy of lust for this novel por­trayal of your clean­ing prod­ucts, you may feel pri­vately chas­tened by your ear­lier scep­ti­cism and may con­fi­dently en­cour­age your boss to start mak­ing plans for an in-house stu­dio.

Or you may need to re­mind her of a prac­tice with a bet­ter record of re­turn on in­vest­ment called ad­ver­tis­ing. I usu­ally try to an­swer such ques­tions with a ve­neer of con­fi­dence. It doesn’t do to let read­ers glimpse just how un­cer­tain I am about al­most ev­ery­thing. But, in this in­stance, I’m com­ing clean. I don’t know.

I sus­pect you’ll ac­tu­ally learn more as the mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor on a small brand. Rather like me, you’ll be pre­tend­ing to have a con­fi­dence you don’t have, mak­ing it up as you go along, nar­rowly avert­ing small disas­ters and piling up the ex­pe­ri­ence.

On the other hand (and here’s the am­biva­lence), big-brand ex­pe­ri­ence not only lets you ob­serve the ac­tions of those who should know a great deal more than you do but also looks much bet­ter on your CV.

If you’re lucky enough to be faced with a choice, I’d go for the brand you feel the greater affin­ity with.

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