Au Revoir ‘Campaign’

I’ve always had a Marmite relationship with ‘Campaign’, whose final edition in its weekly format appeared last Thursday.

I used to buy it and its competitor, ‘AdWeekly’ even before I started working – believing that if I wanted to impress in any interview for a job in advertising it would be as well to at least speak the language.

Then, once I managed to get a job in an agency there would be the weekly queue to nab the reception copy as soon as it appeared. The height of ambition was to be senior enough to warrant your own copy.

Eventually I used to feature from time to time in its pages; on my office wall is a photo of me that appeared in ‘Campaign’, purchased (I should add hurriedly) to help The History of Advertising Trust. Amazingly I’m not on a fire-escape.

There were the stories of ‘Campaign’ favouritism – Saatchi and Saatchi were always said to be so favoured, although that was no doubt in large part down to the agency’s expert management of its own publicity.

The lack of interest in ‘media’ was a given; one editor took me out to lunch and started the conversation by stating that ‘all media people are boring, save one’. She later married the one.

There was the mix of nerves and excitement taking a call from a ‘Campaign’ journalist, knowing full well that reputations could be made and derailed. There was the immediate rush of making it into the magazine’s pages followed by the praise or sympathy of your peers.

‘Campaign’s journalists could be arrogant and sometimes unkind. I recall to this day a piece about me joining an agency that concluded that it was sad that the agency couldn’t find someone younger to put into the top job. This from someone who had never met me.

But then – much the same could be said by anyone criticised by any journalist on anything, anywhere. Simply, par for the course.

Compared with its US equivalent, ‘AdAge’, ‘Campaign’ always tilted towards the people in the business rather than the business of the business, which made it all at once infuriating, exciting, self-important, and un-put-down-able.

Will its new status as a monthly, supported by beefing up its already impressive online presence change it? I suspect so; the very nature of a monthly is to be more considered; the very nature of online is to be above all immediate.

The thrilling mix of a news-driven immediacy alongside topical gossip fits neatly into a weekly publishing cycle. ‘Considered’ plus ‘immediate’ risks losing the irreverence and the fun.

At times since its arrival in the late 1960’s I’ve hated ‘Campaign’; and I’ve loved it. Like everyone else I wish it all the best as a monthly (of course I’ll keep reading it) but Thursdays just won’t be the same.

I’ll miss it.



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