0.00.03 My name is Jeremy B, my background is advertising and, but for the last 20 years, and I have officially retired 20 years ago, I have been with WPP first as an independent director, and now on the advisory board, and I always have a kind of outside life writing columns for trade press, the Guardian and so on. But there is no one word or phrase that describes what my job is, which is why it’s so wonderful, really.
00.00.34 All my life from early school onwards, I always came bottom in maths and bottom in most things and top in English, and I think that is quite a familiar state for lots of people. Writing is what I knew I could do, and fast-forward to university where I got very involved in writing things for the stage, review things, rather like the Oxford equivalent of the footlights.
00.01.10 Some of that was finally televised by the BBC. That was 1954, the director at JWD wrongly thought that because the work he had seen was on television, those who had done it must know something about television, which is entirely untrue, I had just picked it up from the stage and photographed it.
00.01.31 Anyway, he asked one or two of us, sent a letter saying if we would be interested in a job in advertising, would we come and have a conversation, which I did, and was offered a trainee job as a trainee copywriter in JWD. And entirely by chance, I hadn’t thought about advertising but I did know that these were one of the few companies that paid somebody who enjoyed writing to write.
00.02.01 And I was there for the next 33 years. Well I enjoy family, I have been married for 51 years, have got have three children, eight grandchildren, they take up time, but mostly pleasurable time. My parents split when I was about five. I don’t remember my father at all, although I later discovered that he had once worked in advertising.
00.02.32 But I don’t think even at some kind of subconscious Freudian level that had any influence whatsoever. My mother was not a very well lady, and I don’t think she had any interest in my having a career of any kind ever. I mean she wasn’t that interested that I went to university, she certainly, when I was sent down after two years because I was reading English and getting nowhere and just doing all my writing, she didn’t seem to mind at all.
00.03.02 She was mostly wrapped up in her. So I had no family influence at all. When you know a trade as well as I know advertising, you know that there are good bits and there are not so good bits. When you think of other trades that you have never worked in, you are aware of the good bits, but you are not so aware of the bad bits. So I think if somebody said to me, ‘if you were starting again, would you start in advertising?’ I would probably say no.
00.03.37 And after six or seven years I would probably bitterly regret it, because it has been full of surprises and extensions. There is no limit to what you are encouraged to explore mentally and that’s…I don’t know whether that is true of other trades, but I’ve certainly been grateful to this one.