Happy 90th birthday, Jeremy Bullmore

Bullmore: turns 90 today
Bullmore: turns 90 today

The former Advertising Association chairman has made a huge contribution to thought leadership in the industry that future generations will continue to benefit from.

The first time I met Jeremy was at a Haymarket event. I was new in my current role and I bounded up to him and announced myself: "Hello, Jeremy. I’m Karen. I run Credos. We seek to put intellectual authority at the heart of the case for advertising." Frankly, after that introduction, I deserved anything that came my way. 

His response caused me to think more carefully than I had and I realised quickly how much work had already been done, particularly during his time as chairman of the Advertising Association. In subsequent years, I’ve met him many more times, and each time I’m challenged to think more about the work Credos is doing for the advertising industry.

Advertising’s big questions

In Jeremy's work for the AA, Advertising: What is it?, he distinguished between advertising ("an entirely benevolent profession without which we would be poorer") and advertisements (which can, in theory, do practically anything including reduce consumption and promote public health). Happily, that work features in the IPA’s Fundamentals of Branding course. 

One of the many things I’ve learned is that the fundamental questions persist and the answers are often remarkably consistent, despite the changes in how ads are made. If you suspect I’m just out of touch, here’s a question posed within that original essay: "Are advertisements a force for change?"

It would be hard to argue this isn’t a question of the moment as purpose-led ads have become so popular, and their impact is the subject of Credos’ next report, the eighth in the Advertising Pays series, in which we examine the social contribution ads can make.

I didn’t want to attempt to answer questions that had already been addressed impeccably and I wanted more people to have the chance to read the original work and learn from it, so that was why I asked for Jeremy’s help in creating a series of essays in 2016. They were inspired by today’s top search terms about advertising and were updates on leading classic works, hence Advertising’s Big Questions.

The Bullmore Archive 

I hope that we will continue to read and remember Jeremy’s work for many years to come. In order to make this possible for anyone interested in his work, the History of Advertising Trust has agreed to create the Bullmore Archive featuring Jeremy’s principal works for the AA.  

Happy Birthday and thank you, JB, from me, the AA and the industry we serve.

Karen Fraser is director of Credos, the think tank for the advertising industry

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