Agency rivalries and one big Omnicom superstore
A view from Claire Beale

Agency rivalries and one big Omnicom superstore

There are only two things most agencies want to talk about at the moment.

The first is the Christmas ads and whether John Lewis is better than Sainsbury’s. Some crude metrics: the Sainsbury’s ad had less than a third of the online views won by John Lewis in the 24 hours post-launch but has notched up more traffic on our website; meanwhile, Marks & Spencer is leading the pack in our online vote, followed by Sainsbury’s (vote here, voting closes on Friday).

Oh, and the Sainsbury’s ad drew 240 complains to the Advertising Standards Authority, accusing it of exploiting war for commercial gain. I sat through the ad in a cinema at the weekend, wallowed in its full-screen glory (it’s absolutely tremendous, no doubt about it, and the director, Ringan Ledwidge, rules) then cringed as the rest of the audience reacted with audible disbelief when the Sainsbury’s logo came up at the end. If only Sainsbury’s had put the Royal British Legion logo up first, and bigger. But then Sainsbury’s needs to drive sales. And so we’re back to the ASA complaints.

Anyway, the agency rivalry over the commercials is all good sport and, as far as impact and effectiveness are concerned, there mustn’t be only one winner. All this Christmas ad excitement is great for the industry, should inspire more clients to invest in high-quality work, gives advertising’s reputation a boost among a cynical public and will hopefully be good for the bottom line of all the companies involved. And there’s nothing better than a bit of agency rivalry to raise the game.

All this Christmas ad excitement is great for the industry and should inspire more clients to invest in high-quality work

The other thing lots of people are talking about at the moment is Omnicom’s decision to shunt most of its agencies into a single building on London’s South Bank. Soon, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO will be hunkering down under the same roof with TBWA, Proximity, Manning Gottlieb OMD and as many other group companies as can be extricated from their leases. Suddenly, Adam & Eve/DDB has discovered a real soft spot for the windy, rather lonely building on Bishop’s Bridge Road that has dogged DDB for years. The agency won’t be moving, thanks to a recent expensive refurb.

As for all those heading to the South Bank, they will find it a challenge to maintain their distinct personalities and cultures (many of them are already worrying about this). There is nothing like stepping straight off the street into a proud reception like AMV’s or M&C Saatchi’s or Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s to get a real sense of the type of agency you’re dealing with (BBH does it best – Victor on reception is beautifully briefed on exactly what to say to make each guest feel special). Can keen agency rivalries and precious cultural nuances survive in the Omnicom superstore? We’ll find out next year.

claire.beale@haymarket.com      @clairebeale

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