Perspective: Taking responsibility for adland's public image

By Claire Beale, claire.beale@haynet.com, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 21 January 2005 12:00AM

Has advertising got an image problem? This was the nub of the debate on Radio 4 last week, and you can read Andrew Cracknell's biting analysis of the arguments on page 19.

Inevitably, as so often with these populist discussions, the advertising industry is held to account for all the perceived evils of capitalism. Also inevitably, the industry often emerges as a voice of reason.

Anyway, at bottom, few would dispute the powerful influence advertising can have. This influence is a theme picked up by David Puttnam in this week's feature (page 24), and one particularly pertinent in the wake of the tsunami disaster. While agencies across London - and around the world - have held auctions or donated wages or offered manpower to aid the tsunami cause, there is more that the industry could and must do to harness its power and influence to good causes, Puttnam argues.

Puttnam places enormous emphasis on the role of corporate social responsibility.

Check any blue-chip advertiser's website or corporate brochure and you will find a similar obsession - in words at least - with CSR. Advertising does have an image problem, and its relative tardiness in embracing CSR has done little to help its cause.

And if you're still not convinced and are looking for a less philanthropic payback, then CSR is good for your internal corporate culture, Puttnam argues, and agencies should embrace it because their clients are ... sniff the new-business opportunities.

What's also important is that while the tsunami cause receives as much aid as possible, other charities and causes do not lose out. This week's Campaign is joining forces with Unicef and Clear Channel to launch a new competition to raise awareness of how HIV and Aids affect children around the world. Winners of the creative challenge will receive $5,000 and all the details can be found in our feature, and online at www.posterchallenge.com. Please take a look and help in whatever way you can.

Could we be in for a year of chief executive musical chairs? Last week - is there anyone left who doesn't know? - Garry Lace kicked things off by making his dramatic return to the business, taking over the chief executive's chair at Lowe.

Persistent rumours also surround several other heads of the biggest agencies and there's no doubt that as the dust settles on 2004, some of our leaders will be held to account. Not least, of course, by Campaign; we're in the thick of preparations for our Top 300 Agencies report, which is due to be published on 25 February.

Martin Jones, over at the AAR, has been doing some sums of his own to uncover agencies' new-business record last year. Now if you'd asked me to name the most dazzling new-business outfit, off-the-cuff Clemmow Hornby Inge would have got my vote, but the AAR's research is incredibly revealing.

While CHI stole the meatiest new-business booty of 2004, Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners got invited on to more pitchlists and, alongside J. Walter Thompson, snaffled more accounts than the rest of the creative agency pack. Is there a secret to DLKW's success beyond the obvious case history/track record stuff?

Apparently the DLKW reel at the AAR gets a better response from prospective clients than most other agency reels because the people it features come across as both professional and, crucially, personable: "They seem like they'd be nice guys to work with," is a frequent response. When a fag paper cannot separate agencies' offerings, the people become a real differentiator.

The good news for agencies looking back on a less than sparkling 12 months is that after Garry Lace's arrival at Lowe, there will probably be a few more senior executives who will be wanting to play that game of musical chairs pretty soon.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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