CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/INTEGRATION - Agency giants decide the future is through the line/O&M, Bates and M&C have different integration plans Report by Eleanor Trickett.
By ELEANOR TRICKETT, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 30 April 1999 12:00AM
Typical. You wait for ages for a big advertising agency to come up with an exciting direct marketing story, and then three come along at once.
Typical. You wait for ages for a big advertising agency to come up
with an exciting direct marketing story, and then three come along at
After months of silence following last year’s flurry of start-ups and
mergers, three giants - Ogilvy & Mather, Bates Dorland (or Bates UK as
it is now known) and M&C Saatchi - have radically shaken up their
through-the-line offer (Campaign, last week).
And just to irritate the would-be pundits that love spotting a trend,
they have each done it in a completely different way.
In a nutshell, O&M uprooted OgilvyOne from hip ’n’ happening Clerkenwell
and dragged it kicking and screaming to Canary Wharf (though loyal
staffers claim it’s a ’good thing’); M&C Saatchi put us out of our
misery after months of speculation and announced it was setting up a
direct marketing agency and Bates Dorland bought the below-the-line
consultancy, Blue Skies, merged it with its existing below-the-line
operations, Bates Communications, Bates Interactive and the sales
promotion shop, 141, and put Blue Skies’ Graham Green on the main
All three moves have an element of expediency about them. O&M’s global
reputation for 360-degree thinking will be well served by having its
above- and below-the-line operations together in one building. M&C
Saatchi needed its own solution because its ’village’ relationships with
Craik Jones and Claydon Heeley were on the wane, and Bates’s
below-the-line interests appeared to be doing better than its
O&M’s incoming chairman, Paul Simons, explains: ’Ogilvy Worldwide has
been moving towards an increasingly integrated model - New York is a
great example. Having everyone in place is central to our core strategic
thrust.’ He then adds, wearily: ’Once the Jubilee Line extension is up
and running, that will be the end of the debate.’
For M&C Saatchi, it is about time. The agency has dithered for ages
about its below-the-line plans and has been in discussions with all and
sundry - agencies and industry players - for some months. Right up until
the venture was announced, it was still unclear whether it would simply
buy an existing shop or try to form something from scratch.
With the model it has chosen - a DIY approach with Craik Jones’s Lisa
Thomas at the helm - it would do well not to follow the example set by
BMP DDB and its first attempt at direct marketing in 1997, when it
half-heartedly recruited a handful of (admittedly top-whack) specialists
to sit in a spare corner of the office.
M&C Saatchi must also be hoping that the two people overseeing the
operation, the joint chief executives, Nick Hurrell and Moray MacLennan,
have learned from their previous foray below the line. While at Saatchi
& Saatchi, they were instrumental in setting up Saatchi & Saatchi Direct
in 1986, which soon became an industry joke. MacLennan now admits: ’Our
heart wasn’t in it.’
M&C Saatchi is on the back foot to start with as an embarrassing leak
forced it to announce the operation before all the partners had been
Nonetheless, Thomas’s reputation in the industry - and especially her
history with Rover - is obviously very appealing to the agency, which
has yet to win a car account.
’The combination of our brand, the right people and identifying the need
in the marketplace gives us a good chance of success,’ MacLennan boasts,
while admitting that the way it develops will be left almost entirely up
Much has been made of the demise of M&C Saatchi’s ’village’ relationship
with Claydon Heeley. However, only three significant accounts are shared
between the two: Bradford & Bingley, the Millennium Experience and the
London Tourist Board. Moreover, the contracts Claydon Heeley holds with
those clients are entirely separate from M&C Saatchi.
And it is unlikely that Claydon Heeley and M&C Saatchi will be working
together for much longer. Hurrell’s comment that sales promotion
business could be referred to Claydon Heeley appeared to infuriate the
below-the-line agency: ’We won’t be hanging around in the village any
longer - we’re not a sales promotion shop!’ one senior employee
bristled. And it can safely be assumed that Bill Muirhead’s position as
a non-executive director of Claydon Heeley will be short lived.
Bates’s move is the one most under the microscope - not least because of
the furore it has sparked in its below-the-line shops, whose senior
management are aggrieved at the abrasive Green being brought in over
The Bates party line is that a large number of clients want an
integrated offering and merging the London agencies will create a
But a slightly less positive reason has been mooted by observers. While
separate profit and loss figures for Bates’s component agencies are
unavailable, it is widely contested that the performance of Bates
Communications and 141 has far overtaken that of Bates Dorland.
Like M&C Saatchi, Bates has been charged with not knowing anything about
below the line. One observer says: ’The only way an integrated offering
will work is if the personalities are right and there is commitment from
It would be presumptuous to question the commitment of Dorlands’
chairman, Graham Hinton, but the strategy has a whiff of rearguard
action about it. And as for the personalities involved, the ones that
have been running a successful below-the-line show for some time are
beating a path to the headhunters. Hinton remains tight-lipped over the
merger but it’s a dead cert that this one will run and run.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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