11 February, 1994
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO last week landed what it claims is the largest
single advertising account awarded in the UK - the pounds 50 million
British Telecom personal customer business. It was awarded the business
after a four-way pitch against the incumbent, Simons Palmer Denton
Clemmow & Johnson, another roster agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, and BMP DDB
Needham. Jeremy Miles, an AMV main board director, will run the
The speed with which BT appointed AMV has shocked observers. ’We were
gobsmacked,’ a senior executive confided. ’Absolutely no-one expected BT
to make such a quick decision three days after the pitch.’ Even BT’s
Customer Communications Unit (CCU), which had made its usual provisions
by putting research companies on stand-by to test the pitch finalists’
ideas, is said to have been taken aback.
The move reveals a massive change in the way one of the UK’s biggest
advertisers is doing business. And one man is arguably responsible -
Stafford Taylor, the ex-managing director of Cellnet (an Abbott Mead
client) and until 1997 the managing director of BT’s personal
Taylor’s responsibilities when he joined BT in September included a
brief to reassess the company’s revenue generation as part of a
Taylor quickly realised that advertising was an area for streamlining, a
hunch confirmed by Register-MEAL, which listed BT as having 27 separate
accounts. Within weeks, Taylor had called the review, effectively
rejecting much of what the CCU had set up.
Living up to his image as a straight-talking ex-rugby player, Taylor
informed last Thursday’s post-pitch meeting of BT executives that he
wanted a decision there and then. This was apparently made easier by
what had been on offer. An Abbott Mead insider said of the agency’s
pitch: ’It was tour de force by David Abbott.
I’ve seen him do some presentations in my time, but this was fantastic.’
Abbott also came up with the strategy and creative work.
Within three years AMV had extended its relationship with BT by winning
its business-oriented advertising.