When an agency wins a blue-chip, high-profile, big-spending client,
a Campaign journalist usually has to beat off the chief executive or
managing director with a very large stick. While the executive is
gushing something along the lines of "We're delighted! We worked bloody
hard on it though and deserved the win", the losing agency is typically
polite but tight-lipped.
But when it comes to asking anyone about last week's sudden move of
Barclays from Leagas Delaney to Bartle Bogle Hegarty or the recent media
switch from MediaVest to Starcom Motive, no-one seems to want to
Mark Cranmer, the chief executive for Starcom Motive Europe, the Middle
East and Africa, was on holiday and unable to discuss the move. Iain
Jacob, Starcom's UK managing director, was also unwilling to
So why are neither BBH nor Starcom being particularly forthcoming about
how they gained the two accounts?
When Leagas Delaney took the Barclays account off J. Walter Thompson in
1999, it was lauded for the "clean" nature of the victory. Campaign
wrote: "There's no suggestion of politics, of the old boy network at
play, of a desire to cut costs, of financial or any other shenanigans.
It appears to have been a professionally run pitch with a decision made
for a good old-fashioned reason: Barclays preferred Leagas Delaney's
creative and strategic solutions."
This time, the tone was different. The new Barclays group marketing
director, Simon Gulliford, appointed the media and advertising agency he
previously worked with while at Emap. The above-the-line account was
awarded without a pitch but after BBH had successfully completed a brand
architecture project for the banking group.
Barclays hired Gulliford, one of Emap's top marketers, in April this
year when he left his job as the marketing director of Emap Consumer
Magazines, after four years in the position.
At Emap, Gulliford was responsible for developing a domestic and
international strategy for FHM, and was heavily involved in the creation
and launch of both Red and Heat magazines - both of which have struggled
to find a place in the market.
Before joining Emap, Gulliford worked for the first time with BBH when
he was at Sears, where he was involved in the relaunch of
However, Gulliford strongly denies that previous relationships had any
bearing on the Barclays appointments.
"The only reason that BBH was given the work was on the basis of the
quality of work presented and the value for money that it offered," he
Leagas Delaney is still on the Barclays roster and there is no lead
agency, he added.
John Hegarty, BBH's group chairman and global creative director, admits
that working with Gulliford for more than ten years was a fantastic
"The best advertising is produced by the best relationships. There's no
question that having a good relationship with Simon was very beneficial
for us," he says.
Hegarty states that he has been on the receiving end of this experience
before and, as a result, feels sympathy for Leagas Delaney. He also
praises the work it did for the bank: "I thought the 'big' ads were a
tremendous piece of advertising. I loved them."
Starcom , for its part, had the dubious pleasure of pinching the media
account from its sister agency. However, MediaVest was put through the
pains of pitching for an account it suspected was a lost cause. It has
been suggested that there was a communication problem with
"He never really wanted to engage with Leagas Delaney. His end game was
to move to BBH. He needed to justify that move," one observer says.
Gulliford appeared to get the justification when the "big" campaign
suffered badly. Two weeks after it broke, Barclays decided to close 172
branches in one day. In this action, it was following its competitors,
though somewhat later. At the same time, bad press about Barclays'
proposed ATM charges for non-customers and the chairman's salary
"Leagas has been through a pretty bloody time on Barclays over the past
six months and no agency likes to be put through that. It was unpleasant
and very demoralising for the agency," an insider says.
Jim Marshall, MediaVest's chief executive, claims the loss was
disappointing, but adds: "Barclays was looking for a different type of
service and ultimately it was good that it stayed within the group."
One interesting detail about the changes in roster is that different
sectors of the bank didn't know what other marketing departments were
Gulliford was brought in to resolve conflicts between the central
marketing and business marketing functions and between group marketing
in London and business marketing in Coventry.
Group marketing wanted control because it felt that was its remit but
the business marketing wanted to do its own thing.
Leagas Delaney is said not to have known about the closures when
developing the "big" campaign. Nor, surprisingly, did those people
commissioning the work. "It was a decision taken within the retail bank
that the group marketing people knew nothing about," an industry source
Leagas Delaney saw Gulliford's appointment as a ray of hope for the
account as he started to sort the problem out. But after the lack of
contact with the client and the ousting of MediaVest, the agency began
to see its fate looming.
Hegarty is the only one forthcoming about where the client will go from
here now Gulliford has renewed old agency links.
"'Bigness' had created a distinctiveness for the bank and this in the
financial market place is a fantastic thing to achieve," he says.
"But there are negatives to the 'big' message. Not everybody wants
'big', what they want is 'personal'. How you make personal work with
bigness is the issue. The briefs we have are about product, so now it's
not just about brand advertising, it's about delivering products that
say that Barclays is a better bank. That's our first task."