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CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE - WALSH TROTT CHICK SMITH. The departure of Amanda Walsh is a turning point at WTCS

Walsh Trott Chick Smith, or Trott Chick Smith as it may come to be named, has consistently billed about £10 million since its launch seven years ago. It's a surprisingly low figure for an agency that has managed, with some success, to maintain a high profile, a factor very much owing to the charisma of two of its founders, Dave Trott and Amanda Walsh, writes Glen Mutel.

Trott earned his reputation in the 80s when he was credited as being one of the industry's top creative talents. His name has appeared above the door of three agencies and he has the dubious honour of being the man who discovered Chas & Dave. Walsh is advertising's woman about town - a WCRS veteran with a strong predilection for socialising.

While WTCS has performed steadily over the past seven years, it's never really taken off the way many hoped it would. The fact that Campbell Doyle Dye is billing the same as WTCS after just one fairly quiet year of existence says it all.

This week marked a turning point as Walsh announced her departure. She had been contemplating a break for several months and had been linked to various agency networks. Her immediate plans are unclear, however (she was unavailable to comment for this piece). There is talk of non-executive directorships and she will no doubt remain involved with industry bodies such as WACL, of which she was the president last year.

You'd certainly get short odds on her returning to advertising's frontline soon. But, the agency says, her departure has more to do with fatigue than a new position.

The WTCS chairman and co-founder, Murray Chick, explains: "When you're as energetic and focused as Amanda is, managing and running an agency of this size means there is a huge amount of detail to oversee. That is a lot for anyone to deal with over a month, let alone for seven years."

But how will an agency that has been treading water for too long cope with the loss of its most dynamic component? Walsh has been both the agency's public face and its new-business spearhead. Chick admits that he and Trott have been guilty of taking a back seat when it comes to marketing WTCS.

"Both Dave and I have been too content to let Amanda front us up," he explains. "Dave is still a spellbinding charismatic character when you get him talking about the business and we are just barking not to use him more."

Chick's first priority is to recruit a new-business person. If a potential fourth partner were to be unearthed in the process, so much the better, but he insists that this isn't the priority. WTCS's current client list, which includes First Choice and Independent News-papers, may well be small and unspectacular, but it's loyal.

But there's still an awful lot of work to be done, especially when there are the energy levels of Clemmow Hornby Inge, Soul or Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy to compete with. It would be a waste of talent if WTCS were to see out its days merely surviving, so its remaining founders must rally and prove they too have the energy to drive the agency forward.

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