Wiser souls have pointed out our coverage of Channel 4 firing BMP4 has been a tad one-sided - ie over-sympathetic to the client, Channel 4’s director of strategy and development, David Brook.

Wiser souls have pointed out our coverage of Channel 4 firing BMP4

has been a tad one-sided - ie over-sympathetic to the client, Channel

4’s director of strategy and development, David Brook.

They may have a point. I failed to present BMP4’s side of the story when

I wrote the original news piece and, in last week’s follow-up, the

losing agency - unlike the winners and Brook himself - declined to

comment. While enjoying the novelty of Campaign being criticised for

taking the client’s side, it is worth noting again how successful BMP4’s

partnership with Channel 4 was.

Of course ad agencies can create memorable and effective work for

media-owner clients, including TV stations. Channel 4’s work through

BMP4 stands out alongside GGT’s old ads for LWT, Leagas Delaney’s BBC

work, Mother’s Channel 5 launch and the current M&C Saatchi Sky


Indeed, for much of the 16-year period of its relationship with Channel

4, BMP4’s work was - arguably - the best in the sector. And no-one is

saying that it’s gone ropey overnight. At least not Brook. The use of

posters as the lead medium was innovative and successful - so much so

that the poster medium itself has used Channel 4 as an effectiveness

case study. But yesterday’s innovations can become today’s


Brook has more than three rivals to contend with in 1998 and, although

they’re not all Sky and ITV, they can stump up the money for a decent

poster campaign. BMP4’s work has become in some ways the victim of its

own success, as other TV channels copied it. Nevertheless, the reason

Brook’s comment - ’we’re an entertainment provid-er, not a can of baked

beans’- struck a chord, was that it reflected the second-most frequently

voiced comment about agencies that clients make to Campaign.

The first, without question, is ’we want greater access to creatives,

and just don’t understand why agencies continue to deny us that


The second is ’we want more speed and greater flexibility, but our

agency doesn’t listen’.

Upon further questioning, the subtext of the latter is: why does it have

to take a minimum of 12 weeks (or something similar) and why does it

have to go through ’the system’ with all its inherent layers, no matter

what the product is, no matter what the problem?

This to me is why the appointment is of wider interest. Appointing a

film promotions agency is not revolutionary, but it is an interesting

development for a mainstream, highly visible advertiser.

And, when Brook’s former employer, Channel 5, sealed the unravelling of

the virtual agency which he had put in place by appointing a traditional

agency, Walsh Trott Chick Smith (Campaign, last week), the Channel 4

appointment took on an added piquancy. Let battle commence.

Seen Mother’s Trebor ads yet? They are among the freshest commercials

(if you’ll excuse the pun) I’ve seen in a long while. Lilt, Magic FM,

Batchelors Super Noodles, Virgin.net and now Trebor constitutes a very

welcome body of new work on the British advertising scene.


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