Opinion: Adland will be waiting a while for the 80s revival

It is a curious fact that, despite the energy displayed by many ’second-wave’ agencies formed in the 80s, none have matched the impact achieved by Boase Massimi Pollitt, Saatchi and Saatchi, Abbott Mead Vickers, Lowe-Howard Spink, WCRS or Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Thus the question: ’Will there ever be a fourth wave?’ is a valid one (see feature, page 36).

It is a curious fact that, despite the energy displayed by many

’second-wave’ agencies formed in the 80s, none have matched the impact

achieved by Boase Massimi Pollitt, Saatchi and Saatchi, Abbott Mead

Vickers, Lowe-Howard Spink, WCRS or Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Thus the

question: ’Will there ever be a fourth wave?’ is a valid one (see

feature, page 36).



Is the new generation suffering from an overcrowded market? Do the most

talented people prefer to stay with the longer established agencies? Or

are potential clients insufficiently dissatisfied with their existing

agency to risk a move? The answer is probably a mixture of all these

reasons and more.



The market is over-supplied, and among the suppliers is an abundance of

creatively led agencies including the first-wavers who capitalised on

the frustration of clients locked into aging agencies. This, combined

with innovative agency management, found an expression which has never

been replicated.



Second-wave agencies such as Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury, Simons Palmer

Clemmow Johnson and Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters have all made their mark

with awards and profits, but they are a long way from reaching the

stature of the first wave.



As for the third wave - Cowan Kemsley Taylor, Barker and Ralston, Butler

Lutos et al - with the exception of Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe they

have matched neither the entrepreneurialism of the first wave nor the

creative ability of the second wave.



A repeat of the 80s phenomenon requires several things: the

institutionalism of the first wave and the retirement of its founding

fathers, the desire for a fresh approach from clients and the rise of a

new breed of agency staff. All that, and a supply of start-up money too.

Bob Willott, of Willott Kingston Smith, gives it at least five years,

probably ten. Who’s to say he’s wrong?



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