Nervous moments last week waiting for the Camelot result. Clearly,
for the agencies involved, it really wasn’t over until the new client
sang. For the WCRS chief executive, Stephen Woodford, taking the call
from Camelot’s marketing director, Ian Milligan, it was the finest
moment of his tenure.
Lord only knows what happened in Canada when a holidaying Robin Wight
found out. With respect to Woodford, who led the pitch, the Lottery and
Robin were made for each other.
I’ve said it before, but what an extraordinary agency WCRS is. It defies
so many attempts to pigeonhole it. Is it the biggest small agency, the
smallest big agency? It’s clearly not merely the London office of a
major multinational, but it is well connected to Euro RSCG even if
Campus hasn’t worked out.
It was known for years as being a sweatshop, run a touch more skeletally
than some. It was known too for an extraordinary turnover in staff. But
then many of its other staff stayed loyal.
Business came and went. While the agency thrived mostly on privatisation
accounts - most notably, ’Frank ’n’ Stein’ - business such as the
Prudential, Walkers and Thomson Holidays slipped through the net.
Robin Wight really did prove to a sceptical community that he could
survive the departure of key figures - first of all, the other partners,
then the Mathews Marcantonio debacle that took the agency to the brink,
and thirdly, key figures such as Andrew Robertson and Amanda Walsh.
Then, every time we start wondering if the agency has lost it
creatively, out comes a BMW, a Carling, an Orange, a Caffrey’s, a First
Direct. When Wight loses a Larry Barker, Rooney Carruthers and he
produce a Leon Jaume the next day.
Now, just as things are looking particularly bleak with respect to the
agency’s long-time client, Bass, along comes the Camelot account to
provide yet more fresh impetus.
The manner of its winning must be particularly satisfying. We’d all
heard that WCRS had come up with the best idea, but would it win the
To have beaten M&C Saatchi in such circumstances is a real coup.
So hats off to Robin Wight and his agency this week. He takes his
beatings-up over turkeys, such as the latest Carling film, with very
good grace (at least publicly), and it’s a pleasure to be able to pay
him a public plaudit.
Two briefs from hell must have been along these lines: follow the
iconoclastic, multi award-winning, hugely successful, long-running
Levi’s campaign, and secondly, follow the iconoclastic, multi
award-winning, hugely successful, long-running Heineken campaign.
The two agencies involved, Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Lowe Howard-Spink,
have taken extremely different approaches to cracking the task, each
BBH, for Levi’s, has thrown over the old completely and abandoned the
product as hero. Brave, but probably a failure. While Lowes has borrowed
from the old to produce one delightful and one dreadful spot.