OPINION: Ley mustn’t rely only on Sky for future success

So Philip Ley, the marketing director of British Sky Broadcasting, is following in the footsteps of Kevin Morley and launching his own agency, with Sky, his previous employer, as his first client (Campaign, last week).

So Philip Ley, the marketing director of British Sky Broadcasting, is

following in the footsteps of Kevin Morley and launching his own agency,

with Sky, his previous employer, as his first client (Campaign, last

week).



In the Morley tradition, Ley’s move will be a sure-fire way of making

money. It makes sense too, because Rover (Morley’s client) and Sky are

not marketing-driven companies but production-driven - and when such an

organisation finds within its ranks an individual who appears to

understand the alchemy of marketing and advertising, it seizes the

opportunity.



Ley has revealed few details of his agency, so some speculation is

necessary. Does he really want to be an agency boss or, like Morley, is

he more of the entrepreneurial businessman? Whatever, you can be sure

that Ley will have taken a look at Morley’s five-year unbreakable

contract and tried to negotiate a similar deal for himself.



Beyond the need for financial security, Ley has little in common with

Morley. For starters, he has never proclaimed an anti-agency stance. And

Ley’s experience at Sega, where he was European marketing director

through its boom period, proved his credentials as a sharp thinker and,

for WCRS, a sympathetic client.



The question is, what are Ley’s chances of getting other accounts

through the door? This will be tough, but Ley will be able to attract

good staff more easily than Morley, which will improve his chances of

winning clients.



However, a look at other dominant-client start-ups (Lintas with

Unilever, Barker and Ralston with Abbey National and Mustoe Merriman

Herring Levy with the Prudential) shows that life is difficult for

agencies which depend on one showcase client for their livelihood.



The industry should also spare a sympathetic thought for Jim Hytner,

Ley’s Sky colleague, who now takes charge of the company’s advertising

strategy. Erstwhile boss as your key supplier? Surely the hardest job in

town.



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