OPINION: Nationwide’s break with Leagas lacked foresight

The Nationwide Building Society’s decision to reappoint Leagas Delaney five years after an acrimonious split (Campaign, last week) is a surprise.

The Nationwide Building Society’s decision to reappoint Leagas

Delaney five years after an acrimonious split (Campaign, last week) is a

surprise.



In 1992, the then Leagas Delaney managing director, Brian Astley, said:

’We cannot understand or accept why we should be rewarded for all our

work with the prospect of a review.’ That was the printable bit,

anyway.



The agency felt it had put a hell of a lot of work into what was then

its biggest client, only to fall victim to the latest in a series of

changes of heart.



It had already endured that infamous moment when the Nationwide’s

chairman claimed not to understand his own advertising at the annual

general meeting.



To be fair, not many viewers had a clue what the ’Carlton Chase’ epic

was about. But in response to this criticism, the agency devised the

’Don in Doncaster’ series - a rare, much-liked financial services

commercial.



But when yet another new client decided to call a review, Tim Delaney’s

response was to resign the business after seven years, all pounds 19

million of it. It brought down the curtain on several memorable

campaigns from the original ’Mel and Griff’ to ’honey, I shrunk the

mortgage’.



GGT was never to match this standard during its three-year tenure. But

the agency’s confused work appeared to reflect the state of the

client.



You may or may not recall a campaign featuring the company’s employees,

with those same employees introducing their own commercials. It screamed

of a lack of confidence.



And it was no surprise when the campaign was dropped.



Since then Nationwide has tried yet another campaign, dropped GGT,

appointed the Swindon agency, Emery McLaven Orr, and now Leagas Delaney

to run a major TV campaign using the old work, the last to make an

impression. What a waste of time and money. It is so commonplace and so

easily avoided, if only agencies were not used as scapegoats for their

clients’ problems.



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