Cable &Wireless Communications was the most lucrative and
high-profile pitch to date this year. Saatchi & Saatchi, Bartle Bogle
Hegarty and HHCL & Partners would all have wanted the prize for reasons
above and beyond the huge income boost it will provide.
But to Rapier Stead & Bowden went the spoils. ’Rapier who?’ was the
reaction of many, perhaps because the agency comes in at number 150 in
Campaign’s Top 300 agency list with above-the-line billings of pounds
3.23 million. The responses to such a move vary from ’they’re doing it
on the cheap’, and ’they’ll not want a decent campaign then’, to ’it’s a
stitch-up among old mates’.
Given the extraordinary amounts of money CWC knows it must devote to
taking on BT, we can be confident that ’cheap’ is not the primary
As for a ’decent campaign’, it’s impossible to comment until we see the
work. But, we should not allow the arrogant assumption that only the
bigger shops are capable of good work to persist. Nevertheless, to date,
Rapier’s work for CWC has been mystifying, if noticeably yellow. Agency
and client will know that all eyes will be on the consumer launch
campaign this autumn.
Which brings us to the question of ’stitch-up among old mates’ or
Yes, Rapier and the CWC’s marketing director, Ruth Blakemore, have
worked together before, when she was at Bell Cablemedia. But Blakemore
is not to be underestimated. She got good work out of Rainey Kelly
Campbell Roalfe on Virgin Atlantic, and has risen to the top in the
melee of the CWC merger.
Blakemore and Rapier now have everything to prove. It is hard to see
what CWC stands for, and the two parties have a short time in which to
come up with not only a strategy, but work capable of conveying it. This
would be the case whoever had won the pitch. It’s not just BBH, Saatchis
and Howell Henry who will be watching closely.