It was a year when some of the certainties broke down. The year of
Cable & Wireless appointing Rapier Stead & Bowden; the small, local
Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe winning the pan-European GM Astra launch,
and Nationwide returning to Leagas Delaney. It was the year that major
media business like the COI and Peugeot Citroen actually moved,
Michaelides & Bednash thrived, and Christine Walker launched a company
extolling the virtues of planning and hiring Phil Georgiadis.
It was a bizarre year in which the TV channels’ sales and marketing
directors ended up working for their rivals. Perhaps most surprising,
Chris Evans beat Capital to Virgin and the French Government stood firm
over its alcohol ad ban despite the World Cup, while New Labour
capitulated to Formula One over tobacco.
If you are any good you should have done very well; it was a time for
launches: Channel 5,Traveller, MindShare, Godman; for acquisitions: TBWA
with Simons Palmer, Sir Tim Bell and Martin Sorrell with HHCL &
Those that didn’t do well closed quickly or merged. Expect many more
Underlying it all is the continuing squeeze on agency margins and the
increasing insecurity of the ad industry. This year, adland scratched
the surface of passing on that client squeeze and was able to get away
with doing so only because adspend was up overall. But attempts at
curbing the costs of headhunters, production budgets and actors’ fees
are only a start.
When the slowdown begins, the industry will face savage cutbacks - yet
again - unless it takes brave, united action on the big issues.
Unpalatable truths stare us in the face: something must be done about
the over-inflated cost of TV airtime (will digital make a difference?);
the salary structures and working practices of many agencies are plain
barmy, particularly in the creative department. However, we’ll probably
be saying the same thing next December.