Taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others is such a British
pastime that it’s odd that it took the Germans to come up with a word -
schadenfreude - to describe it. From the reaction to our front page last
week, it seems the latest outbreak of this national trait was sparked by
M&C Saatchi failing to win Camelot and Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO slipping
on one of advertising’s banana skins by failing to get creative work
But AMV’s credentials in one area look more unassailable as the months
go by. That’s below-the-line, where the AMV Group has snapped up some of
the best agencies around, leaving them to run as separate entities with
the founders in place and the clients happy.
This week reveals a couple of start-ups in direct marketing that are
worth noting. One is Partners BDDH’s first serious venture into the
direct area, where the agency is backing two proven names - Steve
Aldridge and Phil Andrews - in a start-up. The other is Jon Ingall’s
venture (of which more news is expected when its other principal
While these launches do not in any sense constitute a ’wave’, it is
interesting that advertising agency people seem to be showing little of
the pioneering spirit of their direct marketing cousins.
Perhaps it’s because new advertising agencies find it difficult to offer
clients anything truly original, while direct marketers can still wave
the relationship marketing flag in front of clients who know they need
it but don’t quite know how. Perhaps it’s because they face
unprecedented competition from the very same direct marketing supremos
who are launching new shops.
Perhaps it’s because big ad agencies have finally turned to nurturing
their best talent more efficiently, locking it into attractive
contracts, sending it on expensive MBA courses and thereby lessening the
resolve of senior managers to go it alone. Perhaps we’ll see a rush of
start-ups over the next few years as the founders of the prominent
second- and third-wave agencies retire to spend their millions.
Whatever the reason, the scarcity of start-ups (M&C Saatchi, Mother and
Circus excepted) is actually a rather worrying sign - and not just for
Campaign, which has up to ten pages to fill each week with what we call
news and you lot call salacious tittle tattle.
It’s worrying because you could actually put together a fairly plausible
argument to suggest that the upstart ’third wave’ - which included the
modestly named Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow & Johnson, Howell Henry
Chaldecott Lury, Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters - was partly responsible
for keeping second-wavers like AMV, BBH, Lowes and BMP at their best.
And we don’t want to leave that task to the American creative start-ups,