PERSPECTIVE: Adland’s pioneers overshadowed by DM entrepreneurs

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 past ONdigital.

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

past ONdigital.



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

partners resign).



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,

do we?



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