PERSPECTIVE: All agency start-ups should look as good on paper as this one

The best advertising people tend to be impatient, irrational, impulsive, egotistical and money-driven. Let's hear it for all those motivations, because that is precisely why people like Simon Clemmow and Johnny Hornby leave their big comfortable jobs at places like TBWA to launch agencies at a time when new business prospects are, to put it mildly, thin on the ground, writes Caroline Marshall.

They don't have a name yet - or, for that matter, a creative director -

but what they do have is a client: TBWA's pounds 10 million Carphone

Warehouse business. The big question is what might persuade other

clients to leave their mammoth agencies and join this minnow? Why should yet another agency be added to the 743 others that already exist?

We all know that the bait offered by new agencies to inspire confidence

in clients will vary in its detail, but it will usually combine three

elements, varying according to the personalities involved.

First, credentials. Clemmow, the planner comes with the Simons Palmer

heritage. Think of Sony PlayStation, Nike, Goldfish, BT: all prove that

he is one of those planners who prefers to take his thinking upstream

where it can make a difference. Hornby, meanwhile, fits the mould of

accomplished account executive perfectly. A shrewd business operator and perceptive judge of advertising and human nature, his role on TBWA's Labour Party account bears testament to his status at the agency.

Second, the presentation. Or what cynics might call the part where

bullshit meets science. Distilling this new agency's thinking into an

easily digested formula does not, of course, produce a label that

separates it from all the other formulae being bandied about by its

competitors - only the work will do that - but it certainly makes sense.

A strategic approach, not necessarily advertising-led, applied to a few

clients who want to bring about change in their organisations.

The final bait concerns the essential newness of the thing. Yes, it

might go, we are another new agency, but we are experienced, talented

and hungry.

If you give your business to us, we personally will devote our enormous

energies and skills to you. We have left jobs where we spent more time

administering and delegating to work closely with you. You will always

be able to pick up the phone and talk to us. Etc.

If this sounds cynical it's not meant to, it's just to make the point

that every advertising start-up risks sounding the same. But my

prediction, for what it's worth, is that it won't be long before this

agency starts to make its presence felt.

TBWA, meanwhile, has moved swiftly to appoint Trevor Beattie to the

position of chairman. This is a smart signal that creativity remains at

the heart of its offering and an even smarter way if keeping the most

likely candidate for a breakaway on board after the election.

If you have an opinion on this or any other issue raised on Brand Republic, join the debate in the Forum here.

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