It’s here. The only day of the year when agency heads skip
Campaign’s front page, dive for the middle of the magazine, thumb the
pages until they find their report, punch the air in delight, turn
purple or head for the loo.
It’s also the day when we at Hammersmith get some idea of what it feels
like to be the referee, Andy D’Urso, with a pack of Manchester United
players baying for his blood.
I still tremble at the memory of having a week’s holiday at home
interrupted a few years ago by a message on my answering machine from a
former agency chairman demanding I phone him in Ireland to ’discuss’ -
his euphemism for a verbal duffing up - my comments about his shop.
Not wishing to pay BT for the privilege of a ritual slaughtering, I
failed to return the call.
Campaign’s 300 rankings understandably provoke heated discussion and
high emotion. What’s said about an agency influences how it will be
regarded by its peers, whether or not the best talent will want to work
for it and may even help determine the future content of client
It’s essential that we take our responsibilities seriously. And we do.
So before any agency chief executive angrily hits the phone, it might be
worth pausing while we get a few things straight.
The sheer time and effort spent on putting together the 300 - planning
began well before the end of last year - is indicative of the importance
we attach to it and the care which goes into its production. Much
thought is given to each report with words weighed and fine-tuned before
they become the finished article.
Each writer recommends a score but all go before Campaign’s editorial
jury for a final verdict, a process which hopefully filters any personal
prejudices out of the system.
Whether there are enough checks and balances to make the results fair is
for you to judge. We don’t duck from harsh words when they are needed
because to do so would destroy our credibility.
So no apologies to Bates UK for asking when it will put a stop to
poisonous internal politics and get back to doing what it used to do so
well. No regrets either about reminding CDP of what a cracking agency it
once was and ought to be again.
No qualms about suggesting that Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters might have
missed its opportunity by failing to sell out. Or wondering aloud
whether Wieden & Kennedy’s brand of West Coast cool will ever travel
better than Californian wine.
We’re not arrogant enough to claim we’re always right. But we think a
tight and careful editing process means we’ll be close to the bull’s-eye
more often than we’re wide of the mark.
It’s worth thinking about before grabbing the phone to let off
Don’t call me though. I’m booking plane tickets for Tierra del
Campaign’s editor, Caroline Marshall, is on maternity leave.