Bates, OgilvyOne and even M&C Saatchi made moves in the direct
marketing field this week - each of which, in small ways, reflect the
advertising groups’ ongoing struggle with exactly how best to manage
Bates’ acquisition of Blue Skies seemed like a good idea: bring in a
direct marketing specialist, regroup and rebrand existing direct and
sales promotions units, drop the Dorland name and promote the all-new
communications agency, Bates UK, with a single bottom line. I don’t know
Graham Green, the chief of Blue Skies, well enough to comment on him
personally, but he’s a heavy hitter with a high profile who polarises
opinion and has a slightly chequered past (notably, through association
with Woollams Moira Gaskin O’Malley).
While the idea is a good one, it is obvious that the move would not
leave everyone happy - in, particular, within Bates Communications.
There is no way such initiatives can be undertaken without
unsettling/antagonising existing managers. Self-evidently, Bates’ UK
chairman, Graham Hinton, cannot have been entirely happy with the
existing arrangement, or he would not have acted. He must have been
prepared for some pain, and pain he’s got. The task now is to heal
bruised egos and accentuate the positive.
Paul Simons, Ogilvy & Mather’s new chairman, faces a similar
News that OgilvyOne is to leave Smithfield to join its above-the-line
sister in Canary Wharf plays tricks with my infamously dodgy memory.
Funny, I could have sworn Simons told me he would take the O&M job on
condition the group left Canary Wharf.
What he must have said was that the group companies would be brought
closer together, and I must have misinterpreted this to mean they’d all
leave Canary Wharf. I already know how unhappy the OgilvyOne people
O&M must have struck a bloody good deal on the rent to be so prepared to
antagonise its own staff.
M&C Saatchi’s move into direct is a surprise - and not just because I’d
picked that erstwhile M&C Saatchi village member, Jon Claydon, for my
Fantasy Agency League team. The founders of M&C have not long been noted
for their admiration and passionate endorsement of the direct
discipline. The arrival of Craik Jones’s Lisa Thomas to run a start-up
may signal a Damascene conversion. Perhaps.
Isn’t the real key to these and other such initiatives within the direct
field attitudinal? It doesn’t matter what above-the-line agencies say
externally if the private daily reality remains a story of patronising
direct practitioners or disdaining their work. I’m not saying that’s the
case at the three above-mentioned agencies, but we all know it goes on -
particularly in the creative department. A genuinely positive attitude
was why HHCL’s embrace of former IMP staff proved successful, and why a
refreshingly prejudice-free place like FCA!, our direct agency of the
year, is thriving.