PERSPECTIVE: Return of Cracknell just another splash in the political mire

So, Jay Pond-Jones got the short straw as Bates fall-guy. It’s not a huge surprise. However, the return of Andrew Cracknell will raise more eyebrows - especially given the bad blood that surrounded his departure from the agency in 1995.

So, Jay Pond-Jones got the short straw as Bates fall-guy. It’s not

a huge surprise. However, the return of Andrew Cracknell will raise more

eyebrows - especially given the bad blood that surrounded his departure

from the agency in 1995.



Pond-Jones always appeared a square peg in a round hole. There’s no

insult intended. If there are different agency cultures and creatives

have distinct personalities, of course there will be clashes. Pond-Jones

clearly has talent, but of the sort Bates has needed in the past two

years?



Ironically, he jumped ship from Mother to Bates because he was hoping

for less chaos. With hindsight he could not have got it more wrong:

while Mother has had a charmed life, Bates has been turbulent for years.

This has been particularly exacerbated by the move this spring to merge

the agency’s above- and below-the-line operations. Whatever its merits,

Pond-Jones never appeared happy with his new role. Given his talent, he

will get another job, but this essentially decent man needs to flourish

in an environment less stymied by politics than Bates. Blaming him is

ridiculous.



Which brings us to Andrew Cracknell, whose exit from Bates five years

ago was almost exclusively down to politics. Back then he lost out to

Paul Twivy. The same could be said of his time at Ammirati Puris Lintas

last year where he lost out to William Eccleshare. But then, so many

senior-level exits from British advertising agencies are due to shifting

political agendas.



Remember, Cracknell attained one of advertising’s holy grails at Bates -

turning a dinosaur into one of the better creative agencies. However,

since his unsatisfactory time at APL, Cracknell has struggled to get his

concept of a mature advertising agency, Long Trousers, off the

ground.



It would be a shame if the idea was now to be shelved, not least because

it’s such a wonderful agency name.



Cracknell isn’t shy of political quagmires, but he has lost as often as

he has won. This time we can only wonder if Cracknell’s arrival shores

up the Bates’ chairman Graham Hinton’s own position. Only Cracknell and

Cordiant’s chief executive, Michael Bungey, will really know. We’ve been

there before with Twivy.



What now of Bungey? Teflon Man has emerged unscathed from years of

in-fighting on both sides of the Atlantic. Only this week he has handed

the Aussie, John Fawcett, creative control in the crucial US market. Yet

another change.



I’ve written before that Bungey’s success at Bates is due to caring when

no-one else did. Caring, it seems, is no longer enough. Yes, of course,

London needs sorting out, but in the new world order, Bates must flow

international business around a genuine network. All the endless

tweaking of personnel in local markets cannot disguise the need for new

business.



And if it cannot come organically then Cordiant will sell. It has no

choice.



stefano.hatfield@haynet.com



Have your say at www.campaignlive.com on channel 4.



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