PERSPECTIVE: TBWA purchase of Simons Palmer is beneficial to both

So, Andy Law’s ’no’ is Paul Simons’ ’yes’ and TBWA/Simons Palmer is born out of the debacle that wasn’t TBWA/Chiat Day. Simons Palmer was a sale waiting to happen. Let’s be honest, there are plenty of agencies waving chequebooks about, plenty of agencies who want to sign, but only very few worth dealing with on either side.

So, Andy Law’s ’no’ is Paul Simons’ ’yes’ and TBWA/Simons Palmer is

born out of the debacle that wasn’t TBWA/Chiat Day. Simons Palmer was a

sale waiting to happen. Let’s be honest, there are plenty of agencies

waving chequebooks about, plenty of agencies who want to sign, but only

very few worth dealing with on either side.



On the face of it, this is a win-win deal. TBWA had to do something in

London given the aim of its parent, Omnicom, that the network offer a

genuine third string on a bow that already includes Abbott Mead Vickers

BBDO and BMP DDB, and also given the failure of the Chiat Day deal in

London, despite its coming to pass elsewhere in the world. TBWA, in its

most recent incarnation, fronted by Alastair Ritchie, Jonathan Hoare and

Trevor Beattie, was a ’nearly there’ agency. Buoyed up by the success of

its Nissan Micra ads and the Wonderbra phenomenon, it never quite

capitalised on its profile.



Simons Palmer has been an agency others love to hate. Lumped together

with Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury, it endured years of speculation about

its finances while actually trading at a premium rate. Although never as

exciting as Howell Henry, the agency has produced excellent work for the

likes of Wrangler, Nike, Sony PlayStation, Greenpeace, News Group and

Goldfish - even its almost forgotten BT interlude had merits. Although

it withstood well the loss of BT and its founding creative directors,

Chris Palmer and Mark Denton, it never entirely regained its lustre.



But Simons and his partners, Simon Clemmow and Carl Johnson, form one of

the more impressive management trios around, and ventures such as

setting up Manning Gottlieb Media and Maher Bird Associates have borne

fruit.



They think about where the business is going to a greater degree than

their spangly image would have you think, and are ahead of the game in

areas such as TV production and sponsored programme-making. In this

respect their success in growing their Nike business, handled elsewhere

in the world exclusively by Wieden and Kennedy, is key. Weird too how

Simons has been criticised for playing the media well - isn’t that part

of an agency manager’s job?



Simons Palmer sometimes felt like a good agency short of just one or two

big clients. TBWA, through Nissan and Miller (if it should keep it),

will help, although the loss of the pounds 12 million Direct Line

account, brought in through a previous merger with Hoare Wilkins,

highlights the pitfalls of merger. That loss probably made up Omnicom’s

mind about the need for growth through acquisition. This deal looks a

very promising one, assuming various senior creative egos can be

massaged. It is also unlikely to be the last of its type in a very

pregnant-looking 1997.



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