campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 13 December 2012 08:00AM
Good old "Auntie" rode on a new-found wave of support following its lauded Olympic Games coverage, only to be confronted by the scandal of Jimmy Savile’s terrible behaviour while still on its books. The BBC, under the new director-general, George Entwistle, proved incapable of addressing the allegations competently and compounded its ineptitude by running a Newsnight report containing unfounded allegations of paedophilia against a Tory peer. This cost Entwistle his job after just 54 days in charge, but at least its commercial rivals, if only privately, were smiling.
While it has been gut-wrenchingly tough for many agencies during 2012, it was the independent shop Rapier that suffered the most obvious distress. Campaign’s former Direct Agency of the Decade enacted the oft-spouted remark of being only two client phone calls away from disaster when, after the loss of both its RAC and Yell businesses, it slumped into administration. However, the chief executive, Jonathan Stead, arose phoenix-like as the head of the new Rapier, which is now backed by CHI & Partners. While he will hope for a better 2013, not all of "old" Rapier’s outstanding creditors wish him the same.
Agency wailing about the demise of the much-loved (if you were on its rosters) COI and savage cuts to Government advertising spend gave way in 2012 to frustrated howls about the Government Procurement Service process to build a new "communications framework". The creative element of the pitch was delayed and attacked by some agencies for being on a par with the disastrous West Coast Main Line contract review. If the Government is unable to organise an ad pitch efficiently, the critics carped, then what chance does it have of running the country?
Few could doubt the true British heart that beats at the centre of the mighty WPP (in early 2013, the holding company plans to return its headquarters to London after exile in Dublin). Therefore, we can understand the palpitations that ran through its hierarchy when Y&R’s agency in Argentina created a film depicting an Argentine Olympian performing step-ups on a British war memorial in the Falklands, triggering a diplomatic row. Sir Martin Sorrell was suitably "appalled" and Y&R made a swift donation to war veteran charities.
OK, this one would also top a list called "Most Cringeworthy But Hilarious Internal E-mail Ever". But for MEC this was, and we need to make this very clear, absolutely no laughing matter whatsoever. The management of the agency and the targets of the protagonist who pushed "send" on that e-mail hoped this incident would be forgotten very quickly indeed. Yet, though we’re almost ashamed to say this, the event brought some much-needed colour to a media agency sector that, on occasion, seems to be populated by automatons as opposed to flesh and blood.
Another entry that, for some readers at least, could prove to be one of the highlights of the year but, for those involved, seemed highly embarrassing. After last year’s "custard pie" incident, the ageing media tycoon returned to the Leveson inquiry in 2012 to give, putting it kindly, a rambling session of evidence during which he also managed to doze off. This was topped by a humiliating apology ("I failed and I’m sorry") before Murdoch skulked back to the US.
While there were undoubted Olympic advertising highlights from the likes of Adidas, Channel 4 and Procter & Gamble, and some brilliant outdoor ad executions, certain sponsors should hang their heads in shame for dishing up a load of old dross. Among those we definitely reckon were out of medal contention: The Dow Chemical Company, Panasonic and Samsung.
We love a good awards dust-up, yet the fallout from the Cannes Media Lions this year threatened to become especially unsavoury. Sir Martin Sorrell claimed that the jury process, chaired by the Omnicom-owned OMD’s Mainardo de Nardis, involved pressure to discriminate in favour of certain entries. ZenithOptimedia also asked for feedback from its agencies on the process. Behind the scenes, the comments became more vitriolic, putting pressure on all awards organisers to review their processes.
Back in January, Confused.com awarded its claimed £50 million ad account to Publicis London, propelling the agency to the top of Campaign’s new-business rankings. Few will remember the appointment, though, because, at the time of writing, the agency had yet to create a major campaign for the price-comparison site. Confused.com’s Christmas work was created in-house despite the assertion by the client, Mike Hoban (since departed from the brand), that Publicis would "take Confused.com’s advertising to the next level".
DC Thomson’s decision to close the print edition of The Dandy, the UK’s oldest surviving comic, after 75 years became a fitting emblem for the death of a certain type of print product. Those of a certain age recalled childhood memories of Desperate Dan before dashing off to look at Dandy characters online or watching classy US imports such as Family Guy on TV.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk