Jeremy Lee: This is shaping up to be a topsy-turvy year in agency land

By Jeremy Lee, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 12 April 2012 08:00AM

For an agency that failed to trouble the new-business rankings on the back page of this magazine throughout last year, and wasn't even in the top 20 by the end of it, is there evidence that some sort of progress has been made at JWT?

Jeremy Lee

Jeremy Lee

Well, initial observations suggest just maybe. Cynics - and there were plenty of them - argued that by splitting the leadership role previously occupied by Guy Hayward three ways, it had created a fudge that would come back to haunt it when it was realised that no organisation can be run by a committee (just look at the problems the Coalition Government has got itself into). In the sprint to win new business - let alone produce distinctive, exciting work - JWT looked like it was entering a three-legged race, part-Russell Ramsey, part-Joseph Petyan, part-James Whitehead.

But - and don't get too excited - given that it has picked up the Army (as part of a wider consortium pitch) and Premier Foods, there is some early but tantalising evidence of at least something resembling a sense of energy at the agency that is translating into new business. And your eyes don't deceive you - it really is in third place in the new-business league.

Even more remarkably, JWT recently won itself a Pick of the Week, and that's almost as rare as finding the proverbial hen's teeth for an agency that last year seemed to pride itself on producing staid, middle-of-the-road corporate campaigns as much as it did in ushering business out the door.

While its failure to be invited to participate in the WPP/News International love-in is an irritation - but not that surprising, according to insiders, given past history between it and pitch principals - at least there now seems to be an ambition, which must be welcomed.

As the second quarter of 2012 starts, it seems an appropriate time to take a glance at the new-business rankings. And JWT aside, it makes for some curious reading - Publicis leads the table with its whopping single win for Confused.com, despite having lacked a chief planner for a year now.

It is now also without an executive creative director, following the departure of Adam Kean, with an unknown arrival date of his replacement, Andy Bird. And while Confused.com puts it at the head of the table, the impression that it continues to chug along without two of its key positions filled suggests its dependence on network business.

And where of last year's new-business champion, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R? Well, it's still early days, but it has yet to make a showing - the shadow of the departed Richard Exon and Damon Collins appears to loom large. VCCP seems to show admirable consistency, having already settled itself in second place. As for the rest, there's everything to play for - but it has been an interesting start to the year.

jeremy.lee@haymarket.com

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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