School Report

Losing Lloyds Bank was the low point of a hellish year for Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R.... Read more

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Agency history

Married life has never been a bed of roses for the agency created from the coming together of Young & Rubicam and Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe.

Perhaps it has something to do with too much managerial turmoil (two successive management teams have left since 2007 to form their own start-ups) or the morale-sapping loss of some of its most high-profile business in rapid succession.

Whatever the reasons, it has to be acknowledged that Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R has not fulfilled the the high expectations that were once had of it.

Done and dusted during just eight weeks in the summer of 1999, the deal seemed to complement the aspirations of both parties.

A long-standing pillar of the UK advertising establishment, Y&R had slipped alarmingly down the agency rankings since its 80s heyday under the command of its group chairman, John Banks, and his mercurial new-business director, Rupert Howell.

Much client instability followed their exits, the fallout including British Gas, for which it created the famous “tell Sid” campaign. Others such as Legal & General, Kodak, Heinz and Kraft also pressed the eject button.

It was clear that organic growth – and Y&R’s restoration as a top-ten agency – was not going to happen quickly enough.

The answer came with the capture of RKCR, arguably London’s most sought-after creative independent. In just six years, the agency had built a strong reputation on the back of clients such as Virgin Atlantic and its founders were eager for a bigger trainset.

Today, with Mark Roalfe, the chairman, the only one of the RKCR founders still on board, the agency has struggled to remain on track. The loss of Virgin Atlantic in 2014 was a big blow, as were the subsequent departures of Land Rover, Vodafone (to Grey, the shop’s WPP stablemate) and Lloyds Bank.