If I were Lowe Howard-Spink and I were asked to pitch for a pounds
25 million telecoms account in a shortlist comprising Leagas Delaney, J.
Walter Thompson, BMP DDB and Shelf Wobblers Inc of Leamington Spa, I
wouldn’t hesitate before refusing to enter the fray. The winner is sure
to be Shelf Wobbers Inc, natch.
I exaggerate, of course, but something like this happened last week.
Cable & Wireless Communications, the client with the yellow personality
and the deep purse, lined up four agencies to pitch for its launch
campaign this autumn. They were Saatchi & Saatchi, Bartle Bogle Hegarty,
HHCL & Partners and Rapier Stead & Bowden.
’Know thy readers’ is the first rule of magazine editing, so Campaign
last week dutifully described the appointment of Rapier as a shock (it
certainly was to one of our competitors who tipped Saatchis as the
victor) but I’m not so sure.
The key lies in the client’s comment about Rapier winning ’because of
its approach to the account as well as to its creativity’. If it were
just creativity in the dinosaur sense of the word, well, we can be sure
that Rapier would be off the list quicker than you could say relational
database. But, protest as they might, ad agencies are not exactly known
for their forward-thinking approach to multi-media campaigns or
advertising to small businesses.
Perhaps Rapier and HHCL had more of a sporting chance than BBH and
Saatchis because they’d worked with the client before. As a result, the
appointment has been post-rationalised by some observers into ’Oh well,
it was a stitch-up’, but the fact is that the decider was Rapier’s Big
Idea - and its mixture of strategic analysis, media choices and gut
creative instinct was bigger and better than the others. Tell that to
your friends and family in adland.