Another busy week for the men who make us spend
A view from Jeremy Lee

Another busy week for the men who make us spend

All good stories need their heroes and villains. The documentary-maker Jacques Peretti was quick to point the finger at the entire advertising industry being the latter in his over-simplistic rant against consumerism, The Men Who Made Us Spend, on television last weekend.

In reality, his indignant accusations mainly covered old ground and can be dismissed as little more than an ideological dogma in defiance of consumer choice and the right of people to spend their money as they see fit.

To allow the demonisation of brands and an entire industry that promotes choice and improved products with the assumption that corporations are by necessity evil and that consumers are stupid was at best lazy and at worst resembled a rather half-baked and dangerous conspiracy theory.

There are heroes and villains in this week’s industry news too. The peripatetic Mike Hoban, the former marketing director at Thomas Cook (as well as at, Directgov and Scottish Widows, among others), has shipped up at Morrisons in the role of brand and communications director. Hoban has gained a reputation – unfairly or not – for being a challenging client to work with. Some of the more unsympathetic out there might even pigeonhole him in the pantomime villain category.

Why should Mark Hunter be any different in turning what is essentially a technology business into a creative one?

For DLKW Lowe, which still seems to be struggling to iterate what Morrisons should stand for in the face of pressure from the discounters Aldi and Lidl (and its new "love it cheaper" positioning appears a bit, well, cheap and nasty and seems to sell the retailer short), there has been widespread sympathy and fears that the task in hand could get even more tricky. Given the pain that the agency went through to retain the account last year, let’s hope that another layer of management in the form of Hoban doesn’t further confuse the decision-making at a company whose leadership team Sir Ken Morrison has already described as having a "bullshit strategy".

Elsewhere, the departure of Malcolm Poynton as the European chief creative officer of SapientNitro provided some intrigue over who did the jumping or the pushing – the hero or villain in this piece is difficult to decipher.

Either way, his departure so soon after Mark Hunter arrived looks a bit fishy.

The bigger question is: if the Poynton experiment didn’t work out, then why should Hunter be any different in turning the company, which is essentially a technology business, into a creative business? Is SapientNitro not leaving itself open to repeating the mistakes of the past? One wonders if it should look to Apple, for example, rather than to advertising agencies, for inspiration.