I read a letter in Campaign the other week from an agency chief who
defined his company as ’the strategic repositioning of the (name
withheld to protect the innocent who work there) group of companies as a
unified entity offering a range of high-calibre communications solutions
in the communications shopping mall’.
Reading this, I couldn’t help but think what went through the minds of
people like Bill Bernbach, David Ogilvy or even our own Martin Boase or
Frank Lowe when they decided to go it alone. Picture the scene.
High up in a mirror glass-fronted skyscraper on Madison Avenue, a group
of men in grey flannel suits and button-down collar shirts are engaged
in hushed conversation. One of them asks: ’How are we gonna position the
The question hangs heavy in the air like the cloud of Havana cigar smoke
that shrouds the man slouched in a high-back chair. He jabs the Corona
into his mouth and says: ’How’s this. ’A consumer-focused strategic
alliance of mass marketing communications specialists delivering
socio-economically structured, criteria-based results in an evolving
There is a pause as the assembled acolytes weigh and sift the great
man’s words. Then he speaks again: ’Shucks guys, why don’t we just make
great ads that build brands and sales, and further our clients’
That’s what it’s all about. Anything else is just a load of malls.