CLIENT OF THE WEEK: Brand chief serves Shell well [SH] Shell’s advertising facelift was David Watson’s tough task, Michele Martin says.

David Watson, European brand convergence manager at Shell International, has always taken hard business decisions. As a graduate trainee in the strike-happy early 80s, he told tanker drivers it was ’ridiculous’ to threaten action over the canteen salads.

David Watson, European brand convergence manager at Shell

International, has always taken hard business decisions. As a graduate

trainee in the strike-happy early 80s, he told tanker drivers it was

’ridiculous’ to threaten action over the canteen salads.



But last week he undoubtedly faced his toughest test - informing Ogilvy

and Mather that its services would no longer be required in Europe after

more than 40 years. The decision means that, after less than a year in

his current job, Watson has overseen a total facelift for Shell’s

European advertising. J. Walter Thompson now runs the pounds 60 million

creative account and CIA Medianetwork is in charge of Shell’s first

attempt at centralised media (Campaign, last week).



Watson insists: ’The European management team just decided it was time

to move to one agency, as we are doing in other parts of the world.’ Yet

it’s clear he is marked out at corporate level to deliver such decisions

with sensitivity.



At just 35, after 14 years at Shell, Watson admits he never meant to

stay longer than two years but kept being offered challenging jobs - a

fact borne out by his action-packed CV that proves just how keen Shell’s

bosses have been to keep him.



After that first depot-based sales and marketing job, Watson became an

international rep selling aviation fuel before becoming an oil trader in

the futures markets - passing up an MBA on the way. After a stint as one

of four regional UK industrial sales managers, he became credit card

marketing manager at Shell UK before being promoted to brand marketing

communications manager, a position he held from1991 to 1993. He has

since turned his focus internationally, with roles including that of

worldwide commercial recruitment manager across all non-technical

functions.



Watson is hard to pin down on ambitions but admits he would like to

spend more time on sport and languages. He would not rule out the

prospect of being a ’Shell lifer’ - a possibility that will, no doubt,

please his bosses.