Bernie Holloway, Esso’s retail marketing manager, is ready for the
question. No, the appointment of McCann-Erickson to run the oil giant’s
pounds 12 million UK account (Campaign, last week) wasn’t a foregone
No, Esso’s British management was under no pressure from its US bosses
to fall into line with almost every other market in the world by
bringing McCanns in London on board.
The truth, he says, is that the pitch could not have been more closely
contested. McCanns won the day by coupling sound strategic proposals
with raw enthusiasm which convinced the Esso team this was a different
agency from the one that let the business slip away six years ago.
Holloway, who only took up his present post three months ago, professes
to have found the wind of change unleashed on McCanns by its
iconoclastic managing director, Ben Langdon, refreshing.
’The McCanns of today is not the one we left,’ he declares. ’We’re
impressed with its ideas for taking our business forward.’
The task Holloway has set the agency is to fix Esso’s Pricewatch, in
which it pledges to match its lowest price competitors, in the minds of
the motoring public, and keep the threat from the supermarkets at
’The problem is convincing people that we’re actually doing what we say
we do,’ he explains.
Holloway admits the pitch became a personal crash course on the ad
world, although his sparse knowledge is offset by an intimate
involvement with the oil industry in general, and Esso in particular, to
which he has devoted 20 years.
That knowledge has been honed in jobs ranging from planning and
distribution to managing the Purfleet terminal and developing Esso’s
Outside work his energies are devoted to dogsbodying for Beckenham Town
Football Club where he is everything from part-time barman to assistant
So does the engine of Holloway’s Ford Scorpio burn much of the Esso
product? ’Not very much. Motoring for me is just a means to an end,’ he