Close Up: Client of the Week - Oil man has ad crash course - Bernie Holloway found the Esso pitch an education in advertising

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 conclusion.

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

conclusion.



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

bay.



’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

forecourt shops.



Outside work his energies are devoted to dogsbodying for Beckenham Town

Football Club where he is everything from part-time barman to assistant

groundsman.



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

admits.