Close-Up: Newsmaker - Cadman and Lidstone double-act joins Euro

Cadman shunned JWT and Frank Lowe to stay with Lidstone and get the CEO job he's been waiting for.

Mark Cadman has been through quite the tug-of-love drama in the past few weeks. Not many senior advertising executives are desirable enough to boast three eager suitors blessed with the charm and disposable incomes of Sir Frank Lowe, Sir Martin Sorrell and the as-yet-unknighted David Jones. It's enough to go to a man's head.

The smart money was on the start-up, with Cadman leaving his post as the JWT managing director to join Sir Frank, Paul Hammersley, David Hackworthy and Paul Weinberger and rekindle his relationship with Tesco. On paper, that looked like an unbeatable offer - equity in a company with income of £5 million at start-up; a 24-carat-gold client, and the prospect of growth to look forward to.

Then there's JWT. Cadman must have sensed he would not be handed the vacant chief executive's chair, but managing director of JWT is surely safer than a role at Euro RSCG after its car-crash 2005. Compared with a job running a beleaguered agency, underperforming and rudderless since Ben Langdon's departure in September 2005 and shorn of several key clients, a future either at JWT or with Sir Frank must surely have been tempting.

What persuaded Cadman and his longtime planning partner-cum-sidekick, Russ Lidstone, to take the positions of chief executive and strategy director at Euro was, Cadman says, a mixture of enthusiasm and opportunity: "It's an entrepreneurial culture. The lack of network process makes it a real opportunity."

"This is an excellent endorsement of Euro's ability to attract the best talent in the industry and to allow smart, entrepreneurial people the freedom they can't get in the more traditional holding companies," Jones, the Euro RSCG Worldwide chief executive, says. No doubt a lucrative profit-share package also played a key role in securing the pair.

Finding a management team for London was his "number-one priority" for 2006. "This now completes the triangle for us. We have the largest and most creative agency in France and the hottest agency currently in New York," he adds. "This puts us in a terrific position in London. I'm excited about both the future here and what this combination of agencies is going to be able to deliver for clients."

Surely it's hard to find a more entrepreneurial culture than a start-up, though?

"I had a lot of conversations about (the Lowe start-up), and my head was saying 'it's a fantastic opportunity', but it just didn't feel right for me," Cadman con-fesses. "I would have had equity in it, but I think it will always be Frank's company. I want to create something with a group of people." His return to JWT (where he previously ran Kellogg before moving to Lintas), he adds, taught him it's best not to go back in life.

At Euro, Cadman becomes the chief executive - at The Red Brick Road, that title was taken by Paul Hammersley.

Crucially, though, the vacancy at The Red Brick Road was for one person.

Ask anyone who knows Cadman and Lidstone and they'll tell you the pair come as a package.

"That was a big part of it," Lidstone says. "Strong teams don't come along often. When you have them, you know you can weather the bad times and enjoy the good. This is a simple business, and the strength of the team is behind the success of good agencies."

The pair are passionate believers in the power of the team. They met five years ago at Lowe on the Tesco business and successfully managed to axe one of the all-time greatest retail campaigns (the long-running series of "Dotty" ads) in favour of a new, cleaner, more distinctive approach.

It's been an equal success.

Cadman and Lidstone are clearly excited about the prospect of stamping their authority on an agency much in need of generals who are prepared to lead from the front. They may have to wait some time to start giving orders, though. Gardening leave is strictly enforced at WPP - ask William Eccleshare about his long spell in the potting shed waiting to start at BBDO. Cadman has six months to serve. Lidstone is currently being made to work out his notice. Both men must be hoping some kind of deal can be struck.

When they start work, presumably at some time in the spring, they'll have their work cut out for them, not least in winning over the troops.

The agency is divided between the people hired in the Langdon era and the rest, according to insiders. Add to that the merger with Partners BDDH two years ago and the aftershocks that are still being felt from that (the two camps still haven't bedded down fully), and there's a real need for cohesion at the agency.

"We've always tried to steer clear of politics," Lidstone says. "It's not about who was in what camp or what agency, it's about who wants to help us galvanise Euro to make it become the agency it should be."

But how far does it have to go to get there? What score would they give Euro if they were writing its Campaign School Report? The pair both laugh a "no comment" and try to change the subject back to strong teams running agencies. Cadman says that he has always been leery of the "cult of the individual" in an agency. "It's destructive," he says. "Euro has been clever in the way it's constructed the deal - we're earning similar money and get an equal share of the profit." No names over the door for them, however.

And a strong leadership team, parachuted in, has worked for Euro in the past. Mark Wnek and Brett Gosper's appointments revitalised the agency.

Can Cadman and Lidstone do a similar job?

"Our style will be different from theirs, but that's what we'd absolutely love to do," Cadman says.

A few voices in the industry have asked whether Cadman and Lidstone are ready for the task. But it's testament to how well thought of Cadman is that former colleagues were queueing up to offer both their congratulations and a testimonial to his talent as a leader. Cadman clearly thinks he's ready for the chief executive position (he was tantalisingly close to getting it at Lowe a year ago when he was pipped to the post by Garry Lace).

Matthew Bull, the Lowe Worldwide global chief creative officer, agrees: "We had a magnificent eight or nine months together at Lowe London. Mark was a huge part of that. People trust him instinctively and there's no bullshit about him. No matter how high I made the bar, he always got up and jumped over it."

He's equally effusive in his praise for Lidstone: "Fantastic presence" and "a deep thinker". "They're a great partnership, very loyal to each other," he adds.

Ed Morris, the Lowe London executive creative director (whose appointment Cadman was instrumental in driving), adds: "Mark is as discerning and supportive of the creative product as any creative director could wish for. He's also a great person to be around, a good leveller and a lot of fun."

Talking of creative directors, the common belief has been that whoever joined Euro would want to appoint their own. Should Gerry Moira fear for his job? Cadman says he's not about to start making sweeping changes.

"In the last seven years, I've had seven chief executives," he says, explaining that each one wanted to stamp his authority on their agency. "On paper, we should all work really well together. We'll want to spend time with Gerry, getting to know him. He's got a great reputation, he's done some fantastic things and he's attracted some great talent to the agency."

Lidstone adds: "The agency has stabilised. Doing that in an environment where they lost their chief executive, you have to take your hat off to the people there."


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