CLOSE-UP: NEWSMAKER - EURO RSCG WNEK GOSPER PARTNERS. Could too many cooks spoil the Euro RSCG broth?

The group needs to clearly define the roles of its new managers, Glen Mutel says.

When Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper merged with Havas stablemate Partners BDDH last month, it created a top-ten agency with an implausibly long name and a very populous management team.

At the heart of this team are the five individuals who have overseen Partners' recent new-business run of four wins from four pitches - the chief executive, Nigel Long, the executive creative director, Nick Hastings, the marketing director, Neil Christie, the planning director, Malcolm White, and the managing director, Simon Toaldo, will all retain their positions in the new agency.

In addition, Toaldo will be joined by Euro RSCG's managing director, Adam Leigh. Officially, the former will focus on the operational side of the business, while the latter will be client focused.

Long will be supported by Mark Wnek and Chris Pinnington, who, in addition to their new group roles, will be co-chairmen of the advertising agency.

"I expect them to be brains on and hands off," Long says. "In other words, I look at them as a resource."

With Long in charge of the day-to-day running of the ad agency, Wnek and Pinnington are free to run Euro RSCG Partners, the new network group of companies that will offer clients advertising, below the line, design and PR solutions.

"It's been a worry to me how the ad agency would thrive while Mark and I were doing what we wanted to do with the group," Pinnington explains.

"But now, without having to make outside appointments or acquisitions, we've got a complete management team in place."

"Chris and I will be there for guidance on the big stuff," Wnek says. "But it's going to be down to Nick and Nigel to make this work."

One potential obstacle for the merger was the clash between Euro RSCG's Peugeot account and Partners' Citroen business. The two accounts had coexisted at Euro RSCG, before creative differences saw Citroen leave in 2002. Today, both car companies appear to be happy with the merger.

However, to prevent a conflict of interest, Hastings will oversee every account except Peugeot, which will have its own creative director who will draw heavily on Wnek's knowledge of the account.

The unique demands of housing two car accounts in one agency has led Wnek to devolve some creative responsibility in the past. However, this is the first time he has handed over the keys to the department he built to another executive creative director.

Wnek appears relaxed on this issue, insisting that he's been a fan of Hastings for some time. But he does admit his career is entering new territory: "This is completely brand new. It's miles outside my comfort zone, but that's where I need to be. As for Nick, well, he's a robust bloke. He knows he will have sign-off on all the work and that is that. I might not like some of it. Chris might not like some of it. But that's what having a creative director is all about. However, as chief creative officer I'm going to have more than a passing interest in what goes on creatively in every single one of Euro's companies."

Hastings adds: "Mark has been a creative director for years and I think when you're bright, there comes a time when you want a fresh challenge.

And it feels to me that that is the stage where Mark is at.

"But everybody seems to understand what everybody's role is. And I wouldn't be doing this unless I was absolutely reassured that that was the case."

The move sees Hastings once more at the helm of a big agency's client list. At D'Arcy, he built a reputation for himself on clients as large as Mars, COI Communications and Procter & Gamble.

When he replaced Will Audrey three months ago, Hastings had little inclination that he would soon be running the creative department for the eighth-biggest agency in the country, with billings of £221 million and a client list that includes Argos, Peugeot and Danone. Would he have taken the job on if he'd have known?

"Probably, yes. To be honest, when we first heard about the merger, we were a bit bowled over by it. But the more time I've had to think about it, the better I've felt."

Hastings' appointment has coincided with Partners' recent success. The agency's management team no doubt relishes the opportunity a merger with Euro RSCG represents. But having latterly performed so well, aren't they a little frustrated by the merger's timing?

"I think it's important we maintain the momentum," Long says.

Every merger has its problems. In the case of Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper Partners, success may well depend on how quickly the management adapt to their new roles, and on how clearly these roles have been defined.

That aside, it's easy to see the logic of the move from a network point of view. Euro RSCG's new group structure will leave it far better placed to compete for big-billing integrated business, such as the Royal Mail account that moved earlier this year.

But Euro RSCG will only succeed as a group if it has a powerful, vibrant advertising offering. Now, on paper at least, it can boast a top-ten agency, with an impressive client list that's being run by a management team on a role.

It's just a shame about the implausibly long name.


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