True North merges FCB with Bozell ... Interpublic marries Ammirati
Puris Lintas with Lowe ... Leo Burnett pips IPG to MacManus ... this is
how the ad world turns these days but, underneath, it’s still all about
servicing the client: ’Oh yes, we can offer consultancy/total
communications/new media as well as advertising if you’d like it, sir.’
So it was no surprise when Roy Bostock (chairman of the new
Burnett/MacManus/Dentsu holding company) told Campaign that the merger
was about offering ’better service to our global clients’.
Jim Royle (slob dad of TV’s Royle Family) might see the current agency
mating mania a little differently, especially after taking a look at the
dollars 100 million-odd owing to Bostock as a direct result of the deal
and subsequent flotation. ’Servicin’ global clients my arse!’ he’d
But would he be right? Just as clients have long been used to parking
their BMWs next to the agency chairman’s Aston Martin, these days they
are used to agency people making vast personal fortunes. But how do they
feel about all those deals struck in the name of client service which
are really about increasing shareholder value at the holding
It depends on whether they are multinational or local clients. The
theory is that local clients don’t care so long as their agency has a
strong creative reputation locally, but such clients are increasingly
rare - most now operate across borders.
Looking at the issue from a multinational perspective leads to P&G,
Unilever and Mars. There is still no evidence to suggest they find it
acceptable for an agency to say it can run two competing clients in
Why should they have access to half the agency’s resources when they
thought their fee entitled them to the whole thing? That’s why some
observers detect the hand of P&G and Mars in last week’s news of the
Burnett-MacManus marriage. Despite a reported willingness to tear down
the walls of conflict, P&G may have baulked at okaying the deal everyone
thought was about to happen - the purchase of MacManus by
Unilever-fuelled IPG - and encouraged the merger of two of its roster
agencies. Mars, meanwhile, may have been unwilling to share IPG with
Similarly, Unilever is the main driving force behind the merger of APL
with Lowe. It has made it very clear in word and deed that it seeks a
more creative approach in its advertising; now it eagerly awaits what
Lowe’s creative prowess can deliver.
So multinational clients do call the shots, as Wall Street applauds.
Until, that is, the frenzy of dealmaking leads inevitably to one
enormous agency holding company servicing one giant client ... then the
client decides to pull the account in-house.
Have your say at www.campaignlive.com on channel 4.