CLOSE-UP: THE Y&R STORY - Merging with Rainey Kelly will assist Y&R’s recovery, Francesca Newland writes

Young & Rubicam’s acquisition of Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe rounds off a dramatic decade in its 40-year UK history. The unparalleled chaos that pervaded at Greater London House for five years from 1989 ended suddenly and was replaced by a calm that has enabled the agency to recover a substantial degree of prestige.

Young & Rubicam’s acquisition of Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe

rounds off a dramatic decade in its 40-year UK history. The unparalleled

chaos that pervaded at Greater London House for five years from 1989

ended suddenly and was replaced by a calm that has enabled the agency to

recover a substantial degree of prestige.

Yet, from a high of being the country’s fourth biggest agency in 1990,

Y&R has failed to claw back critical mass and, in 1998, was ranked

Britain’s 19th largest agency.

Y&R enjoyed two enviable decades beginning in the 60s. Growth was steady

under the stewardship of Walt Smith, who ran the network’s European

outfit between 1964 and 1974. He was succeeded by the now retired Joe De

Deo who, in the late 80s and early 90s, oversaw huge growth that was

rapidly followed by mammoth decline.

The drama kicked off under the former group chairman, John Banks, who

joined Y&R from Ogilvy & Mather in 1984. Banks, and his wunderkind

new-business director, Rupert Howell, were credited with bringing in

some high-profile and high-value business, including British Gas, Legal

& General, British Nuclear Fuels and House of Fraser.

But Howell left to set up his own agency in 1988. And Banks’ dramatic

ousting in 1991 - popularly attributed to a lavish expense account that

became untenable when the recession bit - more than undid his good work.

It wasn’t a clean break; lawyers for both sides battled for months over

Banks’ settlement. Predictably, the affair resulted in poor agency

morale and unstable clients.

That year saw the departure of the pounds 12 million British Gas

account, for which the agency had created the famous ’Tell Sid’

privatisation campaign. Other heavyweight clients including Legal &

General, Kodak, Heinz and Kraft also left.

Later that year, De Deo appointed the worldwide media director, Chris

Dickens, to the group chairman slot, placing him above the chief

executive, Richard French, and the managing director, Tim Lefroy, whose

days seemed numbered. They were. Dickens entered secret talks with Jerry

Judge and Tim Lindsay from Bartle Bogle Hegarty, handing the pair the

top jobs and leaving Lefroy and French, both hired by Banks, with no

option but to leave and collect enormous pay-offs.

There was a temporary respite under Judge and Lindsay, including a

commitment to higher creative standards that manifested itself in the

appointment of Mike Cozens as executive creative director. But the end

of 1993 saw Judge and Lindsay abandon Y&R and follow the Smirnoff

account to Lowe Howard-Spink. Their departure was seen as a vote of no

confidence in the agency they had been brought in to turn around.

A proposed merger with GGT was called off at the last minute in 1994

and, from that moment, everything seemed to go quiet.

Since then, Toby Hoare, made managing director in 1994, has crafted a

period of stability and steady growth.

There have been three important threads to Hoare’s recovery process.

He installed a management quartet, led by himself.

Stevie Spring was brought in from Woollams Moira Gaskin O’Malley to run

new business and Tim Broadbent moved from WCRS to head planning. Cozens

remained as the fourth partner.

Creatively, the agency’s reputation has risen with respected work for

Ford’s Galaxy, Cougar and Puma brands, Colgate, HP Sauce and


Testament to this is the fact that Rainey Kelly, probably the most

sought-after creative independent in London, has agreed to the


But equally important has been the agency’s phenomenal crusade to win

lead status on Ford of Europe. In 1994, Y&R landed the Ford Galaxy

account and the following year produced some of the best advertising for

Ford in recent years.

At the end of 1997, the agency won the launch of the Lincoln and Cougar

and, having gone head to head against Ogilvy & Mather, Y&R went on to

pick up the launch of the Focus across Europe, followed by the Fiesta

and Ka accounts in 1998.

Other than Ford, new-business wins have been respectable, but not


The London office was instrumental in securing the global accounts for

Ericsson, Campbell’s and Schweppes, and it recently won back the

Eurostar business, which it had lost to St Luke’s in 1996. Only this

week, it won an extra pounds 15 million worth of business from the

Carphone Warehouse.

Hoare was believed to have been putting in motion a restructure in

London, likely to have bolstered his management team, but the details

remain under wraps and now seem unlikely to come to light.

Ironically, Hoare was key in beginning the Rainey Kelly acquisition

talks but the turnaround that he has effected has not gone unnoticed at

Y&R headquarters. He is understood to have been offered top-level jobs

in the network and is said to be considering his options. It is thought

he will remain at Y&R London only in the short term.

In hindsight, it seems obvious that Y&R would look to acquire another

London agency - it has been the country’s 19th biggest agency for too

long and to grow organically into the top ten would have taken many

years. The merged Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe Y&R should assume the

number ten slot.

The Ford win, worth pounds 50 million this year, has finally kicked in.

The latest MMS figures, published this week, show Y&R has finally jumped

from 19th to 16th place. But even 16th is not big enough for the London

outpost of the fifth-largest agency in the US.



Allied-Domecq Spirits                               pounds 2.5m

(Tia Maria)

Emap Elan                                           pounds 1.5m

General Motors                                      pounds 13m

(Vauxhall Astra)

Scottish Courage                                    pounds 3.5m

(Beamish, Miller Genuine Draught, Miller Pilsner)

Smith & Nephew                                      pounds 1m

(Lil-lets, Simple, Elastoplast) Thornton’s          pounds 3m

Times Newspapers                                    pounds 12m

(The Times, The Sunday Times) Virgin Atlantic       pounds 8m

Virgin Cola                                         pounds 3m

Virgin Direct                                       pounds 6m

Virgin Trains                                       pounds 2.5m


Bourjois                                            pounds 1.3m

Canderel                                            pounds 1.7m

Citibank                                            pounds 1.5m

COI                                                 pounds 4m

Colgate Palmolive                                   pounds 14m

Dairy Crest Foods                                    pounds 5.5m


Ericsson                                            pounds 8m

Ford                                                pounds 50m

Harper Collins                                      pounds 1.5m

Quaker                                              pounds 5m

Schweppes                                           pounds 7m

(Dr Pepper, Tonic Water)

Scottish Courage                                     pounds 6m

(Kronenbourg 1664)

Terry’s Suchard                                     pounds 2.5m


UIP                                                 pounds 12m

United Airlines                                     pounds 2.5m