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
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.
THE KEY CLIENTS
RAINEY KELLY CAMPBELL ROALFE
Allied-Domecq Spirits pounds 2.5m
Emap Elan pounds 1.5m
General Motors pounds 13m
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
YOUNG & RUBICAM
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
Terry’s Suchard pounds 2.5m
UIP pounds 12m
United Airlines pounds 2.5m